About this Blog

This blog is for those attracted to Jesus but who question the traditional baggage often attached to his message, so it has two large areas of focus.

The first area of focus is learning who Jesus is, what he says about the Father, and how we should relate to the Father, to ourselves, and to others. The second focus is examining major baggage issues that often detract from following Jesus freely.

I grew up a fundamentalist and later became an evangelical. As I examined my beliefs, I discarded a lot of baggage that was added to the good news of Jesus, and I hope to help and support others who are on the same journey.

The Intended Audience for this Blog

If you are concerned about unreasonable baggage (rules and beliefs) often associated with Jesus, then this blog is for you. It is a message of Jesus without baggage.

1. First and foremost, this blog is meant as a support for those questioning beliefs they have been taught as true, or even essential. This can be an extremely frightening process, so this blog is a safe place for interaction, questions, and support.

Those escaping religious baggage sometimes abandon Jesus along with it and feel the loss. We are here to say that baggage is not part of Jesus’ message to us; you can certainly follow Jesus without it.

I don’t claim to be an ‘authority’, and I certainly don’t want to become an authority figure to replace authority figures people are escaping. I believe everyone should decide issues for themselves, but I am pleased if this blog provides information and help on the journey. The regular readers and commenters also give a great deal of support.

2. The second intended audience are those already on a spiritual journey from religious baggage and would like confirmation or conversation from friendly co-travelers. Readers here interact freely with me and with other readers. It is nice to be part of a community of like-minded persons, especially when you might not have that in your local area.

3. Finally, this blog is for those interested in Jesus but not the traditional baggage often associated with him, whether or not they identify as followers of Jesus. It is also for those who simply enjoy discussion and interaction on these important topics.

Objectives

Let me make a clear statement. Many conservative believers and many atheist will disagree strongly with my views, but my purpose is not to persuade anyone to accept my perspectives on Jesus, the Father, or the Bible.

My objectives are:

  • To offer for your consideration a foundation for following Jesus without baggage
  • To offer support and conversation for those interested in Jesus without baggage or in the concepts involved

I am happy if my understanding of Jesus without baggage makes sense to you and is helpful; but it does not bother me in the least if you don’t agree with my understanding. I respect your right to your beliefs even if you disagree with everything I think.

The Meaning of Jesus without Baggage

Since the death of Jesus’ earliest followers, certain views have become accepted as ‘truth’ and those who disagree with these ‘truths’ are often excluded from the Church and are no longer considered part of God’s family. This is baggage.

I was raised a fundamentalist, which is an extreme form of evangelicalism, and I fully embraced Jesus at a very early age and accepted a lot of religious baggage along with that choice. Over time, I discovered that much of the baggage I accepted was not legitimate. I first abandoned legalism–the keeping of religious rules, but I also dealt with other baggage that came as part of my religious tradition.

However, I did not abandon Jesus. I still find the person of Jesus, as described by his earliest followers, intensely compelling. He resolves my alienation from the Father, myself, and other people, and he provides eternal life in his death and resurrection. Jesus is the most important thing in my life.

He included me in his invitation

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I accept his invitation, and the invitation comes without baggage.

Major Baggage Issues

Most issues on which followers of Jesus disagree are not alarming or destructive, but some are very harmful. The elements of harmful baggage I see among Christians today:

  1. The belief that the Father is an angry, capricious, vindictive God
  2. The concept of eternal punishment and torture in hell
  3. An insistence that the Bible is somehow inerrant in every word
  4. An over-emphasis on rules and doctrinal requirements
  5. Commitment to a literal approach to the creation stories in Genesis
  6. Disapproval and rejection of gay people

These views are not only misguided, but they create burdens instead of freedom and are harmful to our relationships to the Father, ourselves, and other people. We will discuss these and other issues, and their ramifications here.

To all the groups mentioned above–and more, I invite you to explore Jesus without baggage.

~Tim Chastain

98 Responses to About this Blog

  1. Hey Tim. Great post. I also have left my baggage behind, and it has freed me to truly worship from my soul. Please include a RSS feed on your site so I can follow your blog. Blessings.

    • Hi Linda, I am glad you left your baggage behind! I enjoyed reading your blog. Also, I just want you to know that the RSS subscription button is in the column to the right.

      Have a great day! ~Tim

  2. JW says:

    Came across your blog via another blog. Matter o fact I believe you responded to a comment of mine but I haven’t responded back simply because I am doing my own research on the topic. I too am pushing away baggage and with your bullet points the only one I see that I don’t agree is baggage is the issue of hell.
    The end times mythology is creative lingo. I have no opinion on that matter except to tell those who are in hysteria about it to balance themselves otherwise they will turn into nutcases.

    • Hi JW! Thanks for stopping by! I have notieced you in other blogs and read some of your comments. I wondered whether you were perhaps a Jehovah’s Witness, but if you DISagree with my views on hell I suppose you are not.

      I hope you look around the blog a bit and I welcome you to comment wherever you feel like it. I will be sure to interact with your comments. Have a great day!

