Yesterday I started explaining what it was I believed when I left fundamentalism but remained a committed Christian – one who realized that the Bible was not at all an infallible book but was still a person of faith. I’ve never talked about any of this before in print, either on the blog or in any of my books. One reason for wanting to do so now is that I think I must have given some people the false impression that I went from being a fundy to being an agnostic in one step, that once I came to see that my fundamentalist views were just wrong, I immediately became a non-believer, having no other options to fall back on. In fact it didn’t happen that way, at all. I was a committed Christian for many years after giving up on conservative evangelicalism. Here is more of what I believed at the time.
- The ultimate teaching of the Gospel was love. Love of God. Love of neighbor. Jesus not only taught this ethic and lived it in his interactions with others: he died for it. Jesus’ death for me at the time (and still, of course) was a very real historical event. He really did get crucified by Pontius Pilate. I thought there were probably very clear and certain historical reasons for this. But the Christian *interpretation* of that event (the “myth” behind it, as I would have expressed it to myself at the time) was that this was an act of supreme self-sacrifice of one person for another. That’s what it means really to love others. It means to be willing to give up your life if need be.
- And that’s how much God loves his people. He is willing to give up his own son for the sake of others. At the time I certainly had problems with the various “atonement” theologies on offer. If pushed I would have probably said that on one level it was very disturbing indeed to think that God needed someone to be tortured to death for the sake of others. Why not just forgive them? But that wasn’t the point for me at the time. The point was that both God and Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice for others (God his son; his son his life), and I too should be willing to sacrifice my life for others (hopefully in some rather less extreme way!), instead of being completely self-centered and self-aggrandizing.
- At that time I probably still thought that God had literally…To read the rest of this post you need to belong to the blog. If you don’t belong yet, JOIN already!!! It’ won’t cost much (less than 50 cents/week) and every bit of your membership fee goes to help those in need.