Doubt

Few things demystify a faith or its sacred texts like learning about the haphazard historical processes by which traditions formed their beliefs, wrote their texts, and came to settle on them as authoritative. So many pieces of one's faith which the average parishioner takes as basic and unproblematic suddenly become problematized for the first time.

Worse yet, the more you see how your faith emerged out of a contingent historical process is the more that you can see the undeniably human fingerprints all over it. And these sorts of realizations start to undermine the sense of the perfect internal rationality of one's beliefs.

And when you are already dubious of absolute truth, the suspicion that your beliefs are not really absolutely true but a matter of the wrong presupposition, one you adopted more as an accident of where you were born or perhaps a profound experience you had, than because of any superior access to truth, the more you will begin to doubt.

Theodicy

If there is no personal all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, invisible being, who is infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his attributes, then I can accept the chaos, pain, suffering and injustices I see without having to continually exonerate God for not being present and involved. If a personal God is taken out of the equation, I don't have to try to reconcile a loving, all powerful, all knowing, deity with the unbearable suffering I see in the world.

God

History of God

The conception of the universe that was widespread among ancient peoples was that the various natural forces were imbued with divine power, as in some sense divinities themselves. The earth was a divinity, the sky was a divinity, the water was a divinity, they had divine power. In other words, the gods were identical with or imminent in the forces of nature. There were many gods. No one single god was therefore all powerful. Prior to the first Millennium BCE, the ancient Israelites participated at the earliest stages in the wider religious culture of the Ancient Near East.

However, over the course of time, some ancient Israelites, not all at once and not unanimously, broke with this view and articulated a different view, that there was one divine power, one god. But much more important than number was the fact that this god was outside of and above nature. This god was not identified with nature. He transcended nature, and he wasn't known through natural phenomena, he was known through history, events and a particular relationship with humankind. And that idea, which seems simple at first and not so very revolutionary, was an idea that affected every aspect of Israelite culture, it was an idea that ensured the survival of the ancient Israelites as an ethnic religious entity.

Beginning perhaps as early as the eighth century and continuing for several centuries, literate and decidedly monotheistic circles within Israelite society put a monotheistic framework on the ancient stories and traditions of the nation. They molded them into a foundation myth that would shape Israelite and Jewish self-identity and understanding in a profound way.

What is of great significance though is not simply that they were retelling a story that clearly went around everywhere in ancient Mesopotamia; they were transforming the story so that it became a vehicle for the expression of their own values and their own views. They were drawing upon the culture and religious legacy of the Ancient Near East, its stories and imagery, even as they transformed it in order to conform to a new vision of a non-mythological god. In various complicated ways, the view of an utterly transcendent god with absolute control over history made it possible for some Israelites to interpret even the most tragic and catastrophic events in their history not as a defeat of Israel's god or even God's rejection of them, but as a necessary part of God's larger purpose or plan for Israel.

Israelite monotheism is represented in the Bible as beginning with Abraham. Historically speaking it most likely began much later, and probably as a minority movement that grew to prominence over centuries. But that later monotheism was then projected back over Israel's history by the final editors of the Jewish Bible. They projected their monotheism onto an earlier time, onto the nation's most ancient ancestors. What appears in the Bible as a battle between Israelites, pure Yahwists, and Canaanites, pure polytheists, is indeed better understood as a civil war between Yahweh-only Israelites, and Israelites who are participating in the cult of their ancestors, as the Yahweh-only party polemicizes against and seek to suppress certain undesirable elements of earlier Israelite-Judean religion from the First Millennium BCE.

The monotheistic God of the Jews was slow to emerge from the crowd of rival gods worshipped in the rest of the Ancient world. There was a period of convergence and blending of the Canaanite deities and some of their features into the figure of Yahweh. Eventually Israel came to reject its Canaanite roots, creating a separate identity. That Monotheism was then projected back over Israel's history by the final editors of the Jewish Bible. They projected their Monotheism onto the nation's most ancient ancestors.
 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Emergi-Lite
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Prescolite
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.
 
