Believers: What part of your dogma do you not accept?

Or maybe it’s not that you don’t accept it, but you’re agnostic about it and choose not to dwell on it. Even though fellow congregants don’t share this view and would probably be shocked if they learned how you truly felt.

Up till my early 20s, I considered myself a Christian (though I was always of the “doubting” variety). But even though I could accept the central tenets of the faith, I always rejected the idea of hell. Not just the fire-and-brimstone-for-all-eternity hell, but even the “poof begone” kind, where “bad” souls simply cease to exist. In my mind, hell just didn’t jibe with the concept of loving, caring, forgiving god. A scary god impossible to sincerely worship because the fear would counteract any love, yeah. But not the god that we are urged to beseech when in need and commanded to love before anything else.

As I think about it, I think my rejection of hell led to my rejection of everything. Because without hell, there is nothing to be “saved” from. Which means Jesus was just a good role model–he needn’t have risen from the dead or have been divine. Which means there isn’t anything I need to “believe” to be a good person…I can just be a good person. Because of my experience with questioning, I understand why some people don’t like to think too hard when it comes to their religious beliefs.

Just curious about the things people of faith have little to no faith in, despite the teachings they have been taught, and I would like to know what they do to keep their belief system from falling apart.

I was a Catholic for 30 years and could never accept the idea of God having to sacrifice Jesus/himself. It just never made any sense to me, so I didn’t think about it. The older I got, the less sense Jesus made as an entity, so while I was nominally Catholic, I was really not Christian. I believed in God and God was pretty much the Christian God, but not part of a triune godhead. Again, I avoided thinking about this much. Hell wasn’t a big part of the Catholicism I grew up in, so I never really had to come to any decision about that!

From a Christian perspective, I find it difficult to accept pretty much any dogma. Consider the fact that the first canonized gospels weren’t written until well after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Also consider that even those are generally regarded as having been heavily redacted. Finally consider that the Christian canon is really the product of Constantine, a pagan emperor and wasn’t created until 331AD.

Put all of that together, and it’s hard to take much of anything in the New Testament literally.

There’s not much dogma to neopaganism, but there is arguably some. Perhaps not stuff we’re told we must believe, but things that are talked about/believed so nearly to universally that you get some shock and disapproval if you speak against it.

For me, one area of departure is with the so-called Rule of Three or the Three-Fold Law. It’s this idea which seems to have started within Wicca but has spread beyond that. Basically it’s the “what you put out, you get back times three,” thing. Y’all remember The Craft, right? Anyhow, I’m prepared to believe that sometimes when you do bad things you draw bad things to you, and sometimes when you do good, productive or nice things you get good, productive or nice things in return, but I don’t think it is universal law. There are too many rich, happy, fertile assholes in the world for me to believe it. Sometimes the bad guys do win. Even more, I find it impossible to put a number on, and think that the insistence on “three” is based far more in emotion and superstition than in observation of the world.

No longer believe, but when I was a kid…

The whole Jesus having to die stuff made no sense, and makes no sense. People that pretend they “understand” this or the trinity zen koan type stuff are deluding themselves.

I do not get the people who are just so amazed by this “sacrifice”. That he loved me so much.

I really like the idea of some sort of eternal bliss, but the traditional idea of heaven with Jesus doesn’t sound that much fun. Would I like to meet him - of course I would. But we share nothing in common. After a couple weeks - I’d be back to my regular group of friends.

The whole free will thing makes no sense. Oh yes - god knows everything, but you have free will - see above for people that have deluded themselves.

Mostly I was raised catholic, but was exposed and hung around with some born agains. Once I realized none could debate any issues with reverting to - god works in mysterious ways - I realized there was no hope. If I don’t believe - it is gods fault - not mine.

I didn’t read the bible until I got to high school - once I got to the whole Jewish law stuff - and the having to marry your rapist - wasn’t much point in going further. I did anyway - it is boring. I don’t get the people that say it has good lessons for how to live your life. Every time I find stuff with cotton and linen - I take secret pleasure in knowing I can wear this and be bitchin’ bad in the eyes of the lord.

Yeah - “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. All the rest is superfluous poppycock.

