About this Blog: Jesus Without Baggage

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.

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 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.

Six Signs You May Be Lugging Heavy Religious 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.

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.

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.

~Tim Chastain

563 Responses to About this Blog: Jesus Without Baggage

  1. JackB says:

    Something of an epiphany of thought (at least for me) this morning: I was in a church many years ago where a big July 4th extravaganza celebrated the building of America, as we know it, as being God ordained, but it conveniently left out the inconvenient truths of genocide to take land & slavery as an economic engine. Religions of all kinds often write or rewrite history to support and justify selfish actions…just like parts of the Bible. Things contradictory to Jesus’ teachings. More reason to want Jesus without the baggage.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Well said, Jack! I am a loyal American citizen, but I cannot participate in the rampant super-patriotism expressed by many believers. America is not God’s favored country and often acts directly contrary to Jesus’ teaching and example.

      Like

    • tony says:

      Well said my friend. Ive been a believer in Christ for a few months now. As before i felt alienated by all the typical baggage that comes when in the Catholic belief.
      I would love to wake up with more Christ & Love in my life. Everyday that something i pray for!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jay says:

    I really like your page I have been around religion all of my life it has done nothing but push me farther away from God then closer do to preachers and priests and pastors who could not answer the questions I had for them which I’ve now found on my own and now closer to God than I have ever been. Religion is control of your Spirit Jesus is only way to free it. you don’t need a book or Church or a holy man to get JESUS that a 100% fact

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jay, I am happy that you were able to find your way to Jesus when the religious system did not help. You are right that you don’t have to have a lot of instruction to follow Jesus; Jesus is very welcoming and accepting. And I am glad you like the page! You are welcome, of course, to take a look at other articles that might be of interest to you.

      Like

  3. Kelley says:

    I just found your blog via a comment you left on another blog. I grew up in the PB church. I used to be evangelical, but I am now an Episcopalian. I’ve never felt so home as I do in the Episcopalian church. It’s not perfect and I don’t have community, but I feel so much peace.

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Kelley, I am glad you found the blog; I hope you find it useful. I’m also glad you found a church where you feel at home. What is the PB church? Presbyterian? Primitive Baptist?

      Like

  4. Amie says:

    Thank you for your blog. I accepted Jesus as my Savior several years ago but became disheartened with the teachings of my chuch. I left and have been struggling with what I wanted my spirituality to look like. I believe in love and forgiveness but I don’t agree with all of the judgement that comes with church. I think my relationship with Jesus and God is a very personal one and it’s nice to know others feel the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Amie, I am glad you found our blog and found it helpful. Your experience of finding Jesus and then being discouraged by the baggage is a common one. I agree with you about embracing love and forgiveness but not judgmentalism.

      I hope you continue to visit and enjoy the blog, and if you have issues you want to discuss you can leave them in comments or email me at tchastain@cfl.rr.com. Have a great day! ~Tim

      Like

    • tonycutty says:

      Sorry bro but none of this makes any sense, either in the context of its thread, or in its argument. Please could you clarify?

      Like

    • Jen B says:

      Aime – I agree with you wholeheartedly about how judgmental some churches can be. Having felt judged in every church I had visited over 50+ years, I was downright petrified to enter into what is now “my” church the first time! In the past i had always been visiting a church with friends or family who were members, but this time i was actually seeking a church for me. Anyway, I found love and community. I hope you can find a similar church home. Yes, your relationship with Jesus is personal but it feels just wonderful and adds so much more depth to be able to share it with others.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeffrey Bergman says:

    My Church which I love, preaches that even if you accept Christ as your savior you then must constantly strive to pray and follow his teachings or he will not recognize you. I feel that this makes us all feel that we can never be right with God.

    Like

    • Chas says:

      Jeffrey, that sounds like a ‘works’-led church to me. God intended that we should have a direct relationship with Him, which should be a 2-way one based on love. One thing that is important in this relationship is to recognize His awesome powers and capabilities, so that we can acknowledge this and come to realize that we are almost infinitely weak and frail by comparison. In this way, we can learn to rely on Him to guide us and prepare our way before us.

      Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Jeffrey, I spent decades in those kinds of churches. It is so unfortunate that many churches do not understand that God is not interested in people keeping petty rules–or rules of any sort. Part of what Jesus came to tell us is that God is not an angry and harsh God but a father who loves us and eagerly wants us to be reconciled, free, and at peace.

      Those who follow Jesus are expected to live better lives, but it involves loving others–not following a bunch of religious rules or practices. I will let Chas elaborate on what he means by a ‘works-led’ church, but I agree with Amie–I think he means a church that is mired in legalism–or religious rules and practices–rather than Jesus’ principles of living a life of loving God, oneself, and others in a genuine way.

      Like the Father, Jesus is not easily offended and disappointed in people or ready to ‘no longer recognize’ you. This is a very harmful belief and it takes away from the joy, happiness, and freedom that Jesus gives us.

      UPDATE! I now see that Chas has already explained what he meant, and I agree with him. ~Tim

      Like

  6. Chas says:

    It is a church in which the leadership puts burdens on the membership by insisting that they pray and do everything in the way that the leaders think they should. They pressurize the membership to comply by loading them down with guilt if they fail to do what the leaders insist, hence they say that, if you don’t do these things, Jesus will not recognize you.

    Like

  7. tonycutty says:

    Whereas in John 6:37, Jesus says, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” Get that? Once you come to Him, He will never, ever reject you. No matter what you do, no matter what you become, no matter what you don’t do, no matter what humans say, Jesus will never, *ever* reject you. He said it Himself. Meditate on this Scripture and assimilate it into your life!

