When Christian Ethics aren’t Christian Ethics

Note:  For the purposes of this discussion it should be understood that when I’m referring to that which is properly “Christian Ethics,” I’m referring to the idea that that which is Christian is also Biblical. So for the purposes of this post and any discussion about it, think of Christian Ethics as Biblical Ethics and, more specifically, the ethics demonstrated in the New Testament and by the early Christian Church as described in the New Testament.

Recently I’ve discovered a new and masochistic pastime of listening to a Christian talk-radio station called American Family Radio on my long trek home from work at night. I discovered this program on the night of the election, looking to confirm the news when NPR called the election for Pres. Obama, and heard a number of exclamations about the apparent lack of ethics and morality in our once Christian nation. Christian ethics, the lack thereof,  or the symptomatic persecution of Christians seems to be the rotational topic of this station, or at least the programs that are on while I’m in the car.

These programs have featured a number of guests  who all lay claim to the idea that Americans are moving away from their heritage of Biblical Christianity being intimately entangled in every facet of life, most especially government and politics. They claim that Biblically grounded Christian Ethics ought to be the guide for the way Christians vote and, as a result, should be the foundation of the laws of our nation.

Stopping abortion, refusing homosexual equality, guarding capitalism, and  protecting both monuments and prayer to their god in the public square are examples of these supposed Christian ethics I’ve heard lauded on this program and in my daily conversations with believers. But are they truly?  Are they even Biblical principles ?

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Live Debate: Matt Oxley vs. Chris Bolt – Does the Triune God of the Scriptures Exist

Join us today for a live debate covering the topic:

Does the Triune God of the Scriptures Exist?

The debate will begin at 10AM and last roughly 1.5 hours.  It will be livestreamed from a Google+ hangout and you can watch it below, or directly at the YouTube page here.

 

The format will be as follows:

Moderator: Ben Woodring

Affirmative – Chris Bolt
Negative – Matt Oxley
Chris Bolt Opening 15 min
Matt Oxley Opening 15 min
Cross Ex Matt Oxley (Questioning) 7 min
Cross Ex Chris Bolt (Questioning) 7 min
Matt Oxley Rebuttal 10 min
Chris Bolt Rebuttal 10 min
Matt Oxley Closing 8 min
Chris Bolt Closing 8 min

 

Your Stories – Eric vs. Fundamentalism

Today in Your Stories we have Eric’s story of combating fundamentalism in his own belief system.

Eric is another friend of mine whom started his perpetual journey at around the same time that I did and we’ve talked at length about that journey over the years. Without Eric I’m not sure I would have made it through my own doubts, and he remains a friend that I both respect and admire. Many of the same questions that brought about his doubts were my questions, and I suspect they may be your questions too if you find yourself here.

Eric writes his thoughts at his blog over at SavageSoto and is currently stationed in Cuba with the US Navy.

If you are interested in having your own story published on RagingRev.com – please click the Contact link and submit through the submission form

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Growing up in a Christian family, my first associations with Christianity are as old as my first memories. I “accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior” when I was 7 or 8 but didn’t really become devout in my faith til the age of 12.

I would speculate that I was probably more hardcore about my faith than most the people I knew through my teen years, though I wasn’t that into the specifics of theology. I would share my faith frequently with my friends and countless people online and was actively involved in the church over the course of about 7 years. During this time I had some casual doubts, but they would fade whenever I’d have a powerful spiritual experience or talk with a pastor.

Towards the end of the 7th year, however, I began to encounter questions and thoughts that couldn’t be explained away so easily. Questions such as “if God knew even a single soul would be lost eternally, then why create them to begin with?” . I quickly found the traditional Christian interpretations of things like “Hell” to be unconvincing  and began to study and embrace Christian Universalism (which believes that all people will eventually be saved and reunited with God). It didn’t answer all my questions still, but it helped me deal with many of the bigger ones.

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J’s Transition: From Brownsville Revival to Atheist

This is the second edition of “Your Stories” – a bi-weekly feature here on RagingRev.com from my readers featuring your own stories of doubt and leaving the faith. Today you’ll find a reader who wishes to remain anonymous (we’ll call him J), but who I have known for probably 10 years now and how he was converted to Christianity as a young teen at the Brownsville Revival and then was later plagued with doubts and questions.

J and I have known one another as both Christians, and now as unbelievers. We explored many of the questions we had about our faith together along with a few other friends (whom will be sending in their own stories later) together and we’ve seen the transition from men of faith to men of doubt happen.

J’s story is very similar to my own, I remember wishing that I could go down to Brownsville to be  a part of the great Revival happening there. I remember being told by my mentor in the faith that I could be the reason the next great awakening occurred. I wanted it badly enough that I could taste it.

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My childhood was quite chaotic. I moved a lot, living between my parents and my various grandparents. Things were always a bit uncertain but one thing was consistent and that was church. When living with my grandparents I would always go to church, sometimes up to three services a week. I attended Assembly of God churches, Lutheran churches, and everything in between. Pretty much every denomination besides Catholicism. Christianity was engrained in me from a very early age and was the only lens I had to view the world through. During my early childhood I accepted God at face value. As I continued to grow into my teen years I lived with my parents. We would go to church off and on, always during key holidays or visits to my grandparents. My parents were more the “we believe in God” but weren’t overly religious types. Over the years church became a chore, something I found boring. Once I was a teenager I pretty much hated the thought of going to church. My mother had remarried at this point and I was a rather stubborn teen. I hated everyone and everything. I barely got along with any of my family and would constantly fight. Around this time though my father’s side of the family became very religious, much more so than usual. Though this wasn’t your typical “churchy” kind of obsession.