  3. Nikko says:

    Hi. I’m not Christian, I don’t believe in the bible but I stubbled across ur blog via another. What exactly do u believe in. Are u not associated with what u could call mainstream Christianity. I’m a curious person and wish to understand ur belief I have my own which I’m happy to share if ur interested. Thx. Nikko

  4. Hi Nikko,

    I am not much for creeds, but people ask me this question from time to time since it is expected beliefs that I don’t have that sometimes catches people’s attention. So, here are some things I believe:

    1. I believe Jesus is unique, that he conquered death in his resurrection, that his resurrection assures our eventual resurrection, and that all of us can look ahead to a time of peace, wholeness, and eternal life.

    2. Because Jesus tells so much about the Father, I believe the Father loves us and that our good is his desire for all of us.

    3. Since Jesus tells us so, I believe behavior is important. However, behavior is not measured by static rules but by our genuine love and concern for ourselves and others.

    Yes, I am associated with mainstream Christianity; I do not promote something other than the Jesus of the Bible as described by his earliest followers. I consider myself and evangelical believer, though some evangelicals might disagree with that.

    Thanks again for your question. I hope this helps and I am interested in your beliefs if you wish to share. I am also happy to clarify further any questions you have about my beliefs. ~Tim

    • nikkogilbert says:

      Hi Tim, thx for replying. From what I have read, you seem to accept people for what they are. One thing that disturbed me about Christian view was the angry and hateful god and all the threats about hell. It seems u disagree with that, which is good.
      My belief is pagan. I am not sure if ur aware but there are a lot of different pagan belief systems. Some are atheist and some are theist views. I guess u could say I am atheist as I don’t believe in a god being per say. Although I do view the sun as a god (masculine) symbol and Mother Earth As a goddess (feminine) symbol. Basically i have a nature based belief, I follow the seasons etc etc. i treat everyone as equal no matter there beliefs, sex, race or sexual orientation. My view is as long as ur not hurting anyone then believe what u want.

      • Hi Nikko,

        I did a lot of reading on paganism in the 1970s. At that time I was most familiar with Gardnerian Wicca, Druidism, Anton LaVey’s Satanism, and Aleister Crowley. However, I have not kept up with it much since then, though I am aware of some developments. What system do you follow or associate with?

        It appears that you have just started a new blog; good for you! What topics do you plan to address there? I might be interested in reading some of it when you have more content.

        You are right about the Christian view of an angry god and hell, but that does not represent all Christians, and more Christians are rejecting those views all the time. I agree that as long as you are not hurting someone you can believe what you want, but I also contend that a proper understanding of Jesus (without baggage) is different than any other belief. But you know that already since you have read a number of my blog posts.

        I hope you continue visting and commenting here, and be sure to let me know when you have written something on your new blog. Have a great day! ~Tim

        • nikkogilbert says:

          G’day tim, my belief system is unique, as I don’t follow any particular tradition. I just follow what nature does. I live in the tropics so many of the traditional sabbats do not apply here. So I do full moon rituals, solstice, and equinox ones but other then those, I just perform other cerimonies when the need arises. Eg, blessing a new animal I the household to protect him or her.

          Yes even though I don’t believe in Christianity, it is good to see more are becoming like urself. We need less hate in this world. To much hate and pain is caused due to what I call religious control. The kinda thing that involves threatening of hell etc.

          My blog, I’m not sure what ill write about as yet. Perhaps my opinions on certain topics. Plus I’m very much in to science so I may give my opinion on aspects there. Just see where my inspiration takes me. I just need to find time to sit down and right.

        • nikkogilbert says:

          I will say I am not a fan of mr Crowley, he was a disturbed man, not the best example of pagan faith hahaha. I cannot say I agree with sex Magick and orgies. I also did some reading up on satanism and it was nothing like I expected it to be. It’s an actual peaceful belief. Very interesting. Pop culture represents it as evil and menacing but in factors quite the opposite. I would assume as with all religions ur have the good and bad side to it.

          • You are so right Nikko: “We need less hate in this world!” Religious difference are important, but we don’t have to attack each other over them. It’s not a war…

            I am no Crowley fan eaither and you said it–he was a disturbed man. I agree that LaVey’s satanism was not what most people think; it was weird but not as scary as one would expect. It was more show than substance, I think.

            I enjoy our interaction. Come back and visit! ~Tim

  5. Marc says:

    Tim, I think you are on the right track. The Platonic and Gnostic influence that gave traction to the concept of a natural immortality, and hence the concept of eternal torment is really bad baggage. The corruption of Holy Orders in the Church by the State coercing bishops and presbyters created a clericalism separating those called to Holy Orders into a priesthood somehow more worthy that the priesthood of the laity, and is bad baggage. Making an idol out of the Holy Scriptures is very bad baggage that causes ever increasing sectarianism. Retaining beliefs that are refuted by the weight of revelation that includes sound science is also bad baggage. If one really wants to understand the truth, one has to be prepared to repent (change your mind) and turn away from those concepts that are not true, leaving the bad baggage behind. This is a painful process, yet it can bring great blessings if one remains humble and willing to be led by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

    • Wow Marc! I agree with all your definitions of baggage: natural immortality, hell, priesthood vs. laity, Bilbliolatry, and anti-science. And you are right, it is a painful process to work through the baggage, but it is well worth it! Thanks!