    Like

  8. tonycutty says:

    Oh dear, do I detect another threat-monger?

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks for your responses, Tony. I have deleted the comments of the person to whom you were responding.

      Like

      • tonycutty says:

        Thanks Tim, I couldn’t make head nor tail of what he was talking about, at least not in a constructive sense.

        Like

      • Chas says:

        I think I must have missed something challenging!

        Like

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chas, it was two comments by Consultgtf to Jeffrey (I think) about the importance of the 10 Commandments and of God punishing people.

          Like

        • tonycutty says:

          …and it was more confusing than challenging!

          Like

          • consultgtf says:

            Sorry, Tony for confusing YOU, As I was only repeating what is read for the past 3368 years!

            20 And God spake all these words, saying,

            2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the house of bondage.

            3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

            4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

            5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

            6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

            We suffer because we are running behind illusion God.

            Hope This will not be deleted?

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Hi Consult,

            I did delete your comment, and recently I have deleted others. Of course your comments are welcome here, but I will delete any comment that suggests:

            1. That we must observe the Ten Commandments or the Law
            2. That God punishes us or causes suffering, or
            3. That Jesus traveled in India

            People are free to post opinions that are opposed to my views or those of other readers, but you have already expressed these opinions more than sufficiently in past comments.

            I do value and welcome your contributions that do not include these three points, and I hope you understand my reasons. It is not personal and I hope you continue to feel comfortable here.

            Have a great day! ~Tim

            Like

  9. tonycutty says:

    Hmm, makes a *bit* more sense, I suppose – I agree in some ways that many believers worship an ‘illusion god’, but Jesus came to show us what God is really like. Check out this blog post for more on this (sorry Tim! Don’t think you’ll mind!):
    http://www.flyinginthespirit.cuttys.net/2015/10/08/graven-image/

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      I don’t mind at all, Tony.

      Like

    • consultgtf says:

      Thank you…I have already given my comment, but will always give my views on this blog, always! with given constraints as, I was telling the truth which I had learnt it hard-way, after losing my wife and Son…

      I don’t want YOU the learn the same, WAY. In India we have a proverb, It is of No use to worship Sun god, after losing your eye sight…

      Like

      • tonycutty says:

        Sorry to hear you’ve had to go through that, bud. Many of us who contribute on this discussion have also been through the fire….some of us are already in it. But it is just incredibly priceless to have Jesus walking alongside all the time. Interestingly, suffering and pain strip away all the loose things about religion, and concentrate your mind on what it’s really all about – Jesus. When everything else falls away: all the rules; the expectations’ the *baggage*, indeed – then He’s the core, the most important part of it all. And I’m thankful for that!

        Like

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Well said, Tony.

          Like

        • consultgtf says:

          Sorry Tony, You got me wrong, I am the most happiest person on this earth at this moment, and till I die,

          I don’t know how many are blessed like me. I don’t have any nagging like I used to have before 5 years, Also, I am a Anterograde Amnesia Patient, Goggle to know its symptoms…But I am blessed…

          I can remember only God, “Thee God” NOT Jesus, though! ( Now I differ from You ALL, No Baggage!)

          Like

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Consult, I am so sorry about your Anterograde Amnesia. I cannot even imagine what it is like to deal with that.

          Like

          • consultgtf says:

            Nothing Great about it Sir, I forget things very often maybe, what I had for lunch or dinner or whether I had or… then YOU can imagine about other things… God is GREAT!

            Thats the reason I don’t want others to go through this and then know HIS greatness!

            PS:- After the accident, I had forgotten everything, including Alphabets, Numbers, word, sentence, Language …The whole world but I could never forget MY GOD, GTF! I was in this Dilemma, as to WHO IS GOD? But now it is very clear…

            Like

      • Chas says:

        I like that proverb!

        Like

        • consultgtf says:

          We all have lot of Baggage’s then these lighter ones, mentioned by Sir, though.

          The Baggage we carry for years without knowing its impact, (in Indian culture, maybe not in western culture…)

          Simple/Silly fights between Brothers or Sisters, family friends, carried on by next generation without knowing the actual reason…

          Few grams of water when we carry it a tumbler for hours, then days, then our years… become tonnes, very similar to these thoughts.

          Jesus lived a life which, NO Human can live, but that was the life God wanted/wants, in our Human birth! How many of us understand this NAKED truth… He knew to control his Senses and live like a human.
          He even asked God to forgive those who killed him! How many human beings are able to forgive others for silly things…?
          Have we ever thought how this negative energy could impact our next generation?

          Think it over… Happy Positive Year 2016!

          Like

  10. Lori Wentzel says:

    I was blessed to have a Protestant Mother and a Catholic Father who because of the religious clash did not take us to Church. I have always believed in a loving God, that Jesus was born to show us God loved us and that the Bible is for some and not for ball. I had a brief period in my late teens and twenties where listening to those of organized religion had me questioning if in fact God was a punishing God. Thankfully my faith prevailed. I feel like sometimes people use a vengeful God with the hope that those that wronged them will be punished. I don’t focus on the punishment of others. I focus on walking my journey knowing that I have so much work to do on myself l. When people rail against everything they believe God hates gay people, muslims, etc. I simply say what if when go home to God you see all those that you thought would be going to hell walking around and God says “my child all I ever asked was that you loved all my children.” Thank you for your enlightened words.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      This is a great attitude, Lori! Some people are so quick to condemn others to hell in the name of Angry God. But I think God has different plans. And I agree that some want people to be punished out of their own personal vindictiveness.

