Christianity For Non-Christians

I can think of many reasons why writing something describing Christianity for non-Christians is an act of hubris. Big names of the faith – like C.S. Lewis – have tried and failed to come up with a definitive work describing the core of Christian values. There’s also the issue that I’m not a religious scholar, with no formal training in any program of study of Christian thought. On top of this, I don’t even consider myself a member of the religion; I certainly don’t believe in any of the supernatural claims made by Christians.

Why even try?
My biggest reason is validation for every person who honestly believed in heaven, hell, sin, and redemption. Everyone who held those beliefs close and then let them go doesn’t get a free pass to forget what they saw or heard while going to church. Despite that, oftentimes deconverts are asked to keep quiet or ridiculed for sharing their experiences with others. This feeds a sense that people who leave the faith lose their ability to criticize it.

It should not be this way. Considering the implications of many different Christian sales pitches needs to be done with complete disclosure. People need to know whether or not prayer works, or worship does what Christians say it does. Members of the faith are not the only ones with that knowledge. Deconverts often went to the same church meetings that Christians attended. The perspective has just changed regarding what everyone talked about.

That’s the second big reason why I want to write something like this. Non-Christians get bombarded with so many slogans and sales lines regarding a relationship with Jesus. These lines often don’t reflect the full version of what’s being sold. They really can’t, because many different churches have hours of sermons and mountains of text dedicated to talking about what they believe in. Some of these little differences are a big deal, certainly big enough to highlight some fundamental flaws about whether or not anyone should believe it.

Third, I think some of the lessons I’ve learned about leaving Christianity could get applied to other faiths. There are places where Christianity isn’t the dominant faith, but the people in power demand fealty to some other belief system. The actual beliefs might be different, but the net result is the same. One should be part of the same thought-tribe, or one is going to be bullied into silence. If anything I write can benefit them in where they live, I think it would be worthwhile to publish it.

A note about how I want to organize my thoughts.
My goal is to write about tenets of Christianity in order of their importance. Obviously with a religion that’s thousands of years old, I’m going to miss something here and there. Instead of getting trapped in the small details (I hope), I want to describe the big parts and show how they fit together.

As a result, I think doctrines regarding sin are the most fundamental to Christian beliefs. They deserve attention because they help sell the faith to people who otherwise might not be interested. Understanding sin also helps people understand many of the other things that Christians talk about.

But since I’m going to be blogging about this…
I’d also like to hear thoughts about this from non-Christians. As a former Christian, I might not explain something fully enough because I know what it is. Sometimes an important question or thought gets overlooked; much of that is why I remained a Christian for so long in my life.

10 thoughts on “Christianity For Non-Christians

    • The excuses don’t interest me anymore, Jim. They’re irrelevant to the actual doctrines. At the end of the day, people either believe that sin is a real thing or not. They believe that Jesus died to redeem them from it or not. Anything which gets away from that is window dressing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am a non-Christian. If you tackle this topic, no matter what you say, you will be attacked for “a painting with a broad brush.” “Not all Christians believe that,” they will say, whatever you say.

    But if you make a list of the things that Christianity is founded on, you will find none of them hold up. For example, without Original Sin, Christianity folds its tents. No OS, no need to be saved by Jesus. (I read a book on OS that made this claim itself, then went on to “prove” that OS existed.) Well, Jewish scholars (Genesis was theres for centuries before Christians adopted it.) are in complete agreement that the Pentateuch is not history, but wisdom literature, that is fiction written to establish theological points. Adam and Eve are fairly tale figures, not real people, so there was no real sin to pass down, not has there ever been established how a new born baby can inherit this sin.

    Go on down the list and there is nothing one can back up the claims up with. there is no evidence of the resurrection, intercessionary prayer, the creation as described in scripture, the world as described in scripture, etc.

    If you haven’t read jerry Coyne’s “Faith vs. Fact” he does a wonderful job of bringing all these points together while making the case that religion and science are antithetical and cannot be harmonized.

