Different Attitudes


(Mazrocon) #1

While I’ve only been a member on this site for a short period of time I’ve very much enjoyed myself here. I feel that I’ve learned a lot, talking to people of various backgrounds (religious and non-religious), and different sub-backgrounds (young earth and old earth etc.,)

However, it didn’t take me long to realize that the attitudes toward the Bible, with the people I converse with on BioLogos, and the people I converse with in real life, are galaxies apart.

(before pressing on I want to make clear that I’m not trying to demean or degrade anyone’s particular viewpoint, just simply noting an observation)

The people I have discussions with in real life, during weekly Bible studies and such, give very bold proclamations. “The Bible can be 100% understood, by comparing different verses with each other. If one were to know the Bible, word for word, then that person could completely understand it, on that alone.” Anyone that doesn’t read the Bible in this fashion is reading it in a somewhat “shallow manner”. Others have made different points… “Why would God give us a Bible that we would have no hope of understanding? That doesn’t make sense.”

Compare that with the general attitude I get by people on this site (again, not implying any offense here), “We can gain a much better understanding of the Bible by comparing passages with other passages. But even if we were to know the Bible verbatim, we would still be anywhere from 2,000 - 3,500 years removed from the Bible’s original audience. We would still gain an even FULLER understanding by studying ANE culture, authorial intent, etc.,”

What brought this to the fore-front of my attention was part of a discussion I “eavesdropped” into on a different thread.

Someone said (I forget his name), “I’ve always wondered what the Sons of God are in Genesis 6.”

@Christy replied, “Nobody really knows.”

While the particular passage in question is quite controversial in Bible circles (most conservative people say something like Sethites or people of royalty, while more liberal people say they were angelic beings based on other OT passages.) it reflected the attitude difference, concerning that of BioLogos (in general) with the people I have dialogues with in real life (in general).

I said, “@Christy” but my point refers to anyone on this site really. I’m having a dilemma here because it feels like I’m living a weird double-life. The Bible studies and discussion I have with the BioLogos community is vastly different than the ones I have with my friends and family.

How I do I reconcile this discontinuity? My cyber friends in whom I strangely relate my more honest opinions and viewpoints, and my real friends, whom I more-or-less (very sad to say) have more shallow discussions on the matter?

How do I express my more honest viewpoint, without getting the accusation (whether external or internal) of being a heretic, a rebel, a liberal, a person who is “doubting the faith”…?

I would love to hear anyone’s suggestions on this topic…

Thank you.

-Tim


(George Brooks) #2

@TimothyHicks

I would find one of the mainstream Evangelical denominations that ACCOMMODATES
evolutionary science, and be kind to your friends you are lucky enough to retain from
the other evangelical traditions.

George Brooks


(Mazrocon) #3

Thanks George.

The Bible studies I have with my friends and family are incredibly informal. We don’t go to an actual building that says “church” on the side. We meet up at people’s houses, and the crowd consists anywhere from 3-8 people … Not dozens or hundreds.

The problem is that these are my lifelong friends, and of course my family. I don’t think anyone would stop being kind or friendly towards me … But if they knew some of my REAL opinions on matters well … I don’t think they would look at me the same way.

Several months ago I made the regrettable mistake of sending my dad an excruciatingly long email about these topics … Not even mentioning evolution, but simply the ideas of “long periods of time”. I covered a lot of ground … But I could tell there was a difference in how we communicated from that period forward. It made me feel awful and I wish I never sent it … But now I can’t undo it.

In any case what I’m talking about is more personal so I don’t know on what level people on this site can relate to my situation.

-Tim


(George Brooks) #4

@TimothyHicks

Ouch … what a dilemma.
I know that some families take their religion AWFULLY SERIOUSLY!
… just as seriously as the sexual orientation of their relatives to be sure!

I think you definitely need a safe outlet, where you can discuss these things.
But it doesn’t sound like your family gatherings is one of these places.

ONE HALF OF THE ISSUE:
Is it easier to stifle your comments once you are there? Or easier to
just not go to those gatherings?

THE OTHER HALF:
Where can you go where you can discuss these heartfelt issues?
You could go to a liberal church - - but that would draw attention to you by your family, yes?
You COULD find a blog or facebook group that promotes the positions that you want to discuss.

Families… we LOVE them … until they start driving us crazy!

Sincerely,

George Brooks


#5

Keep them as friends, but do try to branch out and find places where you can be yourself and discuss your beliefs openly and honestly.


(Mazrocon) #6

To be hones I don’t like the idea of denominations in themselves. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of denominations of Christianity worldwide, which seems to go against what Paul taught about not dividing yourselves.

That being said I think disagreements as doctrinal disputes are inevitable given the subject matter of the Bible. Even so I find it wrong to willingly separate yourself, and boldly proclaim your own “Branch” of Christianity, by giving yourself a name… The Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian, the Methodist etc.,

On a different issue, I do enjoy the actual gatherings I attend. I’m not under obligation to make specific comments, and can more or less just be a passive observer. It’s not so much specific doctrines they teach as it is an overall attitude towards the Bible that I don’t agree with.

The issue my dad might have come off as slightly exaggerated, but it’s how I really feel. The problem is tha my dad and I used to agree on nearly everything. We could spend hours talking about religion, politics etc., we were essentially “two peas in a pod”.

