In Or Out?

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151 Responses

  1. John 20:29 says:

    Good post, Michael .. IMHO
    While we can say that we believe that hell is real and is a place you dont want to end up, isnt that all the more reason to live as peacefully as is possible with all men? We can be lights without being fire hoses… I once lived in a cul d’sac with a devout RC family, an agnostic family, a practicing witch, a Lutheran family and a devout mormon family, the wife’s father was a bishop in Salt Lake.. The only ones who considered my Christianity valid? The mormon! On one occasion the mormon said to me, “i know we have different views, but my husband is beginning to doubt and i dont know what to say to him…” I couldn’t convert them, i didn’t affirm their religion, either. But i know that they never doubted my relationship with God, either and who knows where that led them over time?
    Now then if you knock on my door to recruit me, that goes a little differently. 😆

  2. Dan from Georgia says:

    I like this Michael. I tend towards being in your camp of loving them and being their friend even if they defect. My thought is that their story isn’t done until their last breath. Yes, I know about Hebrews 6 and all that and the various interpretations of said passages, but unless you are clearly led by the Spirit to leave them alone, you don’t have enough information to say their story is done.

  3. Josh the Baptist says:

    Of course, one might want to really define “love” and “being a friend”, but I’ve made myself clear on these things before. No need to retread that ground. It breaks my hear to see anyone denounce the faith.

  4. John 20:29 says:

    The trick is to stand firm in the Faith, friendly as they wish to be, but in no way affirming their wrong-headed choices or enabling them …. not easy

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    I’ve bee around enough death beds to know that the story is not over until it is over. In the meantime, we can love, care and pray…

  6. Dan from Georgia says:

    Hi Josh, I get that and it pains me to see people who “were in the fold” go off the rails and defect. Back in the late 1980s a singer for an upstart Christian metal band had a fall so hard that one writer called it one of the most bizarre incidents in ALL of the realm and history of metal music.

    Was this musician a believer to begin with? Is he just backslidden? Is he truly lost for all time (a la one of the views of Hebrews 6:4-6), and just existing as a dead man walking? Can he still be brought back to repentance? Just thinking out loud as those are questions I honestly have.

    My take is that I just don’t know. Some people would wash their hands of him and say “he’s gone…don’t pray for him or bother him anymore…” I can’t bring myself to that conclusion. I know that you are not saying.

    I’m thinking that where you and Michael stand, supposedly in opposition to each other as outlined in another very recent thread, could be seen as two sides of the same coin, not really in opposition but nuanced hammering out of the same goal. Just me thinking out loud.

  7. Dan from Georgia says:

    Oops …clarification time…meant to say “I know that is not what you are saying.”

    Chicken-plucking on the phones tiny keyboard again..

  8. JM says:

    “Yes, I know that all will not be saved and there’s mystery there.
    I can argue all the doctrines about election, free will vs. sovereignty, etc., etc, but we will end up in more mystery, not less.”

    Well said! It is not a good use of time to argue these things. We should be humble enough to know that we are not divine in our understanding. Better to let those who like the sound of their own voice or the sight of their own perfect prose chase this theological tail until they get dizzy. It will give them something to do while the rest of us are out among the unwashed masses where things get real and things get messy.

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I just know that if someone dies and is still calling Jesus the Nutty Nazarene, they will not be roaming around the new heaven and the new earth.
    Sometimes this is not so difficult to figure out.

  10. Kevin H says:

    My application?

    Trust the Process! 🙂

  11. Kevin H says:

    But in all seriousness, I think there have been some good thoughts here throughout.

    I know Michael and Josh really had some differences when discussing this the other day. But as just an outside observer to that, I think they both ultimately want the same thing in the end and may not be quite as opposed to each other as they may think.

  12. Josh the Baptist says:

    This stuff bothers Michael more than he lets on or he wouldn’t keep writing about it. I understand that. Our differences are in strategy, not desire.

  13. There was this one guy who once emphatically denied Jesus three times…and Jesus saw fit to bring him back into the fold.

    If Peter had died before that incredible restoration on the beach, would he have been denied heaven?

    Just thinking out loud…

  14. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Josh. That’s what I’ve been thinking Kevin. My long comment btw was about as theological that I’ll ever get here, and I hope that’s ok with folks here.

  15. Josh the Baptist says:

    Dan, who was the metal singer?

  16. John 20:29 says:

    Old lady theology says…. 🙆
    Im pretty sure that no one will stand before the judgement throne and plead that they just didn’t understand or contend that they just didnt have enough time to sort things out
    A holy God would not be holy – with all that term implies – if He played gotcha with puny us, would He?…. Grace, love and complete fairness are born from His holy character
    It was the reality of hell that made me realize that id better pray for my “enemies”

  17. Dan from Georgia says:

    Josh,

    Roger Martinez from Vengeance/Vengeance Rising. Was during my brief foray into the really heavy stuff. He became disillusioned when he started to investigate claims of supernatural healing.

  18. Josh the Baptist says:

    Thanks Dan.

    From the link in @18:
    “Again: my issues aren’t with Christians past or present. My issues have come from the text itself. So if you can convince me that I missed something in either the Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic languages I am all ears. If you aren’t able to converse with me in any of those languages than you probably can’t help me.”

    I am curious how many years Flash has put into learning the original languages. I know them pretty well, and my faith has been increased, not destroyed.

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, pretty much the question I asked (with a different emphasis) on his Facebook page.

  20. Josh the Baptist says:

    Did you recieve an answer?

  21. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    No. But he may be busy.

  22. Josh the Baptist says:

    I think I remember Elijah saying something like that 🙂

  23. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, Phil replied some. Go to his FB.

  24. I listened to Jackie’s podcast, and if I put myself in Phil’s shoes, I could understand why he reacted like he did. For one, it was full of presumption about Phil, and even attempted to explain his motives. That is always a conversation killer. Secondly, there was, theologically speaking, a certain “Stepford Wives” feel to the podcast. Clinical is how I might describe it.

    I have known several people who have been either burned by the church or confused by theology that have either temporarily or permanently (at least to date) headed over to sit on the sidelines of their faith. I have found that rather than hen-pecking them or tossing them out like trash, a listening ear and a caring attitude goes a long way.

    I just got back from a trip to Israel with a friend who in the 80’s and 90’s was a nationally known Christian speaker and author. But the 2000s were not friendly to him, and after. being burned multiple times as a pastor, he finally gave up. For two years did not go to church, open his Bible or utter a prayer. He was done with it all. And then, through the touch of a caring friend, God re-opened the door to him rediscovering Jesus. The Jesus he tells me was buried under all sorts off ecclesiastical crap. He still has some wounds, but the Lord is healing him a bit more each day.

  25. Xenia says:

    I think it’s been commonly noted that many disillusioned Calvinists either become agnostics or universalists.

  26. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I’ve never heard that…or seen it noted anywhere.
    Calvinism kept me from doing what Phil is doing now…

  27. Josh the Baptist says:

    I don’t understand the Christians who show up to cheer on those who leave the faith.

  28. Xenia says:

    Josh, they have taken to themselves some kind of theological explanation that says they haven’t really left the faith and that human kindness will make things right again.

  29. Michael says:

    If Phil were to ask me (and he hasn’t) I would advise him not to engage with all these questions.

    When I went through my own dark night of the soul, all that Christians had to tell me was that my feelings were invalid, my questions were rude, and hell awaited me.

    I only came back because of Jesus…who was much different from them…

  30. Josh the Baptist says:

    Xenia, that is true for some. Some make it seem like he has found the better path.