      We think a lot of the same things. If you are so inclined, feel free to tell others about the blog.

  6. Marc says:

    Thanks for your response Tim. In an effort to understand more fully the revelations that were available, the early Christians developed an apophatic approach that eliminated what was not true (the baggage). They relied on a conciliar consensus guided by the Holy Spirt to develop understanding and dogma about what is true. Without some reliable authority providing criteria for discerning what is true, aren’t we in great danger of throwing out the baby (truth) with the bath water (baggage)?

  7. Man! You sent me to school on this one, Marc! I had to learn what ‘apophatic’ means. And I like the term. I think my concepts of God fit quite well within the definition of apophatic, but it seems you apply it more broadly than just to ideas about god. I will have to study this more when I have time.

    Regarding reliable authority, I am not sure our views are the same. I read as widely as I can and I respect a lot of the work that has been done. I share much of what I believe in common with other believers both past and present, but I cannot appeal to authority. I follow Jesus and would accept his ‘authority’ if I knew his position on things, but I do not. The best I can do is draw careful conclusions from the memories of his earliest followers as presented in the Gospels.

    What reliable authority do you accept and what truths do you think we might have thrown out with the bath water?

  8. Marc says:

    You ask some very important questions Tim. You are correct in accepting the authority of Jesus as the criteria of Truth. I believe there is a great weight of evidence to indicate that this authority, Holy Tradition, has been preserved in the Church through conciliar Church governance. No one individual can decide these matters, only the collective leadership of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit. This has been normative since the first Council of Jerusalem held in c. AD 49 to decide whether one had to become a Jew before becoming a Christian. The Great Schism of 1054 happen because the bishop of Rome rejected conciliar governance because he thought he was above it. The reformers were mostly inclined to follow the papal model rather than embrace the conciliar governance of the early Church. This is why we have thousands of denominations and sects today. I believe the Ecumenical Councils of the first eight Centuries speak with the authority of Jesus, so the dogma of the Holy Trinity is settled.

    • The Church Councils were important and I have respect for them, but it seems that most of their work had to do with the nature of Jesus and his relationship to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. They did not do much detailed work on other issues. In addition, they were influenced by the currents of the times that included philosophy and politics, so I do not see how that leads to ‘tradition’ being authoritative for our time.

      I do not consider the councils authoritative; they were men trying to make sense of things that were unclear. One negative aspect was the lack of consensus. The majority was not satisfied to go on record with an agreement; they went further to declare the minority heretics and drove them from the church.

      As I work through my beliefs, I consider tradition, but I cannot subject myself to tradition. I don’t think I mentioned the trinity, but I will say that I disagree with Rome’s move to insert filioque into the creed. I enjoy this excellent discussion. Thanks!

  9. Marc says:

    The traditions of men are often baggage as you have pointed out Tim. However Holy Tradition is the continuing presense of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and the Church is the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Timothy 3;15). Even though the leadership of the Church has often included scoundrels as well as saints, by maintaining collective conciliar governance the errors and tyranny of an individual leader have been avoided.

    • You said, “Holy Tradition is the continuing presense of the Holy Spirit in the Church.” How do you support this? It does not bother me for people to think this, but it does not seem persuasive as an argument; it is an appeal to authority without substantiation as far as I can see.

  10. Marc says:

    I support this Tim because in Matthew 16:13-20 our Lord Jesus Christ explains to His Disciples that they will be given authority to build and lead His Church. This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Disciples became the Apostles as the Holy Spirit empowered them to lead and build the Church established on that very day. This Apostolic authority has been preserved in the Church by the same Holy Spirit that established it. It is often referred to as Holy Apostolic Tradition.

    • I understand and I respoect your belief about this. No matter how similarly two people think, there is always something they think differently

      • Marc says:

        I am ok with this Tim. I respect your love for our Lord Jesus Christ, and firmly believe that we will enjoy communion with Him and the saints in the Heavenly Church either when we repose, or when the Lord returns. I think the focus of your blog regarding the baggage that so many are saddled with is a very sound endevour. May God bless you and guide you as you grow in grace and knowledge.

  11. Adeline says:

    Hi Tim,

    Stumbled upon this by accident, and I haven’t read the blog extensively, but what you said about hell intrigues me. I tried to find what you say about it and not quite sure where you stand on that. So if there’s no hell, why bother with heaven?

    Personally my belief is that God is good, and heaven is being with Him and all that is good. I can think of at least one passage where Jesus said He’s preparing a place for his disciples in His Father’s house.
    Whereas hell is being apart from God, and hence being apart from all that is good.

    But you seem to say there is no hell, full stop?

    The other question is, do you believe Jesus is God, or just a very good man?
    Thanks ^^

    • Hi Adeline, I am glad you found my blog and looked around!

