God is CulturePosted: March 2, 2012
When I first deconverted, it was pretty natural that I would really despise the worldview I left behind. Hating and feeling embarrassed by your past isn’t only damaging to the self, but it is potentially damaging to those who are still living that worldview. There was a fine line I walked between dogging on the silly elements of Christian culture that most Christians hate and dogging on the actual doctrine that most Christians believe is true. I still walk this line, and I’ve still not learned how to be as sensitive to it as some probably think I should be.
I received a message from a friend explicitly asking me if my main issue is with Christian culture or with the actual Christian God. I explained that they’re both kind of the same to me. Christian culture is reading the Bible. Well, not all of them are, but I know people swimming in the culture who have very carefully studied the Bible in the “original” Greek and Hebrew for decades. It’s not like they’re missing something. It’s not like they missed the point on who God is and are now raping God’s purposes. No, I think Bible God gets represented by every single Christian who reads the Bible: the Jerry Falwells, Pat Robertsons, Steven Furticks, and Mark Driscolls as well as the Jon Acuffs and even the more liberal, mystical Christians. They’re all reading the same Bible. All of their actions are informed by the text.
This is where atheism makes a lot of sense to me by saying, “The Bible is full of inconsistencies and contradictions.” The illustration of this is all around us. Look at how many people are reading the same Bible and living according to opposite convictions. The Bible can be twisted to fit anything that a person thinks he/she needs. It just can. There are always certain parts that need to be ignored in order for you to live by your biblical convictions. Each Christian traces their own narrative through Scripture and applies it. Some see the never-changing God who hates homosexuality and destroys cities. Yep, he’s in there. Some see the merciful God who extends grace to the most destitute. Yep, he’s in there. This is what scares me about the Bible. I respect my friends who love God and want to love others because they believe God has called them to love others. That is wonderful and needed. But I’m just trying to love others, too, and I don’t pull my reasoning from the same book that informed mass genocides of the past. There’s just something eerie about the text. There is a lot of beauty and mystery in there, but there is also a lot of dark, morbid stuff. I don’t understand calling it a holy book or using it as the primary source for informing my beliefs. Yes, Jesus was nice in some respects. In others, he might have kinda been a dick. He had cool, revolutionary ideas, but I don’t think he was/is God. I can love people without him telling me to at least.
So yeah, I don’t often like Christian culture, and I probably don’t really like the Christian God. The key, though, is that I don’t think that God really exists, and this suspicion is informed by what I see. It’s relieving and terrifying at the same time.
If there is a God, I hope that God is not represented by the Bible. If there is a God, that God should probably be pissed about the Bible.