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How NOT to Win the Best Christian Attitude Award by @RachelHeldEvans

This post is written by my friend Rachel Held Evans. (She’s amazing–great writer, thinker, and storyteller!) Rachel’s first book–Evolving in Monkey Town: How A Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions–released last month, and it is wonderful. Rachel’s writing tone in Monkey Town is delightful and unique, and her subject matter, controversial yet heartfelt. I highly recommend this book. Please go out and buy Monkey Town, or get it at Amazon.com! Oh, and I highly recommend you follow Rachel on Twitter
Now for Rachel’s post…
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When I was nine years old, I raised my hand in Sunday school and asked my teacher why God would drown all those innocent animals in Noah’s flood when it wasn’t their fault that people were sinful.  The look on Miss Linda’s face told me that this was not a question that little girls were supposed to ask in Sunday school….especially if they expected to win the Best Christian Attitude Award again.

The Best Christian Attitude Award was the raison d’être of my preadolescence existence. Presented annually to a boy and girl from each class at my private Christian elementary school, it was the highest accolade that a kid with severe eczema and off-brand shoes could expect to receive. So I did my best to bring it home each year, even if it meant kissing up to teachers, sharing my lunch with classmates, and tattling on the competition. I was pretty ruthless in my pursuit of Christlikeness.

I won the Best Christian Attitude four years in a row and probably would have won it again if I hadn’t transferred to a public school in eighth grade, where its existence would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But even there I found ways to win it in theory. I witnessed to my classmates, organized See You at the Pole, and served as a student leader in youth group.  After high school, I attended a Christian college, where I studied Christian apologetics, listened to Christian music, and won awards for Christian influence.

I was great at being a Christian, and everyone knew it.

…That is until I started asking questions again.

They were questions that had been floating around my mind for years, but didn’t take shape until my early twenties. They were questions like: What happens to people who have never been exposed to the gospel when they die? Does God punish them for being born at the wrong place and the wrong time? Did he predestine it? Why is there so much scientific evidence in support of an old earth and evolutionary theory? What does it mean for the Bible to be inerrant? How are we supposed to respond to passages of Scripture that seem to condone genocide and the oppression of women? Why do people refer to new cars and scholarships and kitchen appliances as “God things” when 30,000 children die every day from preventable disease? If God intervenes in order to get someone the three-bedroom-two-bathroom house of their dreams, then why doesn’t he intervene and fix that?

When I started asking these questions out loud, Christians didn’t like it.

They told me to have more faith. They told me to rely on God’s mysterious ways. They told me to stop sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong. Questions like these, they said, are questions that atheists and agnostics ask, not questions that good Christians ask. Questions like these would send me sliding down the “slippery slope” to unbelief.

It seems you don’t win any Best Christian Attitude Awards by voluntarily checking books about evolution out of the library or writing a guest post for Jon Acuff about secretly being liberal.

(http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/07/secretly-being-liberal/) You don’t win any Best Christian Attitude Awards by admitting you don’t understand why God allows so much injustice in the world or by confessing that sometimes this frightens you. You don’t win any Best Christian Attitude Awards by being honest about your questions and doubts.

But I’m beginning to think that you gain something else.

Knowing that I’m not going to win any Best Christian Attitude Awards has freed me to be more honest with myself and with other people. As a result, my faith has grown stronger and my friendships have broadened.

My faith has grown stronger because it has been tested and proven strong enough to survive.  I haven’t found answers to all of my questions, but I’ve encountered a God who is big enough to handle them and who does not condemn his children for asking.  My friendships have broadened because the people who used to avoid me—atheists, agnostics, doubters, artists, gays and lesbians, democrats, men—feel more comfortable talking with me now that we both approach the conversation assuming we have something to learn.

I’m just as scared and insecure as the next person, so there are days when I wish I could get the Best Christian Attitude Award back. But something tells me I couldn’t win it if I tried.

Once you’ve told yourself the truth, it’s hard to get away with a lie.

What questions are you asking at the risk of losing the Best Christian Attitude Award in your life?

Rachel Held Evans is the author of “Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions” which released in July. She blogs at www.RachelHeldEvans.com



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Jonathan

posted August 5, 2010 at 9:30 am


Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Can’t wait to read the book! Thanks for giving her an extra megaphone Matthew!