      Like

    • Jen B says:

      You are so right that we will see people in heaven that we never thought would be there because in our judgment they were not worthy! Good to remember, He is God and we are not. That vengeful God image turned me off for a very long time. I still stumble on verses such as Psalm 5:5 “You hate all who do wrong”. I do wrong but I know my God does not hate me. Takes some word study and prayer for me to get a better understanding. There are far more verses that speak of his unending love for me. And yes we need to focus on our walk and our behavior and let Him worry about judgment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lori Wentzel says:

        Jen how correct you are! I have to focus on what I am doing wrong before I can look at others. That said it is hard not to look at others actions and judge but no one said life was always going to be easy!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Jen B says:

    I have stumbled upon this blog tonight, only the second blog I have ever read or posted to. Not being too familiar with this format, forgive me if I write too much – just tell me and I’ll cut it back! I am 59 and yet a newcomer to a saving faith in Jesus. I was raised an atheist by socialist parents (that’s not an angry or bitter characterization, just truthful)…they meant well. I was raised on the power of human ingenuity (after all, these were the days of man landing on the moon). I completely dismissed anyone who believed in God as simple minded. I spent years studying the sciences and fully accepted the scientific notions of evolution and big bang. So to come to Christianity now, by way of dabbling in Eastern practices and, yes, a brief time of interest in the Shirley MacLaine whoo-hoo “spirituality” fad, is quite a challenge. I do not have the baggage of childhood Christian church doctrine to discard, but instead my years of humanism and the power of science to answer all questions. I still have to deal with an automatic aversion to some biblical terms that remind me of the fire and brimstone preacher images that I carried for so long and scoffed at for so long, but I am working hard to overcome that and come to deeper understanding and make up for lost time by reading the Bible and everything I can get my hands on that speaks to me of a simple message of Christ’s love, the power of the Cross and the grace that comes from the finished work of Jesus. I noted Tim’s comment above about the Ten Commandments and the Law, and I read something recently that helped me to see the commandments a bit differently: that the Ten Commandments are a command to relationship, a contract for living with Him in love. To have no other gods who would steal away my affection for Him and my attention to Him. He gives me His name to make me His; therefore I am not to use that holy name in vain. He longs to spend holy time with me – set aside the Sabbath as that time. He loves me and I can ruin it with coveting, lying, stealing, murdering and cheating.
    I look forward to following the conversation. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonycutty says:

      Brilliant, Jen. Often those of a former atheistic persuasion have the clearest thought processes of all believers, especially those in a scientific mindset.

      Please can I ask: what was it that brought you to Christ? Please feel free to respond or not, as you like🙂 And welcome to the forum!

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Jen, I am so glad you stumbled onto the blog; I hope you find it helpful!

      It sounds as though you have had quite a journey. It is different from mine but it appears that we have come to a similar place. This is what is so rich among those who follow Jesus–they come from such different backgrounds.

      I know what you mean about certain terms that trigger negative reactions; even terms themselves are often loaded with baggage. I hope you continue to visit and to participate in the discussions as you see fit. I look forward to hearing from you.

      Like

  12. Jen B says:

    How did I get to Christ….years of what I now recognize as holy nudges, a God-directed move away from the environment of my early years to an area where God is part of the daily fabric of life, where i could see His work in lives around me, hear His Word in daily conversation and so begin to be more open to actually hearing the message. But, boy, did I resist! Obviously I knew somewhere in that hard heart that there was more to life than what is seen since I was looking for something spiritual in the Eastern practices. 10 to 15 years ago I began watching some of the TV preachers occasionally and found I was not turned off by their message. Then began reading and finding more resources. Beth Moore’s bible studies really opened up the depth and beauty of the Word so I could begin to understand what I was reading in the Bible. And one day as I was reading I just realized that I believed. I got on my knees and asked Jesus to take me in. No fireworks, no blinding light, just a simple knowing that I had the crossed the line into faith. That’s been only 4 or 5 years ago. Got baptized almost two years ago. Finally got the courage to walk through the doors of a nondenominational contemporary loud music Jesus loving cross focused church 3 years ago where I was immediately welcomed and loved.
    I have to laugh at myself as I write this that a person who considered herself so super sophisticated and so much more intelligent than the Jesus freaks was led to Christ, in part, by TV preachers! I am a bit more discerning now about what I watch and listen to, but I do have to thank those I came across years ago for saying something that caught my ear and began to crack open the door of my heart.
    Thank you for asking, Tony. Would love to hear others’ experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonycutty says:

      Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing that. You will find that everyone’s path to Christ has been different, and that’s great, because God respects our individuality and therefore treats us all as individuals.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Janet Hinton says:

    Thank you! I look forward to reading your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Gordon S. says:

    I came to this site because I know in my heart Jesus is real . . but . . I have become heavily burdened with the process of trying to find Him in traditional church systems. I have come to the point where I would like to believe that Jesus will never abandon me . . even if I abandon church.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. TomLEE says:

    I knew it! Yeah.. but I think God won’t punish those other gender.. But if they do good and stay faithful they will rejoice with him.. LOVE your BLOG.. You can also visit my BLOG.. I hope you’ll leave nice comment.. http://tomabella13.blogspot.com/

    Like

  16. Chas says:

    Tim, my attention has recently been drawn to the imprinting of habits or beliefs during childhood, because it seems to be a particularly powerful effect which makes it very difficult for people, who have been indoctrinated into religious beliefs as young children, to escape from those beliefs. As an example, it seems to me (as an outside observer) that Roman Catholicism indoctrinates young children into feeling guilty about ‘sin’, and that that feeling of guilt may persist into adulthood, even when the person has discontinued attendance at church and has distanced themselves from that belief system. Have you any thoughts about this effect?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, I was indoctrinated in a fundamentalist church, and I can attest to the difficulty of beginning to question what I was taught. However, I am a living example that it can be done!

