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Sunday, January 06, 2019

Why I ( haven't ) Renounced Christianity

I can count on one hand the number of Christians, all ( or most ) well-meaning individuals, who have nevertheless warned me, or told me blatantly that I'm headed for 'Hell'! I won't mention any names or even condemn those people, for I hold no disdain for them, just a great sadness. Most recently, I was called a son, or child ( 'spawn' ) of Satan! Okay; so maybe just a little disdain for that particular individual, though I hold no ill-will. For one thing; I hold no belief in the orthodox version of either 'Satan' or 'Hell': in fact of the matter, I don't know that I believe ANYTHING anymore!

According to certain pundits, Mahatma Gandhi once said, 'I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.' Whether this quote may actually be attributed to the Indian 'peacemaker' or not & whether you agree with his actions or not, there is sadly much truth in this statement! The Gospel, you may note, has made great progress in this 'world' in which we live, but it must be acknowledged that, while great strides have been made in the Name of the Christ, there has also been quite a bit of digression that can be attributed to 'Christians' & Christianity. We've explored this 'avenue' previously, but the Crusades & the Inquisition are probably the most infamous examples. Missions all over the world, in the name of Christianity, have been carried out to varying degrees of success. Many Christian missionaries have lost their lives in the pursuit of cultural change, often because of a stubbornly stalwart belief that theirs was the only way. I acknowledge that such may not have always been the case, but Christians, yes, even well-meaning ones, are often their own worst 'adversary'!

Being brought up in a fairly strict Christian household, as I've said before, as far as that goes, 'I will always be a Christian', personally speaking! I realize that, as of late, especially, it seems that I'm departing more & more from what we accept as Christianity ( what I call 'Orthodoxy' )! While it is true that my personal Journey has taken me far outside the boundaries of what has been generally ( popularly? ) accepted as 'Christianity' I have not departed from the principles taught by Jesus the Christ, the Jewish, or Hebrew, Messiah! Speaking of 'Orthodoxy'' the adherents of this religion would most likely beg to differ with me on even this point, but we must remember that their beliefs are based on a ( fairly ) modern Western interpretation of an Ancient Near Eastern text. I readily acknowledge that, even though our English Bibles have suffered much mishandling ( misinterpretation, etc ) by men & women over the ages, there is much Truth that has been gleaned & still may be from its hallowed pages! Even so, as hinted at above, because of this mishandling, Christianity has been the root cause of much unnecessary suffering in this 'world' we call 'home'!

I will never renounce Christianity, per se, not because it alone bears 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life' & definitely not because it bares this Truth perfectly! No, for reasons already outlined, as well as others; I will never renounce the 'faith of my fathers' because, as much as that 'faith' has been used & abused over the ages, I know that though it is not the only bearer of the Truth, it does bare the Truth & that in the form of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah of Israel, who came to show, among other things, that it is within ourselves that we will find 'God', the Source of All Life. As far as I've departed from 'Orthodoxy', I will never forget the two main tenets of the religion Jesus taught; 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself' ( Luke 10:27 ) & 'just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.' ( Luke 6:31 ) More than this is simply 'icing on the cake'!
 
This may sound like the beginning to a most ominous statement, but 'the problem with the overwhelming majority ( not all, thank 'God' ) Christians is.....................', but seriously, much of the problem ( it IS a problem ) lies in the fact that many not only blame the Devil ( 'Satan' ) for what goes wrong in their lives, thereby basically alleviating responsibility for their own actions, they also, in a round about way, blame 'God' by quoting passages such as John 16:33b, 'In the world you [f]will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world'. Many Christians have anachronistically applied these words to themselves, fatalistically ( deterministically ) accepting the fact that they MUST endure tribulations, even though much of the time, it was their own damn fault, i.e., they brought the 'world' crashing down on their own head!

I won't deny that it still bothers me, even rustles my feathers sometimes, when people that I hold to be brothers & sisters condemn me to their own version of the 'afterlife', while still claiming to be a follower of Jesus! But that is MY problem: if I judge them for judging me, how am I any different ( I will not say 'better' ) than they? It is only a problem if I allow it to come between us. If I end our relationship, such as it is, because they believe something ( about me ) that I KNOW is not true ( about me ), then how will I ever hope to show THEM that what they believe  ( about me ) is false?! NOT that I'm trying to prove myself to anyone, for 'it is what it is', but simply that relationship is what it's all about & if I give that up for the sake of some silly belief, then we might as well all just go home!

Namaste, for 'God' IS in you!
Charles Haddon Shank

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