SFL Forum
Self-sufficiency - Printable Version

+- SFL Forum (http://www.sflforums.com)
+-- Forum: Deep Discussions (http://www.sflforums.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=28)
+--- Forum: General Theology Discussion and Debate (http://www.sflforums.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=12)
+--- Thread: Self-sufficiency (/showthread.php?tid=8996)

Pages: 1 2 3


Self-sufficiency - leo the lamb - 11-19-2015

Is it possible to live a meaningful life without a tangible relationship with God? Or are we doomed to perpetual and eventual failure if we try to do it on our own? I just can't seem to see any middle ground here. And it feels like this quandary is holding me back, like I can't move forward until I either fish or cut bait. Despite my efforts, I have not been able to lose all my faith, but now it just lurks in the background, taunting me. But I can't ignore all the doubts and cynical thoughts I've collected concerning Christianity and the Bible and God. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere really sucks.


RE: Self-sufficiency - myotch - 11-19-2015

There are many people without faith who live meaningful lives.

Look at the many atheist artists and philosophers who were full of life - from Plato to Hitchens - who made incredible contributions to humanity. Look at the field of science, now replete with people of no faith.

I don't say that as an advertisement to go be an atheist, for I remain a person of faith. Sometimes faith has to balance with other parts of your life, though. What are you preparing yourself for? Where do you want to see yourself?

You might just need to tweak your focus.


RE: Self-sufficiency - Dr. Jezebel - 11-19-2015

I no longer identify as Christian. I do believe there's a universal energy or life force, and I'm sensitive to that. Call it god if you want. Smile

I will say my life, albeit difficult, is much happier & more fulfilling now that I'm not consumed with pleasing an invisible deity.


RE: Self-sufficiency - leo the lamb - 11-19-2015

Tweak my focus... I'm trying, but it is very difficult to set aside what I always thought was the most important thing - seeking and finding the Truth. I see now that I have no choice. My conscience seems to be in decent working order, so I think I'll take Jiminy Cricket's advice, and my own advice about not sweating 'it' so much. Balance is still a very hard concept for me. It was always supposed to be all or nothin'.

Jez, I also see evidence of a spiritual force, and I'm beginning to be able to see that it may not be what I'd been led to believe, namely the Christian God, Holy Spirit, etc. I will work on trusting that force to lead me, even as I make my own choices. It feels natural. It's just that I've been afraid to have any kind of faith that isn't the faith of my parents and mentors.


RE: Self-sufficiency - leo the lamb - 11-19-2015

One issue is how I saw myself as someone special.. one of God's Elect. Now, as a wishy-washy agnostic, I still see myself as special, and I suspect that God will not allow me to be happy or fulfilled until I come back to the fold. It's not something I think about all that much, but it's a sort of paranoia under the surface.

Maybe I'm just using this struggle as an excuse to not do much of anything. I say that I can't move forward, but maybe I keep telling myself that just so I don't have to leave my 'comfort' zone (it's not so much comfortable as it is simply familiar).

I think that's it. I know the answer and the way forward. It's a lonely road, though.


RE: Self-sufficiency - Norm - 11-20-2015

What Dr. Jez calls a "spiritual force" and what you (Leo) say you see evidence of, but doubt is the Christian God, Holy Spirit, etc.  may actually be just that.  I believe in the one, true, Christian God.  The "God of the bible".

What I think had or has [some of] us so messed up is that we believe the faith of our parents and the God we learned about growing up IS that God.  When in reality, it's NOT.

In my case, my mom told me about three years ago to forget everything I ever learned growing up and just start over.  Just start reading the bible for myself without all the preconceived notions and teachings from the first 34 years.

There were many things I found and am still finding and probably will continue to find until the day I die that didn't quite match with what the bible said.  That's one thing that excites me so much about the Christian faith is that I don't have to worry that I learn certain lessons and then live by them the rest of my life and if I get tired of living those same old lessons over and over and over that it means I am losing my faith and my salvation.

