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:
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
About this blog
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.
Let's play "Favorite bible verse"! I'll start:
II Kings 2: 23-24: From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.
I actually had to look it up to make sure it wasn't a joke. What a fascinating, strange and downright ridiculous collection of books the Bible is.
The Bible is honest. Just because a story appears in the Bible does not mean that God approves of it. Some times it paints a honest and accurate portrayal of what the people were like and exposes many of their faults, defects and hypocrisies.
He certainly approves of genocide though.
Wait wait wait, AE. So you're claiming that this passage doesn't imply that god was the one who sent the bears? You're claiming that god disapproved of elijah's curse, and the bears were a coincidence?
I was talking about the Bible in general.
Elisha is headed to Bethel, from Jericho, along a dangerous path. 42 young men begin to verbally intimidate Elisha. They are threatening to harm, and quite possibly kill him.
Elisha cursed them in the name of God.
And then 2 bears killed all the young men.
That is the story, right?
AE, that story seems inconsistence with the position that God won't do anything to reveal himself because then people wouldn't need to develop faith. If some muggers threaten you, do you think God will smite them with bears to protect you?
That is a good question. Many good people have called out to God against evil in similar situations, and had to suffer at the hand of evil. I don't know why that happens.
You don't know why that happens, AE? Holy shit! How obvious can the answer be? If you try really hard, I'll bet even you could figure it out. But you have to think, that's the tricky part.
Even if God didn't make the bears attack the boys, God must have made them all just stand around and wait to be eaten as I fail to see how two bears could have gotten the better of 42 running boys who would have known the ancient rule of thumb, you don't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than the other 41 kids.
They just have to be faster than the two slowest ones.
I don't know why evil does what it does.
Why did John the Baptist, a person who God showed favor to, have his head cut off and served on a platter?
Evil? If that whole NT story was made up, why did the authors reveal so many bad things happening to people who had faith in God?
Evil will happen. If evil couldn't harm people, evil really wouldn't be a threat, now would it? For some reason, and possibly for reason I can never understand, God allows evil to exist. He doesn't approve of it.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe I need to take a stand against evil. And fear no evil. Even if evil can destroy my body, it can't harm my soul.
WelL, AE, I told you that thinking was the tricky part. Until you master that, you have no chance. You'll just have to keep wondering in clueless ignorance.
Time to reconcile Adam and Eve with our current scientific knowledge about evolution. God formed man from the dust of the earth (some translations say slime of the earth) is the common translation out of Genesis. The dust of the earth contains matter and energy necessary for the biologic evolution of life on earth as far as I can tell.
This is basically what the Bible tells us. I see no way current evolution theory conflicts with this account. Does anyone?
Without the Atomized Cosmologies there would be no Celestial or Cellular Cosmologies and without the Atomized and Celestial Cosmologies there would be no Cellular Cosmologies... Our Beings physical essences have been wonderfully made from the Atomized Cosmologies along with Celestial Cosmology's anointing of photo-genetic nuances we know of as being the sun's light...
No Cellular Cosmologies here upon this or any other earthen world could have been thusly fermented without the needed ingredients coming from the earthen Atomized Cosmologies with help by the sun's photo-genetic light shining upon the needed ingredients emanating from the Atomized Cosmologies whereby eons ago cellular cosmologic life first began arising out from the Atomized Cosmologies upon this earthen world we have called Earth...
All Cellular Cosmologies owe their beings welfares to the Atomized Cosmologies here and elsewhere within the vastness of all Celestial Cosmologies found aptly able to be conditioned by the Celestial Cosmology's suns emitting photo-genetic light particles onto any earthen world being found capable of transitioning their earthly Atomized Cosmologies into becoming fermented Cellular Cosmologies of Life-sustaining ambitions...
There is no God or godly implications needed for this Triune Manifestation of Cosmologic Orders to be realized toward being a relative Truth considered as a comprehensive rationality...
While I hold in reserve my beliefs regarding the Atomized Cosmologies contingent makeup, I do believe the Celestial Cosmos to be infinitely vast beyond mankind's current reckonings... As science peers evermore inwardly and increasingly outward, it stands to reason that science will one day find both directions fathomably of the relative sameness in scopes and rationalities but differing in aged consistencies. The inward views of the atomic cloisters are ancient and invariably fixed while the outward views upon the celestial are still yet young and ever made malleable...
