Friday, March 28, 2008

Going to Church as a Pluralist

I went to church for a long time as an fundamentalist evangelical ("fundagelical") and it was easy to fit in. As I was becoming a pluralist I didn't want to stop going to church because there is really no other place to have a sense of community that is available in churches. If secular humanists had churches and home groups that would be awesome, but it's just not an available option.

At various times people have asked me pointedly what I believe about Jesus. I'd like to be able to say I believe all the fundagelical pop theology just to avoid a sermon from the person asking the question. And that is what I do sometimes but am uncomfortable doing it.

The problem with saying Jesus is fully human, fully divine, existed before the Earth, and came to it to take on all humanity's sin in order to forgive it all, is that for it to be true, you have to believe in the doctrine of Original Sin. I've stated earlier in this blog that I think 90% of theological doctrine is BS, and the doctrine of Original Sin is among this BS.

I don't believe humans are evil first and then become good somehow. I believe humans a good first and bit by bit loose their goodness and become dysfunctional to varying degrees. The point in time this process of deterioration is reversed is salvation. The ensuing process of the deterioration of evil is also salvation. Does one have to be Christian to be on the journey I just described? No.

An important part of the community of churches is the idea that Christians are saved and members of other religions are not. It is also common to believe that members of other religions are saved, but it is still better to be a Christian than a member of another religion. Part of the communal element of churches is getting together and affirming that this is true. This is a part of church community that I cannot take part in.

Another important part of the community of churches is the struggling together in the problems of everyday life. Work, home, difficult relationships, major life decisions, stuff that pisses you off, are all things that get dealt with in church community. This is a part of church community that I can take part in. The trick for someone like me is to find churches that are light on theology and heavy on struggling with everyday issues as the main form of bonding. When theological issues come up, I'll just have to be a spectator.

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