Then out of no where I drastically change my views, so naturally the relationship won’t be the same as before. I just wish that I didn’t boldly proclaim my different views and just went on as things were before…

My “conversion” (if that’s what one wants to call it) only took place half a year ago. Before that I would have continued on bashing evolution and liberal interpretations of the Bible. No problem. The reason my views started to change was because of a seemingly inocuous question I asked on Yahoo Answers. It stirred up some controversy and I ended up having long email conversations with a person I just met online (she was a theistic evolutionist). It took a little bit of time but I began to realize why it was that people were attacking young earth creationism (where beforehand, I was blinded to their comments and critiques because I was one).

Maybe it sounds silly to you guys, I’m not sure, but claiming to your family that you (might) not agree with a literal 6 day Creation isn’t THAT much different then saying to your Christian family, “You know, I’ve given it some thought, and I really think think Buddhism has some things going for it. Is that okay with you if I convert?”

Yes… That’s an exaggeration. Maybe those feelings are just something I project, because it feels awkward admitting a radical difference in views.

-Tim


#7

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(Christy Hemphill) #8

That’s the path to liberal heretic rebel, for sure.


(Christy Hemphill) #9

I can identify with much of what you expressed, so don’t feel like you are alone. My family is pretty open-minded and accepting even though we don’t see eye to eye on everything, and I have a handful of close friends that I can be totally authentic with. But I spend most of my time working closely with Christians who are much more conservative than I am, so I know what it is like to feel like lots of people who know me fairly well would be quite taken aback if they really knew what I thought about some things.

I think in the long-run, your character speaks louder than your words, and if people are with you for the long haul, they will get used to the fact that you have a different perspective.

My approach in Sunday School and small groups with the kinds of people you describe is to ask a lot of clarifying questions, to be honest about my own questions, and to admit sometimes when their answers aren’t satisfying and why. I don’t tell people I think they’re wrong and I don’t always tell people what I think the answers to my questions are.

For example, last Sunday at church, I was telling a friend about how our organization needs more people with PhDs, but people usually don’t get PhDs because it is part of the plan, but it just sort of happens because of complications. They lose their visa in the country where they work, so they get a PhD while they are waiting for the political situation to change. Or a medical issue makes them have to be in the States for a while, so someone does a PhD while a family member is in treatment. I told her about a family who worked in the country where we work who had a baby, and the delivery was totally botched, and there was no NICU there, and the baby ended up with severe brain damage. They had to return to Canada so she could receive care. The little girl lived three years and then she died of complications of her condition. The father was continuing work in a translation project remotely, and he has almost completed a PhD and then they will return to their project.

My friend said something like, “Well, isn’t that comforting to know that God controls everything and he knew your organization needed that guy to get a PhD, and maybe he wasn’t being obedient, so God made sure he would end up back in Canada and get it done.” How do you respond to that? I said, (with a smile so it didn’t sound too aggressive) “It sounds like you’re saying God kills babies because he wants people to get PhDs, so, no, that’s not really comforting at all. Is that what you’re really saying?” She modified her statement some, to something I still totally disagreed with, but I let it go. I figured I had registered my complaint about her theology and hopefully made her think a minute about how it might come across.

At one point in my life I had some friends that were a much better match intellectually and theologically speaking, but they weren’t really my people. They were all Christian-hipster types who were so intent on proving they weren’t legalistic losers like their less enlightened parents that it seemed they spent most of their time making fun of fundamentalists and growing ugly facial hair (the guy’s at least), drinking craft beer, and bragging about the latest granola thing they had purchased.

Well, sorry but the fundamentalists have not cornered the market on being prideful and judgmental, and it’s still materialism to show off your stuff, even if it is fair-trade, locally produced, minimal carbon-foot print, energy-efficient stuff. I don’t know squat about or ever have any desire to drink craft beer, and I kind of missed the whole deal where with your Christian friends you were expected to be able to have a good time without alcohol. So in the end I found I prefer the company of my more conservative, less enlightened friends because I found the ways that they were obnoxious and pretentious to be less annoying overall.

So basically, I try to love and appreciate and learn from people for what they have to offer, I try not to be defensive, and I don’t try to change anyone’s mind. I assume people who really know me will give me the benefit of the doubt, even if they do find out someday about all the stuff I’ve posted here on BioLogos. As of yet, no one has busted me.


(Mazrocon) #10

Thanks for sharing your story Christy.

I think my mistake was in sending an email to my dad… Looking back at it now I’m not sure what I was even trying to accomplish. It would not have been profitable to change someone’s view in this sense, and no fundamental Christian doctrines hung in the balance, whether or not which viewpoint was correct.

I think overall I’ve gained humility through this experience, however. As a young earth creationist I felt the need to put everything in a neat little box, as well the need to show people why they were wrong when it came to certain doctrines, some of which was more on the trivial side.

I think some people may have had a similar experience as me, but ended up doing the extreme, and throwing away the faith completely. I’m thankful that this didn’t happen, and rather, I threw away an outlook on the Bible that I felt was no longer tenable.

Eddie — I’ll consider what you’ve said, and thanks for the encouragement.

-Tim


#11

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(Patrick ) #12

Tim,
Millions in the US have had similar experience to you, and yes millions have thrown away the faith completely. Look at the Pew Research results for millennials, almost 30% of millennials list “none” as their faith.


(Christy Hemphill) #13

Yep. But as we know from the great philosopher Jerry Seinfeld, behind every joke there’s some truth. Unless we are talking about the guy with the terminal illness who goes from the United States to Europe for a piece of Bavarian cream pie and then when he gets there and they don’t have it he says “I’ll just have some coffee.” No truth in that joke.


(system) #14

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