Gary Habermas joins Janet Mefferd to discuss dealing with doubt in the Christian life (Re: Unanswered Prayer – other issues)

Gary Habermas joins Janet to discuss dealing with doubt in the Christian life (Re: Unanswered Prayer)

Audio / podcast.

I have found that Janet Mefferd’s show does not work in Google Chrome (browser), sometimes does not work in FireFox, but DOES work in IE (Microsoft Internet Explorer browser). I loathe IE, but it’s the only browser that will play her show.

Habermas has recently written a book about faith and doubt or something, and he is interviewed by Janet Mefferd about it, as well as related questions, such as unanswered prayer, Christians who walk away from church because they have been hurt by other Christias, or they lost a loved one (to death), or they don’t feel Christianity is meeting their needs, etc.

You can listen to the interview here:
(I think this is hour 3 – there appears to be an hour 1 and hour 2):
(Fixed the link)

(Link): Podcast: Gary Habermas joins Janet to discuss dealing with doubt in the Christian life. (mentions unanswered prayer, other topics)

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Related posts, this blog:

(Link): Blaming the Christian for His or Her Own Problem or Unanswered Prayer / Christian Codependency

(Link):  Unanswered Prayer and Diversity of Doctrine and Interpretation (podcasts)

(Link):  How to Deal with Unanswered Prayers via Pastor Bil Cornelius 

(Link):   When All We Hear from God is Silence by Diane Markins

(Link): On Prayer and Christ’s Comment to Grant You Anything You Ask in His Name

(Link): Church Is Not Important, 51 Percent of US Adults Say

(Link): Guilt Tripping or Shaming the Hurt Sheep to Return to Church

(Link): Quitting Church – why single Christians aren’t going to church – church has failed Christian singles

(Link): Christians Who Can’t Agree on Who The Old Testament Is For and When or If It Applies

(Link): Why People Don’t Go To Church (various links and testimonies March 2014)

Preacher and Church say the Worst Thing You Can Do is Have A “Meaningless” and “Ordinary” Life – What?!

Preacher and Church say the worst thing you can do is have a “meaningless” “ordinary” life -What?!

By way of Dr Duncan’s Pajama Pages blog,
(Link): NewSpring gets its Catholic vibe on with its veneration of the saints this Easter

Dr. Duncan is rightfully concerned with the New Spring church’s emphasis on Zac, a now-deceased church staff member, especially in light of this being a sermon (or series of materials on their site) this church presented on Easter, or as an Easter- related curricula of sorts.

Yes, instead of pointing people to Jesus Christ, or teaching about Jesus’ death and Jesus’ resurrection, this church, New Spring, chose to make the Easter service all about this Zac person (who died in 2009, and my condolences to his family). However, that is not the basis for my post about this.

Quoting from Perry Noble’s church’s site via Pajama Pages blog (original source here (New Spring church site)):

    Thousands of people trusted in Jesus because of what [Zac] had to say. He could have just died. He could have been alive one minute, and gone the next. The worst thing is to have a meaningless, ordinary life

Where does the Bible teach that the “worst thing” is to have a “meaningless, ordinary life,” and who gets to determine what is “meaningless” and “ordinary?” Perry Noble? Who?

Continue reading “Preacher and Church say the Worst Thing You Can Do is Have A “Meaningless” and “Ordinary” Life – What?!”

Why Christians Need To Stress Spiritual Family Over the Nuclear Family – People with no flesh and blood relations including Muslims who Convert to Christianity – Also: First World, White, Rich People Problems

Why Christians Need To Stress Spiritual Family Over the Nuclear Family – People with no flesh and blood relations including Muslims who Convert to Christianity – Also: First World, White, Rich People Problems

I know I have discussed this subject in previous posts, either in posts by myself or excerpts by other people, and sometimes only indirectly, such as…

    • (Link):

The Isolating Power of Family-Centered Language (How churches exclude singles and the childless) by E A Dause

(Link): Study: People today living alone more than ever before

(Link): Neither Fully Widow Nor Fully Wife – Married People Will Be Single Again

(Link): Widower to Advice Columnist Talks about Being Stereotyped by Married Couples or Ignored by Other Marrieds Since His Wife has Died

(Link): Married People Who Find Themselves Single Again – Spouses With Dementia / Married People Who Are Lonely

(Link): The Walking Dead television series – Virginity and Family – One of TV’s Most Popular Adult Characters is a Virgin and Single And Most Are Okay With That

(Link): What Christians Can Learn from The Walking Dead Re: Family, Singleness, and Marriage

But I wanted to address another angle to this.

I have in the past heard of Muslims who convert to Christianity and are then ostracized by their family of origin.

A former American Muslim found himself in that very situation and recently gave an interview on a Christian television program, which you can watch here; his family have nothing to do with him any longer because he converted to Christianity:

(Link): A Journey From Islam

    Author and former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi shares about his dramatic conversion to Christianity.

You can also watch a copy of the video here:
(Link): A Journey from Islam, on 700 Club’s site

Here are a few additional resources on this topic, with more comments by me below this assortment of links and excerpts:

    • (Link):

Testimonies of Muslims who became Christians

(Link): Muslims converts face ostracism in France

    (“Zee News,” February 6, 2007)

Paris, France – Muslims are converting to Christianity in their thousands in France but face exclusion from their families and even death threats.

(Link): Kurdish Converts to Christianity Ostracised By Society and Family

(Link): CARING FOR THE MUSLIM CONVERT.

(Link): Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity goes into hiding

(Link): When Muslims Convert

    • By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
    Commentary Feb. 2005

In the Islamic world, there is a broad consensus, both popular and scholarly, that apostates deserve to be killed. A rich theological and intellectual tradition, stretching as far back as Muhammad and his companions, supports this position.