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Letting Go – Sarah’s Story

I’ve decided to start doing a regular segment on RagingRev.com from readers who want to tell their own story about how they came out of their faiths. If you, as a reader, would like to submit your story please use the Contact Me link at the top of the page. This segment will be called Your Stories.

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“What do you do when you are having doubts about God? “ I asked.

“You pray about it.” She replied.

This is the short conversation that took place in my 11th grade Sunday school classroom. I had attended the First Baptist Church in my hometown for as long as I could remember. I was there every Sunday, every Wednesday evening and for most any other church sponsored event every week. When I was eight years old, I made my way up the aisle to tell the preacher that I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart and I was baptized the following week. I never really felt like God was speaking to me the way other people described hearing him speak to them. I only decided to speak to the preacher because I felt obligated to. It seemed like everyone expected it, especially considering that everyone was so happy and proud of my little brother for doing it the week before.

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The Role of the Ex-Christian in the Church

Despite my moniker to the contrary I actually try to be the voice of calm reason when I talk to believers; and trust me when I say it, I talk to a lot of believers. Many of these conversations happen with what one might call “infant Christians” or new converts to the Christian faith – I find myself drawn to them because I know that they’ve likely just experienced an incredible emotional high that led to their “salvation” and I want to try to guide them into a faith that is more than just a culmination of feelings that occurred one Sunday morning at church. I’m an Ex-christian now, an atheist even.

When I was a Christian in my early and mid teens I had a mentor that felt it was important to train me up in the doctrines of my faith. He put me under a rigorous method of study, gave me books to read, and introduced me to collegiate level concepts when I was still a teenager. Despite the many flaws of this man he did one thing that so many are failing to do in the church today: he ensured that I knew how to study and think. He knew that this study would generate a thirst for more knowledge in me, and he was absolutely right – it did. Without this mentor in my life I doubt I could have ever studied to the point at which I was able to question the concept of god, much less the basic tenets of my faith. Why is that? and why is this seemingly missing from so many churches today?

I don’t believe an individual can truly question the fundamentals of any concept without having a working grasp of that concept.

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Why Chick-Fil-A’s stance against GLBT equality, and our response to it matters

It may seem as if I’m coming into this discussion a bit late, in fact – I’m not –  I’ve been participating in the  boycott against Chick-fil-A for nearly 3 years now and in those 3 years I’ve probably been 5 times when other people were driving. I’m not sure why Dan Cathy had to make it official that he and the company had a stance that was specifically geared against GLBTQ equality, perhaps the media simply didn’t pick up on the millions in donations made every year to Focus on the Family and similar organizations – or their attempts to blackball PFLAG groups from making grounds in private colleges the WinShape Foundation makes sizable donations to. (These are old news stories that are almost impossible to find because of the torrent of hype surrounding the recent statements by Dan Cathy – once this dies down it should be easier to find them and I’ll update the post with links.)

Contrary to what many conservative Christians might have you think, this is not a witch hunt all about taking away a single man or even a companies’ rights of freedom of speech away;  though you may have a few people taking advantage of the emotions of the moment willing to ban privately owned franchises (likely because it will benefit them politically, and yes I’m looking at you Mayor’s Menino, Lee, and Emmanuel) Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A are perfectly within their rights to talk about how sinful they believe same sex marriage is – and they can even give money to whatever causes they deem appropriate. Obviously I believe that, as a boycott participant if I didn’t believe that I’d be a hypocrite.

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National Day Of Prayer and Christian Revisionism

Last week there was a letter to the editor in my local newspaper, the Dodge County news,  about the National Day of Prayer events that will take place in my town on May 3rd,  2012.

Since I’ve just recently started a DASH (Dodge Atheists and Secular Humanists) group for local non-believers I thought that issuing a response to this letter would be the perfect way to introduce the existence of our group (which is a huge deal in a small town in the Bible belt) as well as refute the revisionist claims touted by many supporters of this National Day of Prayer.

You can find my letter below or you can click here  to view it on the Dodge County News website. Your feedback is appreciated.

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Finding common ground with an evangelist street preacher

What’s a street preacher doing here?

This last Saturday I was doing some audio work at the local Pondtown Festival;  a little arts, crafts, and music festival in the tiny city of Rhine, GA about 20 minutes from where I live.  As I was sitting behind the sound booth I noticed a sign off in the distance amongst the crowds of people that were about a block down the road that said something about Jesus and Hell.  Immediately I knew exactly who it was though I couldn’t quite read his sign yet. This was a street preacher.

His name is Derek, and he is a street preacher that spends most of his time in the Philippines as a pastor and evangelist. Derek is from the same town that I’m from and he visits here every so often to see his family and speak at many of the local churches. On his current visit he’s been going around to various events performing street evangelism with a number of the youth from area churches.

After I noticed this sign in the distance I knew I had to take a few minutes to go talk to him – Derek and I know one another and I heard him speak a time or two back when I was still a believer so talking to him isn’t such a big deal. So, I walk up to him and ready the camera on my phone – he notices me and kind of gives me a smile and a laugh as I snap a picture.

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An Insurance Policy against Doubt

The Bible and the Qur’an are similar books, I’ve been clear on that before. One of the many similarities is a certain tendency to provide an insurance policy against the likelihood or fruition of doubt.

They both do so in the same ways; by ostracizing those unsure of their claims, demonizing them as deceivers, and apostatizing them in order prevent their dissent from spreading. Doubters and the questions that plague them, according to these holy texts, are like a cancer that will spread unless you cut it out and kill it.

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