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Alise

posted August 5, 2010 at 9:31 am


“Knowing that I’m not going to win any Best Christian Attitude Awards has freed me to be more honest with myself and with other people. As a result, my faith has grown stronger and my friendships have broadened.”

Totally. It’s funny how embracing my doubt has increased my faith. Probably one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever experienced.

Lately I’ve lost my Best Christian Attitude award because I cannot sit quietly by and allow my gay and lesbian friends to endure discrimination and hatred at the hand of the Church that I love so much. There is not a monolithic view of homosexuality in the Church and I am increasingly compelled to show my support (not merely tolerance, but acceptance) to the LGBTQ community, particularly those who are my Christian brothers and sisters. But that doesn’t always play well in rural WV, or in the evangelical community in general.



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    DC

    posted August 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm


    Leviticus 20:13
    Mark 7:20-23
    1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    I’m not trying to ‘attack’ you for this, so please don’t think I am. As Christians, I believe that we are not supposed to support the homosexual community because they do acts that against the Lord and the Bible. I do firmly believe that their lives can be turned around by Jesus, but I do not think we should support their community or the lifestyle.



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      Silica

      posted August 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm


      This might just be a wording issue, but I’m definitely raising an eyebrow at the idea that we can’t support people just because they are sinners (you specifically say we should not support the “community” because of their actions). I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that this was not what you meant, because if it is, then no one would ever support each other, because none of us are free from sin.

      I would still disagree with you even so, because the Bible says a lot of things that indicate to me much more the cultural prejudices of the writers than the intent of God, but I know that gets into a big theological issue and from previous comments I think I’m in the minority here as far as my reading of the Bible (plus mine has “extra” books in it, which according to some lines of Christian thought makes me a Satan-worshipper.)



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        Tina C

        posted August 5, 2010 at 10:01 pm


        Silica- good points. and you made me laugh out loud with your “extra” books



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          Silica

          posted August 6, 2010 at 7:14 am


          Glad it amused you!

          I’m a Catholic convert, so I remember when my dad accompanied me to Mass the first time and he looked at the first reading and said, “That’s not in the real Bible.”

          It took a while to convince him and many others, in fact, that my church community actually “counts” as Christian. Which is pretty bizarre for anyone who has a basic understanding of Catholic theology.



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        Tina C

        posted August 6, 2010 at 6:38 pm


        if i had a nickel for each time i’ve heard “so-called” or “not a REAL” Christian…..



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      Jessica Gavin

      posted August 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm


      DC–I hope it’s okay I reply to a comment directed at Rachel.

      You say, “we are not supposed to support homosexual community because they do acts against the Lord and the Bible” but don’t you too? Don’t I? Don’t we all?

      Have you ever not kept the Sabbath? Or Lied? Cheated? Gossiped? Overate? Maybe drank too much?

      All of these things make us sinners, but we still support one another don’t we? I don’t know, I feel like it’s a bit hypocritical to say we shouldn’t support the homosexual community because we support the divorced community. We don’t like it, but we don’t abandon the divorced “community” or stop them from getting married again if they cheated in their last relationship? The Bible and our Lord would have us not take another husband or wife if we were not committed to our first spouse, but there’s no law that stops this so why the line with homosexuality?



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      Alise

      posted August 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm


      Thanks for the references — I had missed those before. ;-D

      But honestly, I’ve just seen the Church come down waaaaaaay too many times on the wrong side of civil rights/progressive ideas. First it was flat earth and a geocentric universe. Then black people weren’t as good as white people. Then women weren’t as good as men. Now it’s gays aren’t as good as straights.

      I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of those who held ideas that most of us in the Church now find reprehensible. But in the same way that those ideas have been reviewed and found to be perhaps NOT so biblical, I believe we will see the same with regard to homosexuality. I mentioned it before, but if you’re interested in understanding those with whom you disagree, I would recommend Jack Rogers’s “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality” as a great starting point for seeing how some have come to a different conclusion than you.



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      RobM

      posted August 5, 2010 at 9:28 pm


      Perhaps you can describe what “lifestyle” you mean? The gay people I know come from as varied backgrounds & lifestyles as the straight people I know. Maybe you should worry more about scriptures that address the sins in your life before worrying so much about the ones you listed here. I’m guessing there’s must be one at least. I know I have all I can handle w/ the sins in my life w/o worrying about denouncing others. I think 95% of attacks start off with “I don’t mean to attack, BUT”. BLEH.



