Here's what he wrote:
Interesting. Thanks Kris. I watched some of the videos and he seems pretty straightforward [He is referring here to Pastor Alan Meenan at www.thewordisout.org and www.churchforthenations.org.)
Other questions: Even if there is a creator, does it have to be the god as described in the bible? Maybe he is something even more unknowable and that all the religions are on a similar track but haven't quite reached what he/she/it is all about.
I think there is an almost meditational aspect to religion, as that is what the contemplation of the "mystery" and the message seems to be about. This is consistent in all religions.Also, I tend to read other books about the origins of religion. What I see from a historical point of view is that the bible was really a collection of stories, passed down and borrowed from older religions and stories, such as Gilgamesh. Flood stories, virgin births, etc. are not unique to the bible. And many of Christ's stories are borrowed or reworked from other sources.
One of the reasons I always felt Christianity took off was that it put the human touch, i.e. Jesus, into the mix. This is where Judaism doesn't really hold the same appeal. There is no central figure that people can relate to. Is it safe to say that sacrificing one's life is not all that unusual, when it comes for the betterment of others? I would in a second to save my family, and doesn't a soldier who puts on the uniform for his country willingly offer his life for the sake of others?
It's all very noble, but not unheard of.
There is a great audio book out now by Julia Sweeney called Getting Away from God. I recommend as it's a very spiritual journey that is touching, knowledgeable, funny and insightful.
Can one be truly happy without God? I suppose that would depend on the definition. I have a curious disposition, by nature. I used to give the priests, brothers and sisters at my Catholic schools fits. But what is interesting is that they all respected my questions. I have to give them credit for that.
(I hope you don't mind talking about this stuff. It's a lifelong obsession!)
And my response:
Mind talking about this stuff? Are you kidding? Not at all!
All your questions below were answered by Meenan. No kidding! And you can take a listen to my present Pastor (Wolfson) if you like as well at www.churchforallnations.org. Click on Multimedia once you get there and then click on audio or video, whichever you prefer. I have a feeling he may be more up your alley. His past three sermons have all been, "Church is less a place we go than who we are. Therefore, let's be the church." I think you have been saying that to me and other Christians all along -- certainly with your very first email explanation to me (which I published in the blog) about where you are coming from -- in one way or another...
And here's a thought to ponder -- if ALL religions believe essentially the same thing, does that not mean that there is a Truth (Intelligent Design) behind them (since all were developed independently of each others while the world was still separated by geography and without mass communications) and that we humans have been playing "telephone" with the Truth for all these years? And does that not explain why Jesus came here, to untangle the Truth from the stories that spring up around the God of the Universe? (And consider this: Perhaps earlier stories were given by God as prophetic stories to be fully realized when Jesus came and said, "I'm what all your many stories have been pointing to all these years.")
Just something to ponder. We are all buzzing and buzzing around the essence of the Truth, but none of us -- not even Christians - know the full truth or the import of it. We cannot share God's thoughts. His ways are above our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts... but oh, how he loves us and tries to give us what He can (through our filters, barriers and borders) that is good and kind and gracious and redemptive.
I do not do "ritualistic" religion. I know the Catholics and the Lutherans and others do and if it works for them, great -- they're all going to heaven, too. But it won't be that way in heaven. If I don't meet God every day personally in a casual, friendly, loving, non-ritualistic conversation (at church or elsewhere) -- while driving my car, eating a sandwich, taking a walk -- I feel really out of touch and cheated (but by myself, not God! I know He's always right here!)
Do you realize God is using you right now to refine me and using me to refine you? What you ask gives me the sweetest dreams! Seriously! I was out evangelizing the world last night while asleep --and I NEVER do that while awake (except maybe in my blog -- it seems to be going that way a lot lately, but that's just 'cause YOU started it!
I would love for you to know what I know and to see and feel what I feel, but as I say, you gotta go get your own. My relationship niche with God is already occupied! You can get one just as great, but it takes some work... as much time as you have spent dancing all around the idea of God.
He wants you or you wouldn't be so compelled to keep looking, ya know?!
P.S. Oh, by the way... Keep giving God's people fits. They need it to figure out how best to communicate with seekers! You're the steel upon which our evangelism gets sharpened!
I must also add that if my friend was indicating that what Jesus did on the cross was "not all that uncommon" given the altruistic bent of parents and soldiers, I must clarify something:
Parents and soldiers don't divest themselves of their God-ness to come to earth to save all mankind. They are noble, they are revered, honored and cherished by me for sacrificing themselves for people, nations (and let's add firefighters and policemen to the list) and even people they don't know... but their sacrifices don't compare with what Jesus did. They certainly reflect what Jesus did and espoused, but in order to achieve the depth, breadth and width of what Jesus did, they would have to have been Jesus. He is the only human who ever divested himself of his God power while on earth for 33 years (accessing God's power only as we mere mortals can access it for that period of time) in order to provide eternal salvation for us. Soldiers, parents and firefighters die to provide temporal salvation for us.