Shuck and Jive

Sunday, September 05, 2010

What I Don't Believe

My post entitled, If there is no life after death are we to be pitied? gathered 175 comments. That is a record for Shuck and Jive. Thanks for playing! For a while the conversation got a little testy in the comments section but it improved near the end.

I have been pretty clear on Shuck and Jive (in fact since my first blog post) that I don't think/believe/hope/trust/have faith that Jesus rose from the dead. Nor do I think that "I" will survive my death. Whenever I write on the topic, it sparks conversation.

One commenter said that my "hunches correspond to Enlightenment thinking." He made it sound like a bad thing. So I wrote something that clarified things (at least for me). It was a direct reply to Pastor Bob, but I meant it as an overview of what I have been thinking.

I know it is a shade narcissistic to quote myself, but dang, it was pretty good! : )

Bob asked me if I read Hegel or Wittgenstein. Here is what I said (with just a couple grammatical adjustments):

Hey Bob,

No I haven't read Hegel or Wittgenstein or remember them if I did.

I don't know if what I am saying is that complicated that we need a lot of philosophers to talk about it.

Belief in Resurrection is a matter of faith. Right? Only through the gift of faith can we affirm it, right? So by definition, you can't get there (or not get there) through reason (Enlightenment or otherwise). You have faith that Jesus rose from the grave or you don't.

No matter how much Enlightenment philosophy I am tainted with or not, I cannot prove or disprove what is taken on faith. I am really not out to disprove anyone's faith. I don't care. I am out to say what I think about things.

The more I look back and read whatever it is I have ever written, I find that I am probably a naturalist. At least a pragmatic one. Most of us are. We work from assumptions that events and so forth are explained by natural causes. Otherwise, we would be constantly taken in by anyone's claims to the supernatural.

When I hear a story of someone rising from the dead, I think that is a bit unusual. It sounds made up to me. It would sound made up to you as well and it does, unless it is the story of Jesus rising from the dead. That one many Christians take on faith as being true. Other miraculous stories from other religious traditions, not so much.

As I understand the Christian claim that some folks on this thread call orthodox, it isn't miracles in general that are being defended, but this particular one (and others more or less associated with Christianity).

The beef with me isn't about the Enlightenment and whether or not it allows for the supernatural, it is about whether some certain supernatural events occurred or not. Their occurrence is a matter of faith.

The issue with me is whether or not I have faith in these supernatural events occurring.

I don't.

Further, my "heretical" strand of Christianity doesn't require these supernatural events to have happened. I read them as stories (perhaps thought to be true at the time, perhaps not, hard to know) but stories that are interesting.

Now I still claim that I have faith in the Resurrection. But I don't mean it in the way many folks on this thread want me to mean it. It is not (for me) belief/faith/hope/trust in a miracle--a supernatural event--Jesus literally coming back to life, as the first fruits of the general resurrection of the saints in the new creation.

Again, for folks who believe that, great. Go for it.

For me, faith in the resurrection has to do with more mundane, life in the present, kinds of things. I argue that that is not such a bad philosophy.

Some don't like my view. What really bugs them is that I have this view while I am a Christian minister. I should give up the title Christian (and certainly minister) if I don't believe in the resurrection the way I am "supposed" to believe it. They think I am not a Christian.

I have no argument, except here I am anyway. And...I am not alone. Christianity always changes, reforms, splits, combines, finds new allies, makes new enemies and on and on we go...
Pretty good, huh?

Since I think it is time to stir the nest, here is another thing I don't believe.

I don't believe that the
911 Commission Report came anywhere close to telling the truth of what happened and who was responsible for the earth-changing events that occurred nine years ago this week.

Stay tuned, more on that to come!


  1. John,

    Thanks for having the courage to share your personal beliefs. Thank you for having the strength to stand up for what you believe and thank you for following through and living by your steadfast convictions. For those of us who struggle, question, have doubt, wonder, ponder, and continue to search for peace and truth within ourselves and our fellow man, we sincerely thank you for being you.

    Hang in there, John. You are doing good and courageous work.

  2. Finally googled naturalist. It already is a philosophy. It also is used to describe a group of atheists who have replaced worship with time in the woods looking at and studying nature. And finally some misuse the word or the word has three meanings. Some use the word naturism (nudism) Others call themselves naturalists.

    Go figure. And for all you curious people out there, no I didn't actually read or look at the pictures in any of the sites. If you want to study naturalist philosophy google it yourself.

    I find the time in the woods people the most interesting. Probably better than most sermons. Except mine, of course. :)

  3. John!