Suicide and survival: A truce ends (Part Two)

English: Church of Jesus Christ (Zion's Branch...

English: Church of Jesus Christ (Zion’s Branch) in Independence, Missouri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

fair warning to readers: some may find the subject of this series upsetting or disturbing.

Yours truly has repeatedly mentioned God and his desire to serve God. You may at this point have made a few assumptions while reading these pages. I’ll address them before we move on to discussing truces in my ongoing battle, including the first – the one where I died.

Given my ramblings about God and given my obviously right-leaning politics you might have assumed I’m some Conservative fundamentalist. I assure you I am not.

As I note in my About Page I would

be (correctly) viewed by traditional (and non traditional) religion as a heretic.

Given my predominantly Christian leanings you might assume I’ve traditional religious views on social issues like sexuality, drug and alcohol use, and abortion. I do not.

My Christian faith comes from experience and from application of scripture to these experiences: from application of scripture to biology and history rather than unthinking acceptance of doctrine. Strict reliance on doctrine and religion absent a critical approach to scripture are, in my view, contrary to the teachings of Christ. Many so called religious institutions are pathetically ignorant of scripture and the history of those scripture. They pass this ignorance on to their flock.

The worst part is that these institutions and individuals are, frequently, arrogant in their ignorance. Never a good combination.

Similarly to folks like Jeff Bethke, I can’t stand religion.

Religious institutions and groups preach that in their own respective variations on doctrine that they alone have found the path to Christ. They all but ignore Jesus’ admonition to His followers that

Matthew 18:20 (KJV)
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Notice that these “two or three” need not be gathered as a “church” or doctrine-specific, defined group. They need only be gathered ‘in {His} name’. Does this mean these folks will always be in concordance with all of what Christ taught and desires? Of course not. But it does mean that if they gather in good faith He will be there to guide them.

Churches, institutions, and groups are not the means to finding our way to Him; scripture, thought, and acceptance of His gift are.

Christ’s repeated condemnation of the hypocrisy of supposedly faithful believers is critical to understanding his role as redeemer. He came for those who seek Him out, not for those looking for loopholes to salvation, forgiveness, or even community. Christ was not a doorway into a church. He was and is the doorway to God. The Church was and is merely God walking through the door that folks have found in their quest to seek Him out.

The Church often forgets this.

Their hypocritical and often dangerous teachings result from their failure to remember. Incompatible, inconsistent, and incoherent doctrine, promoted by institutions as being the deeds and beliefs by which we reach God, expose a Truth whichmany are reticent to see for themselves: the individuals in authority within these churches might claim to follow Christ but they do not believe His sacrifice.

The most astute and dramatic statement in Jeff Bethke’s spoken word piece on why he hates religion comes at the end, where Bethke emphasizes Christ’s final words on the Cross: “it is finished”. Bethke tells us that he believes Christ meant it.

Brother Bethke, I too believe Christ meant it.

Churches and institutions frequently stress doctrine over Grace and they emphasize Church alliance over faith.

These misguided yet powerful groups clearly do not believe that Christ meant what He said.

Churches and institutions which heap undo attention on sin deemphasize the salvation that comes from Grace. They are in denial of the Cross.

These individuals and institutions focus primarily on the ‘sin’. In doing so they abandon their faith. With all their focus on the deeds of the sinner rather than what Christ did (and in Christ what can be done), rather than ‘hate the sin – love the sinner’ their message should perhaps be seen as “leave out the Savior and condemn the sinner who avoids the Church”.

As In Search of Truth’s unidentified critic of Jeff Bethke’s video erroneously states Bethke’s attitude towards sin must be, after reading my discourse you yourself might similarly assume I think a person’s actions are irrelevant. You might assume I believe that because of Jesus’ sacrifice sin is no longer an issue. The critic argues Bethke’s emphasis on “It is finished” must mean Bethke doesn’t recognize the seriousness of sin, that he is ignoring the need for obedience to God and the importance of atonement and faithfulness to God’s commandments.

Hogwash.

Despite (or, rather, because of) my rejection of

traditional religious views on social issues like sexuality, drug and alcohol use, and abortion

I too firmly believe in sin. I do reject, however, the Church’s approach to these subjects (especially in the realm of politics).

I particularly abhor their assessment of the ‘sinfulness’ of these things when they extrapolate on scriptural passages that are grammatically and linguistically difficult. Never mind their views which, in ‘context’, are theologically questionable.

The Church’s over the top focus on ‘the sin’ rather than the spiritual needs and growth of the ‘sinner’ remains one of my primary reasons for despairing over the Church’s failures. And I truly despise the Church’s morally troublesome past (and present).

In Part One of Suicide and Survival I promised you, dear reader, that we’d “see where Asshole and Nice Guy met”, so I don’t want to disappoint.

Walk along with me a bit further. In our next chapter we’ll take that leap of faith that I promised. It’s true the waters will be cold, but along the way you’ll meet friends who will keep you warm. We’ll both need them…and soon.

Let me tell you how I died…

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{image courtesy of google images}

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