      However, you are right that one can feel the effects of indoctrination even after leaving that worldview. I think this too can be overcome in time.

      Like

  17. Dustin says:

    I have to ask how you came to several of your conclusions in the “6 Signs of Luggage”. Because several of those are wrong and I’m willing to back my belief with scripture. I’m not coming here to bash you, but my fear is that you are leading people down a very dangerous path way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Dustin, I am happy to share with you how I came to my conclusions on any issue; and I am also happy to discuss them with you and interact with your thoughts. For my general response, you might wish to read the three articles in ‘About Tim’ in the menu bar at the top of the page. The first one is https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/about-tim-chastain/my-journey-from-fundamentalism/.

      I look forward to our discussion!

      Like

    • tonycutty says:

      Even *if* Tim’s views are against your perception of Scripture’s message, that isn’t blasphemy. Blasphemy is an offence against God; since the Bible isn’t God, how can it be blasphemy? It might be heresy, it might be dangerous, it might be erroneous teaching – but it isn’t blasphemy.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Dustin says:

    “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
    ‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
    ‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭18:22‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    God doesn’t hate his children but he does disprove of their disobedience and at times he will bring selective judgement. Just like a parent would when you don’t do as you are suppose to. To deny that the bible isn’t Gods word is to deny the story of Jesus Christ for they are the same. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    Repent of this blasphemous website and turn back to God and his word.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dustin, I can’t respond to proof-texts without any context or explanation as to how they prove your point. Can you tell me their significance to you in relation to particular issues?

      I don’t think my views are blasphemous. Why do you think so?

      Like

    • Chas says:

      Dustin. The Bible contradicts itself in numerous significant ways, so how can it be God’s Word? God’s Word would be perfect, as God is Perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonycutty says:

        I think the reason why the Bible contradicts itself is because of the Rabbinical debate method. Two contradictory and/or mutually-exclusive concepts are presented and the debate commences; the truth is found in the tension between the concepts. Paul and Jesus both had their education in this sort of debate style, and some of their teaching is in this style too. Fascinating stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          tony, it seems more likely that the contradictions arise because two different people were having an input (maybe at different times) without knowing what others had written/were writing.

          Liked by 1 person

          • tonycutty says:

            Oh, absolutely yes, that’s how it happened. But the overall effect is the dichotomy-style argument that enables Rabbinic debate, and also gives us the tensions between ideas that creates an avenue into God’s truth, and also as a by-product creates arguments between people in the Churches who don’t realise that the truth is found in the tension. And indeed also because they don’t realise that indeed the Bible was written by people separated by huge distances in time, and considerable distances geographically, linguistically and educationally too.

            Liked by 1 person

  19. Kristen Call says:

    Can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. krwordgazer says:

    Hi! I found my way here from your link on The Case for the Parakeet Driven Shack. I wonder if you’d consider adding a #7 to your list of destructive doctrines? I think that the emphasis on patriarchal gender roles, male headship and female subordination, really needs to be included among the most harmful baggage Christians carry around. Even if you consider yourself a complementarian, there is a lot you could say to support respect and fair treatment for women here. You have spoken about purity culture– why not talk about the stay-at-home daughter movement, the Quiverfull movement, the Michael Pearl methods of child discipline, and other extremes of Christian patriarchy? And if you are an egalitarian and believe in full female participation in leadership of the church and home, then please speak up for women here! We need more male voices in support!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Gazer, I think this is a great idea. In fact I plan to do a series on these topics, but it will likely be late this year or early next year. I am very aware of all the issues you mention and will include additional topics, such as Bill Gothard, his institutions, and his influence–including his inappropriate behavior around girls. I will address home schooling, complementarianism (which I am not), sexual abuse and rape culture, dominionism, and so forth.

      The reason I am not doing this sooner is that while I experienced directly much of the harmful belief I talk about, I was out of fundamentalism before these new fundamentalist emphases began to become widespread in the 1980s. I need to do further research, including reading the Pearl’s books, ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ and others so that I have a firm foundation from which to speak.

      I have already included articles along these lines in the recommended articles I post every two months. See https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/the-best-blog-posts-i-read-in-november-december/ and https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-best-blog-posts-i-read-in-october/. And I will add a resources page on these issues to the books and resources list on my menu.

      I am looking forward eagerly to doing these projects. I hope you will like them when they begin. Are you one of the many who have escaped this new fundamentalism?

      Like

      • krwordgazer says:

        Thanks, Tim! I’m very glad you’re not a complementarian; indeed, I couldn’t see how you could be given the rest of the posts on this blog– but I’ve been surprised before. Dr. Kenton Sparks advocates a similar approach to the Bible as you do and yet is staunchly complementarian. N. T. Wright is egalitarian when it comes to church ministry but complementarian when it comes to marriage. I find these stances to be self-contradictory, but they do exist among respected non-fundamentalist Bible scholars!