  31. Michael says:

    “I don’t understand the Christians who show up to cheer on those who leave the faith.”

    Where have you seen this?

  32. Josh the Baptist says:

    Not from you.

  33. Xenia says:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2010/12/calvinism-leads-to-universalism/

    I found too many links to Calvinism –> atheism/agnosticism to bother posting them.

  34. Duane Arnold says:

    I love books. I love to study. I enjoy exploring theological systems. God, however, did not send us a library or a system. He sent us his Son who founded his Church. Faith isn’t necessarily found in formularies. It’s found in a relationship with Christ and his Church. Christ is easy. Church (i.e. other believers) can sometimes be hard…

    It’s a journey on which we are all engaged.

  35. Josh the Baptist says:

    I could leave Phil’s situation alone forever. I won’t comment on his blog or social media. It clearly bother him. However, he has left two links here in the last couple of days, which says he wants the people here to interact with what he is saying. So as long as he is linking to this site, I’ll comment. I have only ever responded to post’s about or from Phil. I have never commented without Michale or Phil commenting first, and it will remain that way.

    Th truth of the matter is that Phil just doesn’t believe. That is true of millions of people around the world. Many claim it is because of disappointment or hypocrisy, but at the end, they just don’t believe. Phil claims to have some sort of intellectual discovery for not believing. Here’s the thing: His claims are nonsense. Stuff you’d find on a very uninformed atheist website. Easily answered, easily refuted. Phil does not want answers. He wants to NOT believe. He has that right, though he won’t recieve congratulaitons from me.

    For those reading Phil’s comments, and they are causing you to question, there are answers. There are good answers. Nothing that Phil has said should hurt your faiith.

  36. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8

    Even while we were rebellious against God, Jesus stepped forth in love and sacrificed for us. I love the practicality of this. He did the work, and simply calls us to experience the benefits.

    The motivation? John 3:16 says it was love.

    Our motivation? His kindness leads us to repentance.

    I imagine when a person who has declared themselves no longer a follower of Jesus (like Peter did), seeing people argue about whether they were ever really saved or not, or what there reasons were, or whatever, gets very little traction in their hearts.

  37. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Again, Lutheran theology allows for folks just like Phil – they fail to nourish their faith through God’s means and eventually it shrivels and dies. Phil said it was a 4 yr process. In the words of the late Chuck Smith (see how generously orthodox I am) “stay under the spout where the glory comes out to receive abiding faith.

    I would never think to convince him to return although I do know that evangelicals do hold that non believers (which Phil is by his own words) can be convinced into the kingdom or convinced to return to the kingdom.

  38. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Phil is not leaving links.
    When this blog or an article from this blog is cited elsewhere, it automatically pings back here and that’s what you’re seeing.

    “Many claim it is because of disappointment or hypocrisy, but at the end, they just don’t believe. ”

    That’s the standard evangelical answer…I hope it makes you feel better because it does nothing to bring back broken souls.

  39. Michael says:

    PH,

    Well said…I agree with much of what you’ve said on this matter.

  40. Josh the Baptist says:

    PH –
    What do you propose would gain traction in there hearts? Keep in mind, you are talking about a “Christian” with a public platform who has denounced Christianity, and is continuing to share his anti-Gospel on his blog, social media, and on this very site (via ping-backs).

  41. Duane Arnold says:

    #38

    I agree… it’s not about convincing someone.

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    For clarity and I saw Piney’s last comment – I for one think Phil at one time was saved, and at the present time is not and if the Holy Spirit so pursues, he can be again.

    and for the record, I do engage Phil on his FB page – not to convince him as that is none of my business, but to challenge his reasons for now not only disbelief but what has led him to a life of blasphemy.

  43. Josh the Baptist says:

    “That’s the standard evangelical answer…I hope it makes you feel better because it does nothing to bring back broken souls.”

    What is it that you do to bring back lost souls?

  44. Josh the Baptist says:

    If the ping-backs are truly automatic, I apologize to all here and to Phil for misunderstanding. I will no longer comment on anything rom his blog, only stuff that Michael writes about here.

    Embarrased. Sorry again.

  45. Michael says:

    When I was in Walmart the other day I heard a very upset child crying at his father…”You’re not my dad anymore!”

    My guess is that at some point as he matures he will get past whatever disappointment he felt with his fathers decisions and acknowledge that his dad loves him and will love him back…

    Make your own application…

  46. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – isn’t that even worse and insensitive to compare Phil to a whiny child who with maturity will come to his senses?

    I think Phil has made a rational choice. I just disagree that Christianity can be handled on a platform of reason – hence my comments last week about how harmful evidence based apologetics are to evangelism.

  47. Ha! My 3 year old grandson was over just last night and when I asked him to do something he didn’t do, he told me. “I don’t want you anymore, Papa!” Last I checked, I am still officially his Papa. 🙂

    As to reaching the lost and transforming hearts, I am glad that such is the business of God and not me. I am called to love, pray, share, encourage, exhort, practice patience and wisdom. My life will (hopefully) show glimmers of joy, grace and consistency, that may serve as handles to someone else to make their way (or return) into the arms of the Father.

  48. Michael says:

    “What is it that you do to bring back lost souls?”

    First of all, I don’t consider them lost souls…I can give you long theological support for that, but it mainly boils down to not putting another layer of guilt, shame, or pain, on someone who’s obviously hurting already.

    Second, I remain their friend…the idea that someone is only my friend if they agree with my belief system is pretty damn shallow.

    Third, I let them drain the wound…that gets really ugly in these social media days, but it’s really necessary.

    Fourth, I’m available to listen and answer their questions when they are ready. They don’t have to search for someone who knows Jesus because all the other people they knew who knew Him consigned them to the pit.

    Finally, I pray for them and let God draw them back…He promised He would.

  49. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I would submit that we are all children without the ability to understand the ways of God at times.

    Frankly, I wonder what He’s doing a lot…

  50. I don’t know why, but God puts me in contact with a lot of people who once claimed Christ but now deny Him as their Lord…some quite adamantly and with great hostility. (I’m always intrigued by some who claim no belief in God, yet spend a ton of their time and energy talking about Him and arguing against Him.) While maintaining some strong boundaries, I still engage and love them as much as I can.

    I really liked Larry Taunton’s book, “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens.” He spent a lot of time with one of the most bombastic opponents to Christianity. I love his quote: “In the end, love is the greatest apologetic.” ~ Larry Alex Taunton

  51. Josh the Baptist says:

    “non believers (which Phil is by his own words) can be convinced into the kingdom or convinced to return to the kingdom.”

    I don’t think any true evangelical believes this. No one can come to faith in Christ apart from the Holy Spirit working in that person first.

  52. Josh the Baptist says:

    “First of all, I don’t consider them lost souls…I can give you long theological support for that, but it mainly boils down to not putting another layer of guilt, shame, or pain, on someone who’s obviously hurting already.

    Second, I remain their friend…the idea that someone is only my friend if they agree with my belief system is pretty damn shallow.

    Third, I let them drain the wound…that gets really ugly in these social media days, but it’s really necessary.

    Fourth, I’m available to listen and answer their questions when they are ready. They don’t have to search for someone who knows Jesus because all the other people they knew who knew Him consigned them to the pit.

    Finally, I pray for them and let God draw them back…He promised He would.”

    Has this ever worked?

  53. Josh the Baptist says:

    “First of all, I don’t consider them lost souls…”

    That was quoted from you. But if the guy says he doesn’t believe, I don’t call him a liar.

