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August 2nd, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Why millennials need the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - For a time, I counted myself among the spiritual but not religious, Christian but not churchgoing crowd.

Like many millennials, I left church because I didn’t always see the compassion of Jesus there, and because my questions about faith and science, the Bible, homosexuality, and religious pluralism were met with shallow answers or hostility.

At first I reveled in my newfound Sunday routine of sleeping in, sipping my coffee and yelling at Republicans who appeared on ”Meet the Press.”

But eventually I returned, because, like it or not, we Christian millennials need the church just as much as the church needs us. Here’s why:

Baptism

As former Methodist bishop Will Willimon has often said, “you cannot very well baptize yourself.”

In a culture that stresses individualism, the church satisfies the human need for community, for shared history and experiences.

And in a world where technology enables millennials to connect only with those who are like-minded, baptism drags us - sometimes kicking and screaming as infants - into the large, dysfunctional and beautiful family of the church.

Confession

“Sin” is not a popular word these days, perhaps because it is so often invoked in the context of judgment and condemnation.

But like all people, millennials need reminding now and then that the hate and violence we observe in the world is also present within ourselves.

We can be too idealistic, too convinced we can change the world from our iPads.

The accountability that comes from participation in a local church gives young Christians the chance to speak openly about our struggles with materialism, greed, gossip, anger, consumerism and pride.

Healing

While the flawed people who make up the church can certainly inflict pain on each other and sometimes on the world, we also engage in the important work of healing.

At their best, local churches provide basements where AA groups can meet, living rooms where tough conversations about racial reconciliation occur, casseroles for the sick and shelter for the homeless.

Millennials who have been hurt by the church may later find healing in it.

Leadership

Like a lot of millennials, I am deeply skeptical of authority - probably to a fault.

But when I interact with people from my church who have a few years and a lot of maturity on me, I am reminded of how cool it is to have a free, built-in mentoring and accountability program just down the street.

We can learn a lot from the faithful who have gone before us, and the church is where we find them.

Communion

One of the few things the modern church has in common with the ancient one is its celebration of the sacred meal— the Eucharist.

There is simply not the space here, nor in many volumes of theology for that matter, to unpack the significance of remembering Jesus through eating bread and drinking wine. But when I left the church, it was Communion I craved the most.

Churches may disagree on exactly how Christ is present in these sacred meals, but we agree that Christ is present. And millennials, too, long for that presence.

There are some days when the promise of Communion is the only thing that rouses me from bed on Sunday morning. I want a taste of that mystery.

Confirmation

Many churches practice a rite of initiation, sometimes called confirmation.

Theologian Lauren Winner, in her book “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis,” quotes a friend who said:

“What you promise when you are confirmed is not that you will believe this forever. What you promise when you are confirmed is that that is the story you will wrestle with forever.”

The church, at its best, provides a safe place in which to wrestle with this story we call the Gospel.

Union with Christ

Those who follow Jesus long for the day when their communion with him becomes complete, and Jesus promises this will happen through the church.

The apostle Paul compared this union to a marriage. Jesus describes it as a banquet.

No matter what the latest stats or studies say, Christians believe the future of the church is secure and not even “the gates of hell” will prevail against it.

As much as I may struggle to fit in sometimes, as much as I doubt, question and fight for reforms, I am a part of this church, through good times and bad, for better or worse.

The astute reader will notice that each of these points corresponds loosely with a sacrament—baptism, confession, the anointing of the sick, holy orders, communion, confirmation and marriage.

Some would say there are many others. We could speak of the sacrament of the Word or the washing of feet.

But even where they are not formally observed, these sacraments are present in some form in nearly every group of people who gather together in the name of Jesus.

They connect us to our faith through things we can eat, touch, smell and feel. And they connect us with one another.

They remind us, as writer and Episcopal priest Sara Miles put it, that “You can’t be a Christian by yourself.”

This is why I haven’t given up on the church, and I suspect why it hasn't given up on me.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to her.

Evans has written two previous posts for CNN's Belief Blog: Why millennials are leaving the church; and Not all religious convictions are written in stone.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Faith • Opinion • United States

soundoff (4,825 Responses)
  1. Athy

    I was lucky concerning religion. My parents were not religious and never attended church so there was no brainwashing involved. I had a cousin who attended Sunday school and, when I was about 10 or 11, he told me about heaven and hell and if we were good we would go to heaven, otherwise it was hell. That story was so patently absurd that I didn't believe it at all then and, since then, I have neither seen nor heard anything to convince me otherwise. So, basically, if you're not an addict you'll never need rehab.

    August 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • AE

      I'm glad I don't go to the church that your 10 year old cousin went to.

      They don't tell me that at my church. But I do remember seeing that concept in cartoons!

      August 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
      • Athy

        My cousin wasn't ten, I was. And he didn't go to church, it was Sunday school. So much for your reading comprehension.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • AE

          Whoops, most Sunday schools are located in a church. Sorry. I as.sumed you meant Christian, you must of meant something else.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Frank

      Why is believing in heaven and hell absurd? Nobody knows what happens when we die.

      August 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
      • OOO

        Your second sentence answered the question your first sentence posed.

        August 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • AE

          No, it didn't.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
        • Frank

          B/c we don’t know doesn’t mean there isn’t an afterlife.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • sam stone

          frank: because you don't know doesn't there IS an afterlife, either

          August 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • OOO

          There are an infinite number of possibilities you could say you believe without evidence. Why this one?

          August 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          Because we dont have any evidence for an afterlife the default position would be not to believe until evidence is presented.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Frank

          It’s the one that I believe as it makes the most sense to me.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
        • Think for yourself

          OOO makes a valid point. "Nobody knows what happens when we die" does answer the first question. The one who makes the claim has the burden of proving their claim. Not the other way around. (Disproving a negative) To say there is a heaven or hell is just as silly as saying we move on to a fairly land after death. No one knows so any claim made is just a guess, unless supported with evidence.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
        • AE

          An afterlife makes sense to me, too.

          I don't think we earn a spot in "heaven" by "being good", though.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
        • OOO

          I think you hope it is true, but you can't actually believe it without any evidence, otherwise you would have to equally believe the infinite number of other possibilities, right?

          August 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          AE,

          You HOPE that there is an afterlife. That doesnt make the belief rational.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
        • Frank

          Think for yourself,
          My belief is just that, a belief. I have no facts to backup this up. You’re right, my belief is a guess.

          I think it is human nature to interpret what we do not know. We all just look at this differently.

          OOO,
          Let’s not get caught up on semantics but I’d say a belief is my personal conviction. Maybe Webster defines it differently. I would never say this is a fact. Of course, any possibility could happen but I believe in only one as like I said it makes the most sense to me.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • sam stone

          How does the existence of an afterlife make more sense to you than the idea that people simply die?

          August 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
        • Frank

          B/c I always felt there was a purpose to life.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • AE

          I think there is more to life than just dying and that is it. I think life has a purpose.
          I have great hope for things unseen.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
        • sam stone

          fair enough. i do not agree, but got no problem with your belief

          August 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • Madtown

          AE
          An afterlife makes sense to me, too.
          I don't think we earn a spot in "heaven" by "being good", though.
          ------
          In your opinion, what do we need to do to earn a spot?

          August 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
        • Athy

          The only real purpose we have in life is to do whatever we can to make sure our species doesn't die out. That's it; in a word, evolution. Face it, it's the only one. Anything else is just stories and false beliefs to justify your yearning and hope, nothing more.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
        • AtheistSteve

          Why presume an afterlikfe when everything we understand about personality and consciousness is linked to our brains. Damage that brain and we observe allterations to those states of mind. It follows reasonably that destroyinng the brain ends all functions of thought and perception.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
        • AE

          – In your opinion, what do we need to do to earn a spot?

