Saturday, February 23, 2013

I'm Coming Out (Gasp!)...as an Unfundamentalist Christian ;)

I've felt for a long time now that I just didn't quite "click" with the traditional fundamentalist Christian views. It has become very clear to me I'm not like the mainstream "Fundamentalist" Christian. It has caused me brief periods of anxiety as I wondered if I was being honest and authentic as I attended Church and professed my Christian Faith. It is not because I doubted the existence of God, nor because I doubted Christ but because the God I came to know was so different from the God that was described by many more traditional Christians preaching from the pulpit or leading the typical Sunday School class.

The God I love is pretty different from the traditional Old Testament depiction...and that sets me apart right away from what many Christians believe to be true. And that doesn't bother me a bit, although my heart aches a little at thinking anyone could believe God would Create just to destroy. I cringe at thinking anyone could believe our God would truly pick favorites...either by gender, by race, or by orientation! A loving God would not create to exclude! I believe God loves each of us equally regardless of race, gender, body shape, age, or orientation.

So here I am finding myself drawn to the label of "Unfundamentalist Christian"! Why does it matter? I'm not sure I have a good answer for that. All I can figure is that is always nice to have company on any road trip, and the Spiritual Journey is no exception! These tenets as described on the UnFundamentalist Christianity FaceBook site (https://www.facebook.com/UnfundamentalistChristians?fref=ts) are to me like a beautiful travel brochure on my journey...one that I wish to share with those who might like to travel along with me! ;)

The Unfundamentalist Tenets:

1. Jesus Christ was God incarnate. He performed miracles; as a means of providing for the irrevocable reconciliation of humankind to God he sacrificed himself on the cross; he rose from the dead; he left behind for the benefit of all people the totality of himself in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
2. Christ and Christianity are meant to be understood, appreciated, and experienced as galvanizing inspirations for living a life of love, compassion, fairness, peace, and humility. Period.
3. The Bible is a collection of a great many separate documents written by different people in different languages over thousands of years. Properly understanding both the letter and spirit of the Bible necessarily entails taking into account the historical and cultural contexts that so greatly inform so much of its text. The size, density, history and complexity of the Bible render unfeasible the idea that not one of its words reflects more man’s will than God’s. The spirit of God is inerrant; people—even those impassioned by the conviction that God is speaking directly to or through them—are not.
4. Anyone seeking to mix Church and State has failed to understand the nature and proper role of either. Belief that all people are created equal and equally deserving of protection under the law is foundational to the American democratic system. To incorporate into public policy any "Christian" values which are not universal but rather unique to Christianity is to compromise the very essence of America by pushing it away from a democracy and toward a theocracy. The same is true of any democratic nation. Religious law and democracy are necessarily incompatible.
5. It’s not possible to read Paul’s New Testament writings and remain unmoved by his open heart, intellectual prowess, and staggering bravery. And yet Paul (who, after all, spent years zealously persecuting and having executed untold numbers of Christians) must remain to us a mortal man. More than reasonable, it is incumbent upon those who claim to seek the deepest knowledge of Christ to subject the words of Paul to the same kinds of objective analysis we would the words of any man daring to describe the qualities, purposes, and desires of God.
6. With regards to the written identity of God, the pronoun “he” is a necessity of the English language, not an actual anatomical designation. God is neither male nor female; God contains all of both.
7. The Biblical scholarship supporting the idea that Paul never wrote a word proscribing natural homosexuality is at least as credible and persuasive as the scholarship (if not typical Bible translations) claiming that he did. Any person who uses the words of Paul in the New Testament to “prove” that homosexuality is a sin against God has either never themselves researched the matter, or has simply chosen to believe one set of proofs over another. Though laziness is easily enough understood, we remain mystified as to why anyone who purports to follow Jesus would choose to condemn an entire population over choosing to obey Jesus’ self-proclaimed Greatest Commandment to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.
8. It is much more reasonable—and certainly more compassionate—to hold that throughout history God chose to introduce himself in different ways into different cultural streams than it is to believe that there is only one correct way to understand and worship God, and that the punishment for anyone who chooses any but that way is to spend all of eternity having the living flesh seared off of his or her bones.
9. “No one comes to the Father except through me” does not mean that in the afterlife only Christians can get into heaven. It means that Jesus/God decides who does and doesn’t make it in.
10. The question of whether or not hell is real is properly subsumed by the truth that a moment spent worrying if you’ll be with God in the afterlife is an opportunity missed to be with God in this life.
11. God’s will and intention is to forgive and teach us, not to judge and punish us.
12. The only person who should be actively endeavoring to convert non-Christians into Christians is God. Jesus does not need our help drawing people towards him. He does need, or could certainly use, our help in making sure that people know that they are, just as they are, loved.
13. Getting a divorce is painful, and if at all possible should certainly be avoided. But ultimately the act in and of itself is not immoral.
14. God does not want any woman “submitting” to anyone.
15. There were no dinosaurs on Noah’s ark; Jesus didn’t have a pet stegosaurus. An all-powerful God and the theory of evolution are not incompatible.
16. The single most telling indicator of a person’s moral character has nothing to do with how they define or worship God, and everything to do with how they treat others.