        I’m very much looking forward to seeing your upcoming posts on these matters. My own experiences with fundamentalism came out of the 1980s, with the group known as Maranatha Campus Ministries– but having survived the demise of that authoritarian group, I have followed with much interest later movements such as Quiverfull and Gothardism. It seems to me that some of what Pearl and Gothard perfected was invented by Bob Weiner, Derek Prince, and others in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Gazer, I remember Maranatha; they developed as part of the Jesus movement of the 1970’s. I am not sure they began as a rigid cult-like group, but they certainly became that. I had an acquaintance who got involved with them and it took a long time for him to get out of it.

          I was also exposed to the discipleship movement of Prince, Basham, and their buddies. I actually had a fellow student during college who tried to recruit me to the discipleship chain and pay tithes to him; it didn’t happen. It seems there is no end of people willing to submit themselves to the absolute authority of some such group, of which Gothard is a prime example.

          Like

  21. Catherine says:

    It is interesting that you delete posts of anyone who differs with your point of view. God bless you with Truth about the holiness of His Word. I hope in the days to come you will be granted God’s grace to realize His Law brings freedom to those who love Him AND His instruction and peace and joy to those who follow it.

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Catherine, I do not delete comments of anyone who disagrees with me. In fact, I welcome the voices of those who disagree–even when they appear hostile or judgmental–and I dialog with them.

      The only thing I can think of that would cause you to think that I delete comments that disagree with me is that I have one regular commenter who frequently promotes two concepts that are contrary to the direction of the blog: that we must keep the 10 Commandments and the God punishes us. I have dialoged with them many times on these issues many times over the past 2-3 years, so we have sufficiently explored those topics. I told them recently that I would delete any further comments along those lines.

      The commenter still comments here regularly, and we get along fine. Apparently you have not seen the many comments of others who disagree with me. I think those exchanges are very valuable, but there is no need to continue disagreeing with those points forever without new information.

      I hope you find this clarification helpful. If you disagree with me on something, I hope you feel free to share it here. Whatever it might be, it will not be deleted.

      Like

  22. JackB says:

    In general, I’ve found that people who are very legalistic try very hard to recruit others to their ranks. My opinion is that the more insecure one is in what one believes, the more that person will need the validation of others, which is often gained by getting others to join them and by refusing to even hear any other views. I suspect they’re also jealous of those who’ve found freedom by not having to beat themselves over the head daily with guilt and shame and “laws”. Jesus made it clear he didn’t / doesn’t appreciate spiritual enforcers, those who think they’ve got such a grip on righteousness that they are hammers, and everyone who doesn’t agree with them exactly is a nail that needs to be hammered.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tonycutty says:

      Brilliant

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jack, from my experience you have described the situation very well: aggressive recruitment, refusing to hear other views, and rejection of those who find freedom. I used to be that way myself, of course.

      I really like your statement: ‘Jesus made it clear he didn’t / doesn’t appreciate spiritual enforcers, those who think they’ve got such a grip on righteousness that they are hammers, and everyone who doesn’t agree with them exactly is a nail that needs to be hammered.’ You visualized it very well, and it sounds like you are familiar with it from personal experience–not just absorbing what I and others say about it.

      You certainly understand the dangers of legalism, judgmentalism, and religious isolation.

      Like

  23. Tim: where would I send mail to you?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. mstair says:

    In every succeeding time-period since creation, there has been a “people of God” to demonstrate the difference between good and evil and, the eternal living nature of the species. This is why Jesus reminds us in Mark 12 that The Father says I am the God of the living, not the dead. This was so difficult for Jesus’ disciples to understand. It is difficult for us to understand, yet there are millions of people who do “get it” anyway, even though they cannot completely explain it.
     
    “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
    Matthew 18: 1 – 33 (RSV)

    Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/DZeA8.l

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Matthew Richardson says:

    Tim Chastain is it? Well first of all I’m not here to bash your beliefs. But I would like to pose some questions for you, if that’s ok? First off, if you were to write a history book and put some facts in it and some non facts. Would it still be history and would historians hold this book(s) to be true / historically accurate? By that same point would God, whom loves us all yes, tell us a bunch of things in his holy book and leave it up to us to separate fact from fiction? After all we as a world, are not very nice to each other. That’s how it’s been and will be until the second coming of Christ I can only imagine.

    So a bit about myself, I’m LCMS and for those reading this Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. I have been my whole life and always will be. I’m very thankful that they church has follow the Bible as closely as they have. I fell no extra baggage when I attend church every Sunday, Lent, Advent or special service. In fact I feel liberated by the word of God. Now on that same note I do believe I am a sinner this may be part of your “baggage” that you speak of. It’s baggage yes, but the great part is because Jesus died on the cross for my sins and for the sin of the world. That is the grace that saves the believer. I no longer have to carry that burden.

    Now back to the history thing, fun fact nothing in the Bible has ever been proven to be false. In fact a lot of historians will tell you it is the most accurate history book of its time. Now there are things like the Ark of the Covenant. People are and have been looking for that since that was lost back in the Old Testament. No one will ever find it! God took it from the Israelites because they disobeyed him and it is lost forever meaning it’s gone. Now because we can’t find it does that mean that it was never there? No.

    So keeping with my theme, you talk about burning in hell. I’m assuming you are referring to your belief that everyone will go to heaven? If so, that is referred to as universal salvation. It’s a great thought and I wish it were true! What if it were true we wouldn’t need the Bible and we wouldn’t need the saving grace of Jesus death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.

