Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Resurrection Sunday

22 Comments

Once again I went to my home church for Sunday worship.  Somehow I let just enough time pass that I forget exactly how uncomfortable I was the last time I was there and I keep going back.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been doing it pretty much every Sunday for twenty years or if it’s because I have such uncertainty, but I begin to feel guilty for not going.  My guilt makes me feel uncomfortable enough to forget about the discomfort of actually going until I’m there.

Sunday School was mostly as expected.  The lesson was on the empty tomb and that we have loads of “proof” that Jesus is indeed alive.  Of course all of this proof is from the Bible itself.  Discussion turned to what we do to share our gospel and whether we’re doing it often enough.  What do we tell people who doubt the gospel accounts of virgin births and resurrections?  Why, we tell them they have to believe in what they’re reading, of course!  They have to have faith in the Bible.

As I sat there, mostly quiet, I thought about how much I’ve learned about the questions of the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  I realized just how much our culture really does play into what we believe.  If you dare to question you’re just being ridiculous.  How can you not believe the Bible is God’s Holy Word????  I also realized I’m becoming comfortable enough with my questions that I don’t need to challenge those in my class and stir them up.  I’m comfortable enough with my doubt that I didn’t feel uncomfortable hearing them talk about their certainty.  I was intrigued by how we all just assume that everyone should just follow suit, regardless of their background or culture.  I saw the disbelief on the faces of those in the class who have never really researched anything else that anyone could possibly doubt the inspiration of the Bible.

The music in the worship service was excellent as always.  It’s not a huge church, but the minister of music is very talented and has put together a small orchestra.  I love music and no matter how far away from my original faith I might travel these are the songs I grew up on.  These are the songs of my youth and they will probably always resonate with me in some way so I sing along.  I probably pay more attention to the lyrics now than I ever did pre-doubt.  “Because He Lives”, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and “Christ is Risen, Hallelujah” rang out through the church.  The choir belted out “He’s Alive, He’s Alive, He’s Alive, Hallelujah!”. I’m challenged as I sing.  Do I really believe this any longer?  I don’t know.

The pastor takes the podium.  Instead of preaching the typical Easter sermon about the empty tomb, we’re instructed to turn to John 3:16.  We stand for the reading of God’s word.  Pastor Mike launches into the “greatest verse in the Bible”.  There are twelve words before Son in this verse and twelve words after (reading from the KJV).  Everything revolves around the Son.  It so fantastic because God so loved the world that he sent his son to be the substitute for our sins.  The gift is unconditional.  All we have to do is accept it, receive it.  If he buys his child a gift but his child puts his hands behind his back and refuses to take it there’s nothing he can do about it.  It’s a free gift, no strings attached.  This is unconditional love.

Those who don’t accept the gift will perish. The gift is unconditional, the guarantee is not. Yes, that’s right.  God’s love is unconditional, his favor isn’t.  The guarantee to enjoy his favor is conditional on belief in Jesus.  It has nothing to do with being a good person.  This gift is extended to the murderer and the moral alike.  Those who do not accept this wonderful gift will die and perish eternally in hell.  It’s up to them.   Don’t walk out of this place today without making a decision.  God’s guarantee of an eternity with him depends on it.

Wow.  Just wow.  All that talk of hell would have scared the living daylights out of me two months ago.  I looked around and saw the people nodding their heads.  All I could think was, this isn’t right.  I felt sad – sad at the bondage this is for so many.  Listening to all of this from a critical viewpoint made me wonder how it is that I ever believed that a mere belief in “just the right thing” would get me a pass into heaven.

I realized as I sat there that I knew nothing of existence before I was born.  I think that is the state I will return to when I die.  All of this belief in an afterlife is surely just because it is so difficult for man to imagine a state in which they simply cease to exist.    

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22 thoughts on “Resurrection Sunday

  1. "All of this belief in an afterlife is surely just because it is so difficult for man to imagine a state in which they simply cease to exist."I think that's very true, though it's probably worth noting that there's a lot more to religion than just belief in an afterlife. Which reminds me, I owe you a post (or something) on religion from an Anthropological perspective – which I mentioned in the comments of one of your earlier posts, and never got back to. Would you do me a favor? If we get into June and I haven't done that, would you remind me that I was going to write about it?

