Rob & all
When I read the initial topic I copied something to clipboard and decided to read through the rest of the thread. I got most of the way through but to be entirely honest, I've lost interest and am now curious as to what's on my clipboard. So I'm going to quote it and see if I'm still inspired to say something to it:
Those evil ones are actually working for the other side...trying to drive you away and get you to hate God. And from what I hear and read everywhere...they are making a lot of progress. I just hope that someday you'll get to experience God's love the way I do.
I just wanted to say that when I 'sorted' out where I was at with religion/God/spirituality... I came to recognize that I was "categorically failed by what I believed God was." and actually not failed by what I am comfortable with calling, "God".
Andy mentions in his reply that he has seen people apply Christianity in the right ways and he's seen them apply in the wrong ways.
For me the times that I've seen "Christianity applied in the right ways" have been so few and far between that I just don't care
to call myself a 'Christian' anymore.
Similarly as a web developer, I have to make sure the code I write looks good in all the popular browsers. I check it in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Other browsers simply don't have enough market share for me to care
about using those browsers... It's simply not worth my time or effort to bother with it.
Throughout my life, the market share of Christians actually applying Christianity "in the right way" has dropped way below acceptable levels to actually still think of faith as being a good thing for me
I was never directly hurt by anyone "in the name of the Lord". However, I can look back and see significant trauma brought on by people misusing the teachings of the Bible to instill terrible fear and condemnation in me with the hopes that the outcome would be, likely, better behaviour and stronger conviction when it comes to Sin and maintaining faith.
I don't believe the ** M A N Y **
people who taught me about fear were 'evil doers' by any stretch of the imagination. Rob, you say that they were "working for the other side...trying to drive you away and get you to hate God."
but I'm afraid I disagree. I feel they were actually trying to get me to follow God, inadvertently employing fear as a reason for me to continue following God until I was old enough to figure out better reasons for myself.
I'm old enough now to think for myself and have evaluated much of what I was taught. Again, I believe those teachers had a true passion for God and thought they were teaching me the right way. In my case, it truly backfired and for that, I'm finished with organized religion for a very VERY long time.
On the upside I am openly a very spiritual person and I am experiencing a closeness to "God" that I've never had before. Evicting/renouncing religion from my life has been one of the greatest steps I think I've ever taken for myself.
In closing, I do want to note that I don't judge those whom are letting the whole 'Christian' thing float their boat. Others have different experiences with it that are genuine and nourishing. I believe that there is potential
for a lot of good to come from such things but like I said, that has been entirely lost on me.