Ending Exclusion October 19, 2009Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs.
Tags: Bible, Christianity, exclusivism, god, hell
I often wonder if there is a more damaging idea than that of Christian exclusivism.
There are few things less damning, to one’s argument than an insistence that there is but one rigid structure by which the entire universe is to be governed, that your particular view is most certainly that of an all-powerful deity, thus rendering those who disagree as wrong and on a nonstop one-way trip to eternal torture. Life must be absolute misery for those harbingers of this supposed one true way as they encounter the vast hordes of men, women, and children bound for fiery agony. If their lives are not consumed by tortured misery, then they must be among the most evil people to ever walk the planet.
Why must it be that people of faith, regardless of what their faith may be, resort to this narrow view so often, rather than accepting the fact that different faiths are the products of different cultures attempting to gain some understanding of the divine? Instead we (in Christian circles) choose passages of scripture to bolster our claims of being the only ones holding to the right way, while oftentimes ignoring the overall narrative. We insist on holding to every jot and tittle as 100% inspired and factually accurate, instead of accepting the fact that our holy book is imperfect.
And it is this exclusivism, this insistence that we must be right and everyone else must be wrong, that restrains us and keeps us from doing the work of God.
Losing My Religion – Intro May 26, 2009Posted by Matt in Losing My Religion.
Tags: Biblical inspiration, Christianity, church of christ, exclusivism, faith, false teaching, hell
My thoughts on things have evolved quite a bit over the years.
I grew up in an ultra-conservative branch of the Church of Christ tree and, though the things we learned at home were a good bit different and umm…more realistic, the years of poor theology and ignorance took their toll on me as a young person.
Many were the nights that I would lie awake, haunted by an intense fear of hell rather than thoughts of hope and love. Terrified, I would wonder whether or not there was some sin, even a small one, of which I had not repented, for even the smallest error in judgment would no doubt lead one to the eternal fire.
We were regularly taught that we were the only church (church being a somewhat loosely affiliated number of congregations with the name “Church of Christ” on the door that was most certainly not a “denomination”) and that all others had gone astray. That, regardless of any pesky evidence, our church had a direct line to the day of Pentecost when the apostles set up the first “Church of Christ Meets Here” sign in front of whatever plain, unadorned building in which they gathered together three times per week. Being the only right church, all others were automatically in error and thus would be banished to the fires of hell forevermore. So, every day of our lives we would go to school and play and crack jokes with those bound for eternal punishment, regardless of whether or not they counted themselves as believers.
We learned that the Bible was inerrant and perfect and true in every way, that every single word found therein was exactly as God had dictated thousands of years prior, unless of course you had an NIV or any other later translation, which were written to pander to the “denominations” and which clouded the truth of God with their manmade ideas. Questioning any doctrine was tantamount to heresy and would be subject to quick reproof from others, who would then take it upon themselves to show you a more correct way.
But I turned my back on ideas like these years ago and wandered about as a spiritual vagabond for some time, searching intently for a way, a path through the darkness.
And, though it took some time and a good bit of work on my part, I found a lighted path, one of many, and that is where I travel today. Over the next several entries I want to tell my story of spiritual searching, where it led me and how I got to where I am today.
Please join me on the journey.