This poster is the belief blog pseudo intellect, don't bother reading, just laugh and move on.
I wonder if Adam/Eve were part of the h0mo-erectus, or h0mo-neanderthal sub-species?
Theologians are still duking out exactly who or what Adam and Eve were. We can get into trouble quick when we start adding our thoughts to what the Bible actually says. We do not know the process God used as the Bible is silent on that. What we do know is that God created man very different from animals. With animals their life was formed in unison with their physical being where as man we see something very different. Life (soul) was breathed into the physical form. Evolution does not address soul.
We do not know the process God used as the Bible is silent on that
Very true. However, whatever the bible did say about this is largely irrelevant, as the bible is the work of the human mind, and not God.
With over 6 billion sold that was one Divine marketing campaign.
The power to transform lives to this very day.
A prerequisite for any president to be elected is a Big visible Bible.
The true heart of the reader is revealed upon reading it.
Certainly written by men. Very inspired men that reveal the image of God that cannot be imagined by men, drawn by men or captured by our language and temples or other man made things..
" Evolution does not address soul."
True, because there is no evidence that a soul exists.
Fred, what makes you think we have a soul? What concrete evidence can you present in support of that belief?
And the bible is not evidence.
Very inspired men that reveal the image of God that cannot be imagined by men
"Cannot" is your word, and it's a strong word. You don't know this to be certain, whatever you believe. Humans have crafted all sorts of brilliant works of fiction throughout our history.
Did God need human assistance to create the universe, and all life within? Certainly not. Why then would he need human assistance to write a few words in a book?
The only evidence I have as to soul is we have created mechanical machines that can reproduce themselves and even adapt their own software to new external stimuli and respond accordingly. We can create several and give a prime directive (just wanted to use that word) not to make a similar adaptation if negative results are observed in the others.
If you look at them we instinctively sense a difference between our creation and say a human or a dog. But, I cannot say if that difference is soul or just a preconceived notion on my part.
I have been asked to do graphics related to God and at best can only reflect certain attributes of God. It is like making a rendering of a soul that I cannot do but sometimes soul is expressed through the work itself.
My thought as to why God did not choose some other way to communicate rests with free will. In the Garden gave direct instruction yet man chose to exercise free will and discover his own way in the world rather than under a bubble of Gods perfection. I noticed my kids do the same thing regardless of how clear the instruction set is. Free will does not exist if it cannot be exercised and must be exercised to be free will.
The plan created by God takes all this into account including the writing of the Bible.
Wow, that's a stretch, Fred. That proof will never stand the logic test. Maybe it's good enough for you, but it doesn't fly in my book.
My thought as to why God did not choose some other way to communicate
My thought is that God didn't choose to communicate with us through a book at all. That's why humans have written the bible. If God had chosen to communicate with us through word he created, I believe it would be available to every human on earth, because I consider us to be all equal.
The written words in the Bible are mans translation and are words. This is in contrast with the Word of God that is revealed to the believer or non believer. When you or I read the Bible we approach it based upon who we are at that time. The Bible will reveal to us what we seek. If you are looking for scientific conflict you will find it.
The Word of God is not limited by physical a Bible and can reach anyone. Some of us get an easy path because we were born in a country that has Bibles all over the place while others are presented with varying road blocks and difficulties. To whom who much is given much is expected.
The Word of God is not limited by physical a Bible and can reach anyone
So, you're admitting that the texts utilized by other religions, by people in different regions of the world, are also the word of God? As an example, the old primitive tribal culture in the rain forest. They've never heard of the bible, or christianity. They have their own ideas of God, and follow their own traditions that have developed within their culture. Sounds like you're telling me that what they follow is also the word of God, since the word can reach anyone, and these folks have no access to christianity. You think everyone is equal also! Good for you, you're not so bad after all. 😉
The creation of Adam and Eve as described in the bible does not match evolution – Adam was supposedly created as Homo Sapiens with no intermediate ancestors and Eve was supposedly created from Adam's rib as an afterthought.
We don't know that. The apostle Paul certainly believed that as he was schooled under the Jewish Rabbis.
