Can you be a Christian without believing in the resurrection?

(Mark D.) #410

No, thank you. While I welcome the opportunity to exchange ideas with such a sharp group the last thing I want to do is undermine your mission in any way. Even as a nonbeliever, I think your goal here of making science in general and an old earth creation entailing evolution as we find it more palatable to main stream Christianity is extremely important.

My own goal is to improve relations across different belief and non belief systems. I would like to think everyone could find something of value in what the other thinks and respect each other’s choice in the matter. But I think for your intended audience, your mission stands a better chance than my own, so I’m content to pursue my own elsewhere if you think doing so here would impede what you’re trying to do.

(Christy Hemphill) #411

It is six days after the last reply when the system closes thread, not after the OP. If people keep posting more frequently than once every six days, threads will stay open indefinitely. And the threads attached to blog posts don’t close automatically.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #412

I think you’ll find a lot of sympathetic ears here. The Forum in particular tends to attract quite a diverse group of participants. We have a small group of atheists that interact regularly here, some former atheists, and nearly every stripe of Christian you can think of (with the exception of the Amish! :slight_smile: ). While there are heated debates over atheist-Christian topics, I think they are usually respectful, though honestly I don’t always read those threads.

In principle, Christians should have no problem “finding something of value” in the beliefs of others, because we all as humans have some reflection, albeit sin-tarnished, of the image of God in us. So long as this does not mean capitulating that all faiths (and non-faiths) are equally valid or that other books are divinely inspired and authoritative over our lives, there is nothing heterodox in appreciating someone else’s beliefs.

As far as “respecting each other’s choice in the matter,” of course we must respect others’ choices to believe as they do. It should be self-evident that we cannot force people to believe differently than they do. We can make a winsome case, of course, and it will be all the more winsome if we are respectful as we do so, but at the end of the day if the case fails to convince, we are compelled to love and embrace the person, including respecting the fact that they have chosen to believe as they do.

If you look around here (as it seems you’ve done a bit of already!), I think you’ll find that there are plenty of discussions here that are only tangentially related to the core mission of BioLogos, and within certain bounds, the moderators have deemed that that’s okay. If it wanders off into politics or hot-button topics, they will usually rein it in (rightly so). But I think the community here sees value particularly in discussing issues at the nexus of atheism, Christianity, scripture, faith and reason.

I imagine this is because some people who gravitate toward the Forum are genuinely wrestling with these issues and trying to find their way to what they see as an intellectually satisfying faith, and there is a pastoral desire to see these people through as best we all can, within reason.

And it’s good to have atheists with us here for such topics in this place of gracious dialogue, because they can offer gentle pushback and different perspective when needed, and help keep us from falling into the trap of caricaturing the “other.” Several times, when visitors have said something about what unbelievers or atheists would think of such and such, I say, well, instead of guessing what they think, why don’t we just ask them, since they’re here? And I tag our atheist regulars in my response. I think we all appreciate this aspect of not being in a hermetically sealed echo chamber here.

Anyway, here I am making another far-too-long response here. Did you have any other comments on the substance of my previous response?

(Mark D.) #413

I’m pretty sure I did but I had those qualms about the appropriateness of doing so here. It is late here now and I’m getting tired. But I look forward to rereading that post of yours and responding tomorrow.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #414

So you’re working on bridge-building (the same bridge) but from the other end! It’s probably safe to say that is included in Biologos existing mission in one way or another. As long as we don’t see a bridge as an end to itself but the beginning of something – the beginning of a commerce of relationship and ideas. We can’t do this ourselves, so your part in it is valued here too.

(Mark D.) #415

I’m not yet adept enough at using the quote function here to respond to your entire post so I’ll take on a chunk at a time.

Not at all. Ultimately they are likely to become more confirmed in their faith. It is through the loss of the connection that we come to realize its value. But realizing ones limitations and dependence upon what ever it is which ordinarily supports our mode of experience is as valuable for a non Christian as it is for a Christian. But we all need a way to conceptualize what that is which normally buoys us up. God is one way to conceive of what that may be while thinking about the constructs of consciousness is another.

(Christy Hemphill) #416

It is not super intuitive, but it is easy. To quote selections, highlight the text you want to quote and hit the quote option that appears. The text tagged with the person who said it will be imported into your response window. You can navigate around with an open response window and pull in as many quotes as you want from different places.

(Mark D.) #417

If Jesus is the way, then what is the essential thing when it comes to being more like Jesus. Did he take risks so that we don’t have to or is taking risks essential to following in his way? Perhaps we are to follow him in not being a passive follower?

I don’t really use the bible or the example of Jesus in my own thinking anymore but I’m trying to see if there is a way to use your way to talk about my own. Unfortunately my time for doing so is running out and I need to get ready to go out today.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #418

I find that on this Forum, people are forgiving about taking a while in responding. It’s one more distinctive here, I think. On other forums, if you respond two days after the mad rush of comments, all you get is crickets in response. Here, life can take its time and if you’re responding to a regular participant even a few days later, you’ll often still get a response. That’s not always the case – I have a couple outstanding responses I need to write to people from a while ago – but it’s often the case.

I’m not sure there is one essential thing. For me, this is part of fighting the reductionism of other presentations of the gospel. I can’t boil down all the red letters of Scripture into one essential. Does being more like Jesus mean seeking to master the appetites of our flesh by surrendering them to God? Yes. Does it mean living more simply and being generous to the poor? Yes. Does it mean responding to being wronged with humility and forgiveness? Yes. Does it mean cultivating a life of non-showy meditation and prayer? Yes. Does it mean making restitution for the wrongs we have done and trying to live at peace with all people? Yes. All this and more.

