vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
[personal profile] vaecrius
It occurs to me that when I indicate that I am a Christian that might mean all sorts of things to people who are not themselves Orthodox Christians. With that in mind, I wish to compile a brief list of the various heresies and paganisms I DO NOT subscribe to.

I DO NOT believe in a magic man in the sky who took some pre-existing chaos and formed our world. A God that is objectively, absolutely within and subject to the bounds of the universe (the incarnation of Christ leaves a good deal of Him outside of that) must by that virtue NOT be the Absolute.

I DO NOT believe that the universe was created in a discrete 144-hour period that ended with Adam and Eve in the Garden, NOR that the process of speciation through mutation and selection is incompatible with the doctrines of my faith. If Jesus was sinless and even He ate fish, that's good enough for me.

I DO NOT believe that any person will be condemned to Hell by reason alone of their homosexual desires or even actions. I myself am guilty of much worse sin. (This is a subset of a more general principle below but the circumstances require this being singled out.)

I DO NOT believe that any Christian doctrine requires that the state refrain from any particular thing to ameliorate poverty. If it's actually coercing people into doing un-Christian things, then it's doing something other than ameliorating poverty and that should be opposed as a distinct issue.

I DO NOT believe that "The Bible" is a singular, inerrant, exclusive work handed down or dictated to us whole by God, rather than a basic canon compiled within the context of the Church and the Jewish faith, its texts reflecting many very human understandings and needs. I am not a Muslim or a Mormon.

I DO NOT believe in a "Rapture" where all Christians are magically whisked away into Heaven leaving the sinners to fuck themselves in a new Hell on Earth. I thought that was bizarre and Scripturally baseless even as an evangelical.

I DO NOT believe anything one way or another about a "millennium" in the End Times, or single capital-A "Antichrist", or any of that other kooky stuff. In fact I HAVE NO belief, positive or negative, about any specific mechanical details of the Last Judgment, except that constant speculation about them is a waste of time.
[2014-07-28 To clarify, I meant this in the sense of not committing to anything specific in history being that millennium. Past tense and strikethrough because the speculation that it meant the roughly 1000+ years between Constantine's conversion and the fall of his city to the Ottomans was, in fact, the millennium and what comes after is the little while (say the next million years or so if we last that long) that Satan gets to rule. God give me the strength not to take these thoughts too seriously.]

I DO NOT believe that the world is irredeemably evil and we are to deny the world and leave it and our useless corrupt mortal shells behind when we die. I have believed this on and off in the past and it is precisely Church dogma that forbids me from believing it again now - often one sees arguments purporting to refute Christianity, when in fact it is merely this heresy being refuted.

I DO NOT believe that sin is just us disobeying some arbitrary rules God puts up from time to time, nor even that sin is evil because it is a breach of a moral/legal code. The distinction between the moral/legal view and sin as being a wrong deviation from God's plan is a bit of a fine line, but a very important one, so here's someone explaining it a lot, lot better than me.

I DO NOT believe that God keeps a tally of our sins and virtues and rewards us with just reward and retribution in the afterlife. This would make Christianity indistinguishable from any other pagan religion that I have already rejected.

I DO NOT believe, a fortiori of the above 2 points, that Christ's sacrifice represents paying to God the debt we owe Him. Even ignoring the above 2 points, Trinitarian problems and the projection of all sorts of nastiness required for it, the logical conclusion of penal substitutionary atonement is that there was never forgiveness. Then again, see this. A creditor paying off his own debtors' debts is an act of forgiveness and not superfluous when someone else is keeping track of the payments. The "there was never any forgiveness" still applies if one considers Satan/Death to be the creditor, if the atonement is understood as merely paying it off (which I DO NOT believe).

I DO NOT believe that Hell is a place that God made specifically to trap and torture people for all eternity, especially not on a basis of whether a person believed certain specific factual propositions in life. I DO believe that eternal torment is possible, as a product of unrepentant sin, like it's possible to roll a 20-sided die infinity times and never get a 20 (except in this case the die may get a tiny bit more weighted against landing 20 with every unsuccessful roll).

I DO NOT believe that God for any reason creates any person with a plan to condemn them to eternal torment, or that the happiness of the saved will involve having their morals twisted around so as to be happy that the damned are in torment.

I DO NOT believe that suffering is a punishment for sin in some crude karma system, but I DO believe it is a consequence. Which means it's not always according to divine plan when innocent people get hurt - which point has been crucial to my conversion.

I DO NOT believe that repentance in the Christian sense requires passionate feelings of regret and grief in every case. It has been for much of mine; however, I've also seen people who have been seeking for spiritual goodness for a long time and embraced Christianity as clearly, noticeably better than all other options, and have brought the wisdom of what they've learned before into the Church while casting off (repenting from) what was in error. And other times, when the old way is just a terrible unmitigated wrong with no redeeming or edifying elements that can be excised... it's just a relief. [2015-01-12 I haven't seen nearly enough. I have yet to begin.]

[2014-06-01 I had totally not planned that this post would coincide with the commemoration of the Council of Nicaea. But since we're here, I also DO NOT believe that Jesus started off as a mere human who subsequently ascended to Godhead, or that the Son can be distinguished as a subordinate entity in power, or that "Son" should be taken much at face value at all.]

I think that covers all the big stereotypical ones and anything else can be dealt with as it comes.

In the meantime, here's something I had not thought I would have needed to believe, but should.
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if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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