    “Second, I remain their friend…”

    Phil and I were never friends. I just didn’t know him. He added me on social media a few weeks ago, just in time to start trashing “born agains” etc. We had no prior history. I am rfiends with many more people who are not active Christians than those who are. They know I am a Christian, they know I love them…and they know topics to avoid if they don’t want to hear a sermon 🙂

    “Third, I let them drain the wound…that gets really ugly in these social media days, but it’s really necessary.”

    Sometimes, when someone is slinging their infected wound juice all over the place, I throw up a tarp to keep others from getting infected.

    “Fourth, I’m available to listen and answer their questions when they are ready. They don’t have to search for someone who knows Jesus because all the other people they knew who knew Him consigned them to the pit.”

    Nobody consigned Phil to the pit. He said he didn’t believe. I quote “I wouldn’t walk accross the street to unrinate on Jesus of Nazereth.” I believe him.

  54. Michael says:

    “Has this ever worked?”

    Yes…it’s why I have a Christian blog today instead of an anti-Christian one.
    Someone finally came along side me back in the day and treated me like a human being instead of a a theological petri dish.

    I don’t get all caught up in pragmatism…whether it works or not…I do what I believe the Scriptures teach as God has led me.

    It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance.

    If you have a better way, feel free to share it.

  55. Michael says:

    I’m not responsible for results…I’m responsible to be faithful.

  56. Josh the Baptist says:

    “If you have a better way, feel free to share it.”

    That’s what I’m doing.

  57. Michael says:

    What is it that you’re doing?
    To be blunt you’re doing the same things that made it much harder for me to come back into relationship with God.

    I know that’s not your intent, but that’s how it worked with me.

  58. Josh the Baptist says:

    “To be blunt you’re doing the same things that made it much harder for me to come back into relationship with God.”

    Of course, I could say I’m not responsible for the results…but that cuts both ways, right?

    I could also point to several cases of longtime friends coming “back” to the faith, who have thanked me for not giving up on them and for being honest with them. But honestly, the results are up to God.

    I could also point to about 10 lifelong atheist friends. When they have a death in the family, a marriage break-up, etc…who do you think they call?

    If your answer was the “unloving” Christian who has consistantly told them the truth over the last 20+ years, you’d be correct.

  59. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Evidently, your assumption is that I don’t “tell people the truth”…and that’s probably where the conversation ends.

    Peace.

  60. Josh the Baptist says:

    “you’re doing the same things that made it much harder for me to come back into relationship with God.”

    You know, that’s kind of a big claim. Is that actually true, or or you and I just having a slight disagreement on a blog? Please point out where I have hindered anyone from coming back to God.

  61. Josh the Baptist says:

    I actually made no claim about you, Michael, though you made a pretty serious charge towards me.

  62. Michael says:

    Josh,

    This will be my last answer as we’re obviously coming from much different places.

    When I was where Phil was at one time the majority of Christians around me refused to acknowledge the pain I was in or the reasons for that pain.

    That made real communication impossible.

    Their answers to theological questions were nothing more than trite defenses of their particular traditions and views of Scripture…and my sin was daring to ask in the first place.

    I am still trying to forgive them.

  63. Josh the Baptist says:

    Phil has claimed he is not in any pain.

    I welcomed any question he had. Tried to discuss them, and he didn’t want to.

    I’d be glad to talk to anyone about their struggles with God, questions about the bible, etc. In fact I do so all the time. I’m also first to admit, that sometimes there just aren’t good answers.

    Honestly, had Phil wanted to talk about his questions, I could have offered some real answers. I couldn’t have restored his faith, mind you, but I could have put some of his questions to rest. He didn’t want to talk to me, and that’s cool. His choice.

    I still don’t see my sin in this, and I’ll keep doing as I’m led.

  64. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I haven’t accused you of sin.

    I’m not an evangelical or an inerrantist, so we’re going to see things differently.

    The Lord bless us both.

  65. Josh the Baptist says:

    Hindering someon from the faith is a sin in my world.

    I am evangelical and inerrantist, though I don’t think everyone else has to be. The evangelical I’m sure does relate to this situation. I’m not sure innerantist does. For instance, Phil has issues with “error and mistakes in the originals”. My first thought was, that’s easy – don’t be an innerantist. I mean, tons of wonderful God loving people aren’t inerrantists.

    And I still mean what I said back at #12 – “This stuff bothers Michael more than he lets on or he wouldn’t keep writing about it. I understand that. Our differences are in strategy, not desire.”

    Obviously we are both bothered by it, or we wouldn’t argue over it. I trust your heart for the Lord even when we disagree on how that works out in the real world.

  66. Bobby Grow says:

    Who’s Phil? I think I might know who.

  67. Michael says:

    Bobby,

    Phil Naessens…we did a podcast together for many years.

  68. Reuben says:

    Michael, you are making sense to me. I don’t know what happened to Phil, but I know what happened to me. I was a pastor for 12 years, and then got drunk for around 7 years. “Lord knows”, through a ton of therapy the last month, what the church did to me is still larger than I suspected, as I kept most of it locked away, and drowned the remembrance. I spoke with a therapist who is familiar with religious fallout, and deals with it daily. He said that I structure my arguments to resist god on the grounds that he is evil, and not because I truly believe it. That is simply not the case. Being burned by the church woke me to the nature of the Christian, and how god has made them as wicked as he is. Since I just spent a month, 24/7, with addicts and alcoholics, my thinking evolved even more. Most of them were burned by god/religion/church/religious people at one time or another. Here I thought I was unique, and the reality is the opposite. The church exceeds at killing people’s spirit.

    I came into contact with a pastor’s daughter prior to my adventures in sobriety. She is broken. I do not believe there is penance for such damage. Then I experienced AA in it’s full splendor, and the condemnation it thrives on.

    If you understand this pain, and I believe that to a degree, you actually do, it is well past time to throw “the church” out with the doctrines it rode in on. If Phil hit that same wall, I hurt for him, and stand encouraged that he will emerge from the dumpster fire the faith is. Maybe more glued to the hippy loving Jesus, maybe glued to humanity in a way that is conducive to its furtherance, rather than it’s division.

  69. John 20:29 says:

    #54 – Phil said that he wouldn’t walk across the street to urinate on Jesus of Nazareth? Apart from being one of the most stupid things a mortal has ever declared, it is probably also prudent … especially if Peter was nearby … 😨
    that Jesus would be there to suture him back together, however … from what i read

  70. Steve Wright says:

    I often defend AA publicly from ignorant criticism in Calvary Chapel circles. I have done so in my sermons and privately. I believe that with some exception there is otherwise a strong support given to AA by the Church as a whole – just go online and look at a schedule and see how many churches open their doors to AA meetings. Calvary Chapel as a whole has been ignorant but over the years I have found many in CC who do understand. Maybe a tide will one day be turned and people will realize drunks and addicts need all the help they can get. But maybe people will take the time to educate themselves on what they criticize.

    The historical reality is that AA has done more to lead people to Jesus Christ than probably any revival or evangelist of the 20th and 21st centuries. That is not the mission of AA of course, However, the influence and lessons learned from the Oxford Groups were instrumental when Bill Wilson met Dr. Bob Smith in Akron and AA was born. Both men were Christians, following Christ and looking to Him with the Scriptures as their authority and the foundation for what would be the 12 Steps to come. Unlike the Oxford Groups which saw evangelism to Christ as foundational, the early days of AA (and the notable inclusion of one particular atheist who was an early sobriety success) lead to the understanding that their mission would be sobriety – and thus would not exclude any non Christians or “force” people to accept Christianity in order to receive help for sobriety. Thus, “God as we understand Him” was born and codified in the 12 Steps.