          Thank Jesus, he earned our spot for us.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
        • Madtown

          AE
          Thank Jesus, he earned our spot for us
          ----
          Ah yes, but here's where it starts to get sticky. By mentioning Jesus, you affiliate yourself with a specific religion. Like it or not, your religion is simply not universally available to all human beings on the planet. Unless you think you're special in some way, and more deserving of heaven than someone who's just never heard of christianity, then they ways of christianity CANNOT be sufficient to earn your spot into heaven. Someone who's never heard of Jesus, can't thank Jesus. He/she may thank someone else who he/she believes has earned their spot for them.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • A Question

          "The only real purpose we have in life is to do whatever we can to make sure our species doesn't die out. That's it; in a word, evolution. Face it, it's the only one. Anything else is just stories and false beliefs to justify your yearning and hope, nothing more."

          ...so our sole purpose for living is procreation. So an infertile couple has no purpose in life? A ho.mose.xual couple that can't procreate and doesn't adopt has no purpose? That seems pretty short-sided if you believe your only purpose is to pass along your genetic code.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • AE

          Madtown

          Jesus has already earned this for them. Whether they realize it or not. That is good news.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
        • AE

          He conquered death. After you die, you can still thank him as he shows you the way to the Father.

          Or, you can continue to deny him and go the other way.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
        • Madtown

          AE
          Jesus has already earned this for them. Whether they realize it or not.
          ---
          How convenient. You could just as easily turn this around, and say that maybe these others have been given the "correct" religion by God, but you've never heard of it. Maybe their religious teachings say that all are saved, even those who have never heard of the religion(you). How is that any different? It's not. You don't have the "correct" religion, you only have the religion you prefer. No better, no worse, than any others throughout the world.

          August 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
        • OOO

          "Frank

          B/c I always felt there was a purpose to life."

          Why is the "purpose to life" to live in some afterlife?

          August 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
        • Athy

          AE, infertile couples obviously cannot pass their particular genes on to subsequent generations. But that's not what I said. They may very well aid in the survival of the species by helping others to attain maturity and procreate. Likewise for older people past their reproductive phase. They may help the tribe survive, for instance, by remembering where water could be found during infrequent droughts. Evolution is not simple. It's a complex process which takes a bit of thinking to understand. Do you think you are up to it?

          August 6, 2013 at 1:53 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "No, it didn't."

          Actually, it did to thinking people. Heaven and hell, like everything you believe, are based on no evidence whatsoever. It's absurd to believe something for which there is no evidence simply because you like the sound of it.

          "An afterlife makes sense to me, too."

          The fact that it's an appealing alternative to no afterlife does not mean it makes sense. I readily admit the Christian narrative is appealing, but none of it makes sense. It's internally consistent, at least mostly, but other than wanting it to be true because it sounds good there is no reason to believe it is true.

          What is your educational background?

          August 6, 2013 at 3:49 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "Jesus has already earned this for them. Whether they realize it or not. That is good news.""

          This is a fairytale, whether you realize it or not.

          August 6, 2013 at 3:58 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "He conquered death. After you die, you can still thank him as he shows you the way to the Father.
          Or, you can continue to deny him and go the other way."

          What would it take to get you to understand that regurgitating your beliefs has no value when the other person doesn't accept the basis for those beliefs as being valid?

          August 6, 2013 at 4:05 am |
      • skytag

        "Why is believing in heaven and hell absurd?"

        For the same reason believing in leprechauns would be absurd.

        August 6, 2013 at 3:59 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I never ceased to be amazed at the number of people who base their atheism on the understanding they acquired at the age of 8 or 10 or twelve, which they find satisfactory.

      August 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        When an 8 or 10 year old like that has more common sense than a religious person I will compliment them on that point.

        August 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • sam stone

        as opposed to those who base their theism on the same, bill?

        August 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who base their religion on the understanding they acquired as children, which they find satisfactory.

        August 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Ed

          Zing! In Santa totally PWNS Bill.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        @Bill,

        if I remember correctly, you have stated that you came to your Catholicism as an adult.

        Many atheists similarly recognized their non-belief as adults.

        A vastly greater number of theists base their beliefs as adults (and the vast majority of their whole worldview) based on what they 'learned' as children. While no doubt this is also true of some atheists (and increasingly so with Millennials) it represents a smaller portion of atheists.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        I agree GOP, that's why I worded my statement the way I did. Yes, I came to the faith as an adult after a long and arduous path. I suspect that people who make a decision either way when they are young simply do not challenge their preconceptions from that age. We're lucky enough to live in a society that insulates most people from having to confront their spiritual needs and inebriates them with modern distractions.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        As well as with spiritual instruction that is not reexamined as an adult, I find un-reexamined historical education of the young to be particularly dangerous particularly around the 'creation myths' of our country – and this includes the entertainment industry.

        It's a bit off-topic, but coming this November is an animated movie targeted at children with the premise of rescuing turkeys from the first Thanksgiving. (Free Birds: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1621039/ )

        And as we know, it is highly unlikely that turkeys were on the menu at all. I shudder to think what other historical myths this movie will perpetuate. Myth is a potent thing.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
      • skytag

        The same could be said for a lot of Christians. That said, your comment is intellectually dishonest. A lot of atheists only became atheists in later live, and those who have been atheists since they were young would change their position if they saw any reason to do so.

        August 6, 2013 at 3:52 am |
    • Matt

      Athy, The message about the Christian faith isn't about what we do, have done or will do. We are accepted because of what Jesus did.

      August 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • Athy

        That makes absolutely no sense to me.

        August 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
      • sam stone

        matt: so, he took the punishment you feel you deserve?

        glad you christian folks are moral beacons to us unwashed/unsaved rabble

        August 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
      • skytag

        From all appearances the message about the Christian faith is nothing more than one of hundreds or thousands of religious narratives people choose to believe because they like it better than the alternative.

        August 6, 2013 at 3:56 am |
  2. Think for yourself

    What a ridiculous article. Sounds more like a marketing piece trying to convince me why i shouldn't think for myself and return to the church where others can do it for me. "We can be too idealistic." Really? So many other silly reasons why i should go back to the church. None of her reasons convince me that she is anything but a mindless robot. Using the word "cool" in a sentence isn't going to do it.

    August 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Me! Me! and Me!

      Me me me me me me me me. Me me me me me me me me me me me. What about me! Hey, look at me! What about me! Hey, look at me! What about me! Hey, look at me! What about me! Hey, look at me!
      Think for yourself, like me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        you poor sad individual ...

        August 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • ou812

          Why do you talk to yourself? Not everyone thinks you are a sad individual, well most, but not all.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  3. Pole dancing for Jesus

    You wish you had teabags.

    August 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  4. Reality

    See comment pages 1 and 6 for a contemporary review of baptism, confession, confirmation, communion et. al. to counter Ms. Evans beliefs.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    August 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  5. George

    The article is pretty much begging the question. Clearly, "millenials", and for that matter, humans generally, simply do not need the church, nor religion, for any purpose. Religion is also not a requirement for morality.Many people live good, fulfilled lives without any religion or church. That is the norm now in certain parts of Scandinavia and elsewhere. Hopefully it is just a matter of time before America catches up to Scandinavia and gets out of the clutches of the Christian Wrong.

    August 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Ken

      It's common sense that you can find relatively good people in every religion and outside of them all, which is why it's not about morality. It's about rewards and punishments for holding the "proper" beliefs, for agreeing with other people's opinions, often rooted in issues of power and politics.