Though official proceedings against those who reject Islam are fairly rare–in part, no doubt, because most keep their conversion a closely held secret–apostasy is punishable by death in Afghanistan, Comoros, Iran, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen.1 It is also illegal in Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Maldives, Oman, and Qatar.

The most common dangers faced by Muslim apostates come from their own families.

At a recent evangelical convention in Falls Church, Virginia, a couple of female converts from Islam told a reporter about their fears as new Christians. One woman said that when her family finds out, “I know they’re going to disown me if they don’t kill me.”

The second woman had similar fears. “My brothers haven’t spoken to me in the last couple of years, and that was only because I married an American,” she said. “Can you imagine what they would do if they found out I was a Christian?”

…. Roy Oksnevad, a missionary with the Evangelical Free Church in Minneapolis, tells of a Turkish convert whose brother, an ultra-conservative imam who also owns a lucrative carpet and jewelry business, threatened to have him killed if he ever returned to Turkey.

A Farsi-speaking pastor [name withheld by request] in Oakton, Virginia, told the Washington Times, “I’ve seen some people who’ve come from Iran to the United States to persecute, if not kill, in order to bring back their relatives to Islam.”

Even when apostates do not face physical danger from their families, they are often ostracized. This experience is not unique to Muslims, of course; it is a fact of life for many people who convert out of the faith into which they were born.

But for Muslim apostates, the loss of family and community support can carry a heavy price, especially if they are immigrants. If they lose their livelihoods or the means to maintain themselves financially, they can be forced to return to their home countries–and that can amount to a death sentence.

Many conservative Christians are emphasizing the traditional family unit far too much.

Not only are many adults today staying single indefinitely or past their late 20s, and not only do some become widows or get divorced, but there are people who are ostracized and cut off from their family of origin for accepting Jesus Christ.

I wonder what churches near to where these former Muslims (who convert to Christianity), whether in the USA or overseas, do to help these individuals, now that they are totally alone, now that their biological families have rejected them?

And I don’t mean just financial help, but, do the Christians in these churches adopt these new converts as new family?

Do Christians invite these former- Muslims- now- Christians to their homes weekly or nightly for dinner, or invite them over for holidays?

The world can be a very lonely, difficult place if one has no spouse and no flesh and blood family to turn to, but many Christians, especially in the United States, seem to forget that.

There are people in the world who walk to Christ which means they are walking away from their only support systems they have ever known – their families: their mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, grandparents.

Will American Christians stop obsessing over traditional marriage, parenting, and the “nuclear family,” to reach out to these types of people who give up everything to follow Jesus?

Judging by the American church’s response to American- born individuals who are single, those who never-married, or who are divorced or widowed, my guess is sadly, no.

One of the best things you can do for someone else is to offer yourself, your time, and your companionship. Some people are lonely and hurting and have nobody to turn to and could use the friendship, a shoulder to cry on, and encouragement.

But your married Christians who have children, the ones who attend mega churches, seeker friendly churches, evangelical, Reformed, and Southern Baptist churches, only hang out with other married with children couples, and they continue to market self-absorbed programs and sermons about how each individual can achieve his vision or dreams in life, how a person can have a better marriage, and be his or her “all.”

Truly, these are the concerns of people who have no serious challenges in life. These sermons and ministries are irrelevant to 50% or more of the U.S. population.

If you are a middle class husband and father living in the American ‘burbs, and you feel that weekly sermons about how to “reach your potential” or “how to have a hot marital sex life” are relevant, applicable to all (or most), or of equal concern to all, may I suggest you may be living in a bubble and need to realize there are people out there that are not as fortunate as yourself?

You have what is called “rich people’s problems,” also known as “white people problems,” or “first world problems.” Visit the (Link): First World Problems site to see (humorous) examples.

I can’t imagine how churches offering potlucks for middle class, married couples with children, or offering another ‘ten steps to a great marriage’ sermon series is going to aid, comfort, or help people like the 25 year old single Muslim man who just left all he had to follow Jesus, or the widower who is living alone at 72 years of age, or the never-married adult who is 36 years old.

I will leave you with the words of Christ:

    34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And, from Matthew 12,

    46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.

47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.

50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

September 2015 edit:

Muslim refugees express their loneliness being without families on Eid al-Adha

(Link):   The loneliness of Eid al-Adha for refugees

Muslims across the world are marking Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.

This is the day when families get together and have a big celebration, but many Muslim refugees who have recently arrived in Austria say this day makes them feel lonely, as it reminds them of their families they left behind.

Zamir Rizoyi is an Afghan refugee who is now staying in a camp in Vienna. He told the BBC how he felt to be far from home on what is usually a special day.


Related posts this blog

(Link): Unmarried America: How Single Adults Are Changing the Face of the U.S. and What It Means for the Church by R. Hurst

(Link): Church Is a Family, Not an Event by K. Kandiah

(Link): Do You Rate Your Family Too High? (Christians Who Idolize the Family) (article)

(Link): This Headline Has My Fellow Conservatives In A Tizzy, but It Should Not: Just 18% of US households are ‘nuclear families’ with a married couple and children, down from 40% since 1970s and the lowest since 1959

(Link): If the Family Is Central,  Christ Isn’t

(Link): Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles? by S. Hamaker

(Link): Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church? by Gina Dalfonzo

(Link): What Churches Should Do for Singles by T. Campolo

Church Holds Church Services in Strip Club

Church Holds Church Services in Strip Club

M’kay. I was taught from the time I was a girl that sex was for marriage only. Taught this in Christian books, Christian television shows, church sermons, my parents, and obviously, that was the conclusion I got from reading the Bible on my own as a kid and teen.