    Of course, as one gets not only clean but over some significant time also gets sober (there being a difference) the relationship with God in working the 12 Steps leads many in AA either to a new relationship with Jesus Christ or a renewal of one’s old roots and upbringing in the faith. As time progresses, these are the multitudes of folks who will “leave” AA and instead become more active in their local church. I’ve met a LOT of Christians in Calvary with roots in AA. (Maybe also one reason for the no alcohol emphasis for so many since, for a recovered drunk, zero alcohol is essential and a matter potentially of life and death)

    A reason for the departure of new Christians from AA of course is noted in Reuben’s observation, namely the use of Christ and His Church as the excuse for drunkenness in newcomers. And since AA meetings are not the place to share the gospel (but rather one’s experience, strength and hope), Christians become quite uncomfortable hearing their Lord blasphemed regularly with no equal chance for response. And of course, if one were to simply share “God as I understand Him is Jesus Christ” that just sets off those who want to blaspheme further. Since meetings no longer are “necessary” for these now sober Christians to stay in the program, they tend to fade away. Why recruit people to AA and read the Big Book when one can share the gospel and read the Bible. (Plus, AA has no music in its services but I digress. LOL)

    This dynamic is why so many AA meetings have an interesting demographic. Large numbers of those sober less than 3 years or so (many of whom are “in and out” of AA from time to time having to identify again as “newcomers”). Others will have 10 plus years of sobriety. Maybe 20 or more. These are the folks typically with little to no religious interest. They have made their choice and yet are quite serious about their own sobriety, 12 stepping newcomers and sponsoring others who have kept coming back, In effect, AA is their de facto religion, the Big Book their Bible, and the meetings their church services. Sobriety is their god, an end in itself. These are also the ones who most likely will be quick (given their elder status) to shoot down a new Christian, on fire for Jesus, because “he/she only has a couple years of sobriety”

    Between those two extremes, one will find relatively fewer folks with a 3-10 year sobriety track record. To be clear, I’m not saying it’s 100% because they became Christians. Many never get past a couple years because they relapse and drink again. Others, like with any group, once sober just lose interest in the time commitment of meetings and the program. But make no mistake, MANY become born again followers of Jesus Christ.

    Sorry for the length but let me add that this is not revisionist history – as if some pastor wants to give credit to Jesus where it is not due because of the good work of AA over almost 100 years. I suggest AA Comes of Age as a good historical reference (and an AA approved text) to understand the two founders a little better and those early days.

    Reuben is walking a path some walked over 25 years ago. I cringe at the hate spewed at AA by some Christians but let’s not pretend AA is proof that the Church does more harm than good or that AA is somehow antithetical to Christianity. In fact, I often have suggested the “Serenity Bible” (NT and Psalms/Proverbs) to people (and have given a few out) as it does a great job of showing how the 12 Steps of AA are taught as well as illustrated in the New Testament and the Wisdom Poetry books of the Old Testament.

    My only direct comment to Reuben would be to first say how glad I am to hear he is getting sober. Truly I am. I do hope that he would ponder closely the comments of the therapist he references who is an expert in the field (per Reuben as he wrote…) ” I spoke with a therapist who is familiar with religious fallout, and deals with it daily. He said that I structure my arguments to resist god on the grounds that he is evil, and not because I truly believe it. That is simply not the case.”

    May the wisdom of the therapist be one day born out in Reuben is my hope.

    Peace to all here.

  71. Xenia says:

    Steve Wright, I am very happy to see you today!

  72. Babylon's Dread says:

    For me it is still just Christ and his church.

    To love one is to love the other.

    He doesn’t love us because we are good.

    All of this drama is recycled.

    The New Testament writers don’t sound at all like us here.

    They warned and exhorted with tears and passion.

    We are seeing the day when hearts fail.

    My plan is the same.

    Manning My Post Dread

  73. Steve says:

    Calvinism and atheism are worlds apart. One doesn’t lead to the other. Regarding Phil leaving the faith, did he say it was a 4 year process? I’m not sure of his story but it seems unrealistic to think all of a sudden somebody wakes up and decides they are an atheist but this seems to be what happened or was he faking. One week Phil is doing the podcast and the next he is renouncing the gospel. That doesn’t sound like a process to me but rather somebody making stuff up somewhere either now or then for what ever reason. I’ve heard of night and day born again experiences but the anti-born again experiences are a bit rare from my observations.

  74. dusty says:

    I’m with josh. Breaks my heart

  75. dusty says:

    Good words Michael! Love is the key show Jesus

  76. dusty says:

    Reubin, (((((hugs))))))

  77. Rick says:

    I once asked a friend who lost a child how she was doing with God; she replied that she hated Him. My heart leapt with hope for her in that moment; my sense was that her honesty opened a door for her to reconcile with Him. She has done so…

    After 44 years in the Kingdom–I understand those who grow weary. What has meant most to me was, in the midst of another church conflict/failure/war, I got the sense that Jesus just was not in it. That He was outside the door; in essence, where I was. It was healing for me to realize He is just as alienated by that type of behavior as many others are.

    Along with the creeds, I have come to peace with the disconnect between behavior and belief–our cultural priorities take precedence over behavior that looks like Jesus in my experience. When someone says something that sounds like Jesus, I will engage in discernment regarding them. When someone acts like Jesus, I treasure and affirm that. When the words and actions don’t look and sound like Jesus, I do not get angry anymore; I just thank God I do not have to engage. I had a former elder from a church I was call me years after my functional excommunication and ask me if I knew whether I was a Christian or not. He then explained that the ‘gospel’ demanded that I gather with elders to discern with them whether or not I was saved. Years ago, I would have been highly insulted; today, I am at peace that Jesus is good beyond words, much better than we think He is. Better than the American cultural gospel often proclaims.

  78. McGarrett says:

    “First of all, I don’t consider them lost souls…I can give you long theological support for that, but it mainly boils down to not putting another layer of guilt, shame, or pain, on someone who’s obviously hurting already.

    Second, I remain their friend…the idea that someone is only my friend if they agree with my belief system is pretty damn shallow.

    Third, I let them drain the wound…that gets really ugly in these social media days, but it’s really necessary.

    Fourth, I’m available to listen and answer their questions when they are ready. They don’t have to search for someone who knows Jesus because all the other people they knew who knew Him consigned them to the pit.

    Finally, I pray for them and let God draw them back…He promised He would.”

    A lot of back and forth here based on our passion’s in the Faith. What Michael said is exactly what my Wife and I both endured, but yet employed with our older Son, who “came back home”.

  79. Duane Arnold says:

    #79

    Best thing I’ve heard today…

  80. John 20:29 says:

    Didn’t the person that fomented all this thinking and so many good comments here, too, declare that he did not believe that the Jesus of the Book was a real person? Why berate Him, then?
    One thing i cannot understand is feeling animosity for a fictional character!

    If there were no god – there is – show me one made up religion – it isnt – that can hold a candle to the Biblical narrative, Genesis to Revelation. There is no belief system that has benefited the world even a fractional miniscule in comparison with the followers of Jehova, the impossible triune God. We have our bad acors, our wolves pretending and exploiting the Faith, but the miracle is what God has done with the rest of us.
    I am nobody, but it is pretty easy to search out authors who have done the research that proves the above.