      Personally, I don't care what other people believe, up to the point where their beliefs help shape their decisions on issues that affect us all, and also up to the point where they make negative generalizations on people just because they hold different beliefs.

      August 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  6. Frank

    I am still with my church.

    August 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Sorry to hear that.

      August 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
      • Frank

        No need to be sorry. If I didn’t feel it was a good idea to go, then I wouldn’t.

        August 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Athy

      Well, Frank, it's still not too late to get smart.

      August 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
      • Frank

        But, my orthodontist is a deacon at one church. Are you saying he’s not smart? How can someone become an orthodontist if they didn’t have a good GPA?

        August 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • Athy

          Maybe he goes to church to help him get more patients.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Frank

          I guess I could ask him but I’m afraid he might interpret that question the wrong way.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
        • Athy

          And he probably wouldn't admit it anyway, assuming it were true. I went to church for a while, but it was just to put on a face for my friends. I'm not sure they weren't all going to church for the same reason. Reminds of a Gary Larson cartoon concerning a pack of wolves dressed up as sheep. Turns out all of the "sheep" were really wolves; there were no real sheep.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
        • skytag

          Even smart people can choose to believe something irrational if there is enough incentive to believe it. The Christian narrative is very appealing. If someone wants to believe it badly enough he'll find a way to rationalize believing it regardless of how smart he is in other areas.

          August 6, 2013 at 3:37 am |
      • ou812

        Nor for you.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
      • Angry Marine

        @ Athy
        I bet you are a real pleasure to be around. That was a joke BTW.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
        • Athy

          Why are you replying to Frank, Angry?

          August 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
        • Saved and tolerant

          That's my feeling about most devout atheists I know. Nothing wrong with believing or not believing, but when your hatred for the other side consumes your life its just unbearable to be around them. Its like they let happiness escape them once upon a time.

          August 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
        • Athy

          Well, it's not really hatred. We just don't want your silly beliefs to impact our government policies or affect our children. Your archaic explanations for nature (creation vs evolution, for example) also hold us all back scientifically.

          August 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
        • Saved and tolerant

          Athy its a small number of Christians that hold onto a week old universe as fact. Most have evolved from that today, and the ones that are still making a big stink of it happen to be in elected positions that they've held onto for decades while their voter base has since passed away or changed thought processes. The rest, well, nobody takes them seriously anyway.

          August 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          I may feel sorry for people who believe the earth is flat in the face of all the contrary evidence, but I certainly don't hate them. Same goes for Christians, I feel sorry that they still think it important to live like bronze age herdsmen and feel science is an assault on their faith, but I don't hate them. Now, much like deciding not to hire a flat earther to work at Nasa or not asking them to calculate an orbit, we also should not hire religious zealots who are praying for Armageddon to come as our foreign policy advisors or electing them to the congress where they get to vote on sending more military aid to their perceived "chosen people" because they are hoping some prophecy from 2000 years ago comes true.

          August 5, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          @S&T,

          Doubtless many people synthesize a belief in God with the notion that the earth may be 4.5BY old, but according to Gallup, about 48% of adult Americans still believe that "God created man in his current form <10,000 years ago".

          You can count on these people being almost 100% Christian.

          I suspect there are a lot more young earth creationists than you think. Perhaps not in your circle, but they're out there (way out there!)

          August 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
      • Lycidas

        I do not think you are in the position to declare anyone smart or not smart.

        August 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  7. Sagan

    What's next from this woman- 'why I left church and joined hymen Mehta'

    August 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I think she got a little pressure from her peers about the last article and folded like a cheap accordion.

      August 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  8. Huebert

    Personally, I left the church because I am able to tell the difference between mythology and reality.

    August 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  9. Thoth

    Half of the subjects she listed are not 'needed'. The useful ones like 'leadership', 'healing', and a sense of belonging can all be established without 'the church', or religious dogma. This author would have you sacrifice rational thought in order to feel a part of something. No thanks.

    August 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • AE

      Are you a Christian millennial? She says she is just writing about them.

      August 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • .

        Are YOU a millennial? No one cares, shut up either way.

        August 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • AE

          Hey, it is not my fault you came to a Belief Blog, clicked (and possibly read) a story targeted to Christians and started reading the messages!

          August 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • .

          It is, however, your fault that you're a judgmental asshole no matter what someone posts

          August 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • AE

          🙂 You are doing the same thing! 🙂

          I love you!

          August 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          This post is not "targeted" at anyone. It is designed to attracked readers (hits) to justify advertising dollars. Get a grip.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          attracked = attract

          August 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
        • AE

          "But eventually I returned, because, like it or not, we Christian millennials need the church just as much as the church needs us."

          Clearly she is targeting a specific audience.

          She is not writing this to atheists and agnostics and trying to tell them what they should do. It doesn't mean you can't overreact and imagine she is. But it is not very reasonable to do so.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • Johnny

          Christians don't need the church either. They just think they do.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          AE,

          This was written to get hits on their counter, that is all. If you think differently then I'm sorry for you.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
        • AE

          Honey Badger,

          Well, duh. You can say that about every story if you really want.

          It is also an opinion piece written on a blog dedicated to religion and belief. And sometimes it gets specific – a Christian writes to a Christian audience. An atheist writes to an atheist audience.

          Not everybody feels like they have to tell everyone what to do.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • Ken

          AE
          There was a related story linking this to atheism, so atheist comments are indeed valid.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
        • AE

          But implying that the author is trying to tell atheists they need to start going to church?

          August 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • Ken

          AE
          Yet, many millennials left the church and became atheists, correct?

          August 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
        • AE

          Yes. But she isn't writing about atheists.

          She is writing about Christians who stop going to church.

          "the spiritual but not religious, Christian but not churchgoing crowd."

          August 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • Ken

          And, sometimes, they also become atheists, yes?

          August 6, 2013 at 1:02 am |
  10. AverageJoe76

    I can admit that being apart of something, like church, can make you feel good. Especially when you're devoted wholeheartedly. But if the gospel causes you to question and doubt it's validity, do you just simmer with these feelings so you can keep up appearences and not be outcast? If you continue to doubt, it takes courage to break away from your church, and begin a searching of your own soul. Most atheist and agnostics have embarked on the journey for truth, because the 'truth' they were told by religion does not make sense to them. Even in the face of 'eternal damnation', they decide to keep their eyes and ears open for something that makes more sense to them. And not because they just want to defy 'god', but instead, they need the truth about 'god'.

    August 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think the search for truth is absolutely valid. There are numerous cases of people who diverted into agnosticism and even atheism in their search. Some of them returned to faith. Some did not.

      August 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
      • AverageJoe76

        I'm agnostic, and I can tell you, you gotta be strong to keep an open mind about things. I accept death without rose-colored glasses. I could very well just blink out of exsistence. And that's it.

        August 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
        • JimK57

          I agree. I consider myself an agnostict theist and it is hard to keep an open mind when trying to find the truth and being sure you are not deluding yourself.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
        • AE

          I have to have an open-mind to follow Jesus.

          Insisting that I have an open-mind, and thinking others don't have an open-mind, is not open-minded by my standards.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • AverageJoe76

          @AE – When did someone 'insist' that others do not have an open mind?

          August 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • AE

          I am talking about myself.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • skytag

          @AE: "I have to have an open-mind to follow Jesus."

          If you're determined to "follow Jesus" no matter what you are no open-minded, you're brainwashed. When are you going to try answering some of my questions?

          August 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • AE

          –When are you going to try answering some of my questions?–

          Some of these threads are over 2 hours old!

          August 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        Religion has nothing to do with a search for truth. The only reliable way to test the validity of a claim is through science.

