Another quote from Bringing God Back to Earth by John Hunt:
Christians see their God as a good God of light and love. But taking a global historical perspective, many more have seen Him as a God of death and destruction, one of the most monstrous and malign of the many demons that have stalked the earth. Satan’s wiliest trick of all was to walk the earth disguised as God the Good. Most Christians have danced to his tune rather than that of Jesus, with his priests pulling the strings. The Gnostics weren’t so easily fooled. Humankind has paid the price. The Aztecs thought of hell as a period of time rather than a place, a belief they adopted from the Mayans. Their survivors dated it from 1519 when the Christians arrived.
The reference to the Aztecs and Mayans points to some of the history detailed in the chapter prior to the quote, which brought to light the destruction of the Mayan people that Christian Europe inflicted. It’s quite an indictment, but cannot be denied.
I have always felt embarrassed to identify myself as a Christian. It is really the only area of identification that I have felt uneasy about. I can easily say that I am vegetarian, a computer geek, that I enjoy swing dancing, even sharing my political persuasion with ease. Yet when it has come down to talking about my past church life, and the beliefs associated with my faith, I have become uneasy and clammed up. Why would this be so?
I assume that it both marginalised me and put tremendous pressure on the need for evangelical outreach. Certainly, I have some significant emotional problems that I am currently working through. However, looking through our accounts of Christianity in world history, it appears that it is right and true to have an identity crisis. I guess it’s easy to simply overlook the crusades and witch hunts as human error, but the extent of injustice and human rights abuse goes even further.
I’ll be posting more from Bringing God Back to Earth, but in the meantime I’m not sure I want to call myself a Christian any longer. Follower of Christ, absolutely. Adherent of the Christian religion, I think I’m done.
The whole concept of this blog was born from a desire to bring any belief that I currently hold out into the open for inspection and critique. Essentially, when faced when the question of a loving God torturing millions of people (as Leif Hansen put it, an infinite deity punishing finite humanity), I could not in my right mind hold to the belief in hell any longer. And so began the departure from the church and a new exploration of belief.
In this process I encountered the likes of John Shelby Spong, the famous liberal Episcopalian who prolifically produces several books doubting the very tenets of evangelical christianity. At first I could not tolerate such in-my-face assaults. Over time however as I have had the knife of self-exploration cut away my basic assumptions, ideas and thoughts which I would have flatly rejected I am now entertaining. For instance, Steve Pavlina has introduced me to fresh thoughts about approaching belief in the whole process of personal growth. He suggests that the things we most fundamentally believe act as lenses which can restrict our thought and focus. I can attest to this, given that I now feel free and at ease to explore areas I once would have considered taboo.
I must say thank you to all who have challenged me to be more open-minded and free-thinking. I have found that my moral position since abandoning evangelical christianity has not significantly shifted – in fact, I can almost feel it becoming enhanced. I have not read the Bible or engaged in any kind of worship experince regularly for a long time now, and though I miss the social element of this, I feel at ease. My understanding of God still falls into the category of mystery, and that is fine. The Bahia faith is becoming a topic of interest at the moment, notwithstanding other paths of exploration. At least I can now say that I feel at ease again tackling spirituality.