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Becoming a Non-Fundamentalist Christian

After realizing that the Bible does in fact contain mistakes, I became a non-fundamentalist Christian and remained one for many years.  It is not easy to describe exactly what I believed “at the time,” only because it was a good expanse of time and there was a kind of transition period in which I evolved into the kind of open-minded, reflective believer that I became and remained, again for some years.

At the early stages I suppose you could describe me as a fairly liberal evangelical.  There are lots of Christians like that in the world, and most of my friends at Princeton Seminary were in that mold.   How does one describe that kind of Christian?

Such Christians very much, and wholeheartedly, think that God speaks through the Bible.  He uses it to communicate to his people.  Not in order to give them science lessons (what really happened on the third day of creation?) but in order to instruct them about how they should live and be.  God wants his people to show love to one another and to all people, to work for justice, to strive for peace, to do good in the world, to love him above all things, and so on.   Many liberal evangelicals are social activists, believing that God has called them to be beacons of light to this world, which requires political and social activity that leads to improved living conditions and lives for all people.

Others are really more about a personal relationship with God that he has provided through Christ.  Far more important than the question of whether there can be a mistake in the Bible is …

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Appreciating the Myths of the Bible
Fundamentalism and the Truth of the Bible

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Comments

  1. tompicard
    tompicard  May 31, 2017

    I think most fundamentalist believe that the ‘Kingdom of God’, as described/taught by Jesus, entails these features, among others
    a. Kingdom of God comes by a supernatural intervention of a being riding on a literal cloud
    b. Kingdom of God entails elimination of all physical illnesses and pain
    c. Kingdom of God entails abolition of humankind’s bodily death
    d. other magical features
    But I don’t think these are features of most common liberal christian theologies (well at least not at the church I attend).

    1) Did you believe these to be historic features of Jesus’ ministry when you were a fundamentalist?
    2) Did you continue believe these to be historic features of Jesus’ teachings when you left the fundamentalist fold to became a liberal christian? [this is hard for me to imagine]
    3) Why do you again believe these to be historic features of Jesus’ teachings now that you’ve left the liberal christian mindset and became agnostic?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 1, 2017

      1. Yup; 2; Yup; 3. Just because it’s what Jesus taught doesn’t mean I have to accept it. The evidence is that these were his teachings.

      • tompicard
        tompicard  June 1, 2017

        As a liberal christian did you believe that had the disciple who asked Jesus what he must do to ‘gain eternal life’, had in addition to following all the commandments had also sold all his goods, given it to the poor, and followed Jesus, that that disciple would still be alive today?

        Or as a liberal christian did you accept that Jesus’ advice, at least in this instance, was a bunch of kookiness?

        or have I misunderstood.

        • Bart
          Bart  June 2, 2017

          No, I assumed he was talking about eternal life in heaven.

          • tompicard
            tompicard  June 2, 2017

            So, you assumed that Jesus recognized a difference between ‘eternal life on earth’ and ‘eternal life in heaven’?

          • Bart
            Bart  June 5, 2017

            No, not exactly. I don’t think he thought about eternal life in heaven. Eternity would be lived here on a perfected earth.

      • tompicard
        tompicard  June 1, 2017

        I understand you don’t now accept these premises but I wasn’t aware that was common feeling of modern liberal christian scholars (which i think you categorized yourself for a period of time).

        Can you reference for me any liberal christian scholars’ books which profess that Jesus taught a coming initiated by a magical person who doesn’t have to obey law of gravity and/or doesn’t have to conform himself to modern biology and medicine?

        • Bart
          Bart  June 2, 2017

          I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re asking. Most Christian scholars don’t think that Jesus was concerned about modern biology or medicine.

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