Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A letter to my christian friends; especially the fundamentalists

No, I do not know Hebrew and Greek, and no, I do not have a theological degree, and no, I do not understand how everything in the Bible fits together with everything in life, including my life.
Though I'd say that my life has more value to me than any book, and anyone's life, even yours, even though some of you frustrate the hell out of me, I believe counts for more than any book.

Personally, to be honest, sometimes I hate the Bible.
I hate how it causes so much strife and conflict and war, and how people use it to hurt each other, to weigh others down so they feel like life is empty and crazy, like the universe is run by Someone who is neither dynamic nor compassionate, who is, instead, petty and capricious... how people use it to fit life and all of its meaning into some tiny box, when life is so much bigger than that...

There are beautiful things I have read in its pages... there are wonderful things... I've found things that are encouraging and challenging, things that speak powerfully, things that give hope... but there are ugly and crazy things too, at least from where I'm standing.

But, to tell the truth, what has happened to me in my life has spoken more powerfully to me than anything in the Bible. The miracles, the love of people, all those moments of beauty and wonder and joy, and those moments when I thought life was not worth living anymore, but then, somehow, I found a reason to go on...

These things speak more to me than anything I've read in the book that others fight about and use as leverage to wound each other and crush each others spirits...

I spent more years as an agnostic/atheist than a believer, and though at times I have been afraid to ask questions, for fear of God lashing out at me for doing so, though there have been times I have kept my silence, even when my heart cried out for some kind of explanation, or at least some kind of comfort or hope, I will do so no longer. I cannot help but say what I feel.

I was not raised in a church and taught to accept only the answers fed to me, but rather I was taught by my parents that it is okay to think for yourself... and I've learned that being honest matters more than just about anything.

As Shakespeare said 'In these sad times we must obey... speak what we feel, and not what we ought to say.'

If I cannot be honest with God, real with God, then what good is it to even try and engage with Him? If He just tells me to shut up when my heart is breaking, when there are questions screaming inside of me, when there are fears and doubts raging within me, then why even bother to talk to Him, let alone listen to Him?
Why even bother to believe in Him? :/

One thing I can say I've gathered from the Bible though is that people in it ask questions... and though God sometimes questions them back, He never strikes them with lightning because they questioned, and never destroys them just because they were crying out for answers...
I dare you to deny that such is the case in the Bible, or in life.
If God could not handle our questions, then mankind would have been annihilated long ago, and we wouldn't even be here talking...

So I am not afraid to ask questions, or at least not as much as I used to be.

I question the traditional belief that homosexuality is wrong. And why? Because I have had and have friends who have struggled with this and cannot find any answers to it, any way around it, though they tried as hard as they could to be something they were not, to make others happy, or presumably, make God happy, even though it seems as though they were born the way they are, and thus it seems as though God made them the way they are, and now they should feel ashamed of something that God may be responsible for... and because I feel compassion for them, I wonder why God wouldn't have compassion too, since He supposedly is near to the broken-hearted and crushed in spirit...

I question the traditional belief that the Bible is inerrant because I believe that God can work through brokenness, through messes, through writers that don't have everything right (this includes me) and because I do not believe that God fits anymore in a book than in a box, and because I believe He is more than the God of the Bible, as if the Bible was all God consisted of, but the LORD of all creation is rather the God of you and me, the Creator and Father of all, and that is a truth that words alone cannot contain or describe...

And I question the traditional belief in an everlasting hell for sinners, because I believe that God can do better than that, because I believe that real justice is found in setting things right, in making things better than they are, in restoration and reconciliation... and that God's wrath is a passionate desire to make things right, to restore, and not just some desire to exercise fury and breaks things and hurt people, as it is with us... what good is punishment, if it leads nowhere at all?
Isn't God a master of bringing good out of bad, of bringing light out of darkness?

I believe that God making His enemies into His friends is more glorious than sweeping His enemies, which presumably includes the majority of the human race, even those who try to live and love as best they can, under a rug forever.
And I believe that God's glory is not in a show of power, but is in His character, and in His heart... that when Moses saw God's glory, he saw a God who was compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness...

I believe it is God's character and heart that is His glory, and when He is glorified in all the earth, it will be the glory of His character and His heart that will be spread... and in that day people will go out with joy and be led forth in peace, and the mountains and the hills will break out into shouts of joy before them, and the trees of the field will clap their hands...

I believe that the day will come when all of this fighting and bickering will be done, when God shall judge the nations, and settle disputes for many peoples, and when we shall beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks, when nation shall not rise against nation (nor individual shall rise against individual), and we shall not learn war anymore...

I believe that God will swallow up death for all time, and will wipe away tears from all faces, and will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth...
No more death, no more tears or pain, no more shame or blame... no more fear, or doubt, no more wrestling with sin, no more wrestling in the dark... when all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well, and every heart will find its home, resting in the One who knows and understands every heart...

This is my vision, or at least as much as I can put it into words.
If you could step inside of me, you could see it in the connecting dots, in the stories that have moved me, in the memories, in the faces, the moments, the miracles, and most of all in the longing and the aching I have felt so often in my life.

