[Bringing you up to speed, here’s Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV]

To say that the conversation went off the rails would be a mild understatement. Something got under B’s skin.

Sorry, Maurice. But I think we may need to take a break. I’m not enjoying this. And neither are you, it appears.

[“To be compatible with secularism, we would have to remove any sense of mystery, any sense of the transcendent, and to do so would remove the essence of faith.”] – Faith is not an end unto itself. Faith is not its own justification. Faith does not justify faith. Faith does not justify ignoring and dismissing relevant information that shows the faith isn’t justified.

Yes, “faith” sounds romantic and at times like a “beautiful” thing (ministers are great at making “faith” sound like a wonderful thing), but using “faith” as a justification in promoting a “lie” makes “faith” dishonest. It makes “faith” ugly.

“Good works” don’t change that. “Good works” don’t make God and Jesus *Christ* realities.

For myself, when I went looking for “answers,” I decided that I had to embrace all the relevant information, from both sides. What I wanted, first and foremost, was to know the truth. All those things that you talk about with regard to personal experiences may provide motivation, but they don’t determine what is really true. I decided for myself that I was going to put knowing and speaking the truth first. All that other stuff you talk about serves only to blur the lens and it’s morally impure to use those things as justifications for promoting a lie.

I didn’t dismiss all the historical, cultural, and environmental information that shows Christianity’s roots in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian culture and pre-1st century religion. Some of what I’m talking about are the Egyptian gods and religious beliefs as well as Greek/Roman gods and beliefs – where they intersect with Christianity and where they diverge…how these things influenced Christianity. What about the pre- 1st century Essenes and their documents? I’m also talking about the relationships of the non-canonical gospels and their relationship to the 4 gospels of the canonical new testament. I’m talking about making an honest attempt to know the truth – instead of sitting contently with a popular and comforting lie.

The Jesus you think you know didn’t exist. Was there a Jesus of some sort, yes. Are the gospels his story? No. You don’t do apologetics. Fine, do you want to know what there is to know? To ignore the historical and cultural environment that Christianity grew out of is no honest attempt to learn the truth.

That my “message” rubs you the wrong way isn’t a surprise. I consider it a normal consequence of my message. I’m bascially saying “you’re wrong.” And no, it’s not acceptable for me to simply keep this to myself and leave you unchallenged. There are too many negative consequences of Christian “faith” for the non-believer. I know you don’t want to “own” any of those consequences. You don’t feel you’re promoting discrimination and mistreatment of others – but it’s the message of Christianity that those that don’t believe are inferior. You’re promoting “faith” in Christianity. You’re promoting the “lie.” You don’t have the power to cut that message out of the Bible. You don’t have the power to cut that message out of popular Christianity. You don’t have the power to stop those that discriminate because they feel justified by “faith.”

I’ll place my “faith” in telling the truth based on the whole of the information, not just looking at the slice of information that appeals to me.

-B

If it sounds like I don’t “respect” your beliefs, it’s because I don’t respect your beliefs. I respect you as a person who wants to be a good person and wants to do what is good and right. But your “beliefs” support the promotion of a lie. Your “beliefs” are unjustified and hurtful to people like me. Your “beliefs” I will NOT tolerate.

Again, I don’t know if B was engaging “me”, per se, or generic Christian/religious guy. I get disrespected from many of my fellow Christians, so getting an e-mail where I’m told how wrong I am, well, it’s like the sun greeting me in the morning. To be honest, all I was interested in was B, the person. What he believed didn’t concern me as much as me wanting to know how he believed intersected with his life. I wanted to know and understand HIS story. I sense a lot of (probably justified) anger at Christianity, but I don’t think that I got to the “why?”s of it.

Still, I think he had some interesting points for me to think about. I’ll hopefully re-visit some of them before too long.

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