    Thanking God for this unspeakable gift and … just sayin, again

  81. Josh the Baptist says:

    You have some on here evangelizing for the anti-god. Makes sense.

    I would like for Dread to share what he meant for how the NT writers sounded.

    I sincerely want to be like them.

  82. Josh the Baptist says:

    It is good to see you Stev Wright. Been thinking about you a lot lately.

  83. Michael says:

    I don’t know what evangelizing for the “anti-god” means.

    I’m assuming it’s in response to Reuben.

    Here’s what I know about Reuben.
    I love him like he’s my own family.
    He knows I’m a Christian and he still speaks with me respectfully.
    I’m very glad he’s sober now and I’ll do whatever I can to help him, regardless of his views on my faith.
    I won’t leave until he demands it and then I’ll be willing to return.
    I don’t care what anybody else’s opinion is on the matter.

    You may think me a fool, a heretic, or worse, but I have to live as my conscience demands.

  84. Josh the Baptist says:

    “If you understand this pain, and I believe that to a degree, you actually do, it is well past time to throw “the church” out with the doctrines it rode in on.”

    That’s anti-god evangelism.

    I don’t think I made any comment about you?

  85. Michael says:

    People in that kind of pain say things that are painful to hear.

    I can handle it, we can handle it, and I think God can handle it.

  86. Josh the Baptist says:

    I can handle it. I barely even responded to it.

  87. Michael says:

    This is the most discouraging thread in years.
    Maybe God is trying to tell me something…

  88. Every Tuesday morning I teach a 13 week class about the Gospel at our local rescue/recovery mission for women. They come in raw, hurt, angry, shell shocked, despondent. They have either come off the streets, out of jail or escaping an abusive home. 90% are addicts. So much pain. And I here a lot of stuff that grieves God, as well as myself. But I keep showing up and we talk about the healing Gospel. And in time, walls come down and hearts get soft. Even some cases where I doubt any change can happen.

    What amazes me is that some of the cases I would file as hopeless have the biggest turnaround. My class is pretty early in the 18 month program, but when it comes to graduation day, some of the biggest revolvers of God have the most amazing testimony.

    The culture of the mission is love, grace and truth. Walking alongside people who have deep wounds. Trust is built thru patience and compassion.

    A wounded animal won’t let you touch until it trusts you. And that can take a lot of time. But the Gospel is big enough for the worst of sinners.

  89. John 20:29 says:

    #88 – Michael, maybe God is guiding those who come here to work thru some things….
    There are more influences than we can imagine that can drive a Believer from following the Faith… including disappointment in themselves as well as disappointment in God or His followers and your call to not condemn is a God pleasing one, i know…
    Question is, how do we stand, defending the Faith without condemning the person?

  90. Michael says:

    Em,

    The faith is safe…the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

    Hell has crushed many a saint however…often in the name of the faith.

  91. #89 “here” should be “hear”.

  92. Jim says:

    Michael, your view on this issue is 100% correct.

  93. Josh the Baptist says:

    Michael @ 88 – Tell me what has been discouraging in this thread. If possible, be specific. I won’t argue, I just want to know.

  94. Michael says:

    Thank you, Jim.

  95. JoelG says:

    PH that’s fantastic. Well done.

    Michael you are the best pastor and friend anyone could ask for. You care for the wounded. Don’t be discouraged.

  96. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    How did the faith get confused for the church? I don’t understand why people leave Jesus because of trouble in this world? We were promised trouble, which would include crappy churchmates, bosses who are abusive, Christian spouses who cheat.
    People run into trouble and say “Jesus, you have screwed me and I no longer believe in you!” — Really? Give me a break.
    People lose their robust faith because of their own neglect.

    (A side note, this is not Phil’s case. Phil chose to follow his own reason over faith)

  97. Michael says:

    Josh,

    When it becomes controversial to care for broken people…when we’re more worried about presentation than a person…then something is seriously wrong.

    Jesus served Judas communion, then later kissed him and called him friend.
    He never gave up, never worried about his reputation…He loved His enemy to the end.

    He had the advantage of not blogging, however…

  98. John 20:29 says:

    #89 hits home…
    Today my daughter learned of the death of an old friend. An extrovert who loved God with all her heart, mind and soul… She died of a drug overdose… Years ago she had committed a sin that she couldn’t forgive herself for and, evidently neither could her fellow Believers? We are certain she is with the Lord and free at last…

  99. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    Thanks…so sorry for you and your families loss…

  100. JoelG says:

    Thank you my friend.

  101. Michael says:

    “People run into trouble and say “Jesus, you have screwed me and I no longer believe in you!” — Really? Give me a break.”

    MLD you may be of superior faith and character to the rest of us vermin…but I know how life can break us and I’ll never discount it from a hurting person.

  102. Josh the Baptist says:

    @98 – Thanks for elaborating on that. I’m listening. Slow on the uptake most times, but I’m listening.

    I don’t want you to be discouraged, either. You have a great heart for a certain group of people. These poeple are hurt and flailing and many of us don’t want to get hit. They all love you because you stay right there with them. That’s a good trait. A hard trait, but a good one.

  103. Michael, you have three of my favorite grace-based recovery practitioners there in Oregon: Curt Floski and Cash Lowe of Grace Network international, and Michael Dye of the Genesis Process. Any of those ring a bell?

  104. Michael says:

    PH,

    They don’t…but I’m pretty much persona non grata here in my homeland…

  105. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Life can break people and hurt people – that is why the non believer has no hope. The believer’s hope is in spite of life’s tragedies that Jesus has offered eternal hope, not temporal relief.
    I will always be greatful to my first Lutheran pastor who told me his job was to prepare me for my death.

  106. Michael says:

    Josh,

    When CC did me in my world fell apart and my faith followed.

    I tried and tried to find someone who would listen…and had every door slammed in my face.
    I was called every name in the book except holy.
    It crushed the life out of me.

    When I finally got back on my feet I swore to God I would never do to others what was done to me…I haven’t always kept that vow…but I try.

  107. Josh the Baptist says:

    @107 – Understood.

    When my church exploded in 2008, my faith was the most delicate thread. I went home and said I’d never go to church again. (That lasted one whole week)

    I used the internet to vent and landed at this page. I’ve said it many times, you were a geat part of my healing.

    All that to say, I have also benefited from your scars. I hate hat you had to endure the,, but glad that you use them to help others.

  108. Michael Dye might say the same thing. Not a lot of people get him. A former addict struggling with Lyme Disease. He is a bit of a curmudgeon. But his program helps wounded people get down to their issues and find real healing. It is an integral part of our work at the mission, and I dare say it is the most effective.

    Curt and Cash are perhaps the most gracious people I’ve ever met. Nothing can shock them. Great teachers and life coaches. They train recovery workers all over the country.

  109. Michael says:

    Josh,

    That’s very gracious of you to say…thank you.

  110. Michael says:

    PH,

    I have a whole crew here who have been healed from Lyme…very expensive and you have to go to Germany…but it works.

    Nothing here does…

  111. Steve says:

    People lose their robust faith because of their own neglect.
    _________________________________________________________________
    MLD, folks may be neglectful because they haven’t been taught well. I like the verse Col 2:6.
    So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.

    When I received Christ it was not my own work. So staying in the faith should not my own work either. Its pretty simple, profound and truly good news. Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ, and that includes myself.

