Doubting Christianity: Saying Anything For Jesus

Photo Credit: Fixed Point Foundation
Reprinted under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Yesterday I came upon this opinion article by Larry Taunton, someone I didn’t recognize until I got to the author bio down at the bottom of the article. As it turns out, the author is the same person who wrote a book about Christopher Hitchens. While it didn’t specifically say Mr. Hitchens saw Jesus on or around his deathbed, the book did allege Mr. Hitchens questioned his lack of faith. Recognizing Mr. Taunton’s work, his article made more sense; he’s a person who will say anything for Jesus.

Before I continue, I think it’s imperative to note why trying to convince people about deathbed conversions is a bad thing, from none other than Mr. Hitchens himself (speaking a month before he died):

Mr. Taunton is just one example of people saying anything to sell their faith.
Over the years since I’ve left Christianity, I’ve gotten the Christianity sales pitch in a bunch of different ways. People have contradicted themselves, other Christians, their holy book, and any number of different resources in an attempt to get me believing again. It never mattered when I pointed any of this out; usually I’d just be cussed out and then left alone.

Of course, with the time to examine my perspective, I realize now that I was aware of this kind of thing even before I stopped believing in the Christian deity. C.S. Lewis was one of the greatest offenders, preaching an eloquent message of tolerance and folksy shrugging when the details didn’t work out. It was easy to just sit and feel the warmth of compassion without actually thinking about what it meant. And a lot of Christians still do this, especially when an outsider to the group might be present.

If the truths of Christianity were correct and taken to their logical conclusion, it means that there is nothing more important than helping people get their souls saved and into Heaven. Incorrect beliefs can’t be ignored, because they’re not from this allegedly wonderful and loving deity that wants to help us all help ourselves. This kind of importance frequently gets alluded to every time I’m told: (1) I never was a Christian; (2) I wasn’t told about real Christian beliefs; or (3) those weren’t real Christians teaching me. Getting it right is supposed to matter because getting it right means a saved soul.

However, examining which beliefs are right means having to take a hard look at what one believes. It also means correcting others’ erroneous beliefs. If you’ve spent any time in a church community, you’ll immediately understand how difficult this is. Nothing is worse than watching two people who claim to love Jesus dog-cussing each other over changing their heathen ways. Sometimes it splits churches, and sometimes it ostracizes members. At best, everyone gets told to sit down and shut up and agree to disagree.

This is exactly how a culture of saying anything can form. The only rule is that one must get people to echo back what is said. Whatever gets believed becomes sacred and unimpeachable. Nobody’s allowed to even pretend to rock the proverbial boat of collective belief. Disagreement just gets forgotten.

In the end, nobody’s accountable for what false things they say.
It’s one of the worst hypocrisies of faith that I have to endure, even from outside the fundagelical community. Once I saw it for what it really is, I couldn’t just forget about it. Every time I get told what I must really believe, or how wonderful the faith is, I come back to this notion that it’s just an effort to get me to echo the sentiment back. It doesn’t even matter if I actually believe it.

When Mr. Taunton tries to shame people into going to Chick-Fil-A or lie about a man who isn’t alive to defend himself, all I see now is a person who wants a choir to tell him he’s right. No fundamental truth can be expressed by such people, because the truth is a foreign concept to anyone willing to say anything. These people are obvious frauds who try to equate repetition with reality and truth.

To be clear, I am suggesting there is something inherently distrustful about any group of thought which doesn’t hold people accountable for the lies they tell. In many other places and situations, people have consequences if they hurt others with their speech. Religion, and especially the pet religions of my home country, have no magical ticket which gives them the right to be any different.

This all boils down to consistency.
For all the times I’ve been told of this grand divine truth that controls the universe, it expresses itself in a way that is different almost every time. The truth is supposed to be easy to remember, and reliable in nature. Too many times I depended upon random sayings from people who really had no clue what they were talking about. I depended upon a faith in a way that actually impeded my growth as a person.

While it doesn’t mean that everybody has to have a bad experience with faith, it does mean that you don’t have to remain in an abusive faith relationship forever. Letting go of mine has helped me out. I am able to start coping with the damage it has done. Recognizing the inconsistency of faith teachings doesn’t make anyone a bad person or a weak person. It’s just a sign that maybe you should try letting go of an inconsistent belief system.

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25 thoughts on “Doubting Christianity: Saying Anything For Jesus

  1. Hitchens family who were there at his death are adamant there was no death bed conversion, nothing remotely close.

    It astounds me how Christians can be so disreputable, it seems ‘the cause’ allows them to sear their conscience.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There’s a blog I follow that is doing a series on crimes committed by clergy, and it’s ripping the bandage off for me. What is starting to astound me is how transparent the different claims are and how the actions of people on a routine basis discredit them.

      Like

      • May I please ask the name and/or address of the blog doing this series?

        By the way, thank you for your blog. I denounced my Christian “fundegelicalism” about 3 years ago. I still hold to there being “something” but am comfortable with saying that I don’t actually know what that something is and don’t have a clue as to how to even start to describe or define it. I believe it to be divine in nature because it feels to me to be divine, but that is the key phrase here: to me. I own that it’s merely my own perception, and it’s not something I feel compelled or a need to convince anyone else of, which I find to be a true and rather huge step toward freedom from the entanglements of my former religious affiliations and the damage it all caused.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Curlabyebye,

        Just wanted to say I’m somewhat in your camp about the “something” out there. I call mine the Universal Presence. The big difference for me is no divinity is attached. It’s just “there.” (IOW, I don’t pray to it or expect it to find me a parking space. 🙂 )

        P.S. I denounced my “fundegelicalism” over 20 years ago and have never regretted it one single moment!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey there!