Sorry, but this claim simply fails. The redactions in the first and early second centuries are real enough, but by the end of the second century, there is already evidence, (the Muratorion Canon), of the canon the church uses being assembled in pretty much its current form.
The Western Church did not set out formal declarations of the canon until several decades after Constantine, but the inclusion and exclusion of nearly all the books was pretty well set before the third century. (The Eastern church did not spend that much time making formal lists and includes a couple of extra books in their Old Testament.) Constantine’s beliefs, (he was eventually baptized, although as an Arian), would not have much bearing on the selection, given that he was only commissioning people in the church to use their own judgment.

Catholic. And probably not a very good one.

Although I’m pro-life, I don’t think birth control is a sin.

I have a problem with missing mass as a mortal sin. “Ah, I’m in hell. So, what you in here for? Murder, of course. And you? Ah, rape. What am I in here for? I missed a few Sundays as well as other holy days of obligation.”

That contradicts pretty much every documentary I’ve every seen. They all say that there were numerous alternative “scriptures” in circulation with the so-called Nah Hamadi “gnostic heresy” scriptures being a prime example.

Ah, ignore the original question and trot out all the tired old anti Christian arguments.

One thing that bothers me and many other Christians is good people that are nonbelievers going to Hell. Maybe Gandhi didn’t earn the right to go to Heaven, but I cringe at the thought of him burning in Hell for eternity. How can a just and merciful God create the damned?

When I was a Presbyterian, I struggled with the concept of baptism. If we are saved by faith, how is it that somebody else’s work is essential to our salvation?

Now that I am part of the Friends, I have rethought some things, including communion. Did Jesus really mean to set up a ritual with bread and wine? Or is the Friends’ concept of sharing a meal together correct? I am still working at sorting that one out. How about ‘‘All can be saved.’’? Paul’s letters clearly specify the elect and damned. My feeling is more we have no way of identifying who is or can be saved and who isn’t. We must witness to all.

Our governing board was going through the membership role. We dropped the deceased, those of unknown address, and those who have had no contact with the church in years except the response to our letter asking to drop them. Some responded they still wished to maintain membership although totally inactive. I said keep them. Somebody, longer a Friend, pointed out the Friends’ Faith and Practice forbids keeping them. Note, we are not dropping even the comatose in the nursing home that I take my dog to visit every Friday and leave a bulletin.

I doubt that anybody familiar with their church’s doctrine accepts it 100%.

Oh, man, I know exactly what you mean. For example, I don’t like Thai food,* and so I go around trying to tell people who say things like “I just love Pad See Ew,” that no, in fact they don’t, and they’re just telling themselves that so they can feel cosmopolitan.

How can people possibly come to different conclusions than the ones I reach? If I know everything—and I do—then when people deviate from my views, they’re plainly just in error.

  • Shamelessly cribbed from Tina Fey’s response to Chris Hitchens’s claim about the non-existence of funny women.

I’m Catholic, although after reading this post some more strident adherents may tell me I’m really not…

Masturbation is BAD - nonsense, it’s perfectly normal as long as it’s not interfering with a healthy relationship.

Homosexuality is BAD – again nonsense, just because you find it icky doesn’t make it sinful.

Birth control is BAD – yeah right, it’s a far better thing to either have lots of children you can’t care for, or if you realize you shouldn’t have kids then you should forgo normal healthy relations with your partner. Puritanical bullshit.

We should not punish abusive priests but need to forgive and bring them back to the fold so they may receive the grace of Godactually said in a sermon - at which point I promptly gathered up my kids and we walked out of the mass (that did NOT go over well with the priest BTW).

Argh! I’d just typed out a response and a #$%^& popup for a Feud showed up, I closed it, and it blew away my response. Trying again:

I’m not a believer anymore but I was raised Christian. There were a lot of things I couldn’t get my mind around, even when I was a kid, including:

  • If you don’t believe the right way, if you’re gay, if you make the wrong choices, you’re going to Hell. I couldn’t deal with so many perfectly nice people forced to burn in hell for all eternity for things that were essentially no fault of their own. Also, I was told that people who did the most heinous things ever could get into heaven if they asked God for forgiveness. So lemme get this straight: a mass murderer has the chance to get into heaven, but a gay guy who doesn’t repent his “evil ways” but otherwise lives an exemplary life can’t. Yeah, no.