        August 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          BWAHAHAHA good one Honey

          August 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
        • AverageJoe76

          I believe starting out with religion was beneficial in my search for 'truth'. It helps me relate to faithfuls. I understand them. There are scores of people who just want a simplified version of reality. Not too many details. Just enough to live a happy, normal life, and be at peace with their creator. That's fine.

          For me, the unknown is just so much more exciting. I have a curious mind, and I'm always waiting for the next 'new discovery' on the horizon. I adhere to the position that humans are a young race, and we don't know much. So speaking about the 'Ultimate Being' on an intimate level, seems like we've placed the cart before the horse, in a sorts. This drives my agnosticism.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          Very true AJ,

          When you think you have the answers (god) then you stop looking for them. I hope that the religious keep their heads in the sand so that society will pass them by. Too bad that they use the technology that they are so afriad of that was created using science.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
        • AE

          “A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world.”

          –Joseph H. Taylor, Jr.

          I found a scientist that would disagree with you, Honey Badger!

          I used to think like you but then I realized:

          There are many religious people that know a lot more about science than me.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
        • AE

          “It may seem bizarre, but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion.”

          – Paul Davies
          (another scientist, something called a physicist... whatever that is)

          August 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
        • Anjil

          "Too bad that they use the technology that they are so afriad of that was created using science."

          Honey Badger, Who are you saying is afraid of technology?

          August 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
        • skytag

          @AE: "I found a scientist that would disagree with you, Honey Badger!"

          You found a scientist who disagrees with someone?. Big whoop. What do you think it proves? Being a scientist doesn't make someone an authority on the supernatural.

          If there is no conflict between science and religion what do you call it when science debunks claims and explanations advocated by the church?

          What is your educational background? Specifically, I'd like to know what you've studied, if anything, that requires some expertise with logic.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
        • skytag

          "BWAHAHAHA good one Honey" — Bill Deacon

          The believer's idea of an intelligent counter argument.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
        • AE

          I was posting to Honey Badger – who claimed that religious poeple reject science.

          I was posting some quotes from scientists who are religious.

          It was relevant. And if you read it in context it doesn't imply what you imagine.

          I am an artist. I don't claim to have expertise in logic and reason. Although I do use them in my career, life and thinking!

          August 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Religions are concerned with the search for "Ultimate Truth" where as science seeks proximate truth.
        The latter is quantifiable whereas the former is not.

        August 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • Ken

        Atheism and agnosticism are not necessarily exclusive. Very few serious atheists actually claim to have knowledge that no gods exist, or have existed anywhere in the universe. How would they know? What they typically do is reject the claim that a specific god does exist, usually based on the complete lack of evidence to support that claim. Show me some credible evidence for a god and I'll believe, but how many believers would ever stop believing in their god if given credible evidence?

        August 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • skytag

        People who value the truth don't choose to believe fairytales to avoid dealing with it when it isn't as pleasant as they wish it were.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  11. Reality

    See comment pages 1 and 6 for a contemporary review of baptism, confession, confirmation, communion et. al. to counter Ms. Evans beliefs.

    August 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • ME II

      Well thanks for the reference, as opposed to the full posting, I guess.

      August 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  12. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    So start a pet!tion to remove "In God we Trust" from the currency.

    Or change the motto back to "E Pluribus Unum".

    You can start here: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/

    August 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      should be posted below.

      August 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Vic

      You are confusing two things as reciprocals!

      "E Pluribus Unum" which means basically means "Out of Many, One" (Initially referring to the first 13-state United States) is still on the back of the one dollar bill as well as "In God We Trust."

      August 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        @Vic,

        I don't think I am confusing anything.

        Prior to 1956, the defacto motto of the US was "E Pluribus Unum" because it was placed on the Great Seal officially in 1782.

        After 1956, the official motto of the US is "In God we Trust". It was a response to the paranoia of the times and the 'red peril'.

        August 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • ME II

        E Pluribus Unum, is on the Great Seal of the US, but is not, as far as I know, the official motto of the country. "in God we trust" was passed as the contry's motto in the 50's, 1950's, as a refutation of sorts against the "Red Scare" and godless communists.

        I would love to see "In God we Trust" being removed and "E Pluribus Unum" made the country's motto.

        August 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
        • ME II

          Sorry, didn't mean to be redundant again.
          Apologies.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          @ME II,

          it can't hurt telling Vic more than once to try to get the message through.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Ellen

      Great move. Step by step, let's remove religious delusion from such dominance as it now has in American life. So many countries are ahead of us there right now.

      August 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  13. Lamb of dog

    Why does anyone need the church? She writes about all the inconsistent ideas that they want you to believe. It's enough to make people crazy. And who wants to follow a confused leader? And not just confused but also very negative about many topics. Ask yourself do we want to live in a society that is full of judgements and dogmas. Or start treating everyone with real respect regardless of what they feel or believe. The millennial are tired of the churches telling them what to think and how to feel.

    August 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Many people need religion for all kinds of reasons and are willing to suspend disbelief to participate in what they see as the benefits.

      If it makes them feel better, why not?

      August 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • AE

        That is not why I need religion.

        But if it makes you feel better to imagine that, why not? 🙂

        August 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        Why not? Because its perpetuating delusional behaviour. Religion is the largest and longest lasting mass delusion ever. It needs to be cured.

        August 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        @HBDC,

        so long as the 'delusional behavior' is the individual's voluntary choice and does not impinge on the rights of other citizens, what's the harm?

        August 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          The problem is that it is harmfull to society. When we become secular and a more rational society we will be betteroff.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          yes -when religion stays in its own yard everything is great, once it has numbers on its side then you have the world we have today. At their worst, the religions will try to kill you if you don't play their game- history has shown this time and again.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "The problem is that it is harmful to society."

          It can be – but thankfully we live in a country where religion is not (or should not be) the law. Where it overreaches we have to stop it.

          Having said that it does also benefit some people. It's not an accident that freedom of (and from) religion is the *first* amendment.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          "Having said that it does also benefit some people. It's not an accident that freedom of (and from) religion is the *first* amendment"

          True enough...as long as everyone sticks to words, I couldn't agree more.....however, religion constantly oversteps its bounds....we are supposed to have a secular government, As you said in a previous post, when it intrudes on our government, we must fight it. – there are several ways of doing this...the best way, safest way – cheapest way, is to remove the problem altogether....help the adherents WANT to leave this garbage in the rear view mirror.

          All other paths eventually end in a result nobody will be happy with.

          Religion MUST dominate ....They wont just leave us be, they never have.

          You feel comfortable that the religious will never be a threat to you, I assure you, if you get close to some of the events CNN reports, the world will change for you on a dime

          August 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "You feel comfortable that the religious will never be a threat to you."

          I never said that at all.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Not an exact quote – but im not going to sift through old topics: so correct me if im wrong....

          "nobody can prove or disprove god, not that I feel I need too"

          ...... to me that sounds like somebody that has dismissed religion as something trivial.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Then you misinterpret what I said (and your paraphrasing is close enough).

          The following represents my thinking on the matter: "I don't believe in God, though I can't (and nor do I need to) prove the non-existence of God."

          Like the duality present in just about everything (let's use dessert or craft beer as examples), religion in moderation can be good for some people. Personally it is not for me, though I continue to benefit from it in some ways. For example, most of the hospitals in my area are run by religious organizations.

          The 'eradicate it like a weed' approach is impractical and impossible in the short term. Work to curb the excessess where it impinges on the rights of citizens. People do have a const!tutional right to believe or not-believe.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Im sorry I misinterpreted your position.

          I don't doubt that it will take time...but as fast as possible is my stance. We are going to be forced to face a number of unpleasant issues in the near future. I feel that it is past time to start losing what baggage we can.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • AE

        I'm picking up on some delusions of grandeur.

