God Talk: Debates and Discussions with Believers
These are actual conversations that have taken place between religious believers and myself, through forums, email, dialogue, etc. This discussion has been kept in its original format, with spelling and grammatical errors in tact.
Christ vs. Religion
Christian: Dude! You got some really nice arguments against the Christian religion in this. Seems to me you have grown up in a religious nation, surrounded by religious dogma and all of the hypocrisy that goes with that. But the problem is that the religion that you imagine to be Christianity is for the most part -NOT. Had you known Christ in your time of religion, you would have seen the lie behind the facade.
Rebuttal: So I thought I knew Christ, but I didn't? Then how do you know that you know Christ?
Christian: By the grace of God I know Him because He revealed Himself to me. I know Him because I hear His voice and follow Him. I know Him because I met Him. What else can I say. Christianity today is a religion that has bought a lie and now sell it to the masses. Most of your criticism is against the religion of Christianity. In frustration one can see how we throw out the baby with the bathwater. It doesn't need to be this way.
Rebuttal: Actually, I have felt the exact same way as you feel. And yet you say I was mistaken. Any time someone leaves Christianity, believers like yourself tend to say they left the religion, which is not the same as knowing Jesus. You do this because you like to pretend that no one who truly knows Jesus will walk away, but this is just your own fantasy at work. I know I didn't know Jesus, but I don't think you know him either. Your reasons for belief don't seem so different from mine. So, again, how do you know that you know Jesus?
Christian: If you knew Jesus and walked away from the church, I could understand that. There are many false workers in the church. But to walk away from Christ is different. How can you deny ever meeting a person that you shook hands with or hugged or kissed. Say you passed someone on the road and met them. And now you contend that they never lived and suppose that they never existed! Please explain?
Rebuttal: Are you really comparing "knowing" Jesus to meeting a physical, flesh-and-blood person? I know you believe Jesus is as real as you and I, but let's be reasonable - no one living today has shook hands with, hugged, or kissed Jesus. I felt the presence of Christ, I did believe, and I thought I saw him in my life and the lives of others, but it's a "spiritual" experience, not a physical one, as most Christians would agree, I think.
You seem to find it so strange that someone can suddenly doubt such an experience too, but many children have imaginary friends that may seem very real, and schizophrenics can have delusional episodes that involve imaginary people who seem very real. Is it amazing for them to question these people they thought they knew existed? The big difference with Jesus is that he generally doesn't physically manifest to you. He doesn't even show up as a hallucination, like some imaginary figures might. Is that really hard to doubt?
Christian: Yes that is exactly what I am saying. Your assesment that most christians would agree with your theology concerning a spiritual experience is correct. But that's all it is, theology. All most ever do is read a book about Jesus and experience warm fluffy feelings on the inside. This is uniquely different from one who meets the Christ. That's why the scripture says that true believers overcome by the word of their testimony. They met the living God.
Rebuttal: Yes, I've heard this crap before, but are you suggesting that you've met Jesus in the flesh or you've heard an audible voice or something? If you have, I seriously want to encourage you to seek therapy as soon as possible. Otherwise, explain the difference. You do realize that I'm not a believer anymore, right? Obviously I'm not going to see a difference between warm fluffy feelings and "meeting the living god", because they're both delusional experiences to me.
Christian: That's it, explain away the things that you cannot understand with words like delusional. That's the sign of a truth seeker isn't it. The only truth you seek is your own. You cannot know the things of God because you remain dead in your sin. The things of the Spirit are foolishness to you. I do not say this to make you angry, but simply that you should know that you never knew Christ. Your deconversion is nothing more than a departure from religion.
Rebuttal: Do you not realize that you're doing the exact same thing you accuse me of doing when you say I'm "dead in sin", that I "never knew Christ", etc? You're explaining away non-belief, because it's one of the most damning problems to your religion. If god wants us all to believe, and he's all-powerful, why don't we all believe? However, you fail to recognize the scope of my deconversion because you're so wrapped up in faith (all your claims against my 'truth seeking' are nothing but faith-based).
I'm not explaining away what I can't understand, though, like theists do when they plug god into gaps in their knowledge. I'm simply pointing out that these assertions you're making have absolutely nothing to justify that they're real. That's why it's delusional, just as with psychics, alien abductees, and others who claim to have experienced very extraordinary things, yet have not a shred of evidence to support their claims. Truth needs a higher standard than you've given it.
To return to the original issue, you still have not been able to explain how you know that you know Christ or how you know that the religion of Christianity is different from personally knowing Christ. I suspect that this is because you have no way of doing either. What you believe is religion, no matter how much you want to distance yourself from particularly bad examples within your religion. You believe in god, you accept the doctrine of Christ's salvation, and his divinity too, I bet. These are elements of religion, despite how fervently you may insist otherwise.
But frankly, I don't care so much about that as I do about our beliefs reflecting reality. There's no better way to ascertaining what is real and true than by evidence and reason, and this is why your Christ is not immune to my criticisms of religion. Both are painfully devoid of any evidence and sadly at odds with reason.
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