  112. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, you seem to be confusing God’s love for us with our love or not loving God. The love of God extends to all whether believer or not. God loves the atheist Richard Dawkins just as he loves you and me – however Dawkins and those who walk away from God, both give Jesus the finger as they walk by.
    As to abiding in the faith, whereas you claim it is God’s responsibility, this is true to the extent that God has provided the means to nourish the faith – word and sacrament. Neglect those at your own peril.
    There are many bible verse urging one to abide.

    But even then, if you become a one legged homeless man is that reason to say “Jesus you screwed me!”?

  113. Reuben says:

    Josh, I can’t “evangelize for the anti-god” because I specifically reject any god. I take it a step further, and say any god I know of is evil in their motives with mankind.

    MLD, the one legged homeless man may well have reason to say that “Jesus” screwed him, but that is a narrow view of what Jesus has done. He requires we be beholden to his will and purpose, sacrificing our own existence to somehow live vicariously through him. This applies to the child that is starving through no fault of it’s own, and having been born into that scenario, has no concept of who god even is, because the cultural god there may be a coke bottle. Billions of people, wealthy or absolutely destitute, were born into a culture that has no knowledge of your “god”, and they suffer in life well beyond the one legged homeless man. They don’t even understand suffering as we do. There is no frame of reference for them. They have no clue who Trump is, or that somewhere in the world, private enterprises are launching rockets to take people to Mars.

    Save the “one legged homeless man” for people who have zero concept of a proper world view. You are Christian because you were raised in a culture that accepts it. The one legged man likely comes from your same culture, and there is no other scapegoat in this culture, so it fits the scenario.

    Steve, your assessment of AA is not recognized by me, and I have been attending nightly for 3 weeks now. I don’t even know why you wrote what you wrote, except to defend a concept that I actually have less trouble with now than I did in the first meeting in detox lockdown. People are there because they need community who understand addiction, there is no actual “god as we understand him” collectively. The big meetings (250 plus) I attend weekly span 16 years old to late 70’s, and they could care less about the 12 steps and traditions. The “Big Book” is some archaic guideline written in the 30’s, and very few pay it any mind. The higher power is anything that jokingly fits the bill. My higher power was a friend in residential treatment who is a nihilist. I made him my higher power because, as I stated in the meeting, I can actually substantiate his existence. It got a laugh from the group.

    My reason for sticking with AA is the connections to the very large community of people who know precisely what I endure as an addict, and understand relapse, and understand shame in life. As I wrote in my journal, “I will continue to attend AA and NA meetings, god be damned.” Every meeting, someone who has been obliterated by religion speaks, and I can comfort them just in the shared experience. AA observes god in tradition only. It’s continued success is based on familiarity alone, and in this culture, familiarity counts for quite a bit.

  114. Steve says:

    MLD, word and sacrament are not the only ways to nourish our faith. The bible does say to not neglect the assembly and to pray without ceasing. These are also good ways to nourish.

  115. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve you make my point in perhaps that was your intention God has provided all these ways to nourish our faith cuz he wants us to stay in the faith in the Bible and those who refuse to or rejected are the ones who were giving the middle finger to God and say I don’t need you I don’t need to do this kind of thing. One other point is that word and Sacrament only happens within the assembling of the Believers together

  116. Steve says:

    MLD, we agree that assemble is critical. However, I get it though that some people just have been burned too much at church to go. So I do believe one can read the word on their own and get nourished. My point is if your faith is lacking ask God to help you and do whatever you need to get back in a healthy spot with God. For me seeking out a biblical qualified Christian counselor went a long way.

  117. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben, believe me you do not have to convince me of your view of Jesus. Your view is no different than any other unbeliever Jesus hating person. You guys just word it differently, cover it differentLuke and put it in a different package – but it’s all the same.

  118. JoelG says:

    I have doubted and will probably doubt again. I’ve giving God the finger (literally) and called Him names too lewd to write here. I have despised His Church and it’s hypocrisy. I don’t why a Good God would allow such evil to exist. Then I remember that if He destroyed such things, then He’d destroy me.

    In the word’s of Fr. Stephen Freeman, “Drag my sorry soul into Paradise”……

    https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2018/05/02/drag-my-soul-to-paradise/

  119. JM says:

    “When CC did me in my world fell apart and my faith followed.
    I tried and tried to find someone who would listen…and had every door slammed in my face.
    I was called every name in the book except holy.
    It crushed the life out of me.
    When I finally got back on my feet I swore to God I would never do to others what was done to me…I haven’t always kept that vow…but I try.”

    #107–What you wrote, Michael. YES! THANK YOU! You were more resourceful, though. You started your blog. Kudos! Again–Thank You! 🙂

    I still long for so many truths to come out about that “entity”. I still believe with everything that is in me that it will set many people free who still think all the horror they passed through was all their fault. Those experiences set the mind on fire with such pain as many of us can attest. Learning the truths about CC has certainly had a good effect here. It gave validation and lifted me out of self-condemnation and sorrow. If, however, it will be too costly to pursue your writings, then we, here, understand. Such an endeavor would have to be weighed carefully. May God give you both wisdom and strength.

  120. Jerod says:

    Hi Reuben,

    Bit of an honest reply, or butting in. I am glad you have a friend like Michael.

    I’ve read your comments over the last couple years and I’ve always had questions.

    I agree with your assessment of the operants in religion. In large part most of us operate like the pigeons, pecking for sustenance in the same places the crumbs have always been left.
    However, you have to wonder why there has been such marked change in the lives of others of us, who have dropped addictions at once, who have had experiences reflective of the woman at the well. You miss the impetus of the Holy Spirit completely, because, based on your subjective experience, it’s a lark. It’s on you.

    I’m sure you realized a long time ago that your subjective experience includes even your notions of good and evil,

    which are operant and culturally based and which you have no hope of overcoming according to the sciences.- I.e. you are reacting to Christ exactly as your culture demands and encourages to an ever greater extent.

    So who is confused?
    The person who can substantiate immediate change in their life and is explicated by supernatural intervention (the Bible, belief, Holy Spirit, testimony, faithfulness)

    or the person who’s given up on the hope of a benevolent Spirit God as Father, and who apparently can only maintain a spotty sobriety by surrounding themselves in (frankly) greater religious circumstances, then turns and damages the faith of those he once called “brothers” by excoriating their religious convictions? I’m sure you see the irony.

    Moreover, when Christ himself and his apostles spoke specifically of folks who for various reasons fall away after growing among us (Parable Of the Sower and the Soils, Matthew 24, Acts 20, and of course 2 Thessalonians 2) then mock the faithful (2nd Peter) and their God (Romans 1) it raises the question: How do you explain those prophecies about you away?
    Further, it brings to mind what Christ said, “If they hated me, they’ll hate you all the more”.

  121. Josh the Baptist says:

    Reuben, I only mean that you are an Ardent evangelsit for whatever it is that you call your position.

    Tough to see a guy as full of hatred and rage as you are. I hope you find some peace.

    I went to AA meetings most everyday for about ten years with my dad. He was drunk in a lot of them.

    One day a girl invited me to this big fundie type church. She was pretty, so I went. The service was nuts. Old men jumping up and down and screaming. I had never laughed so hard in my life. I go home and tell my folks they have to check this out next week. They laughed and laughed as I told them what had happened and made plans to be there the next week.

    I had a ball again the next Sunday, but as the service ended I couldn’t find my dad. He was up front praying with the pastor. He told us after church that he would never drink again. That was around 25 years ago, and he still hasn’t had another sip.

    So that is how my journey towards the Lord began.