        August 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • Douglas

          Clearly you had already picked up a lot of those, and you are quite seriously infected now.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
        • .

          As usual, AE has only one persona: contrary asshole.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          Wow AE...you can't prove your god but yet claim it to be real, so tell us who is having delusions of grandeur here?

          August 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
      • skytag

        Religion dumbs people down from the earliest ages by teaching that faith, which is belief, is more reliable than study and reason when you want to understand something. Here's what the Bible says about faith:

        Hebrews 11:1
        Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

        In other words, hoping something is true is evidence it's true. That is: Faith = Evidence. This is why they always claim they have evidence. Giving words a special meaning within the context of a belief system is a propaganda technique. "Faith" is evidence; "truth" is what the Bible teaches; do this enough and it doesn't take long before they're living in a world that has little connection to reality.

        Religions brainwashed their people to believe feelings are more trustworthy than intelligent, informed analysis so they can manipulate their followers by appealing to their emotions. Don't trust your head, trust your heart, that's where God lives or the Spirit dwells or some such nonsense. People fall for it and you have an electorate who believe they can just know what's good and bad policy without having to study anything. That is harmful to society.

        August 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      You assume people need religion. I believe that is a false statement.

      August 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        He doesn't assume people need religion. He states that he needs it, and not for the reasons you assume.

        August 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Some people do and it gives them something in return.

        It is a harder path letting go of the fairy tale.

        August 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          There are numerous people who continue attending church even after they stop believing. It sometimes goes beyond the need for community.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      People need religion like fox news needs facts.

      August 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        I'm not sure you meant to say that.

        Fox News has plenty of opinions. They are in desparate need of facts.

        August 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  14. Honey Badger Don't Care

    Baptism – mystical joke

    Confession – I don’t need to confess to anything unless I’ve committed a crime. Sin is a contrivance of the church to shame people into thinking that they have done something wrong. The church gives you a disease and then tries to sell you the cure.

    Healing – go to a registered health professional. You’ll have better luck.

    Communion – commune with nature, at least it’s real.

    Confirmation – reinforcement of the brainwashing received as a child. Get out of the echo chamber of the church and learn something about the real world.

    Union with christ – I would rather go to COMICON, at least I’m not deluding myself into believing that the characters are real.

    There is nothing done by religion that cannot be done through purely secular means.

    August 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • AE

      I used to think church was a lot like this.

      That the church brainwashed, shamed people into thinking their way and that I was better than all that.

      But, then I was humbled. Not by my choosing, but by the negative consequences of my actions. And I began to see where some religious people were actually right.

      And that I was wrong sometimes. And that I failed. I can confess that today.

      It is good for me to confess my failings and when I'm wrong. Even when I haven't committed a crime.

      August 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        You flipped a switch and compartmentalized that part of your mind. You're delusional and should go see a doctor. There is no god and the NT is a work of fiction. Live in the real world for a change.

        August 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
        • AE

          I used to say stuff like that too!!!

          The people I didn't like were delusional and needed to see a doctor. And I was just fine and didn't need any help.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • mk

        "But, then I was humbled. Not by my choosing, but by the negative consequences of my actions."

        If there are negative consequences for your actions, why would you need absolution? There is a direct relation between what we do and the consequences. This would be why people choose to do good, because it makes them feel good, not because a sky dad is going to punish or reward you. You don't get your direction from church, you get it from your parents, teachers, society, conscience, etc. There is no reason for a church or your priest or a book or a list of rules to guide what you do. It's common sense. Plenty of people go to church but have no problem scre-wing their neighbor. Do you really think that if you had no church to go to that you would have no moral compass??

        August 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • AE

          My negative consequences revealed my self-centered beliefs.

          -This would be why people choose to do good, because it makes them feel good, not because a sky dad is going to punish or reward you.-

          I don't want to just feel good. Or do things just to make my self feel good.

          And I don't believe there is a "sky dad" waiting to punish or reward me.

          When I go to church or talk to a friend (I don't have a priest), I beleive we are having a discussion.

          Nobody is giving me a list of what to do. We talk about how to help others.

          And how to get out of our self.

          --Do you really think that if you had no church to go to that you would have no moral compass??--

          I think without God, I'd be doing good things just to feel good about myself.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Zombie God

          AE,

          Clearly you have internal issues that church helps you with. You must have been a truly selfish and shallow person if you were doing acts of kindness to satisfy your ego. You will come across many like that in church.

          You dont need church to feel compassion for your fellow man. You dont need church to become magically loving of all.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • AE

          If I'm stuck in self, yes, I'm a truly shallow and selfish person.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • mk

          AE, The idea that you are doing good for someone else's benefit is a HUGE MYTH. Every good we do is for our own benefit, to make ourselves feel good. It's only human...we are naturally self-ish, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS. When you admit to this, you will stop guilting yourself for your so-called "sins". Stop letting an inst-itution make you think that you are a sinner. They are doing this so that you will come back next week.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Anjil

          "Every good we do is for our own benefit, to make ourselves feel good. It's only human...we are naturally self-ish..."

          mk, This is a bit of an oversimplification. Most parents, given the choice, would pick a childs happiness over their own, even if given a guarantee that no guilt would be felt. They would give their lives. We have evolved as a species to behave in this way despite the fact it doesn't always benefit us personally.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • AE

          I don't think I have to live that way. Life for this Christian is not just trying to make myself feel good. Some of what I do today I suffer for.

          What do you think my inst.itution teaches me? And do you think I only believe what they tell me? I'm sorry, but that is not an accurate description of the roles being played.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  15. Honey Badger Don't Care

    Only the weak minded need a church. Wake up and live in the real world!

    August 5, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • AE

      Sure, I'm weak minded. Now what?

      August 5, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • Pole dancing for Jesus

        Wake up and live in the real world!

        August 5, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  16. Rev. Rick

    Although I am an ordained (non-denominational) minister, more than a decade ago, I walked away from most organized religions. I found very little of what Rachael describes as the various reasons for her return to church-going. When I have tried to reconnect with the church, I found nothing but brow-beating and Bible th.umping, coupled with hefty doses of guilt. Life is difficult enough without being bludgeoned with the idea that I am a worthless sinner who can be redeemed only through the blood and sacrifice of another. I do believe in God, but not the God that has been placed in a box (the Bible) with formulaic prescriptions for salvation. If God is anything He is the supreme intellect of the Universe, and not the primitive and barbaric God who slaughters others to prove his power and might.
    Just saying......

    August 5, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Vic

      Well Rev. Rick, I respect your opinion. In the meantime, I would like to point out that one of the human problem with God is pride, which is from the devil. We humans are impressed with superficial and what looks good stuff. We boast in what is a show piece and impressive. That was/is the case with the Pharisees who boasted/boast and prided/pride themselves with to the extent of crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ who was the most humble and servile ever existed. It takes a layman to believe God.

      August 5, 2013 at 10:48 am |
      • HotAirAce

        Vic, all that crap allegedly happened thousands of years ago. Why hasn't any evidence been found to support your supernatural myths? Why do you believe that for which there is absolutely no factual, independent, objective and verifiable evidence?

        August 5, 2013 at 10:53 am |
        • skytag

          Because it's a much more comforting narrative than the alternative.

          August 5, 2013 at 10:57 am |
      • LinCA

        @Vic

        You said, "I would like to point out that one of the human problem with God is pride, which is from the devil."
        Bullshit. The problem with gods is that they are imaginary. The devil is just the other side of the same delusion.

        You said, "We humans are impressed with superficial and what looks good stuff. We boast in what is a show piece and impressive."
        You are describing the sheeple that gather in mega-churches to a T.