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      annie

      posted August 14, 2010 at 2:07 am


      Homosexuality is a sin, but so are a bunch of other sins…try the 10 Commandments. Adultery is outlined point blank, homosexuality doesn’t even make the list. If you don’t condone homosexuals, you should equally “hate” and prejudice everyone who has ever committed adultery or ever lusted after someone in their mind…that would include you. Why are “Christians” so judgmental. Only God has that right, we were never given that right. We were only granted forgiveness…



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Emily @ The Pilot's Wife

posted August 5, 2010 at 9:47 am


Wow. I immediately subscribed to her blog and followed on twitter. I, too, attended a private Christian school until 8th grade when I switched to public and then went to a Christian university. And at 26 I’m finally letting myself ask some hard questions.

I’m adding her book to my “must read” list.



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Linda B.

posted August 5, 2010 at 9:53 am


I’m sure I’ve lost my Best Christian Attitude award in the eyes of several of my friends because I’ve had a tough time just fitting into a big traditional church. I have amazing, close fellowship each week with pockets of believers, but it’s been several years since I’ve done the whole attend church every Sunday thing. I also don’t tend to just go along with the Republicians with everything or their conservative agenda, and I can’t help but ask the tougher questions on how we as believers should treat the gay community… especially in light of the whole Prop 8 thing here in California, and how to deal with gay believers in the church. I know some of my Christian friends just think I must be on crack at this point.



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Jessica

posted August 5, 2010 at 10:02 am


Two questions are big for me:

1. The Bible. I haven’t taken it literally in a decade, but lately I’m even wondering how seriously to take certain things. For example, those of us who don’t see homosexuality as a sin–we can explain away the seven biblical passages about it, “oh, that doesn’t refer to committed, monogomous relationships…” but why do we feel compelled to make those explanations at all? Why can’t Paul just be wrong, i.e. not speaking for God when he wrote what he did?

2. Prayer. What does it mean if I pray for God to keep my child safe and healthy and something happens to her? I’m more willing to admit this question to other Christians than I am the first one. I blogged about this question a while back, and got the expected responses–“just trust God’s will.” http://mattandjesskelley.blogspot.com/2010/02/on-theodicy-and-prayer.html



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    Joy

    posted August 8, 2010 at 7:02 pm


    Jessica, I’m wrestling with these questions too. Paul bothers me greatly. And I have a daughter who was born very sick and who died at age 8.

    Where I’m at now is Jesus – He asked God to allow him to avoid dying on the cross, three times. But His sinless life and unjust death was the only way to redeem us. God’s love for us cost Him everything – I mean, how on earth does God actually die? But He did, and God turned that terrible thing into a means by which we all can be made right.

    So I don’t understand why God chose to allow my daughter’s heart condition and physical disabilities, and why He took her at such a young age. I don’t think I ever will. It is a wound I will always carry with me. But I am trying to trust that He is going to bring something beautiful out of it.



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DebbieInIllinois

posted August 5, 2010 at 10:05 am


Thanks for introducing me to this author. I’ve asked some of the “wrong” types of questions too. I’m currently dealing with the gay marriage thing. I can’t seem to reconcile the Bible with the very nice gay people I know, including my best friend from high school who only came “out” a few years ago.
My question would be “why does it matter to us who someone else loves?”
And like I said, I’m still struggling to make sense of it.



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    Alise

    posted August 5, 2010 at 10:18 am


    I would recommend the book “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality” by Jack Rogers to help address some of those questions. Also, I loved (LOVED!) the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So.” That one absolutely changed my life (even more than my years of bff-dom with a gay woman). I can’t recommend it highly enough.



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      Tina C

      posted August 5, 2010 at 10:08 pm


      great. my “Best Gay Christian Influence Award” gets snatched out from under me by a documentary. that I recommended for you!



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        Alise

        posted August 6, 2010 at 10:43 am


        Well, I wouldn’t have watched it or read the book without your influence. That was just the tipping point, after years of you shoving your agenda in my face.

        {{{hugz}}}



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      Annette

      posted September 21, 2010 at 11:23 am


      Yes, I went to a screening of For the Bible Tells Me So where we had a Q and A time with the producer. I then bought the film and have been lending it out. It is a huge eye-opener.



