About this Blog: Jesus Without Baggage

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

The first area of focus is examining major harmful baggage issues that often detract from following Jesus freely. The second is learning who Jesus is, what he says about the loving Father/Mother, and how we should relate to God, to ourselves, and to others. I grew up a fundamentalist and later became 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.

Following Jesus without Baggage

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 is often 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 really 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 your 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 atheists will disagree strongly with my views, but my purpose is not to persuade anyone to accept my perspectives on Jesus, God, 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 God, 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

Six Signs You May Be Lugging Heavy Religious Baggage

Most issues on which followers of Jesus disagree are not alarming or destructive, but some are very harmful. Some primary 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 God, ourselves, and other people. We discuss these and other issues, and their ramifications, in this blog.

The Good News of Jesus

The Good News of Jesus

Religious baggage is not the only important thing we discuss on this blog. Opposite to the baggage is the Good News of Jesus. As we begin to learn and live the good news of Jesus, we no longer need (or want) to hold on to our baggage. Here are a few posts on the Good News of Jesus.

What is the Good News of Jesus Anyway?
God is not Angry and Harsh with Us as Many of Us Thought
God’s Love for Us Takes Away Our Fear, Guilt, and Self-Condemnation
Do You Still Feel Guilt and Fear because You Fall Short of what God Demands?
We are not to Follow Burdensome Religious Rules
We are Agents for Expanding God’s Kingdom on Earth
Death is Not the End because Jesus Offers Us Eternal Life and Happiness
When the Good News of Jesus Doesn’t Sound like Good News At All

To all the groups mentioned above–and more, I invite you to explore Jesus without baggage. And feel free to join in the conversation. ~Tim Chastain

JesuswithoutBaggage-I will give you rest-a

826 Responses to About this Blog: Jesus Without Baggage

  1. Perry says:

    Heather, count me in agreement with you. The Bible was written by men, and they wrote it to favor males. There’s a whole lot of confusion over who wrote a lot of it and how it’s been morphed and merged by those who selected & edited it. You’ll also notice writers just wrote; they didn’t all say, “This is the inerrant word God spoke to me!” It’s a later development of man to claim that. I remember as a little Southern Baptist kid being told in Sunday School that people who wrote the Bible were overtaken by God’s spirit and sorta wrote under his spell or in a trance. Uh-huh, sure. I seriously doubt God has genitalia, so classification of him/her as male is just another way male writers & editors exploit scripture to benefit men & keep women in their place. About 40 years after my early indoctrination, while in counseling, my eureka moment was when I realized that I had an impression of God as pretty much a mean SOB who loves to see people quake in their boots and just looks for excuses to slap people around (he even loved to wipe out whole civilizations; what’s not to like about that!?), while Jesus looked for every opportunity to show love & compassion to humanity. My best guess is that Jesus is the best reflection of what God’s like, because if I’m created anywhere close to his/her image, that must be why I love showing my kids compassion and don’t enjoy being mean to them. I was raised to salute and ask no questions. I’ve since learned that anything worth believing is strong enough to withstand my questions. Anything that people don’t want you to question generally needs to be questioned.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wahid sukoot says:

    Hi Dear blog Manager.
    hope you all are fine i live in Afghanistan i would like change my religion come to you Christian religion so if i do this act here i cant live easy because we have no right change religion in this country please help me what should i do can you take my hand to go out?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hello Wahid, I am sorry for the delayed response. What I understand is that you would like to become Christian instead of your current religion but are forbidden to do that in Afghanistan. And that you would like assistance to come to America.

      Is this correct? What is your current religion? ~Tim Chastain

      Like

    • Dean says:

      Dear Wahid,

      Welcome, brother! Some Christians feel they have to tell everyone that they have become Christian, but some who live in places where that could be very dangerous they choose to keep it to themselves unless they feel the Holy Spirit of Jesus telling them specifically that they should share with a certain person who may be ready to receive the Good News.

      I know this is no small thing. It is easy for us sitting here in freedom. But start by talking to Jesus in your head. If you are able to use a Bible read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I’m sure you have seen on this blog that following Christ does not mean you need to follow certain rituals, its means that you love Jesus, that you talk to Him and your life is about being so grateful for the gift you were given by Jesus that you end up trying to be like Him.