The Bible does not address the detail process of Adams formation. Some argue that formed out of dirt is simply to indicate humility. Either way I do not see how you can box this verse into a scientific theory.
"This is basically what the Bible tells us. I see no way current evolution theory conflicts with this account. Does anyone?"
Yes. The Bible talks about man being form directly from dust which is not what happened, nor could it, evolutionarily.
The translation I gave as dust was a common one even though clay, ground, slime, adam/adamah, earth can be argued.
The human body is made up of materials and minerals found on the surface of the ground. Oxygen (65%), Carbon (18%), Hydrogen (10%) as well as 59 elements found on the earths crust.
=>exactly how does science conflict with that?
Sorry, I cannot find the word or implication that God formed man directly out of the dust or the process used. God did not use 18 parts of Carbon to 10 parts Hydrogen when man was formed that we are told.
I see nothing in the Bible that prohibits God from using a process that when engineered backwards does not look like or give the appearance of evolution.
Fred, don't capitalize the names of elements. You know better than that, don't you?
Ouch, the first time was a Wiki cut and paste so I just repeated the Same in the next post. What if Carbon and Hydrogen are my friends?
So you cut the poor fellows up into 10 and 18 parts? Ouch!
If you think of it as simple division it does not hurt.
"The Bible talks about man being form directly from dust which is not what happened, nor could it, evolutionarily"
=>The Bible does not say directly it is silent as to time (other than day six which is another topic) and process. Assuming that can you agree science does not contradict the Bible as to Adam?
IF you don't think the story of creation in Genesis is literal then why would anybody be a Christian as it sets up the whole reason for needing Jesus to be sacrificed?
Catholicism officially accepts the Adam and Eve story yet unofficially rejects the literal interpretation of timing of creation. Other sects see the sacrifice as designed to help steer culture in more general terms. I'm not a Christian, but I certainly can see a number of reasons for having a visitor come talk to folks that wouldn't require a literal interpretation of every detail.
It just seems to me that if humans are not tainted with original sin at birth then the whole Bible falls apart.
What parts? I'm assuming that once you don't take one part literally you don't have to take the rest literally. I don't see a major problem with a god or gods who started things going, took a look a bit later and said "Oh, crud, it's off course...better send someone down to help out". As long as you're free to dump various bits and pieces you should be able to make something of a story out of that with either a visiting god or enlightened prophet.
Adam and Eve's downfall was they didn't trust God. They listened to a voice other than God's and believed that voice.
Well, for me at least , the entire Jesus story makes no sense without a literal Adam and Eve who are responsible for original sin. Without out original sin it seems to me that people would be responsible for their own misdeeds, and god wouldn't have needed to send Jesus to Earth to forgive the sins of everyone.
It might make sense as a metaphor for the evolution of self awareness, i.e. gaining knowledge of good and evil. Once humans gained that they realized that unlike animals that behave mostly by instinct, humans can choose and therefore can make bad choices which we all make at some point.
However, it goes awry when it suggests the answer is some mystical being that requires us to be purely good and will forgive all our bad choices... for a price. That's pure bunk, in my opinion.
Yeah, the story of Adam and Eve would make sense in that scenario, but there would still be no need for the whole Jesus sacrifice.. The only way Jesus is necessary is if Adam and Eve actually existed and committed original sin.
That's not your opinion, it's an inescapable fact.
"I certainly can see a number of reasons for having a visitor come talk to folks that wouldn't require a literal interpretation of every detail."
What you are saying is that if Parents give their kids presents on December 25th it's perfectly acceptable to teach them it was a fat man in a suit that slid down their chiminey and watches everything they do year round to make sure they deserve the gifts. But as soon as they learn that this is just a lie and there is no fat man delivering presents they know 2 very important details, 1. Their parents are liars. and 2. There is no fat man looking over their shoulders 24/7
What does this have to do with the Genesis account? Simple. If the divine force giving Moses the insight on creation didn't tell the real story and just gave an allegory, then we should know two things. 1. That divine force is a liar. and 2. The ransom that is demanded based on that Genesis account is invalid
Science doesn't seek truth, it seeks explanations of phenomena that are consistent with verifiable tests. Things that aren't consistent with verifiable data are false.