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    Rachel H. Evans

    posted August 5, 2010 at 11:00 am


    This is an issue I’ve really struggled with over the past year or so – mainly because I am desperately afraid of the consequences of being wrong. I want to be able to tell my kids that I stood up for what was right, even when it was unpopular (either in Christian circles or secular ones). But what is right?

    Keeps me up at night.

    Part of the problem is that homosexuality has become such a litmus test in conservative evangelical circles. There is a lot of pressure to make a definitive statement about where you stand. And yet when we talk about same-sex attraction, we are talking about PEOPLE – people who don’t fit into neat and tidy categories of right and wrong. How can we make sweeping statements about such a diverse group?

    That being said, I do believe that gays and lesbians should enjoy the same rights as the rest of us when it comes to marriage – and I think that’s a position folks can hold regardless of whether they think such relationships are “ideal.”



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      RobM

      posted August 5, 2010 at 9:32 pm


      Andrew Marin says there are no easy yes or no answers. I usually find “yes, gays are fine” answers much easier, but I’ve been known to be wrong and hardheaded on an occassion or two.



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      Tina C

      posted August 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm


      Hi Rachel,

      1st… great writing, as always. What a treat to find you on here today. (after midnight, so maybe not “today”)

      2nd… your “An Evangelical’s Response to Homosexuality,” in which you shared this theme is the one that brought me to your site and into your end of the Virtual Village. So, this one has great sentimental value for me. It’s our initial connecting point.

      3rd… a friend (who is not afraid to be harsh) brought up that this view -the “What if I’m Wrong?!” view- is still pretty much all about you. I see his point, but being less harsh than he, I didn’t want to press it. But…

      If you’re wrong, if the Church is wrong -as it’s been in the past about blacks, women, etc, etc… then shouldn’t your main concerns be 1) the people who are being harmed & 2) stopping the harm; and not so much whether or not you knew what was right/where to come down on this “issue?”

      You’ve already articulated, numerous times, that the “issue” is really about real people. I know you know this. So I want to let you know how that phrasing sounds from the outside.

      Regarding sexual orientation & faith, is your primary concern, “I want to be able to tell my kids that I stood up for what was right, even when it was unpopular (either in Christian circles or secular ones).” Or, is it the people who are being harmed? And the fact that the harm is mostly coming from the Church? And the “good Christian” folk?

      Is being able to tell your kids you stood up for what’s right, in a sense, just another award? (The “Quick to Recognize What is Right” Award?)

      Sorry if you lose additional sleep. Okay, not really. It’ll be time well spent!

      Much love & keep on truckin’~ T



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        Annette

        posted September 21, 2010 at 11:34 am


        On the issue of wanting to support what is right (in God’s eyes), I love Bishop Tutu’s perspective from the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So. He said something like this… “When I stand before God in heaven, I don’t think He will say, ‘Sorry, you were born the wrong color’ or ‘Sorry, you were born the wrong gender’ or ‘Sorry, you were born with the wrong sexual orientation.'” If we believe in a divine Creator of unconditional love (which I believe there is much support for when you listen to anyone’s story who has had a sincere “experience” with God), we must trust that God’s unconditional love even covers our sexual orientations and relationships. I really feel we must let each individual decide what a “healthy” relationship looks like between two consenting adults. These are personal decisions between human souls and God.



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Hannah @ Peggy Ann Design

posted August 5, 2010 at 10:17 am


What an amazingly refreshing article. I went to a private Baptist school in AL and people here REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t like it when you ask questions. or support people’s right to choose who they love, or their right to choose when they give birth, or their right to choose who they vote for. I have been asked (on more than one occasion) “How can you be a Christian and a democrat/liberal at the same time?” Um… why can’t I be both?!!!
Todd Agnew came out with a song a few years back called My Jesus – its one of my favorites. The lyrics are here:(http://www.christianrocklyrics.com/toddagnew/myjesus.php).



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    Toranse

    posted August 5, 2010 at 10:56 am


    Yeah, I’m in a small city in California that’s really conservative, and if anyone is a Democrat (and don’t even *think* about being pro-choice)your entire salvation is called into question. The fruits of the spirit here are: Republican, pro-life, pro-spanking, pro-creationism, pro-global-warming-is-a-farce, pro-dispassionate-about-animal-rights. If you are anything else, then you are a liberal, and if you are a liberal you will be faced with people murmuring to others, “You know, I’m not certain about their salvation…”



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Deb Owen

posted August 5, 2010 at 10:17 am


This is one reason I’m grateful for my ‘unchurched-of-the-world’ years. I asked questions, people didn’t like it. I ask questions now, and have opinions that much of the Church doesn’t agree with — and sometimes people don’t like it. But as long as God and I are cool, I’m okay. ;-)

But I, like you, have found this has strengthened my faith more than weakened it. And I’m absolutely grateful for that.