      I think Jesus is much more than just a good person; I believe he is the son of God. I agree with you that heaven is being with God and all that is good, but there are some perhaps that do not feel that being with God is good, so they will not be forced. Therefore, something else happens to them. I think it will most likely be that they just cease to exist, but I do not believe that the Father will punish them for choosing to reject his offer of eternal life.

      I hope you come back and explore some more. Feel free to make additional observations or ask more questions!

      • Andrew says:

        I believe this as well….that you can make a choice to be with god or not now and then for eternity, and if you choose neither then you just ease to exist. I also believe that evil is real and some forgo their choice( Hitler comes to mind) and that those people just cease to exist, limiting the forces of the enemy to the unfortunate living and those who tried to tempt Jesus( and still try to tempt the rest of us) .

      • Adeline says:

        Hi sorry for taking so long to reply again.

        How do you explain what Jesus Himself said about judgement? I thought He is quite clear that there will be judgement for those who choose not to believe. There were those times He said the Judean cities that refused Him will have it worst in judgement compared to Sodom and Gomorrah (eg. Matthew 10:14-16).

        For individuals, some examples from Matthew 18 (ESVUK from biblegateway.com):
        – implied in verse 6 about those who cause others to stumble
        “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
        – about resisting temptations a few verses later in verse 8b
        “It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.”

        Thanks

    • amelia says:

      I look forward to your response to Adeline.Tim, Please tell us WHO you think Jesus really is, Why He came and what Heaven is.

      • Amelia, I believe the following:

        1. Jesus has a unique relationship to the Father as the son of God, and I believe Jesus existed before he became human.

        2. Jesus came to tell us about the good news of the Father’s love for us and of eternal life, which eliminates the alienation we feel from God. He also frees us from a life of keeping religious rules to one of loving the Father, ourselves, and others.

        3. Heaven, or the kingdom of God, is the community of the Father. This community has both a present and future expression. We will live in eternal happiness with the Father.

        Let me know if you want other clarifications.

  12. BAPTISM AN OUTWARD SIGN OF AN INWARD GRACE?

    The proponents of salvation by faith alone state that water baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace. Faith, confession, and repentance precede water baptism. Water baptism is the point of forgiveness of sins.

    Water baptism is not an empty symbolic rite demonstrating what happen the very moment men believe. WATER BAPTISM IS THE POINT OF FORGIVENESS FROM SIN. WATER BAPTISM IS A BAPTISM INTO CHRIST. WATER BAPTISM IS WHEN MEN ARE CLOTHED WITH CHRIST. WATER BAPTISM IS WHEN MEN ARE RAISED TO WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. WATER BAPTISM IS WHEN OUR TRANSGRESSIONS ARE FORGIVEN. WATER BAPTISM IS WHEN WE ARE FREED FROM THE CHAINS OF SIN. WATER BAPTISM IS WHEN WE ARE SYMBOLICALLY CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST AND PROMISED RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.

    YES, WATER BAPTISM IS AN OUTWARD SIGN OF AN INWARD GRACE! THAT GRACE OCCURS DURING BAPTISM NOT PRIOR TO IT. YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Steve, Thanks for sharing your perspective. It sounds consistent with non-instrumental Church of Christ teaching or of some related restorationist group. You seem to imply that I do not believe in the salvific character of water baptism, and you would be correct. In fact I believe that we are all covered by the Father’s gift of eternal life unless we choose to reject the Father’s gift.

  13. Jeff Craft says:

    Interesting concept – Jesus without baggage. Looks a lot like Jesus without Bible. Mind you, I’m not sure if there’s anything wrong with that . Reading the Bible is how I became an atheist. Is this just you choosing the positive aspects and leaving out the negative (the angry capricious God, for example, is Biblical)?

  14. lotharson says:

    Hello Tim this sounds very promising.

    As you have probably already read, I consider myself a progressive Christian

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/on-the-definition-and-meaningfulness-of-progressive-christianity/

    that is neither as a liberal nor as a conservative.

    I think that the Bible is not, in principle, MORE INSPIRED than other religious texts.
    But I have no real problem with Jesus divinity and the supernatural.

    As I exlain here:

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/the-central-message-of-jesus-die-zentrale-botschaft-von-jesus-unten/

    I believe that love stands at the very center of Christ’s ministry on earth. He is to my mind the best candidate as an embodiement of God among us.

    On my blog I strive for defending an intellectually honest and morally and rationally acceptable form of progressive Christianity against many critiques.

    Lovely greetings in Christ.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  15. Theodore A Jones says:

    “My (our) sins have been bound into a yoke; by his hands they were woven together. They have come upon my neck. La. 1:14

    “Take my (that) yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is is easy and my burden is light.” Mt. 11:29 & 30

    When Jesus Christ was murdered by crucifying him all infractions of the written code of law were violated. Then upon his ascension back to his Father all of the infractions of the written code of law evidenced by his mared body were consolidated into a single sin by making a change of the law, Heb. 7:12. The yoke that is referenced in La. 1:14, and Mt. 11:29 & 30 is actually a law but unlike the written code of law this law is easy to obey. However, unlike infractions of the written code which are forgivable sins; disobeying this law is not forgivable and only it carries the penalty of eternal death. So heed the warning do not disobey this law.