    Also I’m one of those people that thinks homosexuality is a sin, but that doesn’t make it any better or any worse than I am. I am just as equally sinful has any one person on the face of this earth who ever has been or ever will be in the eyes of God. Again reference the part where I talked a bit about grace.

    I could go at length just as I’m sure you could too, but this will suffice.

    God’s blessings to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Matthew, thanks for your comments. Yes, my name is Tim Chastain, and I want you to know that all voices are welcome to speak on this blog. I am familiar with the LCMS, and I know it is quite conservative, but that’s okay with me. My blog is primarily for those who are questioning harmful doctrines they have been taught. It is not my objective to try to persuade those who believe harmful doctrines and are not questioning them.

      You ask whether historians would regard a history book containing non-facts as true or historically accurate. No they would not; history books are always in revision as the facts are better understood. Then you ask whether God would tell us a bunch of things in his holy book and leave it up to us to separate fact from fiction.

      This question effectively reaches the main point: God did not tell us a bunch of things in the Bible. The Bible was written by people–humans–who felt a relationship with God but expressed themselves within the limitations of their time, culture, and knowledge. There were those who had tremendous insights in the Old Testament, but our clearest understanding of God is what Jesus tells us in the gospels. The gospels are also written by people but they are written from the memories of Jesus’ earliest followers who were transformed by his teaching, example, and resurrection.

      Regarding my denial of eternal punishment in burning hell, you assume I am a universalist–I am not. I wish it were true, as you do, but I don’t think God will force anyone into his kingdom against their will. If they do not accept his gift of eternal life then they will not have any sort of eternal life. They just die and cease to exist any longer.

      Thanks again for your comments and your questions. ~Tim

      Liked by 1 person

  26. krwordgazer says:

    If I may chime in briefly in response to Matthew: The Bible is not a history book and cannot be called that, because “history” as we know and define it, was not a category the original human authors or audience even had. Historians may consider the history contained in the Bible to be accurate for its time, but I’m sure they don’t consider it a “history book.” I believe the Bible is divinely inspired, but that God spoke to the people He inspired to write it, according to their own mindsets and cultures– and to call what they wrote “history” is simply anachronistic, imposing a modern category of thought on an ancient text.

    The Bible is not a history book, or a science book, or a book of systematic theology. It is a collection of divinely inspired writings compiled over a long period of time, with the purpose of pointing us towards God and relationship with God. As a Christian I also believe it was meant to reveal the plan of God for our salvation and the saving work of Christ.

    I believe that to truly honor the Bible is to accept it for what it is and not to impose our own expectations or modern categories of thought upon it. You may not agree, but coming to see it this way has helped, and not hindered, my approach to Scripture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Well spoken, Gazer! Though I would not say all the Bible is divinely inspired, I very much agree with your approach to biblical history.

      Like

      • krwordgazer says:

        Thank you, Tim! The thing I like about this approach is that it allows that some events in the Bible may have been intended and understood by the original human authors and audience to be what we would call “fictional” today– though they didn’t have that category as we understand it either. It also allows that some of what’s in the Bible might be what the humans living at the time thought God wanted them to do, when it was actually a mere accommodation to their cultures. This would include the issue of David’s wives, for example.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          I agree, Gazer. Many ignore the various genre, especially in the Old Testament, such as fiction, poetry, wisdom sayings, hero stories, and so forth. I also agree that much of what is written bear the signs of the limitations of the writers’ time, culture, and understanding.

          Like

  27. James says:

    Recently, I was reading some denominational literature about a particular text from the book of Acts. The person who wrote the denominational commentary on this text kept saying, at various points, to remember this was written under the direction/inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But nowhere in the actual biblical text does the author say this. Does anyone know of a case of one of the letters in the NT where an author said he was writing the letter to a friend or church under HS direction/inspiration? Or is this a tradition from a Council of Nicea decision that’s been embraced for so long that it’s become “fact”?

    Liked by 2 people

    • tonycutty says:

      Good question, James. Most people who dispense proof-texts would quote 2Tim 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” as such a text. However, the problem with using the Bible to prove its own inspiration is that it’s a circular argument. Plus, it doesn’t answer your original question where you asked if NT letter writers specifically say that their letters are so inspired. There is also a passage in 1Cor 7:10,12 where he sspecifically differentiates between himself speaking and what he thinks the Lord is saying. Also, when all those letters were written, they were not part of the Scriptures of which Paul speaks in 2Tim3:16. Also in 2Pet3:16 (what is it with these 3:16’s??), Peter refers to Paul’s letters as if they are Scriptures, thus suggesting that Paul’s letters were regarded as Scripture from an early stage in Church history, but he does not specifically mention the Spirit’s inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

      • James says:

        Thanks, Tony. The part of your answer that really catches my eye is, “…when all those letters were written, they were not part of the Scriptures of which Paul speaks in 2Tim3:16.” It’s kinda like if I wrote a letter today, and a few folks decided to designate it as scripture, then use 2Tim as proof my letter is God-breathed.

        Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Well said, Tony.

        And, James, for a short answer to your question: ‘Nowhere’.

        Liked by 1 person

    • krwordgazer says:

      Well, as Tony Cutty mentioned, there is evidence in the letters of Peter that the writings of Paul came to be considered scripture at a very early stage in church history. Also, it’s not just that a bunch of guys decided to form a council and pick out what was in scripture: there was a long history of church tradition supporting what was chosen. It is my understanding that the writings that were picked as canonical were those that had stood the test of time, with long-standing Christian testimony to the way these writings were used the Holy Spirit to comfort, direct and inspire.

