My Christian deconstruction story (centered around evolution)

One thing to keep in mind is that this not my attempt to write an apologetic paper, but rather tell my own story. While there are apologetic aspects that I give an overview of, but I included them to communicate what I wrestled with personally rather than arguing for a particular point of view if that make sense. I should perhaps write a disclaimer at the beginning to reiterate this so that it is not misunderstood.

The argument is not that they intended to use the women as witnesses to defend the resurrection, but that the fact that it is included is evidence that shows they were not trying to write make up the story to be more believable. I find that to be a reasonable argument at least in terms of the story not being purposefully manipulated to try and convince of something that did not happen. And in the story, the apostles did not first believe their witness.

Again I want to emphasize that this is not an apologetic writing, but simply my own story and my own reasoning through the issues based on the knowledge I have. I did not delve into textual criticism or the Q gospel or anything along those lines. My reasoning for this is expressed in other ways concerning what sources of knowledge I can rely on.

I wasn’t concerned with most of his followers, but rather those 11 that physically witnessed the resurrection. It is one thing for people to willingly go to their deaths because they believe something they did not see but accept on faith. It is quite another for disciples go to their deaths based on a claim that they physically witnessed the resurrected Jesus.

I operated on the preponderance of the evidence. I wasn’t attempting to come up with a level of evidence that was convincing enough that a criminal prosecutor in a murder case would use. Rather I wanted to know which is more likely.

The evidence (from my understanding) is that it is more reasonable to believe than disbelieve that virtually all of the apostles went to their deaths claiming Jesus rose from the dead.

I don’t entirely follow why you see this as a problem. I suspect it might be because you believe I am arguing apologetically which is not the case. This is more of me giving an overview of my own internal dialogue and struggle with my Christian faith.

I cannot deny there is a desire to find Jesus unexplainably unique. Of course there is. I was hoping it was / is true. I also wanted to follow the truth. I cannot say I mitigated my bias to a satisfactorily level. It is possible I have tricked myself into believing something due to wish fulfillment. All that being said, lookin closely at evolution and how direct and indirect reciprocation as well as cooperation work, I find the most reasonable position to be that the concept of grace that originates with Jesus to be just that, wholly unique and foreign to the natural world.

It is not something I think that can be proven, but I do believe the evidence for it compelling. At the end of the day anyone can explain anything they want to and bias cannot be eliminated in these types of issues. We trick ourselves into thinking we are more objective than we really are, whether we believe or not. This extends even to academia and peer review to a lesser, but still notable extent. That has been my conclusion in the matter.

I do find it more believable that Jesus was who he said he was based on the concept of grace that originates from his life, death and resurrection. I don’t find other explanations to be more compelling based on the totality of my limited knowledge and life experience. And at the end of the day that is what this is. It is my personal faith journey. In my imperfect knowledge and flawed character, I have repeatedly encountered a grace in my life that resolves the deepest issues my heart has faced.

And so it is that we agree. :slight_smile:

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and provide the critical feedback to me. I greatly appreciate it. If you would like to elaborate on particulars I am happy to do so and I am willing to revisit my writing and correct mistakes if I have made them, but I mainly just wanted to share my personal story, honestly and with all of its flaws.

Thank you again Vinnie.

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I am very interested to read. Thank you for sharing and thank you for reading some of my story as well.

I found the following statement in your comments most fascinating.

Physicists experience shock and cognitive dissonance when they first understand what quantum physics is saying for it seems to contradict the logical premises of physics and scientific inquiry itself. But there is one thing that makes sense of it to me at least. If the universe was the creation of a deity who wanted keep his fingers in events then these facts of quantum physics would provide a back door in the laws of nature through which He could do so without disturbing the laws of nature. I am not saying that any such conclusion is necessitated by the scientific facts; only that on this subjective level where quantum physics created such cognitive dissonance for so many physicists, that this idea would make sense of it – to me

This is an incredible thought that had never even crossed my mind. Very cool. thank you for sharing.

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Vinnie I want to add I am open to being corrected as well if you feel I have spoken in error. I can at the very least put a footnote in to explain it was a misunderstanding on my part.

I too am impressed by the notion. John Polkinghorne, a particle physicist at Cambridge who became an Anglican priest, also put this idea into writing. I came across it in The Polkinghorne Reader, which I highly commend.