We may never know how our observable universe was created, but we can tell when a creation explanation is false, it conflicts with verifiable data. The Abrahamic creation myth conflicts with verifiable data, therefore it is false. Every other religious creation myth I have seen also conflicts with verifiable data, so they are false.
The various big bang theories are consistent with verifiable data. That doesn't mean any are true, it just means they haven't been shown to be false.
bostontola- "Science doesn't seek truth, it seeks explanations of phenomena that are consistent with verifiable tests. Things that aren't consistent with verifiable data are false."
If science isn't seeking truth, how could it be seeking what is false? Wouldn't it more accurate to say that what is not verifiable is just that...unverifiable?
An example is in the OP, The big bang is not false but we don't know if it's true. People thought Newton's theory of gravity was true for centuries until Relativity came along. We know that relativity is better than Newton's theory, but we don't know if it's true.
Another way to look at it is, science is a highly controlled process of elimination. If there were a finite number of explanations, we could eliminate all but truth and have truth. We don't know if there is a finite number (I doubt it), so the best we can do is weed out the wrong stuff. Our imperfect theories are amazingly good at describing what we can sense and have yielded amazing medical and other technologies.
Sired Bostonian wanting to LA...
Rationalisms are speculative reasoning considerations that can only be raised to enlighten one's objectiveness issues... Saying this thing is more righteous than another thing is subjugated rationalism... While the peripheries of tantamount conjugations are of malleable considerations, speculations will ever be and become the reconcilers' standings... No one person may be held accountable toward irreconcilable differences issuances...
Oh, and just because something hasn't been verified, that doesn't mean it is unverifiable. The Higgs Boson was unverified until the Large Hadron Collider verified it. Verifiability is technology dependent and it is philosophical in it's definition.
Has it actually been 100% verified yet? Have they released the data and confirmed its existence?
Of course it will never be 100% verified, but by combining the various sensor data, they have declared it meets the agreed upon confidence for verification.
Maybe 100% was the wrong way of putting it. As is often said, nothing in science is proven. I've heard CERN scientists say that they believe it's been found but further tests are ongoing. Perhaps these further tests are in relation to the Higgs Boson and supersymmetry.
.....Wouldn't it more accurate to say that what is not verifiable is just that...unverifiable?
And the gods, magical things and unicorns still fall under this.
Cute theory. Any real scientists here to put in some input? Any? Hello? Hello? Just internet philosophy? Ok...
There is no such thing as universal truth.
Truth is just something human beings declare. Whatever the majority declares, in essence, is the truth. And nothing is false. Anything you declare wrong about my beliefs is not false. You just don't agree. Basically we are just talking about our opinions. Because Johnny says nothing can be universally true.
Unless there is a God. And he is the source of truth. As well as the author of science.
Not universal, But we have evidence of evolution, Big Bang, etc. We understand many natural phenomena. So we have no need of a god to explain what we see in our world. Add to that that we have no evidence of a god, so that clearly is not truth.
If you think there is then name something that everyone in the universe would agree is true.
Right, nothing is true. Nothing is false. It is just our thoughts and opinions. Truth isn't eternal. It shifts like the wind.
Then name something that all people throughout all of human history have agreed on.
If somebody says "Truth prevails". They don't mean actual truth prevails. They just mean that their individual conception of truth prevails for themselves. Nothing is universally true. There would have to be a god or something like that for something to be universally true.
The good news is, we can't be wrong. There is no source of truth, things just happen. Really, nothing matters. We are just like chimps following our chimp morality code and trying to survive.
Somebody's confusing "truth" with "facts".
it is appointed unto man to die once. Anybody disagree?
Sure, as long as no one around knows CPR.
Classic, attack the poster without addressing the argument or premise. Very weak.
More than 12 billion years ago a star exploded, ripping itself apart and blasting its remains outward in twin jets at nearly the speed of light. At its death it glowed so brightly that it outshone its entire galaxy by a million times. This brilliant flash traveled across space at the speed of light for 12.7 billion years to a planet that wouldn't even exist for another 8 billion years after the time of the explosion - our Earth. By analyzing this light, astronomers learned about a galaxy that was otherwise too small, faint and far away for even the Hubble Space Telescope to see.
No hint of anything like this in the bible. People couldn't even conceive of a vast universe more than thousands of years old. How can you take the bible stories as god's word and truth?