Now, John Shore (http://johnshore.com/) has his unique way of phrasing and explaining these ideas, but the general spirit & message behind them resonates with me so very much! It has been such a blessing to have stumbled upon a group of other souls that call themselves Christians and also share my strong call for equality and love as we are all loved, valued, and accepted equally in the eyes of God without the man made judgements and rules that only function to separate us...from each other and from God.

After opening the UnFundamentalist Christians FB page and reading "What We Believe" I realized I was not the only one that believed this way! I realized I am not alone on my journey! I had what best could be described as Spiritual Recognition of Truth. Although I cannot say that I am "no-questions-asked,100% on-board" with all of the "UnFundamentalist" tenets....some parts of which I'm still absorbing, contemplating, considering...this has come as close as any set of stated beliefs from any Christian group that I have come across thus far! Reading these stated beliefs I've felt so much of a recognition of God's Loving Presence in these words that now I consider myself an UnFundamentalist Christian! Not that God love me more because I do, or would love me less if I didn't! After all, I believe He calls to us and loves us each the same.









17 comments:

  1. Ann, love this and love you!!!!!

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  2. This is AWESOME! I went through the same transformation and "paradigm-shift"! Your list is spot-on. I've been told my soul is in danger for believing such things. I've been told I'm going to hell for listening to Satan's voice. But the only answer such people can give me is "I try to repent and be good", which is no gospel at all.

    Thank you again for sharing. Your experiencing the "new wine" gospel message that Jesus came to bring! Such a gospel of grace and peace is why Paul considered his Pharisee of Phariseeism as "garbage" and why Stephen was stoned. The things you mention in this post are the VERY things that the first Christians understood and the very things that turned the world upside down!

    Thanks again,
    http://www.lambheartedlion.org

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    1. Thank you so much! It's so nice to journey with you! ;) I admit it's kinda fun turning the World upside down! I'm doing okay with those that judge or "fear talk" to me as I try & remember it's because they care! ;)

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  3. Welcome to the club. There are a lot more of us out here who share your experience than you may realize. If you are to make your way along this alternative path of recognizing and adhering to the deeper truths of the gospel then you are going to need wise counsel. Allow me to introduce you to one such teacher. Father Richard Rohr. Internationally known writer, teacher, thinker, philosopher and Franciscan priest who somehow manages to not get himself excommunicated by the Catholic church, though how that is remains a mystery understood by God alone! Reading his books and listening to Rohr lecture has helped me to realize how truly wrongly most people interpret the Gospel. It isn't that your deeper truths are wrong in any way- and the fact that the majority view is that they are just goes to show you that people essentially remain unchanged since the days when Jesus walked the earth embodied. Very few got his message then. Very few understand it now. And those with the loudest voices killed him. Just as they will want to " kill" you too by condemning you to hell for disagreeing with their interpretation of everything. Reading Rohr will bolster that voice which has begun speaking truth into your heart. Look him up at the Center for Action and Contemplation. www.cac.org. Blessings!

    PS: I write a very similar blog. You can catch me at www.autenmelissa.org and find one who shares your very familiar thoughts. Name : Along the Broken Road. I link all my posts to my FB wall.