      We are sorry for the images of Christianity that are often on American media. They have used Christ to get more power. That is the opposite of what Jesus is about. Read what Jesus said and did when He was with us. I don’t know how you found out about this blog, but I am so glad you did! Please let us know how we can pray for you in your new faith.

      I know when you start communicating with the God who harms himself in order to save us, you will start to know in your heart what to do. One Muslim woman I read about baptised herself in her bathtub because she was in so much danger but she really felt like she should do it. Your daily life will look different than ours even though you have the same faith. Remember, friend, God is for you. He loves you. He knows how hard it is for you.

      Khuda Hafiz, new brother,
      Dean

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Vicki Patsdauter says:

    Thank you! This is just what I need, a confirmation of my instinctual understanding of God and immortality, and the love of Jesus AND God for all humankind. You have also challenged me not to accept the status quo? But to ask questions, & really think about whether the answers make sense to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Vicki, you are certainly welcome. I am always happy when I have been helpful! Have a great day and a great journey!

      Like

  4. Susan Jackson says:

    Thank you SO much for this! I remember, as a teenager in our Youth Fellowship group, asking the question: “What is the minimum I need to do to be a Christian?”. I never received a satisfactory answer – people thought me strange, I guess. What I was really asking was the same question as I think you ask: “Do I have to accept all the baggage that Church attaches to the Christian faith journey?”. Forty years later, I am still struggling with many issues: Why can’t I preside at Communion as an unordained person? Where in the Bible are the marriage vows and, indeed, if the marriage vows WERE taken directly from Scripture, would they still be relevant today? As a divorcee, I will never get over the fact that I didn’t manage to fulfill that passionately uttered and sincerely meant “till death us do part” and, as a result, have been unable to say those words again to my partner of some 17 years. And, don’t get me started on the gay issue!!
    I look forward to following more of your writings xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Susan, I am glad you found the blog and seem to like it. I think you ask great questions.

      “Do I have to accept all the baggage that Church attaches to the Christian faith journey?” Great question, and one that needs an answer. Why? Why? Why?

      “Why can’t I preside at Communion as an unordained person?” Great question and practical too. In my opinion any believer can do functions that are often limited to the ordained; I don’t think the very early church had these distinctions.

      “Where in the Bible are the marriage vows and, indeed, if the marriage vows WERE taken directly from Scripture, would they still be relevant today?” Great questions. How do mere traditions seem to become church doctrine?

      “And, don’t get me started on the gay issue!!” I am with you there! I hope you continue to enjoy the blog, and feel free to join the discussion whenever you wish.

      Like

  5. billfoley63 says:

    Just stumbled across this blog and it truly is a breathe of fresh air and I agree w hole heartedly with what you’ve said and I think it’s filled with the Love of Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Welcome to the blog, Bill. I am glad of two things: that you like the blog and that the love of Christ comes through!

      Like

  6. William S. Mayberry says:

    I ask the questions teaching Sunday School and see the rolling eyes.
    The questions are important, yet are seen as apostasy to “tradition.”
    I like the loud music. I think the ritual is silly. The Bible has problems glossed over.
    Most importantly, if the Bible means something different to everyone, does it really say anything in stone?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perry says:

      Know the feeling, William. I don’t ask questions out of meanness; I just wish we could look for truth. Instead, many church folk only want to hear affirmations for what they already believe, much of which is indoctrination & tradition instead of what Jesut said.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      William, as a former SS teacher I understand the eye-roll. I had the advantage of classes that were somewhat open to new ideas, and I was careful not to push too far; but I did sometimes get those eye-rolls and worse.

      Like

    • Lilly says:

      William, I was sitting in SS a few years back when the teacher read 2 Samuel 8:2…”David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.” I pointed out that by today’s standards, this was a war crime. I asked, “Did God tell David to do this?” Long pause. Finally, the teacher said, “Well, it doesn’t say God told him, but I’m sure God did since that’s what David did.”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ann Peisel says:

    Since learning of many family members ‘coming out’ through the years I too have questioned my beliefs. With sincere thoughts of difference I have left the evangelical church. I love my family and want them to feel loved too. I cannot attend a place of worship that will exclude them. Recently I encountered an old friend, now minister of a Presbyterian church. It sounds like he is trying to enlighten those within the church to open their minds to accept the LGBT community. I am new to this forum, is their something you could suggest for me to send to him to read. He is caught between two worlds of thought. Ann. PS Do you try to worship in a church anymore?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Vanessa Garcia says:

