I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been pondering some feedback on this blog.
Two Christians I respect have told me that some of my critiques of my former, evangelical faith have hurt them. This was not my intent. They are from the more liberal end of the spectrum, which is not the direction at which I’ve tried to aim my remarks.
Of course, I did not intend to hurt conservatives, either. Mostly, I just want them to engage on some issues that deeply trouble me. I admit that has been a little frustrating, not just on this blog but for the years leading up to my starting it. I did allow myself to get snarky once, but — ya know — after years of unfailing politeness that gets nowhere I become ready to try another tactic. And there’s always the Beagle’s Bark label to warn away the faint of heart.
Anyway, like me, liberal Christians are troubled or even appalled at some of the alleged acts and commands of God in the Bible. Although they respect the Bible, they see it as “documenting humanity’s evolving understanding of the divine, rather than as an accurate historical record of God’s words,” as one of my correspondents put it.
In some of my posts, I’ve used language like “God says such-and-such” as shorthand for “the Bible records God as saying such-and-such.” My liberal friends rightly protest that I’m attributing things to their God that they don’t claim he said.
In other posts, I have used “Christian” as shorthand for “evangelical Christian.” Although the context would make it clear that I’m only talking about conservative Christians, my language was broader than it should have been.
So, I’ve revisited my posts to date and decided to revise several of them to use more specific language.
To the extent that my liberal friends feel some kinship with their conservative brethren, I suppose I might still give offense. I regret this, but feel it’s my duty to speak out on some issues. I hope everyone will understand.
Here are the posts I’ve revised. If you think I should revise others, please let me know.
- Sex-Selective Abortions — Revised to distinguish more consistently between God saying something and the Bible saying God said it.
- Marriage is Not the Government’s Business — Made it clear in one paragraph that I was talking about the Religious Right.
- Contraception and Religious Freedom — Added “according to the Bible” in two places.
- Why Do Atheists Care About Religion? — Made the list of the dangers of faith speak about myself, rather than all evangelicals.
- Why I Care About Biblical Slavery — Substituted “evangelical” for “Christian” in a few places.
- Biblical Slavery: Are God’s Ways Higher than Our Ways? — Added the disclaimer in the first paragraph.
- What Did Jesus Say About Slavery? — Added the sentence in parentheses at the end of the third paragraph.
- Did God Intend to End Slavery by Changing People’s Hearts? — Added many qualifications along the lines of “according to the Bible….”
- Was Slavery God’s Righteous Judgment? — Made it more clear in a couple of places that I was talking about Bible- believing Christians.
- Bible Truth, Atheistic Assumptions and Conspiracy Theories — made it clear that I was referring to conservative factions of the Church.
By the way, in case you’re not sure what an evangelical Christian is, here’s the Statement of Faith of the National Association of Evangelicals. I’ve bolded the parts that, in my estimation, most distinguish them from the mainline and liberal branches of Protestantism.
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
- We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
- We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
- We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
- We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
- We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Incidentally, the NAE’s Statement of Faith is very close to the Statements of Faith of the evangelical churches I attended over my 40-year stint as a Christian.
Catholics, like Protestants, come in all varieties, but I don’t know them as well. I hope my Catholic readers will evaluate whatever I say that may apply to them, and ignore the rest.
You are truly a learned and spiritual being; I have the utmost respect for your compassion for fellow humans; also the utmost respect for your re-reflections and writing them in the blog. What an amazing person you are. I wish one of my Christian friends would think again that everyone but her is going to hell because they don’t practice the way she does….tear my hair out and beat my breast in rage. How arrogant and presumptious to believe that God will only save certain beings. Ugg.
Thank you, Patricia. I took a few days to reply because I didn’t know what to say beyond “Thanks” and “Gosh!” Still don’t, so just thanks again.
I think it is impossible not to offend someone, when engaging in a discussion with people whose identity is so closely tied to their beliefs. I am quite certain I offended you many times in the past 40 years of our discussions, although that was not my intent. You got over it and thank you for your forgiveness and understanding.
The internet is a rough and tumble place. Almost anything you put up will get under someone’s skin. There is a forum I am quite involved with about dogs. Although my goal there is to help people with their dog problems, I have caused offense in simple discussions around topics as apparently benign as how to house train a puppy. People hear what you did not even say, or feel insulted when you try gently to tell them their technique is the problem that is the puppy is not the problem.
If one of the rules for yourself, is not to offend, you might as well quit writing. People have the choice to read or not read your blog. If people want to read stuff that always supports their point of view, there is plenty of material out there to satisfy that need. The fact they are here reading your blog means that at some level, they want to engage.
My vote is for you to write on. Your blog is part of the collective cultural conversation of our time. It is a good thing.
Thanks for the encouragement to keep writing, Sue. I agree that if I say anything worth saying, I will offend someone. However, I don’t want to give unnecessary offense. Most of all, I don’t want to drive people away who might otherwise engage. The whole point of this blog is to engage!
If I am not mistaken slaves whether they were indentured or not were to be set free after the 6th year. Yes over 50% of the population in the Roman empire times were slaves of one sort or another. Many slaves were actually spoils of war. They were from nations where the regular practice of burning new born babies as sacrifices was accepted. These slaves should have been put to death so slavery was a kindness. The concept that God accepted and promoted sexual abuse is nonsense. Scripture writing must be taken in context. The girls who were taken into slavery by the conquering Israelite armies were taken into homes as servant girls. The age of these girls would be 4-8 years old. Certainly too young for a Jew to have sex with. Adultery was a sin in Israel.
Oh you might want to read 1 Timothy 1:8-9 and understand the context. Slave owners were being compared to the lowest of the low.
I think you need to go back to school here … I see you have references to Jesus speaking in the book of Leviticus !!! Really This was “OLD TESTAMENT” !!!! Jesus was “NEW TESTAMENT” …. Get your duscks in row please !!!!!
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