And yet, we're supposed to believe that some temple rabble rouser living in the darkest reaches of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago was the son of a Canaanite war god who created all this.
Learn the etymology of a word before blindly guessing. Canaanite god indeed.
Could you please elaborate?
When considering the labyrinth of celestially coordinated atomized conditionings, the certainties around everything are mundane offerings of suggestive rationalisms meant to appease many socialists expressions to parrot away upon...
El is a Northwest Semitic word meaning simply "deity". Just like allah stands for "god" in arabic.
There is no confirm connection between the Canaanite war god and the god of the hebrews.
There is definitely no evidence of any connection between the faith of 1st century Judeans and a Canaanite war god.
Of course it's difficult to confirm the exact connection between the myths of people who lived about 3/4,000 years ago, but there's plenty of evidence to suggest the Canaanite war god Yahweh is the same as the Jewish Yahweh, seeing as how the Jews assimilated in many ways whilst living in the highlands of Canaan.
If one is to accept the notion of a founder of the hebrews (Abraham or even a person that would later be called as such) then that faith began outside the Canaanite shere of influence. It would make sense that when this group would migrate to the region, they would adopt the word "el" to identify their god as simply that...a diety. Adoption of word use but not that of the culture.
I don't accept Abraham or a similar character as an originator of Judaism. The origins of Judaism can be historically traced back to the Canaanite pantheon. Archaeological studies show that the Ancient Jews likely came from the Fertile Crescent and settled in Canaan about 4,000 years ago. Very little evidence of any Jewish culture prior to their settling in Canaan exists and, by about 3,000 BCE, many calling themselves Jews would have been ethnically Canaanite and had almost completely immersed themselves in Canaanite culture. The Jews at this time would have been monolatristic, but Saul unified them under the one god Yahweh (if one is to believe the story of Saul).
Either way, it's difficult to know for certain but there is plenty of evidence to point to Yahweh being the Canaanite Yahweh. Also, if you wish to correct what you see as perceived mistakes in my reasoning, could you please do so more politely?
For me, the Bible is not a science manual and I don't try to read it like one. It tells a story about relationship that reveals truths about God and people.
Honestly, these are kind of boring to answer. What I would ask is that you train your intellect on this set of questions yourself but I'll give you one more example.
Why are Churches filled with riches when Jesus asked his followers to give their wealth away?
First, not all churches are filled with riches. The preponderance of Churches are hand to mouth operations that exist on the donations of the congregation and turn most of that money into ministries for the communities they serve. The Catholic Church and others do have impressive and valuable holdings, granted but those edifices serve also as inspirational chapels, historical markers and centers of learning and philosophy. Much of the accuumulated wealth of the Church is from the donations of wealthy secular people and royalty who donated back to the people's church out of either devotion or as amends for their undue profits. There is not enough room on this board to list the names of people who have taken vows of poverty and ded icated their lives to missions, schools and hospitals so that others might live, learn and flourish. Numerous studies have shown that as a percentage of monies donated to services rendered that religious groups leave secular organizations in the dust.
But that aside, Jesus didn't require all his followers to sell their goods and give everything to the poor. This is a misconstruction of the parable of the young rich man who wanted to follow Christ. The instruction Jesus gave was specific to that young man. Others, who place their worldly goods at a place of preeminence could follow that lesson but it is not a blanket prescription. The Church teaches that the proper use of wealth is what is important.
So, once again, the question presupposes a condition that does not even exist, is not consistent with church teaching and ultimately is not a relevant question.
Honestly, these are kind of boring to answer. What I would ask is that you train your intellect on this set of questions yourself but I'll give you one more example.
Why are Churches filled with riches when Jesus asked his followers to give their wealth away?
First, not all churches are filled with riches. The preponderance of Churches are hand to mouth operations that exist on the donations of the congregation and turn most of that money into ministries for the communities they serve. The Catholic Church and others do have impressive and valuable holdings, granted but those edifices serve also as inspirational chapels, historical markers and centers of learning and philosophy. Much of the accuumulated wealth of the Church is from the donations of wealthy secular people and royalty who donated back to the people's church out of either devotion or as amends for their undue profits. There is not enough room on this board to list the names of people who have taken vows of poverty and dedicated their lives to missions, schools and hospitals so that others might live, learn and flourish. Numerous studies have shown that as a percentage of monies donated to services rendered that religious groups leave secular organizations in the dust.