    “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13 The Way of obeying this law is simple and easy as the Lord says. Confess with your mouth directly to God that you are truly sorry Jesus’ life was lost when he was murdered by crucifying him and be baptized into that confession for the forgiveness of your past sins. For the temple’s veil was torn from top to bottom by God allowing each individual the grace to approach to God make this confession of faith in regard to the sin of Jesus’ crucifixion. Which is why he said “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” and “When he comes he will convict the word of guilt in regard to sin. The Acts 2:38 command is the two edged word that is the sword of God’s spirit. On its gracious side it is a command, but on its punitive side it is the unforgivable law. Don’t put God to the test by disobeying this law.

    ps. Tim C. post this on that upstart’s blog who erroneously thinks he is greater than God.

    • Hi Theodore, I read your comment twice, and I am not quite sure what you saying. It sounds as though you disagree with me, but I am not certain about what. In particular, I am not sure who you mean by that ‘upstart’s blog’. Is that me?

      I know not everyone will agree with me, and I am okay with that.

  16. Theodore A Jones says:

    1.The upstart’s blog is where you said you didn’t get time to know me.
    2. Since you admit that you do not understand what I’ve said in my post to you you can bet your sweet bippy that your perspective of salvation is a disagreement with the Scriptures.

    • I feel like I know you better already!

      • Theodore A Jones says:

        Perhaps. But his command is “Give to the one who asks you and the one who wants to borrow from you do not turn him away.” Send my post to that upstart, but the flip side is if you refuse to obey him you ain’t one of His. Understand? I’ll deal with your soteriological errors at a later time. They are the same ones the upstart has.

  17. Ashley says:

    Hi,
    Iv’e started a journey with interest in Jesus – having never been raised in a christian family. Just wondering if someone may be able to suggest a good book or two that aren’t too “heavy” to help my journey to finding faith

    • Hello Ashley,

      The first book I would recommend is Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. It is a very good introduction to Christian faith and is easy to read.

      If you can tell me what issues you are facing right now, perhaps I can recommend something to address your specific questions. You are also welcome to dialog with me privately at my email address at jesuswithoutbaggage@chastaincentral.com. I look forward to talking with you further!

    • gallbladder says:

      I tried your personal email address below but apparently none of my TEST messages went through a 550 access notice came up repeatedly it appears our servers are not compatable with that email address

  18. arkhaz says:

    You should read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispensation_(period) or study Theology at least before implying God in OT not being the same God from NT or denying inspiration of the whole. While many people follow what churches tell them or believe in the Bible but have never felt God’s presence it doesn’t mean God has changed, but it is our understanding which has been renewed, transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.

    • Arkhaz, thanks for the comment! I read the article you suggested and it has an excellent chart of the various ideas on dispensations.

      I was raised a dispensationalist, and we generally followed a 7-dispensation model. However, I did an intense study of dispensationalism in the early 1980s and concluded that the entire construct was misguided. I am no longer a dispensationalist.

      During that time I read extensively among dispensationalists, but the leading authors I studied were Walvoord, Ryrie, and Pentecost. I have not kept up with the development of dispensational thought in the last 10-15 years, and I would be happy to hear your additional comments on the subject. I don’t even know who the leading dispensational writers are today.

  19. esbee says:

    I just found your blog and find it very interesting. I really like the title, especially the without baggage part. Man is so good at adding all the extra junk.
    so here are some of my thoughts—
    Jesus left just 2 real commands “Love God, Love your neighbor.”

    And I heard a TV preacher say ” not everything in the bible is truth, but everything in the Bible is truthfully stated.” So many atheists claim all the rape, murder, etc in the Bible show a blood thirsty God they cannot follow or believe in, when in actuality, it is a historical record of the good, bad and ugly of God’s people the Jews in the times they lives and the culture and peoples around them. If someone is trying to push an agenda, such as a false religion, do you think they would tell all the bad stuff behind the scenes?

    and my own little concoction of what I feel God’s rules sum up to—any of God’s rules can be followed in any time period, any climate, any time of year, by anyone. for instance, the Gothard/Quiverful rule of no birth control, based on an OT scripture of a man’s quiver full of arrows representing a large family, would not be practical for a woman in Ethiopia wondering how to feed the few children she already has. So therefore, that rule is not a real rule or law of God to be followed by every Christian woman. But some would make it to be a MAJOR rule to follow and that God will only bless you if you follow it.

    I was friends with a very wise Christian lady who had been through much spiritual trial and Christian growth because her husband survived 12 bullets in a store robbery told me God does not make “cookie cutter Christians”, meaning each Christian has to follow the individual path God has laid out for them….It is a personal relationship and we do not always follow closely, sometimes not at all. The problem is that sometimes we think that what God wants in someone else’s life that He must want for us and then we mistakenly try to put those ways of living on ourselves as being the only way. And the results of following God’s will for other people can often have bad results.