  • Birth control being a no-no. It always seemed to me like a good way to control women by punishing them for having sex (or keeping them pregnant)

  • Homosexuality being a no-no. If God didn’t want there to be gays, why did he create them that way? I thought it was incredibly cruel to create someone with certain desires (that harmed no one) but then condemned them for acting on them.

  • Women being subservient (for example, it’s defined that men are the head of the household by default, and make the decisions for the family). Um, no. Just because you were born with a penis doesn’t make you by definition the better decision maker.

I thought (and still do) that a lot of the Bible’s teachings might have worked well back in the days when people wandered around the desert, the infant mortality rate was high, and there was no way for a man to tell for sure whether a kid was his, but in modern society I think the church needs to adapt (which some of them are doing, I agree) or risk becoming irrelevant.

This was a problem I had with my Catholic upbringing. I didn’t go to Mass, therefore I’m going straight to hell when I die.

Doesn’t sound very fair to me!

Oh, I forgot one when the hamsters ate my post: Original Sin. So I’m supposed to be born a sinner because of something somebody did thousands of years ago? I don’t think so. If I’m going to be a sinner, it’s going to be because of what I did, not because somebody else screwed up.

I’m no longer a believer, but I can’t make sense of the concept of the atonement.

Jesus died to atone for my sins. So what would be the point of repentance if I sin? Aren’t I already forgiven, assuming I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior?

I look at it this way: To my dog and my cat, I am their god. All their carnal pleasures come from me. Food, shelter, scritchin’, everything. Their furry little lives depend on me. So let’s say one day the dog pees on the floor. I’m just a mere flawed mortal and even I have the capacity to forgive my dog without having to take the cat out back and shoot it in the head to atone for the dog’s sin. So why can’t this christian god do the same? Isn’t that diety supposed to be omniscient and omnipowerful, alpha and omega, the beginning and the end? But it can’t forgive me for my sins unless it sends down its next of kin to have him tortured to death? Bwuh? So if I’m going to have to repent of my sins anyway, then what was the point of whacking Jesus?

I’ve invited many Christians to explain this to me and although some have been able to sort of make a case, it still doesn’t really make any logical sense. Strip that out of Christian dogma and you don’t have a whole lot left, really.

So I gave up Christianity for Lent. :wink: [/irony]

I’m a member of the Episcopal Church USA. My church’s statement of faith is Apostles Creed; the Nicene Creed is also acceptable. I accept all of both creeds. Some fellow congregants might be shocked by that; I really don’t know.

I also have a hard time accepting the traditional concept of hell. The thought of being roasted in a fire infinitely for limited finite actions on earth is just extremely unfair. Why did it have to be fire? I can understand that God can not allow sinners into the holy realm of heaven, but why not just them live as spirits wandering the earth forever apart from God?

The issue became even more difficult for me when I read some of Bill Weise book about his visit to hell. He describe great walls crawling with snakes and bugs. Reptilian demons that would rip his flesh apart, and it would grow right back because he couldn’t die. It’s like God took a page from every fear of man and combined it into one big chamber of horror.

I’ve reconciled my doubts by adopting Christian Annihilationism. This just makes more sense to me, and there are scriptures that suggest God will simply erase the non-believers from existence.

Whether it’s real or not, the alternative to eternal life is not something I would trade even for all the pleasures of this physical realm.

I pretty much ignore anything other than “love the lord your god” and “love your neighbor as yourself” and to be totally honest I usually ignore those two as well but those are the bits I believe in.

However, the fact that the current canon was already recognized by some portion of the church before the end of the second century indicates that the canon was not “created” in the fourth century. The point is not that there were no competing scriptures, (Marcion’s canon clearly preceded the one currently accepted), but that the various claims that it was “created” at Nicaea or at the Council of Rome or by Constantine are simply not true. There is plenty of mythology surrounding, (and within), the current canon and there are many reasons why one may doubt the accuracy of any specific book or pericope, but a fourth century origin is not among them.

But aren’t you glossing over the fact that there were scores of other “works” that various bishoprics considered “inspired?” The fact that Constantine made the selection from a mass of literature at least an order of magnitude greater than what is in the canon is very significant, is it not?