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Jonathan Chang

posted August 5, 2010 at 10:20 am


What I’ve been struggling with lately is doubting my salvation. And I get confused when I read verses like in 1 John that say, “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin…”

Well, I still sin, so what does that mean?

I raise these questions in my baptist church and I get looked down upon like I’m weak and need “more faith.” sigh.

nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com



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Toranse

posted August 5, 2010 at 10:34 am


“Why do people refer to new cars and scholarships and kitchen appliances as “God things” when 30,000 children die every day from preventable disease? If God intervenes in order to get someone the three-bedroom-two-bathroom house of their dreams, then why doesn’t he intervene and fix that?”

That right there has probably been my biggest question. So God intervened so we wouldn’t starve, and that makes us “blessed”, but then why didn’t he intervene when we were being abused? And why does he only intervene the bare minimum (for my family, at least)? There are times that if I have to view these things as God’s blessings, then all I can think of is that God is cruel…the type of God who, if a person were dying in the desert of thirst, would give him just enough water that his body could still survive, but not enough that his thirst would be quenched, and still no way out of that endless desert.

And do all these blessings imply that God only cares about some people? I got into a huge debate (re: argument) over this with my mother once – if God purposefully went out of the way to spare David’s life so he could be king, does that mean he could care less if someone who doesn’t have that kind of calling lives or dies? If we say “so ‘n’ so” was spared from an accident by God, but other people died, are we saying God cared less about them? if we say we’re blessed by God, doesn’t that say He cares more about us then He does about others who don’t have what we have?

My family had high hopes that I would be their one kid with “strong” faith…I think I’ve disappointed them.



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    Rachel H. Evans

    posted August 5, 2010 at 11:05 am


    Thanks so much for sharing this, Toranse. Please know that you are not alone in asking these questions!

    “…If God purposefully went out of the way to spare David’s life so he could be king, does that mean he could care less if someone who doesn’t have that kind of calling lives or dies? If we say “so ‘n’ so” was spared from an accident by God, but other people died, are we saying God cared less about them? if we say we’re blessed by God, doesn’t that say He cares more about us then He does about others who don’t have what we have?”

    Very well said…er, asked. :-)



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    Annette

    posted September 21, 2010 at 11:44 am


    Your questions have also been my greatest stumbling blocks of my faith. Seeing images of starving children with bloated bellies or hearing stories of sex slavery and abuse can spiral my faith into deep doubts. But…. I am no longer becoming totally shattered by my doubts. I receive spiritual direction on a monthly basis from a woman I highly respect. She has walked alongside me and encouraged me to continue walking through the murky questions and doubts. Never once has she judged me for my questions dealing even with the existence of a Creator. My beliefs have certainly evolved from the way in which I was taught as a child, but I believe I am coming to see God as more beautiful and loving, albeit less powerful and controlling of details. Don’t give up on the journey! The seeking and doubting are growth pains (or maybe even like birth pains). Hmm… I wonder what will be born through all of this?



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Caroline | surprised by joy

posted August 5, 2010 at 10:52 am


I’ve learned to begin asking these questions myself the past few years and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Be prepared that if you drop those stones into the Christian pond, the ripples spread pretty fast. And a lot of people don’t like ripples.

The funny thing is that I feel more in touch now with who Jesus really was than I ever did growing up in an evangelical bubble. As I surround myself with the agnostics, the gay friends, the drive for social justice and the refusal to accept things as the world (even the Christian world sometimes) tells us it should be, I feel a deep sense of wildness, of radical change and I know that nearby is the Wild and Radical One who started asking all the questions in the first place.

I am grateful for people like Rachel and can’t wait to read her book.



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Charlie H.

posted August 5, 2010 at 11:51 am


I think my biggest question is how did Christianity get so far off the mark? How did we ever come to believe that people are sorted into damned and saved boxes, and that the damned box is nearly overflowing. I know its not a question for God necessarily, but I do wonder how he allowed us to keep sliding further and further away (I guess he doesn’t intervene and allows what happens naturally to, well, happen naturally.)