I get into adulthood, still single, still a virgin, and I’ll be darned if most of Christianity today is telling singles and teens,

    “Sex is no big deal! Just use “protection.”
    Don’t feel shamed or dirty about pre-marital sex, and God forgives it anyway.
    Let’s do away with purity culture, it’s so damaging to women! It’s forced on women by the patriarchy!”

Basically, virginity is not only not valued by self professing Christians today, but it’s also been attacked (yes, see (Link): this (Link): this, (Link): this for a few examples – I have more on the site, but that suffices).

Soooooooo…. I’m bothering to live by biblical sexual values why, exactly? Nobody else is, Christians are not. Christians are making a mockery out of biblical teachings about sex.

You can listen about this story on Chris Rosebrough’s show here:
(Link): Church in a strip club? (audio – pod cast)

I’m not sure if this story from The Christian Post is related to the story discussed by Rosebrough above, but I think it is:
(Link): Church Hosts Services on Stage at Local Strip Club for Easter Sunday

Excerpts

    BY KATHERINE WEBER, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
    April 23, 2014|4:42 pm

    A gentleman’s club in Ontario, Canada, opened its doors on Sunday to allow a church to gather. The couple leading the church says it is an attempt to attract those who would feel uncomfortable in a traditional church setting.

    Jack and Sharon Ninaber, who are part of the Elora Road Christian Fellowship, held their first church service at The Manor gentlemen’s club in Guelph over Easter weekend. Sharon, Jack’s wife, told the local CTV television station that when she originally suggested the couple begin holding church services at the strip club, she was joking.

    After discussing the idea further, however, the couple decided the unorthodox services would be a creative way to reach those who would shy away from a traditional church setting. They are specifically hoping to attract residents from Sue’s Inn, a nearby transitional house for the homeless and the addicted.

Why are Christians so obsessed with strippers? If they are not harping on strippers, it’s African orphans. WTF?
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Related posts this blog:

(Link): Preachers Who Use Strippers, Hula Girls, Topless Hunky Men, and Strip Poles During Church Services and Give Sex Diplomas to Teens – Yes, Really

(Link): Stop Rewarding People For Their Failure – Christians Speaking Out of Both Sides of Their Mouths About Sexual Sin – Choices and Actions and How You Teach This Stuff Has Consequences – Allowing Sinners To Re-Define Biblical Terms and Standards

(Link): ‘Strip Church Network’ Focuses on Stripper Outreach Outside of Las Vegas Sex Industry

(Link): To Get Any Attention or Support from a Church These Days you Have To Be A Stripper, Prostitute, or Orphan

(Link): Article: Christians Outreach To Porn Actors and Strippers – But Not To Older Christian Singles

(Link): U.S. Churches Cancel Services for Football -( Superbowl )- People who are unchurched, dechurched, and preachers who say not attending church is a sin

No Man’s Land – Part 3 – Liberal Christians, Post Evangelicals, and Ex-Christians Mocking Biblical Literalism, Inerrancy / Also: Christians Worshipping Hurting People’s Feelings

No Man’s Land – Part 3 – Liberal Christians, Post Evangelicals, and Ex-Christians Mocking Biblical Literalism, Inerrancy / Also: Christians Worshipping Hurting People’s Feelings

BIBLICAL LITERALISM AND INERRANCY

Another common thread I see on forums for spiritual recovery sites (or ones by ex Christians, liberal Christians, etc), is a rejection of

1. Biblical literalism
2. Biblical inerrancy

This is all so much intellectual dishonesty in another form it makes me want to throw up.

I spent years studying about the history of the Bible, Bible translation, and so forth.

I came away realizing that the Bible is inerrant and yes, we can trust the copies we have today; the Bible is not filled with historic blunders and mistakes, and all the other tripe atheists like to claim.

It is not entirely accurate for critics to paint the Bible as a purely man-made document, that contains mistakes because it was copied and re-copied numerous times over the centuries.

While there is an aspect of truth to that description, the end conclusion, or how that description, impacts the NIV or NASB Bible version you have sitting on your coffee table right now, is not how critics of the Bible paint it.

Atheists and ex-Christians who are critical of the Bible are disingenuous and duplicitous in how they paint some of their arguments against the Bible, and they should be ashamed for it, as some of them claim to be truth lovers.

Not too long ago, an ex-Christian woman at another site was declaring that Christians cannot “trust” the Bible because the originals (called the Autographa) do not exist.

Oh please! I pointed out to her that is not so: as far as the New Testament is concerned, scholars have many thousands of copies of the Autographa (some dating within decades of the originals), and by use of lower textual criticism, they can reconstruct the READINGS of the Autographa.

It is not necessary to have “the biblical originals” themselves to know what they said, as she was dishonestly arguing (but she later accused me of being dishonest!).

I pointed this FACT out to her (about it not being necessary to have the autographa to know what the autographa said), where upon she shot back the falsity that one cannot trust the translations anyway because they are done by “conservatives.”

Oh, but she is willing to grant liberal scholars or liberal theologians the title of un-biased, as though they do not have an ax to grind against the Bible and dating its documents and so forth?

Because the liberal scholars do in fact start out their examinations of the Bible from an anti- Christian bias.

The woman with whom I was corresponding on this matter doesn’t seem to understand that the practice of lower textual criticism is a science – a liberal who uses that methodology would come to the same conclusion as the conservative who uses it.

So here we have an example of one type of ex-Christian I am talking about:

This woman claims she was a Christian at one time, now fancies herself atheist or agnostic (and some kind of expert on the Bible), but who now spews inaccurate or untrue things about the Bible, because she disdains all of Christianity in general.

My view: Do not lie about the Bible’s history, accuracy, and textual evidence just because “Preacher Fred” at your old church was a big meanie to you X years ago (or insert whatever other emotional baggage you carry against Christians that now colors all your other views about the faith and Bible here) – please!