  122. Steve Wright says:

    Steve, your assessment of AA is not recognized by me, and I have been attending nightly for 3 weeks now.
    ———————————————
    Like they say, “Keep coming back”. I am a big believer in 100 meetings in 100 days (and not counting any forced meetings in any rehab/detox settings). If one misses a day, then go to two on another day (Saturdays work well for a morning and evening meeting).

    And in case I was unclear, I was talking about years sober above. I recognize that can be anyone from their teens to their 70s or older. A 70 year-old can be a newcomer and a teenager might get a 5-year chip. Addiction knows no age boundaries.

    I’m surprised to hear your comment about the attitude of the Big Book and 12 Steps. That is certainly not what I see as representing today’s attitude in AA. The online bookstore has the texts I am familiar with – emphasizing the Big Book, 12 Steps & 12 Traditions, As Bill Sees It, Came to Believe, AA Comes of Age, Daily Reflections. I’ve read all of these (some multiple times).

    And an online AA directory of meetings in my area shows plenty that have as theme one of the 12 Steps or the Big Book as a whole.

    As an aside, I knew a guy whose higher power was a doorknob. You mentioned yours was a nihilist. In either case, that is “12 Step” language.

    But 3 weeks is a huge deal. Congratulations to you. I hope for you and your family it continues. If they still give chips you are close to your first one! That’s a big deal.

    I believe after the honeymoon you are in now you will find the value of living your life according to the 12 Steps to enjoy true sobriety. It’s the reason for the almost 100 years of success for the program. The 12 Steps have almost nothing to due with the drug of choice (in fact, alcohol is only mentioned in step one) and after a few weeks being clean, especially outside of rehab, one has to live and face life in a way that one does not return to that drug of choice. It’s easy to get clean in a lockdown detox facility. It’s hard to live life sober (for an addict). Your addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful (as you may have heard this expression).

    Good luck to you.

    P.S. If curious, much of my commentary, besides my own experience over 25 years, is thanks to my wife who is an R.N. specializing in the field of addiction and mental health. She established a rehab facility out here back in the day (when there were very few) and has overseen as director various detox facilities. Her experience has truly been on the front lines of addiction and has seen the gamut from those needing 4-point restraints to the sweet, mellow individual who would knife you in the back for a fix. Her input has been valuable to me as a pastor too over the years, especially considering the location of my present pastorate.

  123. Michael says:

    Unbelievers and “apostates” have never damaged my faith.
    The circumstances of life and the attitudes of other Christians have put it on life support more than once.

    It’s way too easy to explain people away with religious jargon and accusations…they were “bad soil”, they neglected the “means of grace”, they are simply reprobate “God haters”.

    These things comfort us and assure that we are righteous.

    They affirm to those so labeled that we are not.

    I can’t go there because I know that I could fall at any second, that my righteousness is a loan from God, and that He keeps me, not the other way around.

    It all hurts bad enough right now to leave, but I know there is no other place to go.

    I will stay in the faith, but I won’t pretend I understand it…

  124. Josh the Baptist says:

    “These things comfort us and assure that we are righteous.”

    I don’t think that’s it, or even a fair assessment of what many have said.

    I am sorry that Christianity has been so miserable for you. I hope that things brigthen up someday.

  125. Reuben says:

    Josh, “Reuben, I only mean that you are an Ardent evangelsit for whatever it is that you call your position.”

    That I am. I would be negligent otherwise. However, you need to find a different word, as the definition of “evangelist” is always associated with Christianity.

  126. Josh the Baptist says:

    “That I am. I would be negligent otherwise.”

    Me too!

    As far as the use of the word evangelist, I will use whatever you suggest. Of course, whatever the wording, just as you oppose my Gospel, I oppose your message. But I want to make it clear, because I’m not great at it: I do not oppse you as a human. I don’t really know you other than a handful of online interactions. Some pleasant, some not. But I do hope that you find the peace and happiuness you seek, even I think you are searching in a terribly wrong direction.

  127. Duane Arnold says:

    As I read this thread, I wonder who we are trying to convince, ourselves or those who have left…

  128. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, I have already posted here and on Phil’s FB that I would never try to convince him to rejoin Christianity. Beside being rude, that just is not the way Christianity works.
    Heck, I don’t even pray for the wayward as I have a sneaking suspicion that God wants them in the desert alone. (but that is just me and I would not want to influence others.)

  129. Reuben says:

    Jerod,

    My experience is not subjective, it is actual physical experience, so you lost me that early, especially for someone who has read my comments for years. The rest is old christian apologetics that are nonsense to me, or actual subjective experience. Save it for someone who is not saved, and has never been. The whole “If… therefore…” arguments are worthless. I reject god for who he is, and I reject Christian’s ideology for what it is. You are created sick, and commanded to be well. You have to rationalize that. I tried, and I failed. Unfortunately, I took quite a few fellow believers out with me in the quest to deny self. Again, Christianity is exceedingly proficient at killing it’s own, regardless of the monstrous anecdotal stories of changed lives… they are indeed changed. I contend for the worse.

    I would only add that I had all the subjective spiritual experiences a guy could have as a Christian. I do not reflect on those experiences as anything other than self fulfilling prophesy, a mind who needed to experience it. It’s like alcohol, and everyone claiming the “Holy Spirit” needs the suppression of the senses to experience it. I was drunk on god for decades, hating myself with the best of them, beating myself into submission… like Paul, and it almost destroyed my family. That (self hatred and flesh submission and destruction) is not subjective. It was lived.

  130. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, you are dead wrong again. The Bible never speaks highly of those who blasphemy God. In fact, without doing a search I am sure that it is always in terms of judgement.

  131. John 20:29 says:

    Before i read more of today’s comments here and lose my thought….
    I think. 😇 that one will not be able to sustain a trust or love of God, if their frame of reference is focused on the material world, with all that implies – and it implies a lot, i.e., personal comforts, denial of the unseen (by us) world that the Bible describes (& the world assigns to the bigfoot category), defining Satan as a fictional bogeyman and the spiritual war in progress as a fiction – again as described in the Bible, etc.
    Faith involves much more than a blind belief in a loving God. If one’s understanding of Him never gets beyond that one key attribute, there will always be the risk of evil overwhelming our confidence in His care and/or His power… Underestimating God is a really dangerous proposition… and, what a loss, what a sorrowful loss. At the risk of presumption i’d declare that my greatest blessing, after redemption, has been a lifetime of learning more and more about our Creator. But knowing Jesus is not “tripping thru the meadow picking up lots and lots of forget-me-nots,” insulated from mortal life’s dangers. At least it isn’t for most, but that’s too much to unpack here. …
    God is absolutely worth the effort now
    I’ll try to not take up any more comment space pontificating today

  132. Reuben says:

    I wish I could “LIKE” Michael’s comments in this thread.

  133. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    There is a difference between Phil and Reuben (and I do not use them in a personal sense, but as example of the God rejecting world.
    1.) Reuben concedes there is a God and hates him.
    2.) Phil on the other hand denies the existence of God, and also hates him.

  134. Josh the Baptist says:

    “As I read this thread, I wonder who we are trying to convince, ourselves or those who have left…”

    I comment because it is the subject at hand. I often wonder why blogs leave comments open but then discourage thought.

