Monday, March 25, 2013

Undercover Agnostic (Update 6): Snowstorms, Human Sacrfice and New Pastors

I went to church this Sunday, while snow was just starting to come down, in all 12.6 inches of snow was recorded at St. Louis' Lambert Airport (32 centimeters for readers outside of the US). Driving in and out of the services, I was glad that I have a vehicle like my old GM SUV. It can plow through snow rather effectively, doesn't get stuck, and the tries rarely spin in the snow or cause sliding.

The 4 wheel drive is out due to a bad transfer case, so until I finally get around to having it worked on, it's strictly running of off rear wheel drive, but it still drives quite effectively, because of it's great suspension and the truck tires I recently had put on the back. Digging out the SUV after all that snowfall, made me think of this meme, especially since large snowstorms like this weren't common until about 2 years ago in the St. Louis area (I don't know why the climate has changed in recent years around here):

At the church service this week, since it is only a week until Easter, and the Sunday School classes are still going through the workbook based off of the book, The Cross of Christ, there's been a  lot of talk about Jesus' crucifixion. Christianity tries to make it seem as something glorious, the shining example of god's love. Jesus came down to die for our sins, so we can go to Heaven if we just believe! Jesus defeated death in his resurrection! Rejoice!.

I don't see much reason to rejoice. They're treating something that's incredibly barbaric (the crucifixion) as something beautiful, to be celebrated. I don't get it. If you want to go with that theme, that way of thinking, instead of making the cross, an instrument of torture your religious symbol, why not make it  an empty tomb instead? Or how how about a scene of a resurrected Jesus speaking with the disciples? Better yet, why not him ascending into Heaven?

Then, there's the thought that all this worship of the cross, and the idea of redemption through the death and resurrection means that Christianity was based off of human sacrifice. That in itself is a disturbing idea.

Think about it. Unlike Islam and Judaism, Christianity teaches the concept of original sin, as Romans 5:12 says:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned .
 This means that we inherited the sin of Adam, we are sinners from birth, just because we are the descendants of Adam and Eve.

Christianity also teaches that there's nothing we can do of our own power to gain god's favor, here's Isaiah 64:6:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
 In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were commanded to absolve sin, but that only covered the sin done up until that point, any sin committed after then would require more sacrifices. However, the New Testament teaches that because of Jesus death, we are forgiven, his blood absolves us of sin. Here's Romans chapter 5:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
 Jesus is portrayed as the final sacrifice, the sacrifice to end the Old Testament sacrifices. Just accept this fact, pray to god for forgiveness, and follow Christianity, and you go to Heaven when you die. (Of course, you should follow the teachings of Christianity as well).

So, to sum it up, all of us were born sinners, because we are the descendants of Adam, (and god couldn't just let it go that Adam and Eve ate from a tree he didn't want them to, so he's punishing all of humanity over it), and at first decides to set up an animal sacrifice system to gain his forgiveness (temporarily).

Then he decides, let stop killing animals by the thousands, I'm going to send my son (who is also me, god), to become a human (or should I say semi-human, because he was supposed to be fully god and full human at the same time, here's an article by John Piper trying to explain this), to resolve the problem of sin once and for all.

However, I'm not going to make this forgiveness through human sacrifice available to everyone, unconditionally, no, there's one big condition for this: you have to not only accept this forgiveness, but you should follow my commands in the Bible too. If you don't, then you'll suffer for all eternity.
But I do love of of you humans, I promise.....

Oh well......

I haven't talked much about the church itself, there's been some big changes in the recent past, and more may be coming soon. Last summer, the churches' longtime pastor retired suddenly, and shortly after, his assistant pastor left to start his own church. That caused a big drop in attendance, some church members felt lost being in a church without a pastor, and left for other churches in the community, and some left with the assistant pastor when he started his own church out of his house.

Attendance has been down about 30-40 percent ever since, and there has been an interim pastor preaching and leading the church as best he can ever since. He's the same man I was talking about in my first Undercover Agnostic update, the man from Oklahoma who is also a retired missionary (spent many years in Argentina). I've noticed some patterns in the way that he talks, despite the southwestern drawl, that were probably influenced by his time in Argentina.

One habit I noticed this Sunday was when he was talking about the two men crucified along with Jesus, instead of saying there were two thieves that were executed along with him, he kept saying "thiefs". I've noticed that native Spanish speakers often have a hard time getting verb tenses and singular/plural forms of nouns correct in English.

It seems like he has picked up that same habit, and it was grating on my nerves hearing him say that over and over again. Maybe it's my obsessive personality, or I'm just a grammar Nazi, I don't know, but it was hard to listen to for about an hour.

I may not be hearing this for much longer, though. The churches' elected pulpit search committee has announced that they have approved for consideration a candidate for pastor. The candidate is a 39 year old minister from North Carolina with a doctorate in theology and church history. He will come to the church next month for to be interviewed by the committee, the deacon board, and there will be a Q&A session with the congregation.

Later (though it's not known yet when), a vote will have to take place to accept or reject him as the new pastor. I'll keep you posted on further developments as they happen. I wonder what this new guy will be like.

Note for new readers: For more information on my time as the Undercover Agnostic, and why I am doing this, check out the Undercover Agnostic page

1 comment:

  1. "I don't see much reason to rejoice. They're treating something that's incredibly barbaric (the crucifixion) as something beautiful, to be celebrated."

    This is basically just spin in the extreme. They take something that is terrible, and constantly say how awesome it is. If it gets repeated often enough from enough sources and people will believe it without thinking too much. It's really common in religion and politics.

    I imagine the example with Jesus dying on the cross only works as well as it does because everyone hears it their whole lives. They never take the time to think it through and realize how crazy the whole thing is.


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