Give me a freaking break.

I am genuinely compassionate towards people who have been hurt by churches, but not to the point I cover for their dishonesty about how they discuss church history, the biblical documents, etc.

Because some of these folks claim to have been hurt by Christians in general, or a particular denomination, or what have you, they feel fine now rejecting biblical literalism and inerrancy.

Continue reading “No Man’s Land – Part 3 – Liberal Christians, Post Evangelicals, and Ex-Christians Mocking Biblical Literalism, Inerrancy / Also: Christians Worshipping Hurting People’s Feelings”

No Man’s Land – Part 2 – On Post Evangelicals or Ex Christians or Liberal Christians Ignorantly Hopping Aboard Belief Sets They Once Rejected

No Man’s Land – Part 2 – On Post Evangelicals or Ex Christians or Liberal Christians Ignorantly Hopping Aboard Belief Sets They Once Rejected

✹ What follows is actually the heart of my “No Man’s Land” view. This is what prompted me to write it: ✹

✹ TAKING THE OPPOSITE POSITION OF WHAT YOU USED TO BELIEVE BUT NOW HATE – DUE TO EMOTIONAL REASONS OR A KNEE JERK RESPONSE OR FROM SPITE – IS JUST AS WRONG AND MISTAKEN ✹

As to the forums and blogs by ex Christians, liberal Christians, self identifying post-evangelicals, or those still Christian who expose spiritual abuse…

I notice a number of the regular visitors to these sites – the ones who left an abusive or legalistic church or denomination – simply now operate in the reverse in their thinking, which is, IMO, just as bad or wrong as the thinking they are leaving.

There are different types of ex-Christians one must take into consideration when discussing this topic, so I shall present some sketches of them first.

IFBs (Independent Fundamentalist Baptists)

For example, there are ex IFBs (Independent Fundamentalist Baptists).

IFB preachers and churches are ridiculously legalistic. They make up rules that are not in the Bible, or twist or exaggerate the rules already there to the point those rules then become unbiblical.

IFBs are the contemporary, American versions of the Bible’s Pharisees: nit picky, anal retentive, legalists who make up man-made rules but insist they are “biblical” and thus binding on all believers.

IFBs concoct man-made traditions they expect all IFB members to adhere to, just like the Roman Catholic hierarchy does towards Roman Catholic members.

For example, IFB churches are legalistic about secular entertainment and clothing and physical appearance.

IFB churches teach their congregations that women should not wear pants but only skirts. And the skirts should be only so many inches above or below the knee.

According to IFBs, men should not have hair that touches the back shirt collar – not a mullet to be found in IFB, which may be a good thing. Secular music and television is sinful and should always be avoided.

IFBs have other legalistic rules for just about every aspect of life.

IFBs are vehemently anti-Roman Catholicism as well as anti-Calvinism.

Continue reading “No Man’s Land – Part 2 – On Post Evangelicals or Ex Christians or Liberal Christians Ignorantly Hopping Aboard Belief Sets They Once Rejected”

No Man’s Land – Between Agnosticism and Christianity / Also: It’s Emotional Not Intellectual (Part 1)

No Man’s Land – Between Agnosticism and Christianity / Also: It’s Emotional Not Intellectual (PART 1)

This will be a series of posts where my thoughts wander in and out and all over, and it rambles, but there is a point or two behind it.

Since I’ve been in a faith crisis the last couple of years, somewhere between being an agnostic and a Christian, I have noticed I don’t fit in anywhere. I reside in No Man’s Land.

(Even before then, when I was a total, committed Christian, and politically, I was, and am, right wing, I still didn’t fit in at most blogs and forums, including political ones, and including ones for right wingers!

I tend to be one of those personalities who annoys or angers everyone, even those on “my side” of an issue, except a small number of people, who are either on my side of a topic or not, who “get me” or who appreciate where I’m coming from – again, this is true for even the ones who disagree with me on whatever topic we are discussing.)

I am in this really weird place now, where I am critical of some aspects of conservative Christianity, and see where conservative Christians get some doctrines and other things wrong, but, too, I am not fully on board with militant atheism (I find the New Atheists to be arrogant, vile, hateful and rude), and I don’t even care for lukewarm atheism.

Nor am I in the camp of anything and all things liberal Christianity, except where I think they get the occasional point correct (such as their rejection of gender complementarianism).

Since drifting away from the Christian faith more the last few years, I more often began frequenting forums or blogs for and by atheists, ones by liberal Christians, ones by ex Christians, or by Christians who were abused by a former church who remain Christian but who dropped out of Church, or who now are on a crusade to expose abuse by preachers or the absurdity and harm of current evangelical gimmicks.

THE MILITANT ATHEISTS

A clarification: when I say I have been visiting atheist forums and blogs more often, I am very picky about which ones I regularly visit.

I do not like the frothing- at- the- mouth, extremely bitter, biased- against- Christians- type atheistic communities.

The bitter atheist groups sound like a bunch of irrational, hate-filled loons who reject Christianity for emotional reasons, but who lie to others and themselves and say, “Oh no, it’s purely intellectual.”

But their unrelenting, insane amount of hatred at any and all things God and Christian, is just a total turn-off to me, so I try to avoid such sites.

These angry, always-ranting atheists are really nothing more than Fundamentalist Atheists or Taliban Atheists. They are just as dogmatic about their atheism as Muslims are in their Wasabi Islam or Baptists are in their Neo Fundamentalism.

Really, those types of atheists are just as bad as the religious groups they claim they hate, but they don’t seem to spot that they are. It’s ironic – and it’s hard to stomach the day in, day out anger and hatred, so I try to avoid their sites.