    I am so glad I found this information. I have been searching for a church that will not preach to my 7-year-old daughter about her “sin” and how “naughty” we are and must be saved from ourselves. She’s seven! She’s having bad dreams and low self-esteem from being taught about all the horrors in the Old Testament. I want her to know the love of Jesus, to develop a relationship with Him, trust him, and to know that she is unconditionally loved. Does such a denomination even exist? I am really serious…..I want her to grow up in Christ without being afraid of Him and feeling guilty and worthless as a ‘sinner”. We’ve tried different churches, but haven’t found the right one yet. Any suggetions?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Vanessa, I can really identify with what you are saying. I was still going to conservative churches when my son was growing up and really resented the things they were teaching him. Fortunately, he had considerable counter-balance at home, but if I had it to do over again–I would not allow the church to do that.

      Some denominations are more open than others, but no denomination is consistent among all its congregations. Even the most progressive denominations have some conservative churches. Some typically non-conservative denominations are United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and Presbyterian Church (USA).

      However, there seems to be another element that is a predictor of more open congregations–are they gay-affirming? I don’t know where you stand on LGBT issues, but those churches who are open to LGBTs tend to not have the conservative, indoctrinating cultures you describe.

      If this interests you, there is a large database of gay-affirming churches that are listed by state (USA) or province (Canada). You can find it at:
      https://www.gaychurch.org/find_a_church/list-churches-by-state/?loc=FL

      I hope this helps.

      Like

  9. kevin says:

    Very interesting blog. Thank you. If I could add my two bits you may want to read the testimony of a family that left church and followed Jesus into the wilderness here http://www.homerlesandwandaring.com. They live what you are talking about.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dimitria says:

    Thank you so much for making this blog. I’m a young teen who’s been struggling in my faith walk for a while because of the exact reason you describe here! The fact that I found this exactly when I was at my lowest in my faith really makes me think that God may have led me here so I didn’t have to struggle so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dimitria, I am glad you found the blog helpful. Let me know if I might help with anything else. Sorry for the delayed response; I was without my computer for more than a week.

      Like

  11. Tim,
    I like your thought process of Jesus without baggage. I believe Jesus does not want us to have any baggage. Baggage that our cultures have feed us over the years because they did not know any better or it is how it was always done. We are all a product of our cultures until we take steps to change the way we think.
    I have been on a journey myself to discover and know Jesus, God the Father and Holy Spirit in a more Loving accepting relationship. I understand that Jesus greatest gift is the Love He showed us by willingly dying on the Cross, something God the Father requested of Him and in dying Jesus expressed God’s unconditional Love to each of us. We come as we are and are accepted as we are, with all our baggage and in the process we are changed and gradually release our baggage and can then reflect this same unconditional Love to others. I am still a work in process but it feels good to know God Loves me just as I am!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      LuAnna, I am glad you like the blog. And you show a lot of good insight! “We are all a product of our cultures until we take steps to change the way we think.” I totally agree.

      And: “We come as we are and are accepted as we are, with all our baggage and in the process we are changed and gradually release our baggage and can then reflect this same unconditional Love to others. I am still a work in process but it feels good to know God Loves me just as I am!!!” Well said!

      Like

  12. jesuswithoutbaggage says:

    Hey guys, sorry I haven’t kept up with your comments the last few days. I was unexpectedly without my computer for more than a week.

    Like

  13. Another Thinking Man says:

    Hi Tim, I’ve logged into my wordpress account for the first time in 2 years just to say that I appreciate this blog and that you’re doing a good job. I just wanted to quickly share with you some of my journey as well.