    Isn’t it interesting how God does not repeat Himself? Here are a few examples of the many One-Time-Only Wonders….It started with one man and one woman, whom I suspect, neither had belly buttons. There was only one Abraham who by faith believed God’s promise to make him a nation (and he had only one son from Sarah), only one Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt and witnessed the one and only parting of the Red Sea, only one Noah who rode out the flood with all the animals on the one and only ark, just one David who using only one stone, brought down a giant. And one Mary who was visited by the one Holy Spirit to become mother of the one and only Jesus who proclaims that HE is the only One by whom salvation can be had. And God has made only one YOU and one ME…an incredible distinct personality found lost and wandering that He will paint and frame into one masterpiece! And that masterpiece will look like no other!

    • Hi Esbee! I am glad you found my blog to be interesting. I hope you continue to visit and that you comment whenever you like.

      I am sorry I have not responded before now, but I have been ill and incapacitated. However, I really like your comments. You are so correct about many statements in the Bible not being ‘rules’ for every person in every place and every time. Your quiverfull example was perfect.

      Thanks for your contribution and I hope to see you again on the blog.

  20. Michelle says:

    You have richly blessed me with a comment about the at-one-ment you made on another blog. I have the same perspective that you have stated on this page, only you have done so much more eloquently, and with less evidence of lingering bitterness, than I am able to do. Off to check out the rest of your blog. :-)

  21. dbrabble says:

    Great post. I am quite happy to have found your blog and will be reading it regularly!
    Like many who have already posted here, I started out as a fundamentalist, believing everything that I had been taught since a young age. It has only been in the last three years of my life
    that God has led me on a path to discard some of these doctrines.
    My life with Him is richer for it! God bless!

    • Welcome to the Jesus without Baggage, Dbrabble! I am glad you found us; many of us are from conservative backgrounds, as you have already noted.

      Feel free to enter the discussion anytime you wish.

  22. Greg Burke says:

    I think you are right on the mark brother. Good for you!

  23. Amy Haiken says:

    Tim, Patty told me about your blog, and I look forward to reading it. :)

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Amy,

      I am glad you are interested in my blog and would like to hear what you think about it!

  24. Leonard says:

    I’ve had issues with my faith now for several years. I was saved, as I believe when I was 17. I was told I “had to” marry a Christian woman. I didn’t marry till I was almost 26 to someone I met at Church. That was the biggest mistake I ever made! She was planning our divorce even after our kids were born. Anyway, my life was ruined shortly after and I’m nearly 60 and still paying for it even though she cheated during our marriage. Many times I have cried out to God and all I get is silence. No, I don’t have the faith I once had. I’m just tired of the silent treatment from a so called loving God and even less from so called people of faith.

    • Leonard, I am so sorry about your bad experience and your pain, and I know it has had long-time ramifications. I don’t know that I have ever heard form God; I am not sure God communicates that way.

      When I am in need, it is often in the silence that I am able to reflect on my situation and derive strength and direction. The biggest way I hear from God is through the voice of Jesus who tells us of God’s love for us. This doesn’t mean that all my problems go away, but knowing the love of the Father gives me strength and inspiration in the face of my problems.

      Another way I sense God is from other people, though it often is not from those who claim to be voices of God but those who live the kind of life of love, peace, and reconciliation that Jesus taught.

      Please let me know if I can be helpful in some way.

  25. claire says:

    wow i am so glad i have found this page . i turned my back on the church and bible a while back due to many of the things you have mentioned on here . I thought i was alone in my thinking, it is a comfort to know i am not alone .You have no idea how much this page has helped me thankyou x

    • Thanks Claire! It is my number one goal to be helpful to people who are dealing with religious issues. I hope you continue to visit here and find a supportive community of fellow travelers on your spiritual journey.

  26. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    #1
    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    #2
    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

    • Matthew, thanks for a very interesting and stirring comment!

      I agree that we cannot love others in the best way without loving the Father first, and the reason is that we cannot love ourselves properly until we grasp the Father’s love for us. Our love for the Father is a responsive love; he loves us unconditionally and see us as valuable people with whom he wishes reconciliation from the fear and alienation we have experienced because we mistakenly thought he was angry at us.

      When we see ourselves in the light of the Father’s love, we can love ourselves properly, and only then are we able to love others properly.

      I understand your objection to Paul’s statements. But I don’t think Paul was ignoring the importance of loving the Father first; instead, he was writing to those who presumably already loved the Father. His contrast was not between loving others and loving God but between loving others and following legalistic rules.

      Thank you for this contribution. I really enjoyed reading it!

  27. We seem to have so many of the same thoughts, and similar past. I look forward to reading more.

  28. FETS says:

    Really like what you say, and I agree.
    I am tired of being told I am going to burn in hell
    because I do not believe exactly what Evangelicals,Fundamentalists believe.
    I do believe in Jesus, I do believe He died for
    everyone, I do believe in the Bible.
    It is refreshing to see a view such as yours.

    • Hi FETS, I am glad you liked this post. I used to be a fundamentalist, and then an evangelical, myself, but now they sometimes tell me that I am going to burn in hell.

      I hope you continue to visit the blog and that you continue to like what you read. Thanks for the nice comment.