        You said, "It takes a layman to believe God."
        No, it takes checking your brain at the door.

        August 5, 2013 at 10:54 am |
      • Ken

        The Pharisees were also strict observers of the Law and lacked Jesus' liberal compassion, which makes them much more like todays's Conservative Christians than atheists.

        August 5, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        "We boast in what is a show piece and impressive."

        Like most churches?

        August 5, 2013 at 11:11 am |
      • Rev. Rick

        @ Vic. Thanks for your reply, but labeling my beliefs as "prideful" just doesn't fit. The pridefulness, it seems to me, is on the part of the Bible-th.umping Christians who claim to have all the answers neatly and inerrantly wrapped in scripture – pretty much the same as the Pharisees who claimed to know and to uphold the "Law". I freely admit that I don't have any answers – at least to the point of inerrancy.
        And saying, "it takes a "layman" to believe God?" Are all professional clergy going to hell? 🙂
        Talk about prideful and boastful.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Vic

          If you boast while believing, it is a forgivable sin. The Pharisees boasted in the Law in disbelief in Jesus Christ!

          August 5, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Vic – LOL! The "believers" always have an out that says you are right and others are not. Still sounds prideful to me.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • sam stone

          Isn't that special? Vic is purporting to speak for god again. He must really be well connected.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Interesting that Vic, and other believers, will explore the depths of their cult's beliefs but can't seem to come up with any evidence to support them, nor can they explain why they believe something with no evidence. I sure that will say it's just faith, where faith can be defined as pretending to know something you don't actually.

        August 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Just curious Rick, since you don't identify your non-denomination, can you tell us the difference between your beliefs and atavistic secular humanism?

      August 5, 2013 at 11:02 am |
      • ME II

        @Bill Deacon,
        Just curious, what do you mean by "atavistic secular humanism"?

        August 5, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          Apologies ME II, I probably used the term too loosely, I mean secular folks who are essentially good people, do good works and claim that knowledge of moral direction is implicit in our DNA, not requiring objective reference. I'm trying to make a distinction between that type of humanist and the more sinister arch type wicked atheist.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          So everyday atheists then – excluding the anti-theists.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • Rev. Rick

        Hi again Bill. Well as far as I know, secular humanists don't believe in God. I do.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • Anjil

          Do you consider yourself a Christian? If so, do you believe in the inerrancy of the Bible? Some other belief in God?

          August 5, 2013 at 11:24 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          OK, Am I correct that you left the organized church because A. you didn't like the fallen people you met there and B. you rejected the flawed theology they represented?

          If that is the case, haven't you simply replicated the same scenario? You've joined, or established a church that has a distinct description of God and a theology to match. I daresay, it is populated with fallen people and I suspect there will be a backlash against anyone who doesn't toe the theological line. I guess my point is, wasn't Luther right to dissent with corruption within the Body of Christ but wrong to establish a separate religion? Do you think he would have been more productive for the Gospel if he had taken a more measured path towards reformation?

          August 5, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • Rev. Rick

          If you mean Christian in the traditional sense, then no, I could not classify myself as a Christian. However, if you mean someone who tries to follow Jesus' example, then yes. The Bible is a useful book for moral direction and guidance, but I do not believe it is inerrant, nor is it a book of literal history. It was composed, over time, by a number of different writers – some of whom are known, but many of whom are either anonymous, or claimed to be people they were not. That last fact alone makes it subject to error.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Anjil

          Bill, I would disagree. Sometimes it is not within your power to change the system. Sometimes the best model for change can be created externally. Luther was right and the Buddha was right. Both new movements served ultimately to reform the cultures from which they emerged. A diversity of ideas and experiments benefits us all.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • Anjil

          @Rick, Are the any organized religions or organizations you've found, Christian, Unitarian or other, that welcome your beliefs? Which comes closest?

          August 5, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Bill. In your scenario, it is not simply an A nor a B. All theology is flawed no matter who declares it inerrant, or true, or infallible. My particular denomination (New Thought), if you can even call it a denomination, does not adhere to nor force its membership to adhere to any specific dogma or theology. There is no "theological line" to which we must adhere. You can find a summary of New Thought beliefs on Wikipedia as well as on other websites, but even then I would hesitate to call it any kind of doctrine, and we certainly don't talk about it as being the only truth out there.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Anjil – There are a number of "denominations" of New Thought. For example, Religious Science (not to be confused with Christian Science. Christian Science doesn't believe in using doctors or medicine but Religious Science does), and there is also the Unity Church of Christianity (not to be confused with Unitarianism). If you want to find a specific New Thought church in your area, please Google "Centers for Spiritual Living".

          August 5, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • Anjil

          Thanks, Rick, that seems to make sense with your views.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Please bear with me. As a Catholic, I may not have the concept of what you're saying. For instance, we have a creed and a dogma which every Catholic assents to, even if they disagree with at some level and that makes us all Catholic. What is it that makes Free Thought adherents a community? If everyone is free to determine their own perception, I still don't see the difference between that and humanism, except as you noted, a belief in "God", although you appear to have no consistent mechanism for worship or a plan for salvation that everyone agrees to.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • Anjil

          Bill, non-creedal communities, which also include Unitariansim and universal pantheism, do have general shared principals, but it is (usually) up to the individual to determine the fit. You don't have to believe in or support all, which makes sense since usually it is a greed that the list developed by consensus.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          @Bill said, "I still don't see the difference between that and humanism, except as you noted, a belief in "God", although you appear to have no consistent mechanism for worship or a plan for salvation that everyone agrees to."

          LOL, Bill! You see no difference except for a belief in God? I'd say that's a pretty big difference! With that said, I see no difference in Catholicism and several other Christian denominations, except for your belief in the Pope as the vicar of Christ on earth, and perhaps a few variations on rituals.

          @ Bill also said, "we have a creed and a dogma which every Catholic assents to, even if they disagree with at some level and that makes us all Catholic."

          Likewise, *New Thought* (not Free Thought as you used in your post) has a set of beliefs, but we do not classify them as a creed, doctrine nor a dogma, and if one of our members disagree with any of them, they can still call themselves members of a New Thought denomination without feeling like an outsider. We also have hundreds of worship centers in the U.S. and probably thousands more world-wide. In addition to formal worship centers, there are hundreds more New Thought discussion groups that gather in peoples’ homes to pray and to worship together.

          I would say that give us as much right as Catholics to call ourselves a "community" of believers.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          My apologies for the misnomer. I suppose my statement would be that I could see a person become a member of a New Thought community, I'm just not sure what they think they might be joining. I suppose it could be anything at any point in time depending on what? The prevailing political persuasion of the most charismatic personalities?

          August 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Bill. Thanks for your continued discussion, but for some reason you seem to be laboring under the very false impression that New Thought has no spiritual coherency. Well, I can assure you that with hundreds of worship centers, and literally millions of member world-wide, that fact will hopefully disabuse you of that notion.

          For example, it is true that Religious Science is a relatively young New Thought denomination, but the primary publication for Religious Science, known as *Science of Mind Magazine*, has been in continuous publication since 1927. There are very few magazines left that have survived that long, but Science of Mind Magazine has. You can still subscribe today, either by printed copy or via a Web-based publication.