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  2. "I think that's very true, though it's probably worth noting that there's a lot more to religion than just belief in an afterlife." There is absolutely more to religion than belief in an afterlife. It's just that with Easter comes all the talk of the resurrection and the hope for eternity which becomes the focus. One of the scriptures in the Sunday School lesson was 1 Corinthians 15:14. "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." In other words, if there's no hope for an afterlife, what's the point of all of this? I'll definitely remind you. I knew you'd gotten into a busy time with your work and life in general, but I'm looking forward to that post.

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  3. "I realized as I sat there that I knew nothing of existence before I was born. I think that is the state I will return to when I die."Some might find this strange, but I find this statement and belief comforting. I used to worry so much about going to heaven or hell and if the rest of my family will make it into the pearly gates. It's nice to no longer worry about that. I like the idea that just as before you were born, you know nothing after you die.

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  4. It seems to me deeper than mere intellectual assent. I understand the original word translated believe means more like trust, or yielding to.We yield to Christ, and our unity in Him to enable us to share in the divine life, to be changed to reflect His perfect love..Even the very best person falls far short of the love of Christ. There is a huge difference between the person who intentionally wants nothing to do with God, and deliberately chooses darkness, and evil, than the person who is honestly searching for truth, sincerely questioning, or perhaps has never heard the gospel. God knows our hearts.It is one thing to believe that ultimately all salvation comes through the cross of Christ, and to say that every person, no matter what, apart from conscious faith is going to Hell.D'Ma, I think people will spend eternity apart from God, and everything connected with HIm simply because they have freely chosen this path in life, and in death. It seems to me an aspect of God's love that He doesn't force people into His presence forever. We're made more than mindless puppets.If you read C.S. Lewis's the Great Divorce. He pictures people in Hell who are content to be there. It's almost as if they can't experience the joy of the kingdom.. Hell was growing in them throughout their lifetime. There can be this progressive hardening of someone's heart where they actually begin overtime to mock and despise the things of God, and become completely hardened to His voice.I

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  5. I have always been somewhat non-plussed by the Christian preoccupation with what "comes after" this life. I find myself unafraid and totally content with the idea that I shall return to that state of consciousness (or lack thereof) that I may have had before the moment of my conception. In fact, it was largely this apparent concern with an afterlife, rather than with what might be accomplished for the good of one's fellowman in this life that turned me off on Christianity when I began looking for more satisfying answesr than were provided by the Judaism I grew up with.

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  6. Hi D'Ma,I am going to refrain from countering Becky today. (See, miracles do happen!) I thought I would instead share with you a post I left for Sam at exchristians:"Sam,Sorry to ring in so late on this. You have been given good advice. Fear was key in your post. That brought to my mind a scene from the movie Dune. A movement sensing poison dart has been released into the room with the hero. He must stay perfectly still. He says to himself, "Fear is the mind killer."Your aunt, and scripture generally, are trying to kill the rational mind. Hope of not really dying and fear of Hell are used to manipulate you. This is exacerbated by the particular vulnerability you have shared with us. Get this straight. They are being manipulative. They are using your emotions to control you.So you simply (in addition to what others have said) use your mind. Learn more about the origins of Christianity and you will fear it less. Recognize they are in effect scaring you with what is the evidential equivalent of campfire ghost stories. And know that if there is anywhere a wise and just God, it would not punish you horribly forever for simply not believing in it when it had not provided any tangible evidence of its existence to you. If anywhere a wise and just God exists, it would not torture you forever for rejecting it anymore than you would torture your son or daughter forever for sassing back at you. The whole Christian theology is an illogical miasma.But there is a saying in the Bible which ironically rings true even to us non-believers. Learn (as best you can) the truth. The truth will set you free (even from fear, albeit a bit slowly, since fear dwells in the brain with an irrational power that takes effort and time to overcome).Be patient. Read 'dear believer' at the bottom of the exchristian home page. A good and less visited site is this one:http://sandwichesforsale.blogs…Go back and read through the archives, oldest first – that is also a good idea at this site. Read Marshall Gauvin's articles in the historical library section of internet infidels.I warrant you have experienced love at this infernal heretic site and fear from your aunt. Isn't that special? (Sorry church lady!)"I see Dagoods' blog in your list of fellow sojourners. Going through his archives as I recommended to Sam is very rewarding. Read a paragraph or 2 and skip to the next post if that one doesn't grab you. Some of them will grab you. Do not neglect reading the comments, and see with what patience, persistence, and clarity he argues with theists.

