When I was in a liberal seminary, we spent a lot of time discussing what was not true. The Pentateuch was not written by Moses. The gospels were not really written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The atonement theory is really a cleverly designed plan to keep women in oppression. Revelation is not a prediction of the future. And the hope of heaven is overemphasized.
Furthermore, we should be open minded but we MUST agree with what the professors taught, if we could figure out what that was. And don’t anyone dare ask the wrong question or say the wrong thing.
It got so I refused to even pray out loud at mealtime with them because someone would get upset with my terminology.
They’d die if they heard me say that they sound much like the arch conservative Christians I grew up with, but they do. Only the rules are different:
You can’t be saved just any ole way or believe just any doctrine. You can’t just be a good person. The Baptists are wrong. The Methodists are wrong. The Episcopalians are really wrong these days. The Catholics are super wrong. The atheists are going to take over. And if you dare disagree or even ask a challenging question, you should get on your knees right now and beg forgiveness for doubting God.
I’ve walked in both these camps and I’m amazed at how often I could unintentionally say things that shocked, offended, or frightened them. The liberals wanted to fight. The conservatives wanted me to surrender.
I was amused most of the time. Sometimes I picked a fight just to entertain myself. Other times I didn’t want to fool with them at all. Still other times I wanted to tell them all to go to the hell the conservatives threatened me with and the liberals didn’t believe existed.
Then there are the discussions I’ve had on some atheists blogs. Most of them are very smart and morally responsible. Some of them I’ve grown to love and depend on (you know who you are). Many of those blogs focus on the absurdities of the church, which I admit is hard not to do. But shouting about what is false does not go very far in finding truth.
I’m tired of discussing what isn’t true. I want to hear about what IS true.
I want to find goodness and become a more loving person. And I long for more glimpses of God. I assume that goodness, love, and God are all part of truth.
For the most part, I’ve had to make my own way in this search—maybe that’s true for everyone.
Here’s what I’ve decided is true: If I have extra, I need to share. If someone near me is in pain, I need to help. If someone is grieves I will hug them. Lonely people need love. The fearful need encouragement. Battered people need defending. Enslaved people need to be free. Hungry people need to eat. Sick people need healing.
I can see Jesus, the real Jesus, muscle his way past the scriptural verbiage and cultural bias into my consciousness. This Jesus emphasizes the need to help the hurting and harassed. They were his greatest priority. If it made him unpopular, created scandal, and ticked off the professional religious guys, he didn’t care. He helped others.
He had no patience for religious and/or intellectual banter of the day.
He fought with those who oppressed others with their religion.
That’s why, in spite of my doubts, disillusionment and confusion, I am still his disciple.
And that’s the truth.