But that aside, Jesus didn't require all his followers to sell their goods and give everything to the poor. This is a misconstruction of the parable of the young rich man who wanted to follow Christ. The instruction Jesus gave was specific to that young man. Others, who place their worldly at a place of preeminence could follow that lesson but it is not a blanket prescription. The Church teaches that the proper use of wealth is what is important.
So, once again, the question presupposes a condition that does not even exist, is not consistent with church teaching and ultimately is not a relevant question.
Didn't Jesus tell his disciples to sell all their possessions and leave their families to follow him? With Christians likely viewing themselves as modern disciples, shouldn't they do the same?
A great many people have done that very thing. Is it conditional to be a Christian? I doubt it.
He also said whenever someone refuses the good news to dust your heels and move on. I should get better at that.
“An all-knowing God can read your mind, so why does he require you to demonstrate your faith by worshiping him?”
Worship is not a demonstration of faith, obedience is demonstration. Worship is communion.
“ If organized religion requires a civilization in which to spread, how could this civilization exist without first having a moral code to make us civil?”
Civil? Read some history, most civilizations were created by force.
“ Do lions need a `god-given’ morality to understand how to care for their young, co-operate within a prides, or feel anguish at the loss of a companion? If not, why do we?”
Are you serious, a male lion will eat his kids.
Actually they eat other lion's kids so that only their genes are passed on.
and generally they don't eat them they just kill them.
Ok, thanks Johnny. I think even if they just kill other kids it goes against truthprevails analogy.
Not the Old Testament god, who often ordered the the kids of your enemies be killed.
“ R.a.p.e. wasn’t always a crime in the Middle East two thousand years ago. Is that why do not r.a.p.e. is not part of the Ten Commandments?”
It is, in context r.a.p.e. is covered under adultery.
R.ape within marriage?
That one would be covered in the instructions for married couples, stuff like husbands loving their wives like Christ loved the church, willing to die to protect them, wives submitting themselves to their husbands, and since the two become one flesh, spouses would never do anything to harm their own flesh.
“If your interpretation of a holy book causes you to condemn your ancestors for having a different interpretation, will your descendants condemn you in the same way?”
“ If you are against the Crusades and the Inquisition, would you have been burned alive as a heretic during those events?”
“When an atheist is kind and charitable out of the kindness of his heart, is his behavior more or less commendable than a religious man who does it because God instructed him to?”
So, you're saying that the atheist isn't more commendable than the believer who isn't actually following his conscience, but merely following orders with an eye towards either reward, or punishment?
“ If God told you to kill an atheist, would you?”
He doesn’t and won’t.
He certainly commanded lots of killings in the OT.
Do you think there is a difference between me harboring a grudge against you, planning, and executing your demise (murder), and us meeting on the battlefield in a nation against nation conflict (killing)?
Yes, but as the initiators of combat and also the murderers of prisoners, I'd consider the ancient Jews as marauding murderers.
They were excuting the judgment of God on heathen pagan nations who had rejected God's call to repent.
Yes, murdering non-believers.
No, Robert, that is just what they told themselves when they killed them so that they wouldn't feel so bad about it.
Even if you want to make the distinction, you said Yahweh wouldn't order you to kill an atheist, yet you seem to be implying that that is precisely (well, sust.itute atheist with non-believers) why the Jews were allowed to massacre their way through the desert and you seem to be justifying it.
That should say subst.itute
I just realized we are going in circles. I don’t believe God would order Robert to kill Dave. God may use Robert’s nation to judge Dave’s nation and we could meet on the battlefield.
So basically what you are saying is that god wouldn't tell you to kill an atheist, but he might tell you to kill all of them.
I would expect all of them felt bad about killing.
It's still Yahweh ordering people's deaths.
I doubt it, since god usually said, you could have all of the bad guys women after you killed them.
"I would expect all of them felt bad about killing."
“So basically what you are saying is that god wouldn't tell you to kill an atheist, but he might tell you to kill all of them”
Now we are communicating, kind of, those nations that were conquered weren’t really atheist they were nasty in their beliefs. Ceremonies included things like placing their infants in the arms of a metal image heated red hot and all types abnormal s.e.x. o.r.g.i.es. involving the priests, animals, mutilation etc. Then yeah, he might want us to kill every one of them.