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    • The empirical side of things is well-covered, I think. Between Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Coyne, and many others, it’s impossible for Christians to justify a faith rooted in actual naturalism. Sadly, this isn’t the only basis by which the faith is justified.

      My approach here is more from the arguments relating to pathos. They’re the more manipulative side of conversion. Think of all people who say that they see their deity in a beautiful sunrise or a baby’s smile. That place is where a lot of conversions start, and it’s a place that’s not addressed enough.

      As far as #NotAllChristians goes, it doesn’t concern me as much anymore. Most churchgoers and practicing Christians are going to disavow what I write because of bias, ill-will, or some other excuse. That’s already happened on many of my other posts.

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  2. For me … while “sin in my life” played a role, it was more the fact (according to my soon-to-be pastor) that I needed Jesus to make me a whole person. The simple fact that I was floundering around and asking questions was proof enough that something was missing in my life.

    Once I made that commitment and became one of the “sheep,” the ongoing and persistent enforcement and encouragement took me deeper and deeper into the quicksand. Soon I accepted/believed/followed –and lived by — everything that I was told about this “new life.”

    It’s like a whirlpool that sucks you deeper and deeper until you are absolutely certain a supernatural power is in control of your life..

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    • In my current outline, Jesus is the second part. It’s just that I need to talk about sin in order to make most of the Jesus doctrines make sense. But the sense of something missing and how Jesus accomplishes that is a point I definitely want to get to.

      If you don’t mind my asking, how did you meet this pastor?

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      • Sometime back (when??) on Ark’s blog, in one of my comments, I gave a brief description of how I “came to Christ.” Included in the story was how I met this pastor. For now, without all the trappings of the “story,” suffice it to say, it was through my ex-mother-in-law (now deceased). She was a “lapsed Christian,” but apparently had either gone to this church or knew about him from friends.

        I understand your premise, but for me, my conversion truly wasn’t centered on the “sin” in my life.

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  3. I am a non-Christian and have never been a member of any religion, nor had any faith in anything supernatural. Nobody in my family is a believer. However, as I am in the minority, I am very curious as to how this system plays out. My curiosity is driven by the fact, that I have to cope with people who believe and are constantly motivated by the most outrageous stuff about something (the so called supernatural) they seem to be aware of only through some form of intuition.

    I am a westerner, so the surrounding culture is ultimately Christian, even though I live in a relatively secular country. The level of secularity here is on the level, that I do not know wether or not my employer and most of my co-workers are Christians, nor how fanatic they might be. I do not want to risk coming to a discussion with them about the issue, since I have nothing to gain by presenting them how stupid their core beliefs might be. Hence, I write anonymously about my views in the internet and discuss the issue of religion with my friends and family, to whom I can trust.

    I have been approached again and again by all sorts of missionaries and people who take it as granted, that everybody should simply just accept their exentric claims about something they can not prove even as much as to show this thing exists or is real. They try to appeal to emotions, yes, but what they really seem to be looking for, is people in desperate need for help, and then providing them with a hoax, they think they have really helped the needy. From outside, the entire system seems like an enormous pyramid scheme in wich the original tricksters have long since died out, but the pyramid keeps feeding the ones on top and provides all sorts of bigotry as morals.

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  4. In addition to the basic christian doctrines, there’s some underlying ideas that christians won’t lecture you about, but are necessary to accept if one is to be a believer. Here’s some of those ideas that I have sorted out:

    1. Faith is a virtue.
    2. You can trust what preachers tell you.
    3. People are inherently broken, and the correct religion is the cure.
    4. One set of ancient religious propaganda is to be completely accepted and respected as “authority”. (All others are to be rejected as heresy.)
    5. Questioning any of the above premises is bad, and you can be ejected from the group if you don’t buy into everything they tell you.

    I’d love to add to this list, if anyone has any other suggestions.

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  5. It’s quite hard to generalise Christian beliefs since there are so many different denominations. That tends to happen when God makes a holey book with vague instructions and contradictions.
    That said, I always assumed the whole concept of Jesus dying for our sins and redeeming us to be central to Christianity. But looking at it now… damn it makes no sense.

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