          How do you tell a Presbyterian, from a Methodist, from a Southern Baptist, from a Primitive Baptist, etc., etc. You might say because they use the Bible? Yes! But *New Thought* does not discard the Bible as useless. We read scripture from the Bible, but you might also find us reading from the Bhagavad Gita, or the Hindu Vedas, or even the Buddhist Pali Canon.
          In summary, I will only add the following saying that is attributed to the Buddha, and I think it's very true for many followers of New Thought:

          " Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and an.alysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it." – The Buddha

          August 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • Anjil

          Bill, I think it might clear up your confusion if you actually visit the websites for the organizations discussed and look at how the beliefs are presented. It is quite clear what the prevailing beliefs are and one can decide for oneself if they are close enough. If the beliefs of the group change too much for you, or if you change, you can find another organization that is a better fit, or you can fight to change the organization. These are the same options anywhere. In the Universal Pantheist Society a large group wanted to be more materialist and broke off. In the unitarian universalists many wanted to reference spirituality and changed the principals. It's no different than when Christian denominations split over beliefs and practices.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Anjil – all very good points. In fact, New Thought might best be described as panentheistic as opposed to pantheistic. The difference is subtle, but important.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • Anjil

          Rick, Yes, our comments crossed and I think you explained things well and a bit more thoroughly. I would agree most (but not all) New Thought seems to be panentheistic and that it is a significant distinction.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Thank you, I think I grasp the idea now.

          August 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • AE

      The brow-beaters, Bible th.umpers, and people trying to make me feel guilty... my pastor suggests we need to love them to.

      August 5, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Anjil

      I'm wondering also about your specific beliefs. It sounds like you are trying to connect with the wrong people when the world has a wide variety of beliefs.

      August 5, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  17. jz_jz

    "participation in a local church gives young Christians the chance to speak openly about our struggles with materialism, greed, gossip, anger, consumerism and pride."

    I appreciate this article. I think it has some very good things that all of us Millennials need to think about. But what I don't get is why she seems to believe that she gets to be the one who decides which sins are worthy of confession.

    August 5, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Jesus the Christ

      For god so loved the world...

      That he drowned everyone on it!

      August 5, 2013 at 10:33 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Everyone? Seems implausible.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Well, everybody but the 8 people left on the Ark.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • ME II

          ... and, yes, it does sound implausible, like much of the Bible.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Athy

          Don't forget all the thousands upon thousands of animals and plants that were also crowded, in some magical way, onto the ark.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • JesusNotReligion

        Not everyone...He saved 8 while giving 120 years for others to turn from their wickedness–but they mocked & laughed at His "preacher of righteousness". They held onto their sin and godless worldview that says, "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die"...
        We would not know what MERCY is if there was no JUSTICE...and mercy can NOT BE UNDER "OBLIGATION", otherwise we are no longer talking about "mercy"...Funny how people scream for JUSTICE when they see evil atrocities but don't want it when if falls on them...Then, they want to God to prove He is the "loving" God He's "supposed" to be, but what they really want is for God to be obligated to show them them "mercy" instead of them having to be held accountable...but love and mercy are two different things.

        At the cross, God displayed both His JUSTICE and MERCY (John 3:16-18, 36)...He poured out His just wrath and judgment of sin that WE DESERVED ONTO HIS SON (upholding His Justice), while giving mercy to all who will believe (like the one thief on the cross who believed Jesus was the sinless Lord/King).

        This time (in this period before He returns with His final judgment by fire–not water), He hasn't given the world a mere 120 years to repent, He's given them nearly 2,000 years...This "judgment", like the on in Noah's generation, will again come upon this world like a thief in the night; "as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when the Son of Man returns..." (see Mt. 24)...and your post proves true these warning words of Jesus...

        "Repent or perish" (the recorded words of Jesus Christ)...Laugh it up or cry out to be saved...

        August 5, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          Or its just a fairy tale for grownups.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:40 am |
        • JesusNotReligion

          Fairy tales start with "Once upon a time..." and don't have archaelogical evidence bearing witness to their existence...You're being intellectually unfair, which is an oxy moron...But I'm not posting here to convince you of anything...I'm posting to preach the great Justice & Mercy of God in Christ, whether or not you believe...

          August 5, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • Johnny

          At least one fairy tale stats with" In the beginning"

          August 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "Fairy tales start with "Once upon a time..." and don't have archaelogical evidence bearing witness to their existence..." which means the flood account in the bible is a total fairy tale since the geological and archaeological evidence shows that no global flood has occured in the last 150,000 years and would be impossible as described in the bible.

          August 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • JesusNotReligion

          @Johnny...Just a quick acknowledgement that I read your post....I don't agree and hope you will one day reconsider your position that is also "faith-based" if you take some time to think about...

          @Just the Facts Ma'am...you wrote:
          " the flood account in the bible is a total fairy tale since the geological and archaeological evidence shows that no global flood has occured in the last 150,000 years and would be impossible as described in the bible"

          I'm assuming you've had firsthand access to the "evidence" of which you are referencing; having done the tests yourself without any God-hating bias. If not, then fron one perspective you are no different from me in that we are both making statements of faith....trusting in the testimony of others.

          If nothing ULTIMATELY matters, and WE ALL GO TO THE SAME LIFELESS PLACE OF NON- EXISTENCE IN THE END, then why in the world are you even spending any of your time in this blogosphere? Could it be that you're getting paid to blog herein? Or could it be that it simply gives you a justification for your existence? A sense of mission? A venue to display your whit? An opportunity that affords you to gain some sense of value & worth?...Some sense of recognition? Can it be that you feel some sense of responsibility to uphold the supposed truth that you really believe has evidence to back it up? That you must confront people like myself who may influence others to join our ranks? If so, WHY? What are you offering as an alternative to the meaning of life that the Bible offers? You honestly don't make sense in relationship to what you say you believe...

          You, and all your fellow atheists who blog herein are truly are an enigma and an oxy moron to me (and I know there's not supposed to be a space between "oxy" and "moron")...

          August 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          once upon a time, in the beginning.... a distinction without a difference.

          August 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Yes. I have seen a great deal of first hand evidence, and no there is no bias. We did not go looking for the flood, or looking to disprove the flood, but in researching the world, I can tell you beyond a doubt, that since life began on the planet, there has not been a world encopmpassing flood. At no time was the world flooded with water to a depth of 15 cubits above the highest peak. There would be vast amounts of evidence that would be all over the world, but instead, not only is there no evidence of the flood, there are Literally mountains of evidence (since much of the evidence is actually in mountains) that it never happened.

          Noahflood NEVER happened. I simply can't fathom an ordinarily normal intelligent person believing in such folly when we know it NEVER happened.

          My believing colleagues simply think that the MEN who wrote the bible, misinterpretted gods word or it isn't literal or some other lame excuse, but the evidence PROVES BEYOND DOUBT, Noah flood is nothing but myth.

          August 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • JesusNotReligion

          @Richard Cranium...
          1st...Sorry, but I don't believe that you have actually witnessed/handled the supposed evidence of which you speak...or that you don't have a God-hating bias...

          2nd...I'm sure you've had other believers try and point you to the "Instiitute of Creation Research", but if not: http://www.icr.org

          3rd...If you at least believe that Jesus of Nazareth is a bonafide "historical" person who was known by secular historians, at the very least, as a "good moral teacher" who demonstrated sacrificial love and great human acts of kindness, then I can, at least, argue from this following perspective: Jesus Himself refences the flood judgment, the days of Noah, Jonah, the judgment on S0dom & Gomorrah, Adam & Eve, Satan as being the Serpent, as well as Auhoritatively quoting (over and over again) from the Pentateuch/Torah (esp. Genesis) throughout the 3 1/2 years of His recorded Ministry on earth. He was by no means ACC0MMODATING a lie, or perpetuating a falsehood...So, if He was a "good moral teacher", which (again) He was at least historically known as being, we could no longer consider Him as such. But His recorded life, words and sacrificial love don't give us any indication that He was a liar, out of His mind, a deceiver or one who was delusional or without moral restraint. He gave everything of Himself and gained nothing while on earth...even His closest associates abandoned Him...The reliability of His recorded "life's witness" (Biblical & Secular), along with the witness of the prophetic (Old Testament) writings pertaining to the Person, Character, Origins, Nature and Mission of the "Messiah" ("the Christ"), of whom I believe He is, I stand convinced by God's Spirit, Word & Grace that the FLOOD HAPPENED, and that you will one day know (experientially) that it happened, because "as it was in the days of Noah, so too shall it be when the Son of Man comes in His glory..." (Mt. 24).