You said, "They were excuting the judgment of God on heathen pagan nations who had rejected God's call to repent."
Holy fucking shit! Really?
News flash, this is the 21st century. Anyone who isn't completely disgusted with a god that would demand such atrocities isn't any better than the German soldiers following Hitler's orders to exterminate Jews. That alone should cause anyone who is not completely deluded to reject the christian god. Consequences be damned.
Even if you believe this monster actually exists, worshiping a creature like that makes you complicit to mass-murder, even if you justify it by call it "killing". Worshiping a monster like that disqualifies you as a decent human being.
@Robert Brown: “So basically what you are saying is that god wouldn't tell you to kill an atheist, but he might tell you to kill all of them”
"Now we are communicating, kind of, those nations that were conquered weren’t really atheist they were nasty in their beliefs. Ceremonies included things like placing their infants in the arms of a metal image heated red hot and all types abnormal s.e.x. o.r.g.i.es. involving the priests, animals, mutilation etc. Then yeah, he might want us to kill every one of them."
What you're describing are things people who believe in gods do. That's the problem with believing in a god. His followers have to guess what he wants, and sometimes what they've guessed is pretty barbaric. Circumcision seems pretty barbaric to me, but we seem to like Jews. 😉
@Robert Brown: "Do you think there is a difference between me harboring a grudge against you, planning, and executing your demise (murder), and us meeting on the battlefield in a nation against nation conflict (killing)?"
It think they are different, but I think both are abhorent.
@Robert Brown: "They were excuting the judgment of God on heathen pagan nations who had rejected God's call to repent."
Few things strike me as more insane than massacring a people based on a belief about a God no one can even prove exists.
Yeah, that old God is really one mean dude, now us humans we are just too good for such atrocities. Speaking of 21st century news, have you watched any lately? Noticed any war, famine, or killing?
So, when you hear about the love of God and all of the teachings of Jesus you make think what a nice God, even though you don’t believe. But, if I tell you about a God of judgment and justice, you have a fit.
God is perfect love and perfect justice.
Go ahead and ignore everything so.
You said, "Yeah, that old God is really one mean dude, now us humans we are just too good for such atrocities. Speaking of 21st century news, have you watched any lately? Noticed any war, famine, or killing?"
I know that people, especially religious ones, are particularly nasty, but isn't your imaginary friend supposed to be better than that?
You said, "So, when you hear about the love of God and all of the teachings of Jesus you make think what a nice God, even though you don’t believe. But, if I tell you about a God of judgment and justice, you have a fit."
No, when I hear about the supposed love of your imaginary friend I shake my head in disbelief that there are still adults around that believe in that complete and utter bullshit. I'm flabbergasted that people can delude themselves so much that they buy into that nonsense. It makes me weep for humanity. It makes me sad beyond compare that people are so fucking stupid.
I don't have a fit about your imaginary monster's outbursts. I am not stupid. I realize that it is all nonsense. It's the abject ignorance and stupidity, willful or otherwise, on the part of the believers that gets me riled up. How the fuck are we as a species supposed to solve our problems if three quarters of the adults can't seem to shed their infantile beliefs?
How are we supposed to work on solving the real problems we face if we collectively spend so much time and resources on make believe? How are we advancing our knowledge is we keep insisting some thousands years old fairy tale contains "truth"?
You said, "God is perfect love and perfect justice."
Bullshit. Your god is nothing but a figment of some caveman's imagination.
“ Would you find it easier to kill someone if you believed God supported you in the act?”
If by kill, you mean murder, God won’t tell you to do it.
“ How can you tell the voice of God from the voice of the Devil?”
God doesn’t tell you things contrary to his word.
Yet, many Christians today would argue that burning witches and enslaving humans were the product of satanic influence, despite the fact that the folks who did those things also believed that they were following "God's Word" to the letter. How do you explain that?
“How can you tell the voice of God from a voice in your head?”
Easy, God doesn’t think like I do.
But your psychotic delusions might.
“If people from the five major religions are each told conflicting information by their respective gods, should any of them be believed?”
Just from a Christian perspective, if your doctrine can’t be supported by the word of God, you should question it.