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Genuine Interpretation vs. Shopping Cart Christianity

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Posted on June 7 2010 1:00 pm
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I can always count on David Swindle to make me think deeply. His response makes numerous well-put points about my blog on modern-day “feel good” philosophies about God (now a “Higher Power”) and a heaven where everyone or almost everyone goes, designed to remove the uncomfortable aspects of religion involving accountability, judgment and insecurity.

David first says that:

(Of course, the idea that you get to go to heaven because you have it right and others have it wrong can also be considered a “comforting belief” — either you’re smarter or better than other people or God loves you more that he opens your mind to his Truth. But there’s something else I’d rather focus on in this discussion.)

This is hardly a comforting belief. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I am full of heartache, as are most Christians, over the prospect that some or all non-believers may not go to heaven. Even if I was told that the non-believers I care about will go to heaven, I’d still be sad over knowing how much more their lives could be if they had a personal relationship with God. I can’t enjoy it for a minute without immediately thinking about how blessed I am and how I wish those around me could be likewise blessed.

And I don’t believe (and neither do most Christians) that God loves us more or that we are better, or smarter. God loving everyone equally is a central tenet of Christianity. Besides, there are many non-believers who are smarter than me and frankly, do a better job of representing the good in mankind.

David continues:

“I propose something different: everyone, no matter how “Orthodox” their belief, creates their own vision of who and what “God” is.”… Everyone — even believers like Ryan — have to pick and choose what aspects of God they want to embrace and emphasize.

Actually, I agree with him to a large degree. Everyone’s personal relationship with God is different. Every Christian’s take on the Bible is unique. Here’s the difference: Try asking one of the people I talked about what they are basing their beliefs on. You’ll get nothing. No text. No rigorous, analytical thought. No evidence. Just simple, comforting emotion.

Christians aren’t simply cutting and pasting parts we like. We may have disagreements, but we’re not picking and choosing based on what we “want to embrace and emphasize.” There are numerous things in our religion that makes us uncomfortable, but we accept them as we try to get the closest to the truth as we can. To equate our differences over interpretation to simply making stuff up is a stretch.

One more point: Again, I’m not an expert on comparative religion, but the point I was trying to make regarding separating God and heaven is that, according to the author on The Colbert Report, the concept of heaven originated in Judaism and came with God. And most religions that have a heaven ALSO have a God. Some religions have neither. But again, to keep the heaven part and remove the God and accountability part in the fashion I described is nothing more creating a religion to conform to religious, moral and cultural relativism.

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