  29. keijo says:

    I am so thankful believer in the lord with freedom in the Holy Spirit and love to God in abunantly blessing daily in no burden baggage to bear and the lord will take care of us all in hi power and in his wisdom and he is all knowing the Father in heaven and rightnow here too presence us all by the Spirit right now,thanks and bless and pray,keijo sweden

    • Hello Keijo from Sweden!

      Thanks for the comment; you seem like a fellow follower of Jesus on the remarkable journey of life. You remind me of what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3 about keeping laws and rules (baggage):

      “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

  30. James says:

    Jesus was without baggage and thats the point. I’m try to be too but it’s work in progress… Great ideas.

  31. daniel says:

    Wow very nice blog, God bless you……..Get here Hindi jesus song..http://daniel-raj-blog.blogspot.in/

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks Daniel. I really enjoyed the videos you linked even though I can’t speak the language.

  32. daniel says:

    Hi baggage can give me some idea and can you share with me about jesus. Here my blog Jesus prayer

  33. daniel says:

    “I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.” say amen…….

  34. Heatherdawn says:

    Im a Messenger from my Father in Heaven. ” fellow members of Sin my Father in heaven wants to talk are you willing to listen?”

  35. Nithun Raj says:

    Praise the Lord

    My name is Nithun Raj. I am hailing from a hindu family. Once I followed jesus but rejected him because I was afraid that my hindu religious beliefs will throw me into hell. Now I know that Jesus is the one and only God. I want to be saved rather than thrown into hell. But I have a major issue. Whenever I praise jesus and his kingdom some abusive thoughts about him comes to my mind. I dont know why. I tried to avoid it psychologically but I failed. I feel like I am worse than Satan. I cant fight this battle alone. I dont know why it comes to my thoughts. I feel like jesus no more loves me. I fear he will put me to death because I am trying to abuse him in my thoughts. Pls help me solve this. A probable death is there on my cards.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Welcome, Nithun Raj. Let me say several things.

      First, both Jesus and the Father love you, as they love everyone, and you are not in danger of eternal torture in hell because no such place exists; it is a misguided view based on mistaken readings. See http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/key-baggage-issues/hell/ if you want to read more about this.

      Secondly, Jesus understands us better than we understand ourselves; so he knows the difficulties you have with abusive thoughts toward him, and he know why they occur. He is not angry with you, nor is he insulted. He only wishes to heal your thoughts and for you to feel the peace of reconciliation. If you feel alienated from Jesus and the Father, it is only in your perspective. They do not feel that way toward you.

      Finally, you said “I cant fight this battle alone.” I don’t know exactly what you are dealing with, but you are very welcome to contact me privately at tchastain@cfl.rr.com so we can discuss it together.

      I hope very much for your peace and spiritual comfort. ~Tim

  36. Invaluable – this has been the most difficult thing I’ve done – learn to live without the baggage – and there are still times it haunts me. I look forward to reading your posts

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thorough, I am glad you are on the journey of following Jesus without baggage. I hope you continue to find this blog useful, and I invite you to interact in the comments if you wish.

      Have a great journey! ~Tim

  37. James says:

    I just need your prayers that Jesus will accept me back. I got out of Gods will and am not hearing God’s voice accept in condemnation. Please help me.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hello James,

      I am sorry you feel alienated from God, but let me assure you he does not feel alienated from you; the Father loves you and seeks a relationship with you free of fear. Jesus is the clearest insight we have of the Father, and he said:

      “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

      And he does not condemn us, just as he told the adulterous woman, “Neither do I condemn you.” Even though we may feel condemnation because of our flaws and shortcomings, Jesus does not condemn us. Instead, he is ready to heal our alienation and be reconciled. All we have to do is follow Jesus; he does not have to be persuaded to accept us–he already accepts us.

      If you would like to talk further about your concern, you can email me at tchastain@cfl.rr.com if you wish. ~Tim

  38. Sean B says:

    WOW!!! I knew I could not have been the only person who had these view points. I battle with that so much, thinking and being convinced that I was only trying to escape and disregard what God really askes us to do and how he wants us to be. I’ve always known in my heart the very things you stated. It the only makes sense.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Sean, I am so glad you found my blog helpful. For a long time I thought I was the only person who had those thoughts, but now I have discovered that there are a LOT of us. I hope you come back and visit with us frequently–you are not alone!

  39. Diane says:

    Thank you. So wonderful to know others have real faith problems like me. I have never been able to accept the horrible god of the OT. All the input here on that topic has really helped me. I still battle with not loving god, but I believe in Jesus. I love my neighbor as best I can by being as Chris like as I can. But my daily serious problem is I can’t love a heavenly Father, as Jesus refers to him, who stands by and watches his believing children suffer in this physical life. As a sinful imperfect loving parent and grandparent myself, I could never stand back and watch my beloved ones suffer in anyway, without doing everything in my weakly human power to prevent their suffering. I could never stand by and watch any fellow human being, be phyically abused, attacked, raped, abducted, tortured, sold into human trafficking, starving, hurt on the side of the road etc. If I were present at any of these scenes I would do anything and everything in my feeble power to stop the evil. Not to mention all the pain and suffering from illness, and death. Where is this loving Father, and where has Jesus been these last 2,000 yrs? I feel like an abandon child, having to fend for myself in this scary thing called life on earth. I look at reality on planet earth and I feel as though we have all been abandon to evil. Right here, right now is what concerns me about Jesus and the Father. I want to love this so called god of love, but how, when he allows evil to attack us everyday? Where is he in this life? Having Jesus as my savior and believing in his Resurrection does little to ease the pain of daily life for me, as I watch human suffering around the world. Please help.

