School of The Rock

 

Things to Think About   

Nobody has all the answers.  I certainly don’t.  Anyone who claims he or she does is lying to you.

That said, I’ve seen enough over the last fifty years to know that many people inside and outside the faith have questions that can be at least partially answered by careful study and reasoning.

I started this section over a decade ago to address some of the issues that were keeping non-believers from taking the faith seriously. These included centuries-old, disproven claims of the Bible’s inaccuracy, as well as unnecessary barriers of faith erected by outspoken Evangelical “leaders” who seem to believe that you can’t come to Jesus unless your belief system first aligns with theirs in every detail.

In recent years, however, most of the feedback I get from readers deals with issues facing committed Christians who have encountered difficulties practicing their faith within the church.  Unfortunately, I can relate to their questions. 

Yes, as an outspoken Christian, I have experienced some pressure not to practice  my faith in the workplace, the university, and other arenas.  But the biggest obstacles to my own faith have been erected by other Christians, especially “spiritual leaders” whose personal agendas overrode all concern for those they had promised to nurture and protect.

Sadly, in a country where Christianity is legal, and even non-believers claim to be Christians because it helps them get votes or other support, believers are more likely to find their faith and faithfulness challenged by other (professed) believers than they are by those outside the church. 

When I write about such things, it’s not because I hate the faith or even that I hate the church.  It’s because I love Christ and His church, and I am deeply saddened by seeing fellow believers being so misused by their leaders and churches that they are half inclined to give up on church, or even on Christ altogether.

Once when I was writing something that addressed some of these issues, Christian writer and musician John Fischer warned me not to write out of sheer vindictiveness, while my feelings were still so hurt or I was still so bitter that my writing would be therapeutic for me, but unhelpful for anyone else.  That’s a tall order.  That’s also one reason I didn’t publish my article “What is Spiritual Abuse?” until nearly twenty-five years after the events that started me thinking about and studying such issues.

I still put my articles about faith and the Bible first in my index.  Because I want Christians to grow in faith, and I want others to stop using false claims by those who hate the faith as excuses for not taking the claims and grace of Christ seriously.

But a growing number of readers find the newer articles more helpful. 

Some folks would say that I’m “making the church look bad.”  But I’m not sharing anything that isn’t already common knowledge within and outside the church.  What I am doing is sharing experiences and perspectives that let victims of abuse know that they are not alone.

The articles we’ve had a chance to post so far are:

  • What is a Creed? - Did early Christians really believe what we say they believed?  
  • Is the Old Testament a Hoax? - Over a century ago, some academics eager to make a name for themselves hypothesized that almost the entire Old Testament is a hoax.  Writing back when we knew nothing about several of the very real ancient civilizations mentioned in the Bible, they claimed that such mentions and virtually all other content in the Old Testament are fiction, invented many centuries after the events described by several unknown authors who could be alternately brilliant beyond belief and stupid beyond belief.  Though this theory has long since been proven unlikely (to say the least), it is still taught in liberal seminaries today and published as fact in many reference works.  You may believe it yourself. 
  • Was There a Fall? - Folks inside and outside the church believe that if the story of Adam and Eve is not literally true, then the notion of humankind needing redemption is also a myth.  But we live in a world that deluges us with evidence to the contrary every day.
  • Thoughts about “Decoding” the Bible - Ways to study the Bible to get more out of it.
  • Does Evolution Disprove the Bible? - Even if you could prove that mankind descended from some “lower form” of life, that would only prove that the first several pages of the Bible are more metaphorical than we thought.  Would it really disprove the existence of God or His operations throughout history?
  • What is a Fundamentalist? - A word that used to more or less mean “believes the Apostles’ Creed” has come to mean a lot of other things, and the way popular culture uses the term is not always flattering.
  • Who was Voltaire and Why Does He Matter to Christians? - Did you know that most of the so-called “telling” arguments against Christianity are really centuries old and have been countered and disproven many times?  But they still keep coming up because their source - Voltaire, just makes them all seem so clever and fresh.
  • What is Spiritual Abuse?” - Abuse of authority and worse can happen in any environment.  But when abuse happens within a church, and those whose job it is to protect you turn a blind eye, or - worse yet - become part of the problem, it is far worse, because it has “spiritual” ramifications that nearly always challenge the faith of the victim.  Perhaps you’ve been told that you’re the problem, publicly humiliated, cyber-bullied, or shamed into silence.  Believe it or not, you are not alone.  Countless thousands have had similar experiences, and the patterns of spiritual abuse, just like patterns of spousal abuse, tend to repeat themselves. Once you can see and escape the traps your abusers have set for you, recovery is possible.
  • Do you have a Spirit of Rebellion?  - This one-size-fits-all “diagnosis” is the favorite control mechanism of many sects and cults.  But is that phrase even meaningful?
  • Is It a Sin to Change Churches?  - The teaching that church membership is as binding as, say, a marriage vow, is self-serving, unBiblical, and harmful.  Ask the person who tells you that it’s a sin to change churches if it was a sin when you left your old church to come to his, and watch him backpedal.  Read more.
  • Is “Bloom Where You’re Planted” a Universal Principle? - Are you preparing for some Christian service that you feel God has called you to, but you belong to a church where there are few opportunities to serve and the leadership keeps finding reasons for not entrusting you with any meaningful ministry or commission?  Or are you whining with Anakin Skywalker “Obi Wan is holding me back?”
  • The Inevitable Husband: The Myth and the Danger - a guest article by a single Christian woman addressing the popular but unBiblical “you need to live for Jesus so you get a good husband” teaching.
  • What is a Shibboleth? - Do you hate when people shut you out of their fellowship because of some cultural or theological glitch that has nothing to do with your faith or devotion?  Do you do the same thing to others because you don’t know the difference between truths worth dying for and flakey pet theories that someone you trusted drove into your head?
  • Sometimes People Close the Doors.  When you try something that doesn’t work out, folks will sometimes tell you “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”  They’re really just trying to tell you that something else, and maybe something better will come along.  Please don’t imagine that God closes every door though.  Sometimes people close the doors, and the last thing you should do is take such setbacks as a sign that you misunderstood God’s will.
  • “What does “Once Saved Always Saved” Really Mean? - Maybe you're a non-Baptist who is curious why Baptists are so committed to this one tenet.  Maybe you're a Baptist who wonders why every Christian doesn't understand how important this is to you.  Either way, a look at some historical events and trends that brought the Baptist movement to where it is today should shed some light on the subject.
  • The Dark Sides of Calvinism - A 16th century theologian’s non-biblical opinions on who Jesus died for have caused confusion and worse in fundamental and so-called Evangelical circles for three centuries; worse, they’re coming back with a vengeance.
  • Poor Sermons or Bad Listeners? - Why do preachers whose listeners don’t seem to get anything out of their sermons always seem to insist that it’s the listeners’ fault?  Blaming the audience wouldn’t fly in any other area of life. It’s also an excuse that effective preachers never have to use.   

In our “Thinking about Music” section, you’ll find some more thought-provoking articles, including:

At any given time, we usually have several more articles in the works, so stay tuned. :-)

 


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Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.A Note from Paul: Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you have a blessed day and figure out how to be a blessing to those around you as well.

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