Facebook Affirmations, Vol. III

This post has been a long time coming and I’ve waffled on whether or not I’d actually write and post it.  Now that I’ve put some more thought into it I can’t see a reason not to post it and what’s more, I think it’s very important in an enlightened age to open these types of ideas up to scrutiny and even ridicule in the hopes of educating people on why the things they believe may be harmful (or at the very least, not helpful) and why they should have good reasons for believing what they do.

In my news feed on Facebook I will be served a daily dose of Christian affirmations from friends.  In this series of posts, which I call “Facebook Affirmations™,” I will post and discuss some of these gems. Here’s the affirmation for today:

Continue Reading

The Tithe That Binds

There’s a very strange movement in some Christian circles called “The Prosperity Gospel” that posits some kind of supernatural investment scheme where the more money you give to god (read: churches and/or pastors) the more material wealth god will give to you.  While most Christian denominations denounce this theology as false or even blasphemous most of them also have their own, more subtle versions of the prosperity gospel whether they know it or not.

 

Becoming a Millionaire God's Way
God wants you to be rich!

The churches in which I grew up always passed the offering plate/basket around during services expecting members to give at least 10% of whatever they had.  This is standard practice for Protestant churches under a doctrine of tithing.  Some churches go as far as asking (“asking” is a funny word since the whole thing is done with an air of, “if you don’t, god will know”) the congregation to make pledges as to how much they’ll give for the year.  This helps the church make a budget but it also very clearly shows the churches are just businesses.

Continue Reading

Washed in the Blood

There’s a very popular Christian hymn titled, “Are You Washed in the Blood?”  It’s catchy enough to be stuck in my head now that I’m writing about it.  Here, have a listen:

I used to love this hymn and now I really can’t stand it.  The thing I hate about this hymn is that it trivializes the brutal concept of vicarious redemption via the slaughter of an innocent.  When I was a Christian I thought it was a great song (and even better when my uncle would sing it because instead of “washed” he would say “warshed”) but when I was a Christian I also didn’t think too much about the concepts being presented.  To me, Jesus’ death was simply a gift from my creator because he loved me and wanted me to be with him forever, avoiding the punishment and suffering I deserved, just for having been born.  This made perfect sense at the time.  Here’s what I missed:

 

Jesus on the Cross
This is what god does to his children.
Continue Reading

Taking the Plunge

Once you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart, your next step is showing your obedience and symbolizing your rebirth through baptism.  The Christian denominations in which I grew up believed that baptism was only valid as a personal decision.  Some denominations practice infant baptism or sprinkling, but in the context of what I was taught that practice seems to have no significance whatsoever (except to upset the baby).

 

Crying Baby
"Mommy, don't let the penguin drown me!"

 

The basis for baptism is vague and consists (like most Christian doctrine) of cherry-picked verses scattered throughout the New Testament and inferences from dialog contained therein.  This site contains a lengthy discussion on why believers must be baptized and why immersion is necessary.  A quick glance tells you right away that the ritual is heavy on symbolism and light on substance.  Here’s the gist:

You are “crucified” (standing upright in water), you are “buried” (immersed into the water), and you are “resurrected into life” (raised out of the water).

Continue Reading

You Don’t “Have” to Go to Church

As soon as I was old enough to figure out how much fun weekends were and how much shorter they seemed when you have to spend more than half of Sunday sitting in church I began to ask my parents if we really had to go to church. The conversations usually went something like this:

Jon: Do we have to go to church today?
Parent: No, you don’t have to go to church today. You get to go to church today.
Jon: But I don’t want to go to church.
Parent: You ought to be happy we have such a nice church to go to. Besides, you’re not staying home alone. Now get a move on!

This was exasperating every single time. I’m sure it was frustrating for my parents as well. They wanted to raise their children in the church with good, Christian values and their children seemed to want to be little unwashed heathens. What irritated me the most about this exchange was the unreasonable nature of the argument. I, as an autonomous human being, didn’t have the desire to spend most of my day cooped up in a building listening to people talk when I could be running around the woods with a toy gun, saving the world. My parents, as dictatorial heads of the family, didn’t acknowledge my autonomy. How unfair.

Continue Reading