Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Occasionally I Think

"Lucien Black," grandson of an Apostolic Lutheran pastor, has a blog describing his journey from faith to atheism. I thought he raised some interesting questions about the Genesis creation / fall story and its implications on the nature of God as depicted through a biblical literalist interpretation of the Bible.

from Why I'm an athiest


First off, one should know that I come from a very religious background. My grandfather has been an Apostolic Lutheran pastor for my entire life, and my mother became "born-again" at some point after getting pregnant. When I was a child, the family would play "Bible Trivia," and I kicked butt because I enjoyed me some Bible stories.

Around about the seventh grade, I started thinking, and one thing that kept going through my head is that the deck was stacked against humanity from the start, if one believed the book of Genesis. God was omnipotent and omniscient, so he knew exactly what sort of creation he'd made, and the consequences thereof. So, here's Adam and Eve, with one rule to follow: don't eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. What follows is well known of course, the "Fall of Man." What got me though is that God should've, indeed must have, seen it coming from the very start, and took no steps to prevent it. There are many that could've been done: don't let Satan in the garden, don't make the bloody Tree, make sure Adam and Eve really are obedient and not prone to disobeying just cuz of a few honeyed words, just to name a few.


Does anyone else remember playing Bible Trivia? I was not the best player, although I could hold my own against most. :-) I was pretty good at New Testament and Pentateuch, but major and minor prophets could stump me pretty easily.

On a more serious note, Lucien illuminates an issue that I think is common with people who leave their original faith for a new formulation of the faith, or even no faith at all. The stories or the meanings behind the stories no longer "make sense."

14 comments:

  1. Interesting link. Here's another one about someone who says she didn't "lose" her faith, she "left" it.

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  2. Complete rejection of Christianity has been the path of more than a few who have left the Apostolic Lutheran Churches. From my discussions with several of those who have left, I noticed that they had found the 'religion' to be empty and void. Sometimes they themselves could not quite put their finger on what they had rejected except that they knew something was terribly wrong. I could relate to them as I had felt the same way except that I eventually realized that Biblical Christianity was real but what I/we had been taught was an un-Biblical Christianity. My experience has lead me to realize that Christianity should be taught in a meaningful loving way as the tenants of Christianity are far superior to any other religion. Legalism and exclusivity dogma versus 'meaningful and loving' teachings are what I remember about Apostolic Lutheran type teachings.
    Old AP

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  3. "My experience has lead me to realize that Christianity should be taught in a meaningful loving way as the tenants of Christianity are far superior to any other religion."

    well said, Old AP.

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  4. Hey, thanks for noticing. Checking the links about Laestadianism, I'm surprised at the connection to the Apostolic Lutherans. And a background in Finland (I'm Finnish-American)! I never heard of Laestadianism growing up. I'm curious if the Laestadian churches participate in the annual conventions the Apostolics have?

    By the way, my real name is out there now, so you can feel free to call me Nathan. Or Lucien. Either works.

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  5. Its a little complicated, but Laestadians are Apostolic Lutherans, same thing, different name. The Laestadian Lutheran Church split from the First Apostolic Lutheran Church in 1973 and they changed their name.

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  6. What Nathan-Lucien really is discussing is why God created free will if giving free will made it possible to choose evil instead of good. Wouldn't it have been better to create only restricted will so it would have been possible to choose only good and not evil?

    In the Orthodox church, we say God didn't want to create slaves but sons who cooperate with him out of their free will and not as machines that have been programmed to always cooperate with God. Man was created as God's image. Would it be possible to call a pre-programmed machine an image of God?

    ---

    I think most Apostolic Lutheran churches in America have quite close ties with the Laestadians in Finland, especially the OALC, the ALC and the LLC. But churches like the FALC and the IALC, which don't have any equivalent in Finland, naturally have much less contact.