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GFH

posted August 5, 2010 at 11:59 am


Some thoughts:

1. God’s Word will be glorified and bring glory to God. What is glory? Highest Honor – “Most High” – He will make His name known to every person (and His character – Love, Mercy, Compassionate but also Judge, Jury and Executioner)

2. There are Children of God, and Children of Satan – at least according to the NT – so, not everyone is a Child of God – we are brought into the household of God as adopted sons & daughters

3. God gave us free choice as an expression of that Love – those that choose darkness and walk in it are “children of Satan”.

4. Jesus Christ is THE TRUTH, so any and all TRUTHS must be part of Him

5. God made the world the best that He could to accomplish the designs that He desired. For My creation to accomplish (or have) “X”, then the world that I create must have “Y”.

6. There IS a duality at work in the world. To really KNOW something, you must KNOW the opposite. To know FAITH, you must know DOUBT. To KNOW good, you must KNOW evil/badness.

7. God is working all the time to redeem His creations but He stays within the rules/constraints He sets for Himself.

8. Sometimes bad things happen just so you can take that experience and help others because there is something special in you that He created to serve that purpose.

9. We are not here to serve ourselves.

10. We are expected to love ourselves and from this, know how to love others.

Just some thoughts as they came to mind…

(My blog is blank now if you visit it, but one of these days I’ll have something there!)



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Phil

posted August 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm


WICKED post, definitely going to see if we can get that book into work.



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wasmfasm

posted August 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm


Yes, Yes exactly. I feel the exact same way. Questioning is good, it is very good. I am so thankful that early on I became very good friends with someone who likes to question. Often his questioning would make me uncomfortable, and there were likely times when his questioning bordered on giving up or losing faith altogether. But whatever it did for him it helped me to learn that asking questions is good. God can work through it. Our faith often becomes stronger because of it.

Thank you for sharing!



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Talia

posted August 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm


“When I started asking these questions out loud, Christians didn’t like it.

They told me to have more faith.”

Yup, got that too, which was when I discovered that the church shoots its wounded. Lost *my* faith because of it. Ten years later, God brought me back. It is one of literally only a few times He has obviously intervened in my life. NONE of those interventions involved material goods, which always makes me question the motivation behind claims of material “blessings.”



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JD

posted August 5, 2010 at 4:04 pm


Thanks. I was a third generation Jehovah’s Witness and questions were encouraged as long as they were questions that their publications answered. In fact we didn’t even need to bother asking the questions because their publications conveniently provided the questions AND the answers. In all of the publications we studied, the questions were provided at the bottom of each paragraph and the answers were provided in the text (which probably explains why it was so hard for me to adjust to the critical thinking requirements of college, when I finally attended after leaving the religion because college is strongly discouraged).

However, certain questions were prohibited, such as “what was it about the straight, white guy (with a beard) from Pennsylvania that God picked in the late 1880’s to lead his true followers and why wasn’t that guy mentioned in biblical prophesies?” or “why does the Bible prohibit Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and birthdays but not anniversaries?” or “why doesn’t the Bible mention the dinosaurs?” or “How does God tell the guys in Brooklyn exactly what to say in the publications, is there a special fax connection or does God send emails?”

The problem with Christianity in general and specifically the fundamentalist Christian movement is the hubris of biblical literalism. I always laugh when I’m told “well, this scripture is not meant to be taken literally (such as stoning a woman who has sex during menstruation) but that scripture is (don’t eat blood). As if Charles T. Russell, John Hagee or Tom Lahaye (or that wacko from Kansas) know exactly what God means to say. Jesus condemned men like these.



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Daniel Kendrick

posted August 5, 2010 at 11:08 pm


What gets me in trouble is questioning the church, more so than questioning God or the Bible. When people lower the standard of scripture to explain their experience rather than raising the bar of their experience to match scripture, I raise an eyebrow.

– If Jesus interrupted funerals and raised the dead, doesn’t that imply that it’s possible for someone to die outside of the will of God? Otherwise, Jesus was working against the Father.
– Likewise, if Jesus was constantly going about, doing good, healing all those who were oppressed by the devil, doesn’t that suggest that God does NOT inflict us with cancer, or “thorns in the flesh”, or flat tires, in order to teach us something? Once again, why would the things we ask Jesus to fix be the same things God is “throwing our way in order to build character”?