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  7. You get a gold star, Exrelayman! Or is it a halo? I have read quite a few of DagoodS old posts. He, Zoe and HeIsSailing are some of the first people I "met" on my journey and each have been unbelievably kind and helpful. You're right. He does patiently lay out all of his evidence, just like a good lawyer. :~) I can quite easily get sucked into reading his posts and comments as well as those at HeIsSailing and Secular Wings(formerly A Complicated Salvation).

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  8. I agree. Christianity is entirely too caught up in worrying about the afterlife. I know it's also supposed to be about the here and now, but we're promised all sorts of trouble and strife in this life and the really good stuff after we die. I say, why wait? There's some really good stuff in the here and now. And I don't mean overindulgent, gluttonous, irresponsible behavior. It makes infinitely more sense that, if there is an afterlife, rewards would be based on our treatment of our fellow man. Not having exactly the right belief in just the right thing.

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  9. Some might find it strange, but I can relate. It's much more comforting to know that when we die we just cease to exist than to think for one minute that ANY person would spend an eternity in hell.

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  10. I agree with your recommendation about reading DagoodS blog. I've read almost every post of his! There are so many thoughtful, caring people willing to journey along with me in this blogosphere, and he is certainly one of them. I'l have to check out Marshall Gauvin.

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  11. It's no wonder that we have trouble attending services when churches base the foundation for salvation on believing the right things. When we no longer can do so, it leaves us without a place to go. We either believe the right things or we're damned. I wonder if people whose religions aren't based on having the correct belies are less likely to leave their faith when doubts arise.

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  12. I think they are a great deal less likely, Do. Doubt and questioning is part of mature faith.,not it's enemy.

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  13. Ex, I actually have enjoyed talking with you, and will miss our dialogue. I know that you mean the best, Ex.But, what can I say. We just disagree. 🙂

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  14. First, I write this as an agnostic seeker, so to speak, and I feel I have a pretty good grasp and respect for the viewpoints of both Christians and atheists. I resonate with some of what you write yet disagree with other portions, but I admire that you do accept doubts and do not view doubt as the enemy, b/c you are in the minority among Christians.Yet, I think it is important not to propagate a stereotype about doubters, skeptics, agnostics and atheists. There are people that have tried and searched and still have no faith left for Christianity. At times, I think it can be unhealthy for people to continue to self-flagellate as they search for Christianity. I don't know what the answer is, but I think it is important to acknowledge the difficulties and the uncertainty within Christianity – the damage done by fundamentalist churches and their spiritual abuse – and move on without classifying or trying to explain why some believe and some do not – we can love all no matter what.

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  15. Dma – Stay far, far away from this church! People like you and I that are people pleasers and on the inherent guilty end of the spectrum cannot benefit from these sort of sermons. I just found out from a friend of a friend that my old church will not refer people to psychologists b/c they only believe the biblical model of counseling is correct. Absolutely dangerous theology.

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  16. I have quite a few friends there, but really this was my ex-husband's family's church. I started going there when we got married. All of his family still attends there though I haven't seen him there in quite a while. I told one of my friends the other day that I thought this was a good time for me to find a new church. Seems like a pretty reasonable out without me having to explain every detail of what I'm going through. In a way it feels as though I'm betraying them because they stood by me during some pretty rough times. They just wouldn't understand this. I've already been chastised a bit for some of my decisions. And when I told my friend I'd be looking for a new church, she didn't even really understand that. She feels this is my church home and I shouldn't let my ex "run me off". Little does she know that's only a part of it.This would be a very good time for me to step away and have a very good reason to do so.

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  17. I am quite humbled. And (for a novelty) speechless…

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  18. Awww DagoodS, I think that may be a couple of times we've done that to you here.You really have been quite an aid to many of us. Thank you.

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  19. That's sort of fun, to render DagoodS speechless. We'll have attempt it again sometime. *grin* I don't know about this "sandwich fixings" moniker, but I do know a sandwich isn't the same without them.

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  20. Humbled? Sure.Speechless? Never.hehe

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  21. It's just that he's a bit of a "ham." 😉

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  22. Just as long as he doesn't leave us in a "pickle". 🙂

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