HYPOCRITICAL CHRISTIANS VS NON HYPOCRITICAL CHRISTIANS

Also, you have to be honest with yourself, which I do not find militant atheists to be, by and large: not every single Christian is a hypocrite, jerk, idiot, dullard, or complete jackhole.

I say this as someone who is very fed up with Christianity and Christian persons myself these days.

But your average militant atheist will never admit that some Christians are in fact okay and not being hypocrites.

I have known and met a few Christians who were sincerely trying to live the Christian faith out, such as my mother, who is now deceased, and her mother before her (my grandmother).

I’ve met a few honest, sincere Christians online who do help people and show compassion to the wounded.

So it’s not fair to completely dismiss the entirety of Christians and their faith or treat them all like jerks because some are liars, mean, or abusive.

Which is not easy for me personally, because at the same time, I do keep noticing that a lot of self-professing believers do NOT live out what the Bible says.

Many self professing Christians today, for example, do not protect victims, such as young church members who have been sexually molested by preachers.

Nor do many church goers today hold accountable preachers who bilk their church goers out of millions to buy big mansions and jets.

These idiots, these lemmings, actually defend their greedy pastors online, which I’ve written about here: (Link): Your Preacher Sucks – and People Have a Right To Say So And Explain Why.

Then you have a conservative or evangelical culture, which claims to care deeply that people preserve sex until marriage, but if you actually find yourself 40 years of age and still single – and therefore still a virgin, such as myself – these same churches and Christians do not offer you any support.

You either go ignored, or preachers and talking heads of such groups “run down” and insult celibacy as well as older, celibate adults. Churches treat single (and especially celibate) adults as though they are flawed, lepers, weirdos, or losers.

Churches wrongly counsel abused wives to return to their spouses – this is particularly true, again, of churches or Christian groups who buy into “biblical womanhood” (aka “gender complementariansm”) or “patriarchy.”

Churches and average Christians also remain ignorant or callous about matters pertaining to mental health issues, from P.T.S.D. to depression and anxiety attacks.

Some Christians wrongly and insensitively teach that “real Christians” can never get depression or other mental health maladies.

Or, some Christians believe and teach that prayer, faith, service to the poor, or Bible reading alone can cure one of mental illness.

Still other Christians (or the same type) will shame and guilt suffering Christians for using anti-depressant medications, or for seeing secular or Christian psychiatrists and therapists (see this link for more, “Over 50 Percent of Christians Believe Prayer, Bible Reading Alone Can Cure Mental Illness (article) – In Other Words Half of Christians are Ignorant Idiots Regarding Mental Illness”).

Yet other Christians are incompetent at, or unwilling, to provide more ordinary, “every day,” run- of- the- mill comfort to other Christians who are hurting, such as a Christian who is stressed out over a job loss, someone who is in mourning for a deceased loved one, etc.

Christians are dropping the ball in numerous ways.

And this failure, this huge failure, causes life long Christians like me to look long and hard at the faith and wonder if it’s true at all.

It causes even someone such as myself to ask if the faith is true, because

  • it doesn’t appear to be working,
  • it doesn’t make a difference in people’s life who profess it,
  • most who claim to follow Christ don’t actually do what he taught,
  • and some Christians refuse to hold Christians caught in bald faced sin accountable but excuse them for the sin,

~ and it makes you wonder “what is the point, then.”

I find this discrepancy between confessed belief and actual practice shocking, because I myself sincerely tried living out the faith since childhood.

Also, my Christian mother was a role model for me, and she genuinely, consistently lived out and by biblical teachings, including getting up off her ass and actually HELPING people (giving them money if they were in a bind, cleaning their homes for them when they were sick, listening to them cry and rant about their problems for hours without judging them or interrupting them, etc).

I am not seeing most other Christians do any of this. They say they believe in those things but then they do not do them.

BLOGS AND FORUMS FOR SPIRITUALLY ABUSED OR THOSE HURT BY CHURCHES

Before I actually get into this topic (which I discuss more in Posts 2 and 3), here is some background leading up to it.

As far as the sites I have visited by liberal Christians, ex Christians, atheists, as well as sites by Christians for the spiritually abused:

By and large, these have been wonderful, supportive sites and groups to visit (the ones run by Christians for hurting Christians).

I have noticed, though, that there are problems even within these types of communities, and I don’t entirely fit in at them, either.

Continue reading “No Man’s Land – Between Agnosticism and Christianity / Also: It’s Emotional Not Intellectual (Part 1)”

Aged Out of Church by M. Van Loon (For Christians over the Age of 35 – 40 – Churches ignoring middle aged adults)

Aged Out of Church by M Van Loon (For Christians over the Age of 35 – 40)

If you are, as of 2014 especially, over 35 years old, especially over age 40, you should relate to this (if you are currently 20 years old, come back and read this blog post in another 15 – 20 years, and you will relate):

(Link): Aged Out of Church (on Virtue Online)

(Link): Aged Out of Church

    • Even in our congregations, midlife has become a joke.
    by Michelle Van Loon

I have linked to some of her material before, or similar material by other people, such as

    (Link):

Why Even Middle Aged Married with Children Christians Are Leaving Church – Not Just Unmarried Singles | 40 Somethings Gen X Quitting Leaving Church

(Link): Why Even Middle Aged Married with Children Christians Are Leaving Church – Not Just Unmarried Singles | 40 Somethings Gen X Quitting Leaving Church

(Link): Never Married Christians Over Age 35 who are childless Are More Ignored Than Divorced or Infertile People or Single Parents

Excerpts

(Link): Aged Out of Church (on Virtue Online)

(Link): Aged Out of Church

    • Even in our congregations, midlife has become a joke.
    by Michelle Van Loon

Ask anyone who’s hit midlife, and they’ll tell you: this stage is no joke for us.