Pax Christi,
Chris Falter

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Do you think you can find it and quote that. I would be interested in hearing how he put it.

I have long been wondering what the deconstruction of the traditional canon - protestant Bible - has to do with God… :thinking:

That the Bible is simply a humanly constructed book becomes painfully obvious the longer one spends time with it… BUT that has nothing to do with larger, supra-natural realms.

The major error seems to the the evangelical penchance for identifying the Bible and God as synonymous - a classic idolatry.

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@David_Wood

Thanks for sharing your story!

Your discussion on tribalism and politics was very interesting and enlightening. I have been trying to understand what is going on in conservative evangelical communities (i.e. why my mom is so weird now), and your insights were really helpful. I grew up in a conservative church in the Reagan era, so I understand some of what is going on. However, other parts are just unrecognizable to the 18 year old me that last went to that church. It was really great getting an insider’s persepctive.

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I can understand how it has become such a deep association over the centuries. It’s the only tangible natural connection to Jesus and the early Christian faith that we have.

I think you make a great point however and I agree that there seems to be a tendency to place more emphasis on the text itself than what the text points to.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I greatly appreciate it.

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It can be dismaying being on the inside (if I am really on the inside), but also liberating in a way. I also have to remain humble about it because I know if I were deeply engaged with a tribe I would become just as blind to the group’s short comings as everyone else.

We are relational creatures for sure.

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The first person I want to see is my Nan.

What I have found David, only recently, after decades of deconstruction finally leading to fierce rational atheism only in the past three years out of 67; that order does not require meaning, purpose; that fine tuning requires no intentional tuner, and although there have been long periods of empty, rational and felt unbelief after the first long fall down that elevator shaft, I am currently experiencing a faint signal of faith. It just won’t die : ) < that’s me as I write. And that signal is… tuned to rationality as well as desire.

Still : )

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Hi Klax,

Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read my story. Modernism and science never really panned out for me in the end. I came to realize there was never anyway to truly know anything. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy and appreciate the scientific endeavor, I do. At the end of the day though, it created more questions than answers.

I have come to accept that by the sheer grace of God, I am what I am. A believer in the love and grace of God revealed in Jesus.

I’m not haunted or tormented by the questions like I once was. I’m at peace, trusting God with the unknown. This has left me with wonder and fascination on what might be discovered while I am still alive without needing it to be anything else or answer anything else.

So I suppose I relate to a degree with what you are saying. It doesn’t have to line up. More than that though, I realize just how little anyone knows.

In the midst of all of this, transcendent love and grace has continually found its way to me and when I look back on my life, I find that all I can say is thank you God.

Regarding resurrection and God working all things together for good, I have one thing I almost shared in my story, but didn’t seem to quite fit.

Around the time I was having my revelation where I heard “what if it did?” and was experiencing a beautiful washing away of all the darkness I had experienced, I ran across the short clip below. I mentioned U2 and Bono several times in my story and it just so happened Bono spoke about this very subject in an interview about his Christian faith. It was quite beautiful in symmetry for me that he would speak about the same thing I was experiencing.

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Dear David, thank you for this very personal account of your life with God. I found it moving in parts because I identified with it. I continue to struggle with doubts about my own salvation, and that is something you previously struggled with. I find the Bible confusing on this important issue, so I wondered if you recommended any particular books for reading?

Ive found over the years that a significant number of Christians do believe one’s salvation does depend on you. Not just sins, but perhaps even more so the good you dont do. NT Wright, for example, seems to believe that one is only ‘justified’ at the end of your life because it is the life led that provides the justification for salvation. Similarly others argue that although one is saved by grace, through faith, that faith must be demonstrated in the life led by way of behaviour and commitment. That is good works and a certain way of life demonstrate that claimed faith to be real, and therefore one is saved. Do you see why I find it all confusing and depressing?

Ill be honest. Im a gay Christian who is celibate but who struggles with online sexual inappropriateness/sin, and no doubt many would look at me and my life and say I wasnt a Christian. They may be right. Yet when I read you saying you felt God’s annoyance at you doubting your own salvation and you heard the words “it’s paid for”, it brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could have such assurance but I dont.

Thank you for listening.

P

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Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I do deeply appreciate it.