    I’ve been in the Pentecostal church all my life and while my churches haven’t been fundamentalist by any means, in the last 12 months or so I found myself strangely discontent about a lot of the doctrines I’d been taught as a child. After doing some personal study on ancient history I realized that the idea of Biblical inerrancy was making less and less sense. I found out that the texts aren’t as ancient as church leaders had always claimed they were, that they had been compiled from different strands and oral traditions and edited over time by religious reformers, that the book of Genesis was in many ways a reaction to even earlier texts, and that many events described in the Old Testament probably never happened. I was beginning to wonder if the Bible isn’t the “word of God” then does faith make any sense at all? After all, people like Zarathustra and Mohammed also claimed to hear from god. But I also went back to the gospel of John and I found that I was moved by the story it told and by the teachings of Jesus. I began the long process of sifting through what I believed because of Jesus and what I believed because of religious tradition. I came across your blog sometime while I was researching the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and it helped me to think through a lot of things that I was questioning myself. In the last few months I’ve given up a lot of beliefs I used to think were very important; not only Biblical inerrancy, but the idea of hell, the doctrine of penal substitution, original sin, the devil. I confirmed my long-standing suspicion that Revelation is not in fact a prophecy of the end of days. To be honest I’m not even that convinced by the doctrine of the Trinity anymore, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Since I’ve come to these realisations I’ve felt a strange paradox; that somehow I feel less “spiritual” than I did in the past, yet I’m also somehow more like the man Jesus wants me to be. I’d describe my faith as more mellow now; hardier; more robust and basic. I don’t pursue ecstatic spiritual experiences anymore, but the message of Jesus seems more real than ever. I’ve even felt like I’m more in line with Jesus’s teaching since I stopped giving all my donations to the church and started giving to charitable causes, despite what I’ve been told in church all my life.

    One thing I can say confidently now is something I think I read on one of your posts. My faith is based solely in the message of Jesus, nothing more and nothing less.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susan Jackson says:

      Wow! That really resonates with me. I have been attacked to within an inch of my life on the Premier UK Disqus forum recently because I don’t preach the wrath of God!! Apparently, just showing God’s love and grace is “wishy-washy”. When I evangelise, I am supposed to be offensive, apparently! Back in the days of St Paul, the term “Christian” was a jeering term of mockery. Today, it is regaining that same association because of the loud voice of radical fundamentalism and that is so sad. I now call my self a person of faith, rather than “Christian” as I don’t want to be associated with the damaging connotations that the word now represents.

      Like you, I now feel I am on the right path, in a very quiet and mellow way. Like most people, I have had my fair share of challenges and tragedy and my (very basic and honed) faith has remained solid and intact. I’m not a loud or dynamic personality but I know, from feedback, that being real, as well as loving and constant, having Christian integrity all go a lot further than loud and repetitive proclamation of cherry-picked Bible texts (most of them used out of context with 21st century western civilisation).

      Just like you, although the opposite gender to you: ” I’m also somehow more like the man Jesus wants me to be. ” It’s a lovely feeling! Blessings to you x

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thinking Man, you are a person after my own heart! You have had quite a journey, and I am sure you are much better for it; I had a similar journey. I love your statement: “I also went back to the gospel of John and I found that I was moved by the story it told and by the teachings of Jesus. I began the long process of sifting through what I believed because of Jesus and what I believed because of religious tradition.” And you are right–my faith is based solely in the message (and person) of Jesus, nothing more and nothing less.

      I even think it great that you are giving to charities instead of giving blindly to the church. I hope to continue to hear from you to whatever degree you might wish. Happy journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Miriam says:

    I’m glad I found this site…I was raised in a fundamental Christian upbringing with sermons of hell fire and brimstone 3 times a week since the day I was born. I’m 44 now and see the world and God much differently although it’s sometimes still hard to shake my negative beliefs as they have been so deeply ingrained in me, however they have not been helpful to me. The salvation through fear theory simply doesn’t make sense. I wouldn’t threaten my own children to love me with fear and torment as that is certainly not love

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susan Jackson says:

      You are so right, Miriam. Who could ever believe that love is founded on fear? Unfortunately, the fundamentals preach VERY loudly. Thankfully, though, being vehement doesn’t equate with being right. Perfect love casts out fear. The people who have influenced me in my Christian journey have NOT been those who told me how bad I am but those who showed me how good I am capable of being with Jesus by my side. I love Jesus simply because HE IS, not because I am afraid of Hell. Blessings to you x

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Miriam, I’m glad you found the site as well and hope you like it. I know what you mean about “it’s sometimes still hard to shake my negative beliefs as they have been so deeply ingrained”. This is the way we fundamentalists were taught: ingrained, indoctrinated, and constantly warned against questioning. Of course the result is fear.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s