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Can Christians also be Atheists?

Old Testament God
This question about whether Christians can also be atheists may sound absolutely ridiculous to you, but it's one I felt compelled to explore.   Over the past decade I've noticed a large migration of Christians into the atheist camp because of their preference for logic and reason - instead of woo-woo and blind faith.  But over the past decade there has also been a great emergence of Christians who aren't hiding from the facts either.  Christians who accept science and historical / literary Biblical criticism.  Christians who are not pushing untenable positions on others via a contentious package of ultimatums. Christians who are in many ways a-theists (said another way, non-theists).

Now when I say atheist here, I am not talking about the brand who think any religious adherent is automatically an ignorant idiot, and that the only form of Christianity is the most fundamental and sensationalized form we see at anti-gay rallies.  I'm talking about the other 95% of atheists who fall somewhere outside of that narrow radicalism.

At the most basic form, I'm talking about "a - theists," using the word "theist" defined as someone who believes in a supernatural being with a human-like personality (usually as outlined in the Old Testament of the Bible) who intervenes in the world based on his whims or the prayers of those who properly warrant his favor, and who seems to get surprised easily and resort to genocide quickly.

Red Pill Christianity - Come and See

Matrix Christianity

If you've seen the move The Matrix you may remember this scene where Morpheus offers Neo the option to learn "the truth" - or - to go on believing whatever he wants to believe.   The clip is below (it's only 36 seconds).

I've often thought about this scene when talking to "fundamentalist" Christians who would prefer to believe their own brand of theology instead of being open to the truth (whatever the truth may be).  You can point out that the Genesis story of creation is not literal simply because light couldn't have come before stars, but that information simply cannot be absorbed by the fundamentalist believer.  Likewise, we can point out that Christianity is not about agreement with exclusive belief statements, but instead about a paradigm of transformation of ourselves and the world through love, compassion, self discipline / examination, and generosity.  But they often cannot get beyond the belief element.  There is a roadblock.  There is a closed paradigm.

But there is a way forward.

False Evolution vs True Evolution

A (creationist) friend of mine shared this image on facebook today, and I found it troubling, as if it has to be an either-or type of thing.  Like someone cannot agree with evolution and be a humble follower of Jesus.

The Progressive Christianity Index (PCI)

Progressive Christianity Index

Progressive Christians are notorious for disliking labels and categories - and I agree.   Don't try to put me in a box, or stages, or a definition, or a chart (or an "index"!)... Just allow me to be a human being with my own unique views.  But, as much as I hold those views and you probably do to, we humans are still pretty indexable.  And to the degree that categorizations can be helpful in better understanding ourselves and others, an index can serve a purpose.  It can also be helpful in creating guidelines around communities to help narrow down the focus, since the word "progressive Christian" can be too broad at times for nurturing constructive growth within communities.  

Do You See Jesus?

I wanted to share a little back-story on this image, as I think the chain of events around how I found it, and why I created it as a text over, tells as story of its own.

Now to those of you who know my theology, you will know that I don't literally go for the heaven / hell  and king / throne imagery in this parable - but I don't want to get into a big exegesis about that in this post.  What I do want to get into though is the points Jesus is making.  He's making two points (1) love ain't about intellectual beliefs  (2) if we want to "believe in Jesus" we do that by serving "the least of our brothers and sisters."  That's how we show that we "believe" (properly translated as agree) in what Jesus was saying...

Here's the Bible parable I'm talking about:

What God Isn't

While writing this months column on prayer for ProgressiveChristianity.Org (which you can check out here if you would like) I got inspired to create the latest meme.   What do you think?

what God isnt

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What Are James Fowlers Stages of Faith?

James W Fowler Stages of FaithJames Fowler was a Professor of Theology at Emory University, and a United Methodist Minister.  He published the following "Stages of Faith" in his book called Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning, which became very popular in the 1980's and remains influential to this day.

Over the past few months I've heard a number of people mention Fowler's stages in casual conversation, and I thought it might be useful to share them with anyone who may not be familiar with them - or to serve as a reminder for those who may have heard it in the past but haven't looked back at them in some time.  Similar to the stages of grief we might reference after the loss of a loved one, these "stages of faith" by Fowler can help us make sense of our life - and our spiritual path.   They're also helpful to focus us on where we are and what we might be looking for next.   I highly suggest everyone take an honest inventory and put some thought into how we progress, and if we are currently engaged in any communities or practices that are helping us move forward.

I've highlighted parts in yellow that I find to be some key points worth discussion.   And I've plugged in a reflection here and there along the way.  In many ways these stages are written as linear, and will represent the dominant part of where we are, but we may also see parts of ourselves spread across each one.

You've Heard It Said, But Jesus Says

Jesus You've Heard it Said

When I was 20 yrs old and had been away from the church for some time, I began to consider going back again.  There was a lot in the Bible that confused me or turned me off, but I was able to shelf that stuff as non-gating at that time, because there were a few specific things that made getting back into Christian community seem like a better decision than staying away.  One of those things that drew me back into Christian community was the "you've heard it said" statements by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  

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