The emotional, spiritual, physical, and relational shifts that occur at midlife can lead to disconnection from old social networks and a profound sense of loneliness, which brings with it serious health risks. At this point, many also feel drained by the increasingly common occurrence of death, disease, divorce, and the changes that redefine old friendships.

And yet, rather than engage these important but uncomfortable issues that come with aging, our culture—including, at times, the church—would rather laugh it off. We see midlife as a caricature…

….Church should be a place of meaningful connection with God and others at every stage of our lives, but nearly half of more than 450 people who participated in an informal and completely unscientific survey I hosted on my blog last year told me that their local church had in some painful ways exacerbated the challenges they faced at midlife. As a result, they’d downshifted their involvement in the local church from what it had been a decade ago.

Continue reading “Aged Out of Church by M. Van Loon (For Christians over the Age of 35 – 40 – Churches ignoring middle aged adults)”

Power Point, Boring Churches, It’s all about Jesus, Church Quitters, No Community, Selfish Preachers, Churches As Stalkers / (Re: Why Some Drop Out of Church)

Power Point, Boring Churches, It’s all about Jesus, Church Quitters, No Community, Selfish Preachers, Churches As Stalkers / (Re: Why Some Drop Out of Church)

(Link): How Power Point is Ruining Higher Ed

That page has one slide with screen shots of various tweets by various college students complaining about their professor’s over use of Power Point, including:

    -Being a college professor would be easy. Read off a Power Point you made 10 years ago and give online quizzes with questions you googled.

    -College basically consist[s] of you spending thousands of dollars for a professor to point at a Power Point and read the bullets.

    -I hate when a professor makes class mandatory and reads straight from the Power Point instead of actually teaching… I can do that at home

There are many reasons I no longer attend church and am not eager to ever go to another one ever again, and that is one of the reasons.

Church is boring. (And it’s not personal; churches tend to be impersonal.)

I feel that is a perfectly legitimate criticism of church: church is boring.

I am not saying that from a bratty, entitled, immature, 10 year old kid mentality.

Do not misunderstand. I am not arguing that the only thing a person should look for is entertainment at church.

There are already too many churches today that try to draw in crowds by entertaining them with rock bands, coffee shops in the church building, and gimmicks, primarily the moronic “seeker friendly” churches. That is not what I am advocating.

I’ve read criticisms of the present church model that argue church as we know it today is not how it was when Christianity first began. The first churches were groups of Christians sitting around in someone’s home discussing God, singing hymns, sharing each other’s problems … everyone was invited to participate in those meetings.

A “church service” back at the start of the Christian faith did not consist of one guy at a podium reading verbatim from the Bible, or, in the case of seeker friendly churches, one guy at a podium spouting off personal anecdotes and funny one-liners and pep talk advice while the congregation (the captive audience) sat there in silence.

By the way: the “worship” part of evangelical / Baptist church services don’t uplift me. They consist of people looking straight ahead at a big screen with text on it that is very repetitive. Some people (though this is rare at Baptist churches), put their hands up and wave them around.

I have never felt moved during these music segments at church, and I abhor them. I wish churches would drop the music segments – at least the ones where the entire congregation is expected to participate.

The music sections where some lady or guy stands at front and sings while I sit and listen don’t bother me as much. I don’t like the parts where myself and everyone else is commanded to get on their feet and sing along to words on a big screen.

I am not against music in and of itself, I am saying it feels out of place during a church service. I’ve never felt closer to God during the music part. I don’t see how me mumbling a few simplistic lines from a song honors God.

If anything, the music bits make me feel MORE hollow and empty, because there is this expectation by other Christians that you’re supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy and so, so close to God during the music, or you’re supposed to be basking in the greatness of God, or whatever.

I look around in some churches I’ve been to during the music bits (including one large, non denominational, charismatic church) and see some people with eyes closed, arms uplifted, swaying back and forth. Those types look like they are really getting something from the music.

I hate the music segments. I’m always waiting for them to end the moment they start.

At any rate, church is boring and impersonal.

I am not a supporter of shallow sermons and a rock band – the gee whiz environment that is prevalent in 90% of American churches today. I am not arguing that the antidote to “boring church” is to inject more excitement via rock bands and more coffee shops.

At the same time, though, I have been to one or more earnest churches where the preacher basically reads straight from the Bible – and that is boring. I can do that at home.

I can read the Bible myself and sometimes do, even in the midst of my agnosticism and trying to figure out if I want to remain a Christian at all anymore. (I should explain I don’t read the Bible nearly as much as I used to. I only read very small portions now, every so often.)

I am literate. I am college educated. I can sit at home and read the Bible, I don’t need some guy at a podium on a Sunday morning reading 90% of the Bible to me.

Even the churches that make entertainment a basis bore me. I’ve been to a few Baptist churches, large ones, that have gigantic video monitors and rock bands, with a preacher making jokes and pop culture references in his sermons, and I was still bored out of my mind.

One of the reasons I get bored at church is that there is no “back and forth.” There is no room for me to participate. I am not able to enteract with the pastor or other people. (This is the opposite of my issue with music segments: I prefer to sit out of music performances at church. I hate participating in music at church – but I do want to participate in lessons.)

For those of you who say that is what Sunday School is for – no, that has not been my experience.

In most Sunday School classes I have visited, there is already a pre-planned curricula, a published workbook from “Lifeway” that the class’s Sun. Sch. teacher reads from, or uses as a guide.

It’s not that I object to some pre-planning. I am not saying that use of a guide or workbook is necessarily wrong. If you are a Sun Sch teacher who wants to come up with a plan or topic for the class to discuss beforehand, I am fine with that to a point.

What I don’t like is an hour-long Sunday School class that is 95% a teacher reading from a Life Way workbook, and not much more.