  40. jesuswithoutbaggage says:

    Diane, I was captured by your statement: “I can’t love a heavenly Father, as Jesus refers to him, who stands by and watches his believing children suffer in this physical life.”

    This is an extremely important consideration and has been since the earliest days of mankind. This accusation against God is often expressed this way: Either God is all-powerful and does not care about our suffering, or he is powerless and unable to prevent it. This issue is so important that it has its own terminology—it is called the Problem of Evil or the Problem of Pain, and attempts to address this question is called Theodicy.

    The issue of suffering is as old as man. The writers of the Old Testament pondered the questions: Why is life so difficult? Why is it so hard to make a living? Why do we die? Why do we kill each other? Why do women have pain in childbirth? So they wrote a story about a time when things were different and suffering did not exist, and they speculated on how things could change so much–we call it the story of the Garden of Eden. Other cultures have imagined other places where suffering does not exist, but when we finish hearing the stories we walk right back into a suffering world.

    Those stories do not provide us with the answer about suffering; in fact I have never heard a satisfactory answer to the question of suffering. However, I will share some of my thoughts.

    You mention that, as a loving parent, you would do anything in your power to prevent your children from suffering. Yet have you ever left them in someone’s care while they cried for you to stay with them? Have you ever allowed a doctor or a dentist to cause them pain? Have you allowed them to play outside where they might step on something sharp, or fall from a swing, or break a leg playing football, or drown while swimming? Have you ever allowed your older children to go away to college or to work in another city? Did you allow them to date or marry someone who might cause them grief or pain? If you did not do these things, then you did not do everything in your power to protect them from suffering.

    On the other hand, did you allow them to take risks and develop as mature humans? I am sure you did; and this is good even though they had times of suffering along the way. To completely control a person’s environment prevents development so that they never mature into a healthy person. Perhaps God does not tightly control and therefore allows us to develop, hopefully, into something better. However, there are risks–risks that can cause suffering.

    This leads to the question of perspective. You have children, so I assume you carried your children and then went through childbirth. This process is quite painful for most women, yet once the pain is over it no longer consumes them, and in looking back it is simply something that happened in the past—it is no longer a present pain. In fact, many women choose to go through this painful process again.

    Current suffering is a matter of perspective. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a dread disease and was not expected to live. The course of the disease and its treatment were filled with suffering. Surprisingly, I survived and my suffering diminished until I no longer suffer; now I look back on that suffering as something that happened in the past. And I can also face suffering in the future because no suffering is forever, and when it is over it should become a mere memory.

    I believe Jesus came to eliminate much of our suffering. First of all, he assured us that God is not angry, harsh, and vindictive, as many of us thought, and that he desires reconciliation in our relationships. Secondly he taught us that we can love ourselves instead of carrying a load of low self-esteem and that we ought to just love others instead of following burdensome religious rules. And finally he told us of a place prepared for us in the future—a place of peace, joy, and reconciliation free from suffering.

    This certainly changes my perspective. But you ask about the here and now; why does God not eliminate suffering now? My question is how would he/she do that? There seem to me to be two major sources of suffering: nature-based and human.

    God is not a nature god. The forces of nature move according to rules of dynamics. Floods, drought, tornadoes, hurricanes, wild fires, and volcanoes are caused by natural forces. God does not micro-manage nature. Disease is similar; it is a natural occurrence.

    The other major source of suffering is people; people have freedom of will and often hurt other people. If God stepped in to intervene, he would override our independence and our humanity. We would be puppets—all of us. While our freedom of choice sometimes results in human trafficking, child pornography, and war; suffering also includes pain of a relationship breakup, not receiving a promotion at work, and being misunderstood by friends or family.

    There is a lot of suffering in the world, and I don’t think God wants suffering. But a time is coming when suffering is a thing of the past and only a distant memory. Our suffering is short, but our life without suffering will be very long.

    I know this does not answer your question, but these are my thoughts on the question. If you have further comments, I am happy to interact with them.

    ~Tim Chastain

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Steve! When you were at UT Martin, did you know Political Science Professor Richard Chesteen? He and I are distantly related.

  41. Jennifer says:

    Great blog. I have been through the brainwash system. I believe in Jesus. He was the son of God. Beyond that the bible seems like a glorious mechanism for control.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jennifer, it is great to put the baggage behind isn’t it? Indeed, the Bible has been used by many to control others, but I think the good news of Jesus is not controlling; it is freedom, peace, and reconciliation.

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