Lightguard
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, sapien platea morbi dolor lacus nunc, nunc ullamcorper. Felis aliquet egestas vitae, nibh ante quis quis dolor sed mauris. Erat lectus sem ut lobortis, adipiscing ligula eleifend, sodales fringilla mattis dui nullam. Ac massa aliquet.

Jesus

The odyssey of Jesus of Nazareth from crucified prophet to divine ruler of the cosmos is an extraordinary event in Western intellectual history and, given the current state of biblical scholarship, one of the best documented. The process consisted in a gradually increasing identification of Jesus himself with the kingdom of God that he had preached; and one of the major results of this process was a dramatic change in the sense of time and history that Jesus' proclamation had introduced into Judaism.

Within two decades of Jesus' death the Christian community had already elevated the prophet beyond his own understanding of his status and had endowed him with two titles, "Lord" and "Christ," neither of which he had dared to give to himself.

Once the "conception christology" of Matthew and Luke had raised the stakes over the "adoptionist christology" of Mark, momentum built up for an even higher wager: that Jesus' origins stretched back beyond his merely human beginnings, to divine preexistence in heaven.

The odyssey of christology continued to develop from the height it reached in Saint John's Gospel. Later generations of Christians would define the status of this God-man as the only-begotten Son of God. And after the "Spirit" of God had been fully hypostatized, he would be proclaimed as the Second Person of the divine Trinity.

Jesus' status had evolved from eschatological prophet to preexistent Son of God. Within a few short decades of his death, the man who had heralded the end of all religion had been transformed into the divine guarantor of the one, true, and universal religion.
The First Coming, Thomas Sheehan

Sojourners

Stacks Image 1063

Evid3nc3

Stacks Image 151

John Shelby Spong

Stacks Image 112123

Christine Hayes, Yale

Stacks Image 111262

Bart Ehrman

Stacks Image 1093

Christopher Hitchens

Stacks Image 153896

Marcus Borg

Stacks Image 153902

Brian McLaren

Stacks Image 1101

History of God

Documents

 
My personal investigation into the foundations of Christianity, and indeed, of faith itself.
 
The solitary journey, a private unraveling on the inside taking place over a period of years.
 
The ancient human anxiety met by the development of the theistic understanding of God is still today operative in most of the traditional forms of Christianity
 
Decades of intensive study have lead me to conclude that the Bible shows every sign of having originated in the minds of errant mortals, not divine inspiration.
 
the mystery is no longer about reconciling our reality with our perception of deity, but simply resting in the knowledge that we are fallible and incapable of unlocking every mystery in the universe.
 
Most rabbis think Passover and other Old Testament stories are fiction. Biblical stories are a brilliant mix of myth, cultural memories and kernels of historical truth.
 
Christopher Hitchens’ simple and beautifully written exposé of the revealed religion.
 
Christian Zionism offers an uncritical endorsement of the Israeli political right and at the same time shows an inexcusable lack of compassion for the Palestinian tragedy. In doing so it has legitimized their oppression in the name of the Gospel.
 
Having demonstrated their value in reducing suffering and/or in maintaining social stability, they were then elevated to special status, not unlike the process that results in the formulation and promulgation of successful science models, theories, rules and laws.
 
Today I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.
 
Each nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power.
 
For the most part we inherit our opinions. We are the heirs of habits and mental customs. Our beliefs, like the fashion of our garments, depend on where we were born. We are molded and fashioned by our surroundings.
 
The lengthy work of Robert Ingersoll.
 
Faith, Myths and Mysticism. The Human Odyssey from 100,000 years ago to today in a single map.

However

Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, and others each have their own scholars who have tackled great questions and confidently reached conflicting answers. Most will believe deeply in their faith despite its challenges to rationality.

I see people living a faithful life while relying on doctrines that seem wildly flawed. What matters most for them isn’t theology but the quality of life it has created.

“ After we have been defeated and all our stories proven untrue, we will perhaps come to know the more important reason and the only question that ever is - not whether the stories are true, but whether we are true to our stories. “

“ How comforting to know that one’s life and fortune, tossed about by unknown causes, can be controlled by dialogue with an invisible power that possesses familiar sentiments and intelligence. “