          August 6, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • midwest rail

          Creation science is not science.

          August 6, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • ME II

          @JesusNotReligion,
          At least scientists try to be unbiased:

          "The Bible, consisting of the thirty-nine canonical books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven canonical books of the New Testament, is the divinely-inspired revelation of the Creator to man. Its unique, plenary, verbal inspiration guarantees that these writings, as originally and miraculously given, are infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological."

          August 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • ME II

          sorry, that quote was from ICR: http://www.icr.org/tenets/

          August 6, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • ME II

          @JesusNotReligion,
          "3rd...If you at least believe that Jesus of Nazareth is a bonafide "historical" person ..."

          1) It is likely that Jesus was an actual person, but beyond a few basic events, e.g. baptism, crucifixion, temple, etc. the details of his life are not accepted as accurate by all historians. Therefore we don't really know exactly what He said, only what others said that He said.
          2) Even if Jesus was quoted accurately, He could easily have been speaking metaphorically or simply have been incorrect.

          August 6, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          JNR
          It does not surprise me that you don't believe me. You clearly have issue with not believeing in reality, but believing in fantasy, so that tracks.

          You do of course realize that your Jesus character may or may not have actually existed, but much of what "he" said, actually came from the Buddha, right?
          The Buddha came before by several hundred years, and we know there was a great deal of cultural exchange, so either Christ studied the Buddha, or the creators of the story incorporated a great of the Buddha's teachings into the character.

          Buddha was the first to teach non-violence, do unto others, fixiing self before criticizing other, community over self, on and on, the parallels are amazing. There are of course some differences, because the creators of the story, picked and chose what parts to add to their story. For instance, Buddha taught that belief in any gods was really moot, since god would or would not be, regardless of what we think of him/her/it, and that belief in gods was a desire, and you must let go and do not pursue desire to acheive enlightenment. It is likely the creators of the Jesus character, could not have people NOT believing on gods, so incorporated a god element being required to acheive enlightenment (salvation).

          Study the real history of the bible, not the psuedo history within the bible and you will discover a great deal about where the stories REALLY came from, and why.

          August 6, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  18. God

    So...Jesus had 12 apostles when he was alive (supposedly). Paul was around WAY after this Jesus died. So why is Paul being called an apostle and not just a convert? Want to read a really good book? Try, "The Myth Maker."

    August 5, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Vic

      Jesus Christ appeared to Saul, although he did not see but only heard Him because he was made blind for a little while on purpose, on the road to Damascus where He commissioned him, and later became Apostle Paul by the authority of Him.

      August 5, 2013 at 10:56 am |
      • G to the T

        "According to Saul..." and there we have it. Why so keen to believe the unverifiable experience of one man over the (supposed) words of Jesus himself? Especially when they conflict on so many levels?

        August 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • skytag

      I want to know why God changed Saul's heart but not Hitler's.

      August 5, 2013 at 10:58 am |
      • ME II

        Good question. I haven't heard it phrased that way before.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:04 am |
      • Vic

        God is sovereign.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Even if that were true, it doesn't answer the question.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • Vic

          The point is we can not know nor questions His Will nor Wisdom!

          August 5, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          " ...we can not know ... His Will nor Wisdom!"

          And yet christians claim to know that and also adamantly maintain that the bible is god's word.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:58 am |
        • Vic

          Let me rephrase that on the run as well:

          The point is we can not know everything about His Will nor Wisdom, nor can we question them, at all.

          Jesus Christ Himself is the actual Word of God.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          How can you verify that what you believe is actually god's word as your knowledge is incomplete.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic,
          "The point is we can not know everything about His Will nor Wisdom, nor can we question them, at all."

          How can you not question that which you don't know?
          Or put another way, if you can not know everything then how can you know if anything is wrong?

          August 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
        • redzoa

          " . . . nor can we question them, at all."

          In other contexts, this would be a Nuremberg Defense, i.e. an abdication of any personal responsibility, just blind deference to perceived authority. It's this exact same weak argument I hear every time some apologist defends the slaughter of Amalekite children and infants. But because every holy book must invariably be interpreted by fallible human minds, therein lays the most terrifying aspect of religious belief. They begin with the notion that the holy book cannot be questioned, then proceed to justify their preconceived notions with their ever convenient supporting interpretations, but then conflate the two so that their interpretations themselves can no longer be questioned, only defended (like obedient little Brownshirts).

          August 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Probably because Paul did such a good job.

        August 5, 2013 at 11:12 am |
      • james

        The God that created man and has the right, reads hearts, (see !Sam.16:7, 1Chron. 28:9, Pr.4:23,14:30, 21:2, Jer.17:9,16, Matt.5:8, 22:37, Ro.10:10, Eph.1:18, Heb. 3:8 for starters)

        August 5, 2013 at 11:26 am |
      • AE

        Saul had to accept the change. Maybe Hitler wouldn't accept outside help? Maybe Hitler decided to kill himself rather than change his heart?

        August 5, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          Maybe HitIer found jesus and prayed just before he died and is in heaven right now.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • AE

          Maybe. Perhaps he is serving those he harmed?

          August 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          AE, "Saul had to accept the change. Maybe Hitler wouldn't accept outside help?"

          So did god give those who were not Noah's family that choice?

          August 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • AE

          I think God provided a way out to those who would listen. The wicked people didn't listen to God. Noah did.

          August 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
        • james

          Noah preached to those people for 40 years while building the ark with his family but as the Bible said those people took no note until the flood came and swept them all away. It also said their thoughts were only bad all the time, kind of like today when it comes to listening to those who are trying to share His message.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • ME II

          Maybe Hitler did accept Jesus and was following His word all along.

          August 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • Thinker...

          So while building the TARDIS of water transport (it's bigger on the inside!) Noah also traveled the entire world to preach to all those people far away from his little corner of the world of the comming flood?

          August 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • james

          Thinker? that is what it says but the world was a little different then and that is why they found Mammoths with green vegetation in their mouths and they are finding tropical evidence under the poles as well as under the Sahara desert and other unexplained Geological phenomena around the world (satellites are great) that would be explained by the destruction of the flood but that would be expected at a time that Jesus said would be "like the days of Noah, (Matt.24:36-39)

          August 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You're confusing Apostles with disciples.

      August 5, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        The twelve:

        Simon, called Peter
        Andrew, his brother
        James, son of Zebedee
        John, his brother
        Philip
        Bartholomew
        Thomas, the doubter
        Thaddeus
        Matthew, the tax collector
        James, son of Alphaeus
        Simon, the zealot
        Judas Iscariot

        August 5, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • james

          "Apostle" means "sent forth" and those chosen by Jesus included Matthias as replacement for judas and Paul but there were many others "sent forth" by congregations and were called Apostles, re.Joseph Barnabbas, Epaphroditus, James(brother of Jesus) and others. Even Jesus was referred to as an Apostle, (see Heb.3:1, Mt.10:40,15:24, and other places he said he was sent forth by his father). Thought you seemed interested.

          August 5, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • Douglas

        It's all hogwash anyway, Bill. And you drank it up, fool.

        August 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • james

          I am so sorry you have been so misled but if you would like to talk about it please ask. j

          August 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.