        Here is the link to the latest post in the series. It’s a blog by Bruce Gerenscer. He’s a former pastor.

        One heads-up though; a lot of the crimes that clergy appear to be committing are forms of sexual assault. Some of the crimes reported can be quite chilling.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You wrote: “I depended upon a faith in a way that actually impeded my growth as a person.”

    Me too Sirius. Me too.

    Peter: It was very common in my past experience to be told by leadership and some members that if it helps the cause of Christ, it is okay to lie. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zoe, if there is one lesson I have learnt in this life it is that the saying, ‘the end justifies the means’ is usually used as an excuse for shoddy action rather than part of the thinking in the process of making enlightened difficult decision between imperfect alternative courses of action.

      Like when someone prefaces a comment with something like, ‘I am not a racist, but…’.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah Eusebius that character from history to whom we are reliant for fully 50% of the history of the Christian Church over its first three decades.

        Based on what Eusebius said about Constantine (where his praise was gushing) and what we know of Constantine from alternative sources, we can deduce that Eusebius was not an impartial chronicler of history.

        What I find most interesting is that Eusebius cast doubt on the credibility of Papias (a figure from around 200 years prior), who modern scholars rely almost exclusively upon for the theory on who wrote Mark’s Gospel.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Looking at it now, I’m beginning to question whether it’s amazing at all. The entire belief system is about saying one thing while doing the complete opposite. People who actually conform to the system get trampled on and taken advantage of.

      Btw, I just saw Victoria’s post. When were you going to tell people you had a new book out?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I really have to wonder how these people can sleep with themselves at night. I don’t like calling apologists delusional as I think they’re mostly perfectly sane, but the sheer noise of the dissonance must be deafennning. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

        New book, yeah! Beren messing around getting it cleaned up and ready online. Just waiting for the print version to be ready through amazon and I’ll launch that bad boy 🙂 How’s your new one coming along?

        Liked by 2 people

      • They’d be lucky if they were delusional; at least then they could point to a condition which causes the problem. A lot of these people have to know on some level what they’re doing is wrong.

        And my book is still getting worked over. I found an editor for it, and I’m actually going to look for an agent to shop it to. I can’t wait for a print edition of your book to come out.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Especially given the statement in the Bible that Satan is the father of lies, or the alternative that ‘God is truth’.

      But then again in 1 Kings 22:19-23 God does send a lying spirit to deceive King Ahab.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thankfully I live where the vast majority of people, including Christians are universalists. It takes away the need to “make things up”, to gain members. While “bums on seats” matters, its not so much for salvation, but it’s an acknowledgement that no organisation can flourish without active members – be it a church, environmental group, sports association or charity.

    Bible worshippers are an exception of course. They know that God demands complete obedience to his word as revealed in the Holy Bible if one doesn’t want to endure eternal damnation. Fortunately that sort seems to be rather thin on the ground in these parts. Long may it remain so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would be keenly interested to see research performed on why this is so. Defending against fraud ought to be the aim of any civilized society, and I would like to know if there’s any ideas New Zealand can export to the rest of the world.

      Like

  4. Yeap, sure, Darwin converted, Hitchens converted, anything for the cause…
    As a former minister, I know well how it works. I ended up arguing with american “career missionaries” -I wonder why their government is encouraging this modern form of colonialism- about their selective amnesia when it came to mentioning on their advertisements for e.g. “American Agricultural Expert Seminar about Productivity” that it was actually an Evangelistic event, where half the time was being used for the gospel. When I challenged them, they said that if they mention that no one’s going to attend, and that “it was for the Great Commission”.
    Or advertising “Professional Basketball Outreach”, without mentioning what “outreach” is, and where the only “professional player” was a chap who’s been in a minor league successful college team, about 30 years prior to the event…
    Or when they organised “Free English Language Courses”, where the only printed teaching material were Gideon new testaments…
    Not to mention the “Healing Shows” where suffering people in wheelchairs were left as disappointed as they came, as “the lord” did not accept their “weak faith” for healing them.
    Oh, not to forget the TV “evangelists” methods of extorting money from the gullible for purchasing private jets “to do the lord’s work”…
    And many of these crooks are being condoned and supported by the US government…
    And so on and so forth; what a bunch of criminals…
    But lying by withholding the truth and being hypocritical, is ok as long as it’s for “the lord”…

    Liked by 3 people

    • The examples seem to be endless, don’t they? And then there’s the Josh Duggars and others who get caught doing terrible things, and everyone’s supposed to just forgive and pray for the sinner (while ignoring the victims).

      Liked by 3 people

  5. “This all boils down to consistency.”

    Hi SB,
    I thought about your post a good bit last night after reading it — and about my own journey as a Christian for 4 decades. During that period of my life, I was an active participant of many Christian denominations. What I noticed growing up as a Catholic was that I never saw consistency. Never.

    After leaving the Catholic church, I visited, became members of and got involved in most protestant denominations. I noticed the exact same pattern. No consistency. I remember thinking to myself, when I’d move on to join another denomination, that perhaps this would finally be the church/denomination who had “the truth.” Without fail, I’d find myself disappointed. This really pushed me to study the bible diligently, and it was then that I realized why their was so much inconsistency in every facet of Christianity, and why there were 10’s of thousands of Christian denominations and sects. The bible is the epitome of inconsistency.

    ” The truth is supposed to be easy to remember, and reliable in nature.”

    Agreed. I will say that with each denomination I walked away from, it wasn’t until I evaluated myself, initially thinking it was me not grasping something fully, or that I needed more of the “holy spirit” which would help make sense of this pattern of inconsistencies. I relate to what you said about depending upon a faith in a way that actually impeded my growth as a person.

    Liked by 3 people

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