Anyhow, let me share the one thing that continually means the most to me.  I'll start it by stating something my older brother told me when I was going through a hellacious time of fearing hell.  "God wants you in heaven more than you want to be there."  That really, really helped me because I really had a view of God that He WANTED to throw me in hell and I had to figure out a way to prevent that.  Then I came around to more or less thinking maybe it was 50/50, like God was really just ambivalent towards my final destination.  But to start thinking about God in the aspect that He wants me in heaven even more than I myself want to be there, that was amazing.  I believe scripture backs up that perspective also.

Now, that isn't really the "thing" I found in scripture that continues to mean the most to me.  Here it is.  I always assumed growing up that God was first and foremost a judge.  That His "biggest responsibility" was to decide [fairly] who went to heaven and who went to hell.  That's an elementary way of stating how I viewed God, but I think aptly describes how I viewed Him.  I had always heard the I John 4:8 "... God is love" preached, but it was ALWAYS followed quickly, very quickly with "now this doesn't mean God is just some soft, white haired, grandfatherly figure in the sky that just overlooks sin and takes everyone to heaven".  I don't think I EVER heard "God is love" expounded on.  It was always "God is love" and then the sermon went the opposite way.

So, let me get to what I continually remind myself of.  Scripture states, very clearly, that GOD IS LOVE.  Scripture states very clearly what love is.

So in this case, I think I can replace "love" in I Corinthians 13 and get a pretty good picture of God's personality.  God is patient and kind.  God is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  God does not demand his own way.  God is not irritable and keeps no record of being wronged.  God does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out.  God never gives up, never loses faith, God is always hopeful, God endures through every circumstance.

I don't believe this is a comprehensive definition of God, because as Saint John Chrysostom said, a comprehended God is no God at all.  But I do believe this is a great starting point to having a real relationship with God.

Personally, I don't think God cares what we call Him, as long as we get to know Him.  I think this is something Billy Graham has tried to communicate that turns fundamentalists on their ear.  I don't think it really matters if we call God, God, or a Spiritual Force, or Yahweh, or whatever as long as we come to know His [true] characteristics, personality, will, etc.  I think He would rather us call Him a Spiritual Force and live in a way compatible with his personality so to speak, than to call Him God and live in opposition to who He really is.

To sum up this ramble, what you see as "becoming agnostic or being agnostic" and "moving away from the faith of your parents and mentors" could actually be moving towards a relationship with the one, true God.  But you can't refer to your "new found faith" as faith in the one, true God because that was who your parents and mentors said they were teaching you about and how you relate to this Spiritual Force does not resemble the relationship they taught you.  I don't know that this is true, because I don't know what you were taught as a youth.  But I do know I heard all the time "if it doesn't line up with the bible it's not true" and I do believe that.  But I know many times right after that statement was given, it was followed by something that didn't line up with the bible.  Of course, back then, I just accepted it as true and that even though it didn't seem to quite line up, that was just because I didn't know enough about the bible.  Honestly, I didn't pay attention to a lot of the preaching, I just wanted it to be over.  But now, as I recall things I heard, I realize they didn't really align with scripture and that could be why I never "got saved" as a youth.  I'm beginning to realize that the god I was taught in my youth was the "God of the bible" wasn't really that God.  So call Him Spiritual Force, call Him Yahweh, call Him Friend, call Him whatever you want.  Just get to know Him [please] Smile.


RE: Self-sufficiency - Dr. Jezebel - 11-20-2015

Norm Wrote:To sum up this ramble, what you see as "becoming agnostic or being agnostic" and "moving away from the faith of your parents and mentors" could actually be moving towards a relationship with the one, true God. But you can't refer to your "new found faith" as faith in the one, true God because that was who your parents and mentors said they were teaching you about and how you relate to this Spiritual Force does not resemble the relationship they taught you. I don't know that this is true, because I don't know what you were taught as a youth. But I do know I heard all the time "if it doesn't line up with the bible it's not true" and I do believe that. But I know many times right after that statement was given, it was followed by something that didn't line up with the bible. Of course, back then, I just accepted it as true and that even though it didn't seem to quite line up, that was just because I didn't know enough about the bible. Honestly, I didn't pay attention to a lot of the preaching, I just wanted it to be over. But now, as I recall things I heard, I realize they didn't really align with scripture and that could be why I never "got saved" as a youth. I'm beginning to realize that the god I was taught in my youth was the "God of the bible" wasn't really that God. So call Him Spiritual Force, call Him Yahweh, call Him Friend, call Him whatever you want. Just get to know Him [please] .