Continue reading “Power Point, Boring Churches, It’s all about Jesus, Church Quitters, No Community, Selfish Preachers, Churches As Stalkers / (Re: Why Some Drop Out of Church)”

Kentucky Baptists giving away guns to lure new churchgoers

Kentucky Baptists giving away guns to lure new churchgoers

And the Mark Driscolls complain that churches are not “manly” enough and are “too girly?” Give me a break. I’m sure there might be some ladies who are into shooting, but I think it’s considered more a manly man pursuit.

(Link): Kentucky Baptists giving away guns to lure new churchgoers

(Link): Baptist churches use gun giveaways to help people find Jesus

    By Michele Richinick

    And the winner of the long gun goes to…

    Members of the Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., will echo the phrase later this week as they raffle guns to families attending their “Second Amendment Celebration.”

    The church invites any 1,000 residents to attend a free steak dinner on Thursday night to hear from religious speaker ChuckMcAlister. Participants will have the chance to win a variety of 25 donated handguns, long guns, and shotguns through a random drawing.

    “We’re not doing it for the sake of the guns. We’re not doing it for any reason primarily than to help men understand the Gospel message is extremely relevant to their lives today,” said McAlister, team leader for Evangelism Church Planting and Collegiate Ministries for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “The main goal is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to give people an opportunity of hearing the good news and knowing they can have a personal relationship with the god who made the outdoors through Jesus.”

    Winners will receive a voucher to redeem at a local gun store. But first, each individual must pass a background check with the dealer. Parents will receive items won by children younger than 18.

    … The Lone Oak Baptist Church has hosted five similar events – previously called “Beast Feasts” – since 2005 to attract individuals who love the outdoors, Fuller said. Past participants had the chance to win Four-Wheelers.

(Link): Gun giveaways at Kentucky Baptist churches lure men to Christ

    BY CAROL KURUVILLA / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
    TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2014, 12:58 PM

    The Kentucky Baptist Convention is reaching out to ‘unchurched’ young men by offering free steak dinners and the chance to win a gun. Although the men have to pass a background check to take their prizes home, these ‘Second Amendment Celebrations’ have drawn criticism from Christians who don’t think Jesus would use guns to share the gospel.

—————————–
Related:

(Link): Church’s Bizarre Sermon To Singles About Singlehood – With Spiderman Theme

(Link): Preachers Who Use Strippers, Hula Girls, Topless Hunky Men, and Strip Poles During Church Services and Give Sex Diplomas to Teens – Yes, Really

(Link): The “Feminization” of the Church by K R Wordgazer

(Link): U.S. Churches Cancel Services for Football -( Superbowl )- People who are unchurched, dechurched, and preachers who say not attending church is a sin

Why People Don’t Go To Church (various links and testimonies March 2014)

Why People Don’t Go To Church

I’m fed up not just with church, but about most of Christianity itself, with many Christians, and with American Christian culture.

I find myself relating to posts about why people have stopped going to church, or why they are reluctant to return, as well as posts by people who used to be Christians who are either considering leaving the faith or who already have.

Here is a selection of such posts.

(Link): I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.

(Link): Why I Don’t Go to Church Very Often, a Follow Up Blog

(Link): The Other Side of the Donald Miller Post: Church PTSD

(Link): Christian Identity and the Church as Family (by Sara Barton)

(Link): Leaving church to save our souls by Kathy Escobar

Here are excerpts or comments from some of those pages:

(Link): Christian Identity and the Church as Family (by Sara Barton)

    So, if people are leaving the church, perhaps we need to avoid defensiveness and ask some hard questions about family. Sometimes individuals leave families of origin because of abuse, because of dysfunction that threatens to overtake the entire family system.

    Could it be that many of our friends and neighbors are leaving church because of dysfunction that needs deep introspection?

    We can easily cite stories of people for whom the church is functioning.

    We should celebrate those stories. But, the church is not functioning for others, to such an extent that they are leaving. Instead of being defensive, maybe what we should do for a while is merely listen.

The author of that also wrote this, and I disagree with this part:

    If departure is based on our personal likes and dislikes, personal lifestyle choices such as how to spend our weekends, the idol of busyness, conflict avoidance, or aversion to submission to authority, perhaps our culture is informing identity more than identity in Christ.

I don’t have an issue with people who leave a church for any of those reasons.

Comments by other people on that blog:

    by Al Cruise • 8 days ago

    “If people are leaving” ” ask some hard questions” The bottom line is, whether it’s being said or not, is the implication that you need to call yourself a Christian and be attending Church in order to be saved, if not, you are going to hell or “Left Behind”.

    People can see through this, especially young people. What about all the people born before Christian theology. Born in countries were Christian theology is not present.

    According to american evangelicals over a billion Chinese and many other nationalities are consigned to hell simply by their location of birth. The Church doesn’t want to talk about this.

    People are leaving, so their playing a new guilt trip card ” you can’t be spiritually healthy unless your in a community of “OUR” definition. People are seeing that this is false and are leaving and will continue to leave.
    ———-
    by Lori Michelle • 10 days ago

    I appreciate the thoughts that maybe sometimes people leave church because the church family is abusive.

    I appreciate the idea that instead of being defensive and placing blame on the people who leave…saying they are making excuses or being selfish or falling prey to our secular culture…they listen to what the people who are leaving are saying.

    I didn’t want to leave [my] church…I feel that my church left me. I was an active member. I volunteered, I served, I participated, I worked. I felt that I was really connected to the “family” and I loved so many of the people. I knew that we weren’t perfect, but I was willing to forgive and continue.

    But then I went through a divorce and all of the sudden my children and I were a pariah. We were ignored, gossiped about, and even called names. Even after each of my three children began refusing to go to church, I persevered faithfully.