  135. John 20:29 says:

    I wish everyone commenting here had the time and inclination to read 1Peter (the whole 5 chapters). It would explain the walk to the unbeliever and lay some pretty heavy conviction on those of us who claim to be Believers – i think – dunno
    Our churches seem heavily infested with “malice” today. …. hope i’m wrong, but i’ve seen some and it isn’t confined to us evangelicals. IMNSHO 😇

  136. dusty says:

    I like what Michael is saying and what Josh is saying and what John20:29 is saying.

    this is a sad topic to me…….I guess Reuben and Phil are both happy with your choices …..I am torn….to be happy for you or sorry ? I love you both …..

  137. Josh the Baptist says:

    @137 – I agree Dusty, thank you. Very sad stuff.

  138. dusty says:

    I know I don’t have any answers…..

  139. dusty says:

    Josh said #135 “I comment because it is the subject at hand. I often wonder why blogs leave comments open but then discourage thought.”

    I hope we don’t discourage thought…..that would put us back many years…..to the days the blog was opened to begin with….all of us have been hurt, I don’t want to be a place to hurt others but a place to heal and help and talk though our thoughts and fears, a place to see though our tears praying for one another……..

  140. John 20:29 says:

    #140 ‘- amen … Michael’s website has been a gathering of real people from just about every point on the compass, but he has kept the still point in thesye verbal and emotional whirlpools the TRUTH, the Christ
    I thank God for letting me watch the lad’s walk and, also, i thank Michael for letting this Believer-pew sitter, nurtured in the Faith by a teacher who does not have his approval, opinionate here, too

  141. Duane Arnold says:

    #140 Dusty

    “I don’t want to be a place to hurt others but a place to heal and help and talk though our thoughts and fears…”

    Well said… that’s what it should be about.

  142. Reuben says:

    MLD, I am not entirely convinced there is a god, I simply acknowledge that billions of people subscribe to one or more gods world wide, and that makes god or gods pretty damned real to those who believe. It has a strange effect of validating a god or gods in people’s minds, but it does not validate any one of those gods for me. But you are correct otherwise. There is a difference between Atheism and Anti-theism. I can not speak for Phil, I was in detox and treatment for the last month, and I missed the kerfuffle. I suspect it went the way most do when they announce that they no longer believe in god or gods, the theists cut and drain the atheists for leaving the club, and typically treat them as if they never held any religious beliefs before by explaining religious beliefs again. That is truly a maddening experience.

    The last time I had that exact conversation with someone, I asked them to recite to me my life’s verses (Acts 20:22-24) after they blovated about how Acts 20 sums up the actual christian faith… they couldn’t do it. So I recited the chapter, and asked them to study what they believe before they preach it. Its not even fun doing that to people anymore. Most Christians have no clue what they believe, or why. They just do. They trust the pastor. They live in the tradition. They buy Ford Taurus cars… 😀

    Jerod, who has been reading my comments for years apparently, took the same path. I lost interest in debating someone who assumes I have never even read the Bible, let alone understand the systematics of the faith. Hell, I preached them, but I am a full blown idiot to Christians, and some of them even knew me when I preached the very things they say I do not comprehend.

  143. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben,
    My point was that you always made clear that you were not an atheist but indeed you were an anti theist. Perhaps you have changed in the past 6 months.

    My conversations with Phil on his FB page were to have him clear up for me that he did not leave the faith because he was hurt etc – which he confirmed was not the case and he did state that he has reasoned his way away from Christianity based on textual evidences. The couple of example he gave were straight out of the books from the New Atheists including your hero. When I answered such his reply was “well, there is more than that.”

    I wish him well – I wish you well. I take my example from Jesus who when his large left him after they wanted him to feed them again (John 6) – his reply was not quite “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out”, but he did not chase after them – nor will I.

  144. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Reuben,
    “I suspect it went the way most do when they announce that they no longer believe in god or gods, the theists cut and drain the atheists for leaving the club, and typically treat them as if they never held any religious beliefs before by explaining religious beliefs again. That is truly a maddening experience.”

    Yes, very much like the mockery the atheist (anti theist) community puts one of their own through should they cross over to the dark side and become a Christian – not only in their books and journals but late night TV.

  145. Reuben says:

    Again, a concept that I have not experienced once, like Steve and his definition of AA, and you are ignorant of the fact that my best friend is a Muslim Woman who converted from atheism… but you did not know, so I can’t hold it against you.

    By the way, Hitchens was never an apologist for atheism, he was an anti-theist who used observable evidence of how religion poisons everything. I know this, because I completed all of his books again while in residential treatment.

    But again, you use Christianity as the example of what one might crossover to… and globally, they convert to Islam or Buddhism, not Christianity, even here in the great white nation. You are speaking of things you do not understand, because your narrow life as a narrow Lutheran has prevented you from developing a proper understanding of religion outside MURICA. The brand of Christianity you profess through your name is dead to most of the world. Nobody knows or cares what Martin Luther declared anywhere in the world, except here in what can only be described as the most unopposed religion in any nation anywhere in the world.

    What you say has no relevance anywhere but here. People like Hitchens understood the implications globally, you just cite nonsense about things I am not convinced even happen. Atheists generally have no use for god, nor conversations about it. The vocal ones are kind of like the ISIS of Islam, they exist, but they are foreign to most atheists in their thinking.

  146. You must be channeling something from another planet – I have not discussed anything you wrote.

    I will speak to something you do bring up. My best friend is my wife of almost 50 yrs. Isn’t your wife your best friend?

  147. John 20:29 says:

    A while back i mentioned David Berlinski. He is an unbeliever who refutes all the arguments against the conclusion that there is no God. He travels in pretty erudite company of a multitude of intellectual disciplines and says that only academia hangs on mindlessly to the no god theory. Hitchens has made a living publicly hating God and so, like a hired lawyer, i suspect his focus isn’t on truth, just scoring points. Dunno, tho, do i? 😀

  148. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Hitchens is dead – his brother is alive and kicking and a stout Christian.

    Hitchens was a pretty good magazine news / feature writer who did not rock the boat from a religious angle — until 911 and he was able to start his “anti theist” cottage industry. His claim to fame came along when he hooked up with Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, as the junior member to tour like the 3 tenors around the globe peddling their wares.

    He was too much of a war hawk for me.

  149. John 20:29 says:

    Yes, hitchens is dead, thanks for the reminder. old brain here

  150. Steve Wright says:

    like Steve and his definition of AA
    —————————–
    Reuben, I want to be clear that I am quite sincere in my congratulations on your 3 weeks of sobriety. Only people who have never fought addiction don’t appreciate the accomplishment.

    As for me, I took my last drink over 26 years ago. I have been a Christian less than 25. I’m almost 51 years old. Sobriety came before salvation in my life. A lot of bad crap has happened in those 26+ years (especially the first year)…..as it will no doubt to you too. But I didn’t drink over any of it. One day at a time. Of course, today temptation almost never strikes, and hasn’t for years. Jesus has delivered me and Satan knows that is one area he would be wasting a lot of time with me – at least right now. But I for one know I could never drink “normally” – ever. THAT is Step One by the way.

    In fact, my drinking years were, from purely an objective, nonspiritual point of view, the best years of my life. I didn’t get sober through a lockdown detox, no family intervention, or because I got tossed in jail, or lost a job or relationship. I was living in the best condo location on the lake with a Lexus in the garage and weekends meant trips to Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago or hanging on the beach.

    I got “sick and tired” without actually getting “sick and tired” LOL!

    I wish you well in your sobriety. Keep coming back. 21 days is great, but in other respects (and I am sure you would agree or I hope you would) it is a drop in the bucket in the big picture.

  1. May 3, 2018

    […] Evangelizing me isn’t going to work. No matter how well meaning. If you really knew me you would already know that. […]

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