And this is how I see things, though I'm hard-pressed to find words for it...

But, what I see matters nothing to some of you here, or so it seems. :/

It seems that you would like me to fit into your little box, so you will not be inconvenienced with all of my questions and my struggles, so you can glory in your own rightness, in having everything figured out, even if that means leaving others out in the cold. :/

Any belief, any theology, any worldview, that leaves anyone without hope or meaning, that leaves them longing and aching for more, in this crazy world, to me is not really worth believing in. It just doesn't cut it.

You can argue this till you are blue in the face, but the fact is, if what you're selling weighs a person down more than it lifts them up, and if it crushes them more than it heals them, then not many people will buy it, or should I think.

You can say 'well, it's the truth' as loudly as you want, but if 'the truth' you're promoting isn't good news to those stumbling in the dark, and isn't living water to those who are thirsty and dying, doesn't fit into their heart of hearts and say to them 'there is hope', then you shouldn't even bother promoting it.

People who refuse to settle for more rules or more fine print know better, that when it comes down to it, the truth has to be something better than all the pain and suffering in the world, and there's no point in living.

Or, even if your closed-in view of reality is the real one, all I can say is that I resonate with what C.S. Lewis wrote here in the Silver Chair, in Puddleglum's famous speech:

"One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so.
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right.
But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."

You guys may think I'm stupid, you may think I'm naive, you may think I'm a fool, you may say this or that, quote this verse or that verse, do all you can to defend your position, positions which when I entertained them in the past caused me to hit my head against walls, claw at myself till I bled, and cry bitter tears and scream until my voice was hoarse, tensing myself till I went into involuntary convulsions and felt like little more than a frightened child, fragile and alone, like a fly fighting against the universe, longing and aching for someone to hold him, to give him peace...

No doubt you have suffered, but so have I, if that means anything to you.

No doubt you've struggled, but so have I, if that means anything to you.

You may not give a damn about me or about what happens to me, or whether I end up in heaven or in hell or as worm-food, but I would hope that you would at least listen... at least try to understand...

If you don't even try, than I feel sorry for you... sorry that your world is so small, and that your heart is so small...

I'll close with this, one of my favorite quotes, written by Stephen King:

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”


  1. As I read this post, I couldn't help but think that this sounds exactly like what I was thinking/feeling 4 years ago. I know atheism seems like a worldview that only offers hopelessness and meaninglessness. It took me a few years to understand that the truth ALWAYS sets you free and relieves your burdens even if what atheists call truth looks dismal from where you are standing now.

    Why should the prospect of becoming worm-food bother me? I was worm-food for billions of years before I was born and I'm not losing any sleep over that.

    I became an atheist because I allowed myself to question my own deeply held beliefs. A hard thing to do, but liberating... something I try to still do. I still try to challenge my ethical philosophy all the time and I openly invite scrutiny.

    Becoming an atheist relieved the burden of trying to make sense out of non-sense.
    Becoming an atheist freed me from feeling guilty about going against the flow of the church (on marriage equality, etc.)
    Becoming an atheist took away the needless guilt I felt about victim-less "crimes".

    I wish you the best Victor.

    1. Thanks for reading Jonathan. I have been down a similar path to you. The only difference is that all the things you described being "freed" from after becoming an atheist, I freed myself from, but held on to my christian beliefs.

      Thanks again fo reading,


  2. Hey Victor, while there are a few things that I disagree with in your post, I really wanted to question this statement,

    "These things speak more to me than anything I've read in the book that others fight about and use as leverage to wound each other and crush each others spirits..."

    I think you are blaming the book for how people use it. That is the fault of the people who take it out of context to prove that they are right and who, most importantly, fail to love as we are commanded in the same book. Jesus said that there are two commandments, love God and love others. I just ask that you don't blame the book for people's actions.

    This whole post feels like you are trying to tell people to not be douche bags, but you give them an out in the beginning by blaming the Bible. If you want to call people out, call them out.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Jeremy. It wasnt my intention to "blame" the Bile per se. In the beginning of the srticle I tried to set the tone that I was annoyed at how the Bible was used. My point was pointing out the issues in the Bible that suggest it is NOT the inerrant Word of God, as some people claim.

      I appreciate you having me clarify though, in case others had the same concern.

  3. Hi Victor, just came across your blog and this post really resonated with me. Thank you for having the courage to ask the hard questions. I don't know if a lot of people know what it's like to have their faith become completely unraveled and the depression that follows. I came very close to atheism, or perhaps agnosticism, but somehow here I am. Trying to make sense of the little faith I still have. It's people like you who keep me going. Thank you.

  4. Hi Victor, just came across your blog and this post really resonated with me. Thank you for having the courage to ask the hard questions. I don't know if a lot of people know what it's like to have their faith become completely unraveled and the depression that follows. I came very close to atheism, or perhaps agnosticism, but somehow here I am. Trying to make sense of the little faith I still have. It's people like you who keep me going. Thank you.