    Then, a couple of years later, a 17 yo girl in our youth group was raped by one of the youth group dads. She was called a liar, and worse, and eventually asked not to participate in youth group anymore. At the time in her life when she needed the most support and love, she was rejected and blamed. As was I…rejected and blamed during the worst time of my life.

    So, this is what a family is??

    I have no interest in ever submitting myself to that kind of abuse ever again. I won’t. I didn’t leave my church because I was too busy, or because I “fell away” or because I couldn’t deal with conflict. I left because I wasn’t safe, my daughters weren’t safe, and a 17 year old girl in the youth group was not safe in environment of control, and manipulation, and silence.
    ——————-
    by Steve Johnson • 11 days ago

    I absolutely believe that the church is a family. Unfortunately, we’ve lost that in so many local expressions of the church.

    When our gospel, as Scot talks about often, is how to get into heaven, our church becomes a machine driving to draw people in so that they can be saved. Families are not machines. So much church energy is given to building a vision and conveying the purpose that the leaders chose to market so as to draw more people.

    Instead, the church must be the context for the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a loving family that bears the message of the hope. The purpose come through the faith that grows out of this message of hope.

    So, yes. People are leaving because the church is dysfunctional. A few years ago, the Willow Creek Leadership Conference featured an interview with Jack Welsh. In the interview he talked about how he turn GE around by, in part, making a habit of firing the bottom 10% of the companies employees.

    I witness more than one case where church leader returned home and tried to apply this principle. Staff members lost jobs, church leaders were asked to step down, congregants weren’t fired, but were told if you don’t agree with the leaders’ vision, it would be OK for them to leave.

    If that’s the kind of commitment that churches have to one another, no wonder Don Miller and others are leaving.

Excerpts from

(Link): The Other Side of the Donald Miller Post: Church PTSD, written by a female friend of Scot McKnight’s

    …. Something that doesn’t seem to be getting addressed at all is this: what if I KNOW I need it, but it has become such a painful, scary, uncomfortable place that I am no longer able to even attempt to participate? What if I WANT the community and the bumping up against different people with different opinions, but I CAN’T, I mean physically CAN’T go? I have usually discovered in life that if I have a feeling, I’m not the only one. So it makes me think there must be others out there like me.

    What do I mean by “physically unable”? I shake, I cry uncontrollably, my skin crawls, I am unable to speak. It’s pretty difficult to be a part of a community, broken or not, with all of that going on.

    …. A number of years into our time at our third church my husband was diagnosed with depression. After carefully letting the elders know, we were pleasantly surprised at their compassion and understanding.

    But the church was in the process of hiring a new senior pastor, and a few months later when he was brought on, I witnessed an unbelievable turn of events that still makes me cringe today.

    Two years later, I am left with the memory of so many people I thought were friends telling me to “let it go” since this is “what’s best for the church” and all part of “God’s will”.

    ….What I think I’m looking for and not finding is something that will give me hope.

    At this point, I won’t be persuaded by guilt or by empty platitudes. “You just need to do it because it’s what we all need to do” just isn’t cutting it. Having people tell me that it’s a broken place and I shouldn’t expect anything else from a group of flawed human beings doesn’t make me want to run for the entrance of the nearest church. What happened to me, what happens to a lot of people, shouldn’t happen.

    What I’m trying to say is that there is a culture of acceptance in the church today that allows for people to be treated terribly under the umbrella of it being what is “best for the church”.

    Continue reading “Why People Don’t Go To Church (various links and testimonies March 2014)”

Mature Christians Need to Stop Allowing the Under 30 Crowd to Direct the Entire State of Christian Affairs

Mature Christians Need to Stop Allowing the Under 30 Crowd to Direct the Entire State of Christian Affairs

I remember being in my twenties seeing articles appear in the paper about how Christians over 30 were freaked out or worried about Christians in their twenties and younger. I did not understand this mindset then (when I was a teen and in my twenties), and I don’t understand it now.

If you are someone reading this in 2014 who is currently under the age of 30, this blog post might piss you off. Welcome to the club, because I am already there now.

If you are in your twenties as you read this now (2014) and feel offended by it, please book mark this page, save it, and re-visit it when you are 40 or 50 years of age, and you will probably have a change of heart when you are older.

It’s hard to see and understand when you are under the age of 35, but once you’re past 35, you really start to notice what I’m writing about in this post.

I have written before about American Christianity’s fixation on youth, specifically, today’s “Millennials.”

I have a blog post where I was for a time keeping track of all the “Oh noes, the youth be leavin’ the church, how can we stop this travesty” type stories I kept coming across.

It’s located here:
(Link): (Ageism): Links about the never ending obsession with why the kids are bailing on church (one stop thread)

What just clicked in my mind today after glancing over a headline on a Christian news site, the headline being something like, “Must one believe in a six day creation account to be a biblical inerrantist?,” was this:

Christians are allowing much of the state of Christian affairs today to be dictated by people who are under the age of 30, especially those who are under the age of 25. And this is not good.

Interestingly, this stupidity falls equally across the aisle from liberal Christians to conservative ones. Both liberal and conservative Christians get their knickers in a bunch over what teeny-boppers and college kids think about the faith, the Bible, and Jesus.

Both liberals and conservatives are oh- so- concerned and oh- so- sensitive about what the kids think today.

While churches continue to heap finances and resources on marriage and married couples, they also spend a great deal of time, money, and energy routinely twisting their hands in agony over how to appeal to 21 year old kids.

Why?

Jesus said your duty is to share the Gospel with every one. I don’t remember Jesus saying to obsess over only one demographic, how to get only the 21- year- olds in a church building every week, or how to respond to their questions about the faith and their spiritual struggles.

Continue reading “Mature Christians Need to Stop Allowing the Under 30 Crowd to Direct the Entire State of Christian Affairs”