      I’m inclined to stick with the canon as inspired, myself, because it makes sense to me, and because I’ve experienced the efficacy of these writings for myself.

      That doesn’t mean I think Scripture is without human error, though. I don’t see where the Bible ever indicates about itself that is free from human error. The key is to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and to use Jesus’ Great Commandments to love one another and love God, as the lodestone to discern the human from the divine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • James says:

        Appreciate the thoughts. Re tradition, I think my own denomination (& I suspect this is true with many) has a long tradition supporting a few things that aren’t as clear cut as clergy say, like when the Bible was used as a defense for slavery. One key for me is whether a particular interpretation, doctrine, or whatever is used with the intent of helping, providing wisdom, and/or inspiring a believer…or if it’s primarily used to manipulate followers for power or $ purposes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • James says:

          I should have also mentioned instances where the Bible is used in my denomination to try to keep women “in their place”.

          Liked by 1 person

          • krwordgazer says:

            I agree, James– and of course it’s not loving one another to enslave another or to subordinate another on the basis of race, sex, etc.

            Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Gazer, you might be thinking of 2 Peter chapter 2:

        “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

        I have always felt warmed by the way this writer refers to Paul’s letters. But I don’t see evidence that he considered them ‘scripture’ as many think about scripture today (divinely inspired, canonical). He simply had high regard for Paul’s letters just as we might have high regard for a writer’s book today.

        Like

        • krwordgazer says:

          Tim,

          To me the question is, how did Jewish people of that day regard their own Scriptures– as dvinely inspired and canonical, or just as something to be highly regarded? I would say the former– and that the early Christians, in calling a piece of writing “Scripture,” would have the same meaning for that word– because their faith arose out of and borrowed much from the Jewish faith.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Gazer, this may have been true of some Jews for some books now in the OT, but the OT canon was not fixed by the Jews until well after the time of Jesus. For a brief intro see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_Hebrew_Bible_canon.

            And there was no agreement on the NT canon until well after that. I still contend the books that are now in our NT circulated among the churches because they were highly regarded; some such books such as the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas were ultimately not included in the NT.

            Like

  28. krwordgazer says:

    Tim, that is a very interesting article, and I appreciate it! But even though it says the Jewish canon as it is now was not settled at the time of Christ, that does not mean the Jews of Christ’s day had no canon, or that they only considered their set of books “highly regarded” and not divinely inspired.

    The Wikipedia article quotes Josephus, a contemporary of Jesus, as saying: “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have], but only twenty-two books, which contain all the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death… the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life.” Emphasis added.

    The Psalms, which were not canonized until later, are nonetheless much older than Christ, and they speak very clearly of Torah at least as being considered divinely inspired. “Oh how I love thy Law! It is my meditation all the day” – this and other similar verses from Psalm 119 make it clear that Torah was considered to be from God, not just “highly regarded.”

    Other quotes in that Wikipedia article confirm that the Jews of Jesus’ time did consider a group of their books sacred, canonical and authoritative, and many of them, such as the Law and many of the historical and prophetic books, were long undisputed.

    Thus, my view stands that 2 Peter, in calling Paul’s letters “Scripture,” would have meant the same thing as the Jewish people meant when they used the word “Scripture” – a writing considered canonical, divinely inspired, and authoritative for belief and practice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Good point, Gazer. Thanks for directing me to the quote in Josephus; I think I had read it before, but I had forgotten it. Though the Jewish canon was not fixed until after the death of Jesus, I acknowledge that there were various books considered authoritative by various groups before and during the time of Jesus–especially the five books of Moses.

      But I don’t think that’s enough to assume that Peter’s mention of Paul’s letters indicates that he thought they were authoritative; the context does not suggest it. I don’t think we are able to resolve this issue together, but I will say that it doesn’t bother me for you to think Paul’s letters were considered authoritative that early.

      Like

  29. Perry says:

    Out of the 4 gospels in the NT, 3 were written by eyewitnesses: Matthew, Mark, & John. Wondering why only Mark mentions Jesus’ ascension, & even then, very briefly? (Luke, who was not an eyewitness but is thought to have used Mark & other sources to help write Luke & Acts, mentions it briefly in Luke, & in slightly more detail in Acts.) Wonder why? Appreciate your input.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Perry, Mark focused on what Jesus did, and he probably received his information from eye witnesses–perhaps the preaching of Peter. It seems that both Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source as well as a document of sayings of Jesus. They also so had other sources available to one but not the other. The book of John appears to be written by John’s community based on John’s preaching.

      You note that the ascension is not mentioned in Matthew and John. Perhaps the reason is that each gospel writer wrote based on the information available to them and their own focus of what to share.

      Like

      • Chas says:

        Tim, it could be argued that, because there are certain items common to two of the three Synoptic Gospels, but not in the third, all three authors added and removed sections that did not match what they were intending to transmit to their audience. That the ascension only appears in Mark suggests that this is an added item, as it would have required both Matthew and Luke to have overlooked/omitted it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chas, you are probably right, and there might be an explanation of why that happened. You may know that the last chapter of Mark from verse 9 forward does not appear in the best manuscripts. However, without those verses the book of Mark would end with the women discovering the empty tomb and speaking with the strange young man.

          The last words of the gospel would be, ‘Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.’–which is a very odd way to end a gospel.

