A recent response to one of my blog entries was very thoughtful and filled with a number of good ideas worth discussing. Wanting my comment in return to be brief, I responded only to parts of what the writer said. I’d like to add more now (but, computer genius that I am, I can’t seem to figure out how to offer a second response directly to David K.).
The idea of my first blog entry was that there are some atheists (e.g., Dawkins) who are actually stuck with believing in God but are angry at themselves about it and pretend to be angry at God. These are the opening lines of David K’s thoughtful response:
I started out as a Christian and after years of religious instructions, I just did not find it credible. I have spent years researching the backgrounds of religion and history of world religions. I am not angry at any “god”, I just understand that there are a multitude of religious beliefs, different people believe in different things, all claim their belief is the true belief – just as I am free to believe whatever it is I want.
As I read that paragraph, I find my mind continually drawn to the phrase “years of religious instructions.” I cannot tell you how grateful I am that I was not raised in a church c0ntext and never had “years of religious instruction.” I did have several years of seminary as I earned two graduate degrees but it would never have occurred to me that anyone would call this “religious instruction.” The very phrase makes me shudder.
I became a Christian just as I was turning 20 and, by the grace of God, became part of a collegiate Christian group called InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We studied the Bible, seeking the questions it raised just as much — or more — than the answers some people find in it. All the skills of critical reading which we were learning in literature and history classes, we brought to our study of Scripture. No one ever gave us anything at all like what might be called “religious instruction.”
I was very happy to be part of a group of people who were just as stubborn and bull-headed as I was. None of us would have accepted “instruction” in the Right Answers.
The year before entrusting my life to the Lord, I studied the New Testament on my own very diligently. One of my strongest impressions was that Jesus was amazing in his ability to get along with a great variety of people, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, educated and not. There was only one kind of person with whom Jesus could not get along: Religious people!
I’ve never forgotten that. Religious people and God are just not on the same wavelength.And that’s why the phrase “religious instruction” seems so repulsive to me. . .
So, David K, I’m glad to see you are in such good agreement with Jesus on the matter of religion.