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    1. Wow! Thank you for the lead toward Father Rohr! I'll definitely check it out AND your blog! How exciting to meet you & others that are on a similar path! Awesome, awesome, awesome! :)

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  4. I consider myself a progressive Christian and believe most of what you listed. We tend to emphasize following Christ's example rather than following a set of doctrinal beliefs. I was happy to share your article on my Facebook page for those who are more comfortable with a set of beliefs!

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    1. Thank you for sharing and even more for your comment! :) Sounds like I just might be a Progressive too! :) I'm definitely a Spiritual work in progress and have felt the pull to let go of my own (and others) preconceived notions of who God is and to let Him reveal Himself to me. I'm led by Christ's example of love, forgiveness, and service. He was a lover not a fighter! A giver not a taker! I've got a peace now that replaces the fear that I wasn't ever going to get "it" right... and perhaps I won't ever get it perfectly right in this Earthly plane, but I feel closer to God and know I'm on the path I'm called to be on with Him! Thanks again as your comments are always welcome!

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  5. I consider myself as an 'alternative Christian' as I've never really found a group as such that I belong to - although I have met people who think like me (perhaps in the minority!). On fb I am finding many people with ideas like mine and it is reassuring to know I am not on my own! I just think I have to combine my spiritual beliefs with the 'real' world, not cutting myself off or being superior, but trying to love others like Jesus said, and applying my beliefs to my behaviour, the way I am with others and how I conduct myself - I do not feel the need to regularly attend services (though i like to) or prove my knowledge in the bible or that I'm living up to all the rules as laid out in the Bible. It is a spiritual guide, not to always be taken literally, and I think it can be an aid alongside other beliefs and ways of living - it does not need to be the only one. Someone said that Jesus judges us by our hearts, and I think that is true. God is the only one who can judge us, Christians spend so much time criticizing people and each other, really as a Christian I don't even think I can judge that someone else is not living their life correctly because they do not think like me! To be free, I have to be myself, even when I doubt things - I can only rely on God as a guide, not necessarily what I am told. Doctrine is different from spirituality x

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  6. Anonymous, I agree with you in so much of what you wrote! :) I'm with you 100% on that we should never ever fall into the temptation that we are superior than anyone... even the soul that appears the most lost is still a child of God loved equally in His eyes! The Prodigal son parable says it all... he was always going to be forgiven he just needed to return home to receive it! We are called to love each other like He loves us... there is no room for arrogance in that. To feel you understand God 100% and that you got it right and if anyone else believes differently that you they are wrong and are going to Hell is arrogant. I admit I don't know all the answers, and some think that is my faith's weakness.... but I disagree, I see it as my strength. To open myself up to more allows God to reveal who He really is and communicate that to me. The Holy Spirit is alive & well thankyouverymuch! ;) I feel like I can learn something everyday... even from those whose beliefs differ from mine. I've started this blog to journal this spiritual journey as I try my best to walk the walk and NOT just talk the talk! ;) I'm not so worried about Christ's judgement because He knows my heart, my intent, and already KNOWS I can't be perfect... that's why he came down from Heaven for the Save! ;) Thank you thank you thank you for commenting & for joining me in this moment in this spiritual journey towards God. I am currently going to a Methodist church and love it! I've let go of feeling like I need to believe everything my friends, my pastor or the church doctrine states... I'm just grateful to be with others who are Christ seekers like me and who accept me for who I am and where I'm at. That's what I am hoping to do for others too! You are not alone! :) Thank you again for your comment, please stop by again!

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  7. Hello, while I am not a Christian I can definitely say that folks like yourself will save modern day Christianity from its more destructive fundamentalist impulses. I truly support and admire your independence of thought and spirit.

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    1. ;) Doing what I can! Extra cool that you stopped by and read this post... I'm an optimist that many more people will realize there is a better way to this life thing than what we've been up to! Thanks again, please stop by again! ;)

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  8. You're awesome! Keep up the good word :)

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    1. Thanks Fawn! We will see, we will see! After every blog entry is posted I wonder if I'll ever be inspired to write anything else... and then life happens... and I do! ;) Love your comments... & thanks for the encouragement! :)

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  9. I really like your "Sharing Thoughts" graphic!

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    1. Oh, thanks! I'm not wanting to cause an argument or debate... although I welcome (kindly spoken) differing thoughts & insights, my purpose here is to share my heart and affirm to others on this journey towards God that we are more alike than different & that they are not alone!

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