And yet, on second thought, I think there is one way to boil all of this down, and that is how Jesus himself boiled it down:

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35-40)

I think taking risks is essential. Those risks will look different for each person, but I personally can’t imagine a risk-free discipleship — unless the risky thing for a given person is in fact not taking risks, but then that would be a risk in itself… :slight_smile:

(Mark D.) #419

Well I think you take a nice stance as a Christian. Of course I understand that everyone else who claims the same mantle may go at it differently, and I don’t expect you to tell me exactly what I can expect from every self proclaimed Christian.

I wonder if anyone has chosen to be a Christian as you define it who believes as I do regarding the nature of God and the status of heaven and hell. I do believe the phenomenon of god belief needs to be accounted for; I wouldn’t be content to dismiss it as simple error. Anything that has been believed by so many almost everywhere and for as far back as we can determine deserves serious consideration. But I fully expect an entirely natural accounting.

My expectation is that God (and obviously there have been many versions across the world) will turn out to be a construct of consciousness, just as is our sense of self or personal identity. Those certainly are not things we construct ourselves and neither, I think, is God. I believe our consciousness is complex enough to provide us with a relationship with a personal God which is actually possessed of insight and knowing to which we lack direct access. I don’t think the consciousness invested as God is just like that of any other person but I do think it is independent and capable of supporting or thwarting our conscious intentions. My hunch is that God consciousness is older and more globally focused than our conscious minds, and, that personal fulfillment is tied up with a positive relationship between all the constructs of our consciousness.

I don’t think the God or gods which have factored into people’s beliefs over the years had any role in creating anything, much less the entire cosmos. Nor do I think this God has the power to grant anyone an afterlife. So if heaven and hell are to have any meaning I think it is as a present state of equanimity or strife. One could say that heaven is a byproduct of finding favor with the natural God, while hell is an indication of inner strife; but despite how it may feel at the time, neither is eternal.

If Jesus was a historical man who left behind all the words attributed to him I’d consider him a person worth reading and reflecting on, but I wouldn’t sign on for discipleship.

(Randy) #420

Good analytical thoughts… Remind me of cognitive science of religion with Justin Barrett from Cambridge. Wonder if you have read his books or seen any YouTube of him?

(Mark D.) #421

No I don’t I don’t know of Justin Barrett but thank you for the lead. My ideas mostly stem from reading depth psychology, Jung too but especially James Hillman.

(Mark D.) #422

Well I’ve looked at this one:

[video=youtube] [/video]

Okay, that doesn’t seem to be the way to post a video here. The only thing my thinking has in common with his is probably my willingness to go out on a thin limb which I don’t have a lot of confidence in and for which I have no evidence.

I did agree with the idea that evolution has selected for a brain which could put dinner on the table, not the truth. But I see no use for the idea of fine tuning, probably because I can’t imagine that anything like a mind created everything (or even anything from nothing).

(Randy) #423

Thanks. I actually haven’t seen that one. I was going to read his books.
The video I thought was more helpful was

however it’s somewhat simplified, even though this was at Cambridge, I think–he gets much more technical in the abstracts I’ve read of his books.

There are books I’d like to read more:

I would like to read Jung; I have no formal background in psychology or philosophy (I’m a family medical doc, and as much as we like to think we’re scientists, it ain’t really so).

Thanks for your input.

His work was also reviewed in Biologos. a-christian-response-to-tooby-and-cosmides-evolutionary-psychology-a-primer

(Mark D.) #424

Well medicine is a real contribution so thanks for that. I did major in philosophy but taught mathematics to young people before retiring. (It is nice to feel one is doing something useful in the world.) All my reading in psychology was done before doing the work for my major.

I’ll take a look at that one.

(Mark D.) #425

Five minutes into that video now. Exciting.

(Mark D.) #426

Okay finished. Time for bed but I’m sure I’ll listen to it again.

It raises a question in my mind. If through research like this you became convinced that religion and belief in invisible, watching agents (or gods) was a prosocial development based on a misapprehension, would you …

A) Decry it as a lie and oppose it.

B) Do everything in your power to deny what you had found and make a concerted effort to convince everyone it was actually and literally true.

C) Look for a synthesis whereby you could talk frankly about the way in which it is true without deceit but retain the prosocial effect.

Or perhaps some other choices are required?

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #427

Thank you. Hopefully it’s not a novel stance, but drawn from Christian thinkers I admire, like N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight, Dallas Willard and others. (If it was novel, it’d probably be wrong.)

In theory, it’s possible, though I doubt it. For one, I’ve met a decent number of Christians that don’t believe hell is eternal, but I’ve never met one (yet, anyway) that believes that heaven isn’t eternal. Also, the notion that God is our creator is pretty fundamental to Christian theism.

While I have laid out a pretty stripped-down concept of Christian essentials, and I think that discipleship to Jesus as King is the key starting point, I do feel that most people who stick with discipleship to Jesus will eventually settle on something that closely resembles the historic creeds of the Church. This is because anyone who follows Jesus will soon realize that it’s really necessary to do this journey with other Christians, who will help form one’s understanding of Jesus, and one will also necessarily be meditating on Scripture in the process, and that will shape one’s view of God as well. These two elements will lead to a faith that is consonant with at least the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, even if it never embraces the stricter creeds of particular modern denominations. And all of these creeds reference God the Father as Creator, as well as life everlasting. We may of course hold some of these as a mystery, but we embrace those mysteries.

(Mark D.) #428

Thanks again for this. I just thought of a video based on a TED talk by Iain McGilchrist which I found eye opening. Maybe it will be of some use to you.

(Randy) #429


Thank you for your thoughts! I look forward to watching your video. Good question above, as well. I am on some long clinic days today and Friday, but have some more time Thursday and this weekend. I’m going to go back and listen to my video again, with yours, and hopefully have a better response.