That’s what I mean by insisting on our circumstances bowing their knees to the name of Jesus, rather than twisting our understanding of scripture to justify our current condition. These ideas can be pretty uncomfortable…



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Connie

posted August 5, 2010 at 11:09 pm


This one may “win” me the Worst Christian Attitude Award: So how can God *possibly* really care about me and simultaneously stand by and allow all sorts of S*** to happen in my life, hm? Starting with a crappy, abusive childhood and culminating in the sudden passing of my fiance? (More of the litany here if you care.) Most Christians I talk to don’t seem to like it when I question God’s caring. Maybe they’d prefer I questioned his existence? Anyway, I know in my head somewhere that it was people who mistreated me (or in the case of my fiance, who failed to take good-enough care of himself). So yea, I need to forgive them. But the fact remains: God allowed it all to happen, could have prevented it, and didn’t. And that continues to piss me off.

Bad enough attitude for ya?



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    Mystic

    posted August 10, 2010 at 10:08 am


    Hi Connie, first of all my truly meant condolances for your loss. Secondly, my thoughts. I think people truly underestimate the fact that God created a real universe, a real planet, with real natural laws, and real people to run this planet by the boundaries set by these laws. If God would intervene constantly, perform miracles numerous times per day, well, then we wouldn’t need to care about anything wouldn’t we? ‘Miracle’ as a word wouldn’t even exist probably. I’m not dismissing your valid questions, actually I’m dealing with them myself as well. I do believe that we live in a broken world, and that this is because of how WE, humans, act (or to be more precise, do *not* act).

    I hope I’m getting my meaning across…



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    Annette

    posted September 21, 2010 at 11:57 am


    Hi Connie, how good of you to be able to be so honest. It is not right for such pain to exist in one person’s life. And I do not agree when others say “God allowed this to happen within His permissive will or for a reason.” I think most of us have misguided ideas about God’s power and influence. I have come to believe that God does not desire or have any thing to do with any of the calamities of life. Perhaps our perspective of an all-powerful God should be given over to an All-Loving God who grieves when God’s beloved children (ALL creatures)suffer. Perhaps if we understood God as compassionate Parent rather than controlling-the-buttons Parent, more of us would be moved to compassion for others.



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Dianna

posted August 6, 2010 at 12:10 am


I probably lost the award right around the time I decided that getting married wasn’t going to be the end-all be-all of my life. I once had an uncle tell me I shouldn’t move far from home because when I got married and started raising kids, I’d want to be near family. He just couldn’t comprehend any other goal for a woman’s life, and told me as much about a year later when I was finishing my first year of graduate education – essentially telling me that higher education had addled my brain after I told him I didn’t think the Bible supports torture.

Yeah, definitely lost that award for a lot of my extended family when I had that debate.

And now here I am, 9,000 miles away from my home town, single, making my own way in academics as an ESL teacher, and I have some of the best friends in the world supporting me. Yup, he sure showed me.



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Kissie

posted August 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm


I have no specific questions today but I know, when they arise, where to go and who can help.

I just have to say I think it is HILARIOUS that democrats made the list! Too, too funny.

atheists, agnostics, doubters, artists, gays and lesbians, democrats, men …. nice post.



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Mystic

posted August 10, 2010 at 10:13 am


On homosexuality: I do believe it’s a sin, at least the sexual practising of it. I do believe a man should either be married to a woman, or remain single. That’s all pretty basic Biblical knowledge right? However, when I compare this with Jesus speaking about the beam in my own eyes, and the fact that we are all sinners, and I’m most definitely one… how could I ever mistreat or negatively disciminate against a homosexual? Do I also mistreat the neighbour who cursed hir parents once in a burst of rage? But if I were asked my opinion about his sexuality, I would tell him/her my stance. I would support a gay any day, but not his sexual fulfilment of his/her lifestyle.



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10PlusYears

posted August 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm


Good for you, Rachel. Good for you.



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Carlene

posted August 30, 2010 at 7:08 pm


1. Where are the Christians who want to know what goals God has for us, instead of just telling everyone else what they’re doing wrong?

2. Why do Christians want to “do evangelism” without having any friends who aren’t Christians?

3. Why do Christians “support missions” if they’re afraid to get to know non-Christian immigrants?



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