I can’t think of any one particular book I’d recommend. Different writers have spoken deeply to me at different times. Phillip Yancey, Rob Bell, Tim Keller, Brennan Manning, Tullian Tchividjian and C.S. Lewis are big names I tend to come back to repeatedly because they each have a way of highlight the concept of grace in a unique way. I don’t agree with all of Tim Keller’s theology, but the way he illustrates grace in his sermons, to me is second to none.

Yes I do see why you find it confusing and depressing. Understanding the differing views across Christianity concerning theology has been helpful to me to realize that everyone is trying to find the answer and well meaning people across the ages have devoted their lives to the endeavor.

I personally do not have much use for structured attempts to climb up to God and tell other people how to do it.

I think that inevitably turns into tribalism. The message of Jesus, if it is anything, it is God loves you more than you or I can ever comprehend.

Jesus didn’t come to give good advice or be a good example. He came to do what we could not ever do for ourselves (past, present or future).

At the end of the day, being a Christian boils down to believing in God’s love for you. That He would become a man and die for you. That’s it. That’s what it means to be saved by grace through faith.

A friend of mine said recently that it is hard for people who are really good to see God’s grace because they don’t realize how bad they really are. That is why religion can be so dangerous because it had a tendency to make us think more highly of ourselves than we should based on our own efforts instead of being recipients of God’s love and acceptance of us.

I am not anyone’s judge. All I know is if at the end of the day, right standing with God depends on anything other than the reckless and wasteful grace of God in my life, I don’t stand a chance. And I am confident, that giving up of my own self effort to be right or stay right is exactly what God wants. See Romans 4

Allow your heart the space to doubt the people who say you have to meet a standard. Allow your heart the space for God’s grace in your life. Allow yourself in faith to see God put His arms around you and tell you that you are loved beyond worthiness and unworthiness, that you you are His and that anything and everything that would ever separate you from His love has been taken care of forever.

Allow your heart to believe in the God who is love my friend.

Here’s a quick video I love from Tim Keller that touches on some of the things we discussed here. Thank you for your message and for sharing a little about your life.

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History is full of Christians who have been keenly aware of all the ways they have failed to live a life worthy of the calling they have received. But God’s grace is really really big, and Jesus shares our humanity and intercedes as someone who can sympathize with all our weaknesses. Don’t lose heart. You are loved and redeemed.

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Aye David. We’re very privileged.

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This is the best on-line resource bar none for inquiring Christian minds.

It occurs to me that perhaps I can use an example from science to illustrate some of the difficulty in this issue…

Would you say that when an apple falls from a tree, that it depends on the apple whether it hits the ground or not?

If you say no… then are you implying that the mass, density, and shape of the apple has nothing to do with it?

If you say yes… then are you implying that the gravity of the earth and wind have no effect on the apple?

I believe 100% in the gospel of salvation by the grace of God. But I do not believe in magic. I do not believe that God waves His “hands” with a few magic words and all the self destructive habits of our sin (which create hell wherever we go) simply vanish. Grace is not magic and we are not products magic. We are not magical golems who are only the way we are just because God made us that way. I don’t believe such a thing. That is inconsistent with everything we see in the world around us. Nor are we characters in a dream or book God has concocted by whim. We are a mostly a product of fixed laws that are both measurable and demonstrable (and to some degree our own choices play a role in that). So I believe in the gospel of salvation by the grace of God IN THAT CONTEXT.

God reaches down into our lives in order to bring about the events which inspire us to begin changing from the self-destructive habits of sin and death to the good habits of life so we grow and learn to do better. The grace of God is a work IN US. To be sure Jesus said about salvation in Matthew 19, " With men this is impossible , but with God all things are possible." But Jesus NEVER said that what we do doesn’t matter, quite the contrary. The grace of God is a work IN US, and of course the raw materials are very important. Repentance is important. Faith is important. Effort is important. Love is important. It all matters. But that doesn’t means we can do it. We can’t. We are are not only incapable but we are blind. If we try to save ourselves, it is only too likely we will go in completely the wrong direction if by some unlikely way we manage to alter our course at all.

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David, thank you for your kind and wise words. I will certainly look into some of the authors you have recommended.

Peter

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Hi Peter,

It’s worth remembering that an awful lot of cis- Christians have similar struggles to the one you described. We’re in the boat together, my brother.

Grace and peace,
Chris

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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