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  7. I typed that wrong.

    raycomfortfood.blogspot.com

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  8. Coming from a religious background, loving bible stories, and being good at bible trivia do not make a person a Christian. Lucien could not have coverted to atheism from Christianity because he was not a Christian to begin with. His statements are immature, showing a huge lack of biblical understanding, and he has made the error of calling God a liar. Yes God created us with free will; yes God allowed sin to enter the world; yes people suffer, but there is a reason for it all. God has an amazing plan that has not been fully revealed to humanity. Who are we to tell God how things should have been done? This life is momentary compared to eternity. To fall for atheism is to fall. Lucien, if you're reading this...go to www.livingwaters.com and listen to True and False Conversion, and then listen to Hell's Best Kept Secret; these are life-changing messages that everyone should listen to.

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  9. Hi Nathan, nice to see you over here. I enjoyed reading the other posts on your blog.

    I use "Laestadian" as a blanket term to cover all the churches that are descended from Lars Levi Laestadius --including the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, which I assumed was the branch you were from based on your post.

    To the anonymous poster who did the big copy/paste from Ray Comfort's site: I deleted that, but left the link. If people are interested in reading that they can head over there to read it. Typically I allow only original material in comment posts.

    To the anonymous poster who thinks that Christians who become Atheists were not Christians to begin with: who are you to judge what is in the heart of another? And why get so defensive? Calm down, for Pete's sake.

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  10. Nathan, sometimes people have to walk away from what they were brought up with in order to figure out what they really believe. At one time I too thought this Christian stuff was really a bunch of baloney. I figured to myself that all this AP doctrine was the equivalent to the bogeyman stories my older siblings used to scare us kids with. God would much rather have a person who has willingly come to a true knowledge of faith in him sitting in the pew versus some one who grinding and grudgingly is only going through the motions. I think Nathan just needs some time to sort things out and find himself. I studied true atheism and atheists and as time went on I found that the real atheists actually had many similar beliefs to Christianity such as helping others and relieving suffering. In other words atheists seemed to want the same things that Christians wanted except without God....hence the a-theism...which I think is Latin for 'without God.' Eventually in my study of faiths I realized that these other religions-including atheism-appealed to humans because they contained tidbits of truth in them. Hence there was a ring of truth to them such that they would gain a following. Eventually I came to see that these other religions, including some of what I had been taught in my local APL church, were but crude imitations of Biblical Christianity. Often a sincere student of atheism will become a (willing) believer in Christ. So take heart Nathan, you are not the first person who has walked in your tracks. Keep searching and you'll find your way. Old AP

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  11. Thanks Tomte.

    I'm not seeing anything here to suggest that Tomte would like this comment thread to turn into a discussion my viewpoints on religion in general, and Christianity in particular, especially as I think that misses the point that Tomte was highlighting by quoting my blog. (Am I wrong, Tomte?) Hence, I'm not going to give full replies to the comments directed at me (most of which have been polite), at least not here. I invite any who wish to join me at my own site, which I set up with an idea toward fostering discussion on multiple topics. Tomte gave the link to my first post already.

    One thing though, to the commenter who feels that he knows what's in the heart of someone who becomes an atheist after being a Christian: may I invite you to read this, which probably does a better job of addressing that than I would? http://thehiberniatimes.com/2011/06/03/atheism-is-the-true-embrace-of-reality/

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  12. There's nothing wrong with being an athiest. Im sure that I am. I have no desire to find christ or become a church member... to each his own. Respect all... follow none. That's my religion.

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  13. For some reason I thought I had already posted a response to the comments directed at me, but I must have clicked a wrong button or something. Anyway, this doesn't appear to be a site that would be a good place for turning these comments into a discussion of my atheism, views on religion, or other such things (let me know if I'm wrong). I like what I see on this site, and would rather not be a part of distracting it from its mission. As such, I invite anyone who wants to discuss these issues with me to my site for that. Anonymous posts are allowed there, but it would be best if you identify yourself in some way, so that things don't get confusing.

    Nathan

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  14. I left the Old Apostolic church and feel MORE CLOSE to my God than ever before. I respect any choice a person makes and I have some atheist friends who are nicer people than some Apostolic Lutherans I know...so I hope everyone feels free to choose their path and NOT try to convert people to your viewpoint. Have some faith!

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