I appreciate the sentiment behind this very much, Norm. Your assessment is pretty accurate in my case.

My conundrum is, how do I get to know the God of the Bible when I can't read the Bible? I try, but all I.hear are voices from my past shouting condemnation at me.

That requires getting to know God outside the Bible. And most Christians would then say whatever knowledge of any deity I come to outside of Scripture is pagan. Or not the Christian God.


RE: Self-sufficiency - Norm - 11-20-2015

Dr. Jez, I'm going to give you an answer, but I don't claim it's a good one (and it is from the Bible). Maybe it's more of an interpretive opinion.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

I think this clearly denounces the notion that any deity one learns of outside of scripture is pagan. I think of the billions of people throughout history who were or are illiterate. I am finding that I actually know less about God today, in a percentage-wise perspective of knowing Him completely (even though I feel like I know more of who He is) than I thought I knew the previous rest of my life. But I feel 100% safe in saying literacy is not one of His requirements for coming to know Him. So I think you can absolutely get to know the God of the Bible without reading the Bible. And by that, I'm not discounting the benefit of reading scripture, but maybe getting to know Him outside of scripture would help with the reading of scripture. And as I read back through this, it reminds me of a Dr. Suess book Smile.


RE: Self-sufficiency - Dr. Jezebel - 11-20-2015

Faith isn't rational, so a Seussian response is apropos. Thank you for being so gracious.


RE: Self-sufficiency - captain_solo - 11-20-2015

In many cases, our journey out of fundamentalism is more than just a leaving of the places, people, and perspective of our former environments.  It is incomplete if all you do is abandon those things and replace the place, people, and bumper stickers with new ones.   

For years I have been analyzing my own responses to people, to preaching, to current events with as critical and objective an eye as I can realistically embrace, and while I have found the ability to embrace faith and to even embrace many of the forms that resemble my upbringing, I have to be constantly on guard to figure out why I am angry/confused/sad/frustrated, I have had to learn to be open and also to be direct.  Most of the time when I have taken a deep breath and asked "what do you mean by that" I realize that the person didn't mean what I interpreted them to mean through my fundy lens, in fact they don't have the first idea how what they said could be taken in a way that is harmful or hurtful.   In some cases it is necessary to educate them so they understand how not to hurt people with those distortions in their past and sometimes it just enough for me to accept what they say at face value at that point.   

I think a "true believer" can be one who embraces doubt, questions, and uncertainty and moves through life constantly learning and listening, and caring.  I have moved from needing to be constantly focused on biblical literacy and literal application of scriptures to every area of life and every decision, and toward an embrace of a calm and holistic approach that includes submission to biblical principles, but recognizes the challenges and limitations of interpreting and applying scripture combined with a gracious and careful application when looking outside yourself and giving others a tremendous amount of grace both in their behavior and in what I assume about what they say and believe.   The problem is that to the fundy or even to the ex-fundy at times, this type of approach will look like an abandonment of the faith or at the very least a "liberal" or "backslidden" carnality because they have codified so much of their opinions of men as if they were God's Word, and I have been informed of this on a few occasions, but even there grace is the correct response.    

Some people are quick to accuse others of abandoning the faith because they deny some closely held tenet that is their own personal pet doctrine, and others are quick to claim they are abandoning their faith for some other dogma while lambasting everyone who doesn't follow them because "christians are so..." or "they are all the same"   etc.   

Basically I have had to learn to abandon and decry fundamentalism in all its forms, not just the Baptist American form which gave birth to my neuroses.  Its not easy and it takes some time and serious consideration and self-inspection, but its worth it if the result is either a faith or a non-faith that is gracious, gentle, thoughful, and that plays well with others.