          So it seems as though the last page of the original gospel was lost and some time later the verses we have were added from oral transmission to include the appearances of Jesus and the ascension. Therefore, it is very possible that Matthew and Luke did not have the ascension account in their copies of Mark.

          Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, I agree that the last part of the original Mark must have been lost, but of course that is also a powerful argument against inerrancy. As you might be aware, I do not think that Mark was the source document on the basis that sometimes incidents are given in two of the synoptic Gospels, but not the third, but this varying between the three. This seems to be more consistent with a common source for all three, but with each ‘author’ changing it to suit their needs. To support this, the form of Greek used by Matthew and Luke is more literary, while Mark is more colloquial, with a flowing style more suited to preaching. That suggests that Mark rewrote the original to make it easier for him to use it for preaching.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            I am comfortable with the scholarship that says Mark was A source for Matthew and Luke, not THE source. They also believe there was another source they call Q that was a collection of Jesus’ sayings. In addition to that, both Matthew and Luke had access to other tradition unavailable to the other.

            However, there are a few scholars who think Mark is an abridgment of Matthew.

            I agree with you that each gospel writer had their own purpose and perspective in writing their gospel.

            Like

          • Perry says:

            I spent a long time assuming that what my denomination & many commentators said was right. I now find I’m more comfortable asking hard questions, even when there’s not a clear and/or believable answer from original texts written by fallible human beings. If I have to choose between truth & comfort, I want truth, even when it’s uncomfortable.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Perry, I like that! Ask hard questions even if there is no clear answer from the text, and choose truth over comfort. I agree. Good stuff!

            Like

          • Chas says:

            But where do we find truth, uncomfortable, or not?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Perry says:

            IMO, truth comes from many sources, whether it’s from religion, science, God-given sources like our intellect & its logic & ability to analyze, etc. But when it specifically comes to spiritual matters, many belief systems encourage us to look at only one source to the point of discouraging & even shaming exploration & questioning. I just came home from a trip to a U.S. area where a particular religious sect is dominant. You are excommunicated from the sect if you go past 8th grade. They have their own school, with none of the teachers, of course, having more than an 8th grade education. It appeared to me that knowledge is feared. Even though I didn’t grow up that way, I’ve only recently begun the journey of exploring for more spiritual truth, after spending decades bound by the chains of fear and guilt and peer pressure if I dared to ask hard questions…and I’m now facing the reality some things I’ve believed are untrue. I do not have ALL truth…do not know ALL sources of truth…but am no longer afraid to continue the quest for both.

            Liked by 2 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Perry, I think your answer to Chas’ question is excellent: ‘truth comes from many sources, whether it’s from religion, science, God-given sources like our intellect & its logic & ability to analyze, etc.’

            The sect you mention is interesting–and sad. The fundamentalism I was raised in was not so severe as that, but I have known of similar ones. Can you share the name of the sect you mention?

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I don’t know if I can improve much on Perry’s response: ‘truth comes from many sources, whether it’s from religion, science, God-given sources like our intellect & its logic & ability to analyze, etc.’ I am sure more can be said, but this is pretty comprehensive.

            I trust Jesus as the foundation of all my belief as I find him represented in the gospels from the memories of his earliest followers. Of course I also use science, logic, and my ability to think and analyze ideas to frame my understanding of truth.

            But another tool I have is a high tolerance of ambiguity. There are some truths we can never grasp completely.

            Like

          • Perry says:

            Tolerance for ambiguity …says it well. I that in my earthly lifetime, I’ll never have ALL the answers. Reminds me of a Deepak Chopra quote: “Walk with those who seek the truth; run from those who think they’ve found it.” Re your question on what sect? Mennonite.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Perry, I like the Chopra quote. And thanks for the name of the sect.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Perry’s response to my challenge was useful, because it reminded me of when I made a visit to a site in which people claimed to be open-minded, but they wanted to exclude the possibility of God’s existence, because they felt that to do so would stifle their exploration for truth. For me, knowing that God exists enables me to then examine how and why He has made things as He has, which is seeking truth.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Perry says:

            Amen to that, Charles. That’s sorta like allegedly open minded religious folk who want to exclude science and reason and even hard questions from the equation. Even though astrophysicist Carl Sagan tended to not believe in God, he said those who flatly say there is no God “must have more evidence than I do.”

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, I agree that truth can come from many sources, so I have to use something similar to the ‘scientific method’, where something can only be accepted as the truth if all of the available evidence does not contradict it. That always leaves room for new information to cause me to change my mind.

            Liked by 1 person

  30. Roseta Esparza says:

    Greetings Mr. Chastain and others:
    Ever since I was little, I learned a few good
    Things about God/Jesus/Bible/Etc. But mostly,
    I’ve lived a hard life, and Christianity hardly helped me. I met some lovely people and visited some nice churches.
    But…deep down…I felt that some things were…wrong.
    1-2 years ago, I started to read the Bible through. I also wrote about it. Up to 200 pages
    From Genesis to Exodus.
    Around the same time, I lost two precious babies. So…reading stories about some so-called Biblical heroes…sucking as fathers…murdering innocent babies…abandoning precious children…
    Especially the story of Judah and Tamar…
    God and Jesus!…
    Then the saga of Moses and his psycho demonic/heroic version of god…
    Murdering Egyptian babies…!
    There were some good parts…
    For example, God telling Moses to get up early every morning lol.
    But…sigh…
    The Bible has more cons than pros…
    I cannot continue to read a book that traditional christians say is all-perfect and
    All-good.
    It is not a good book of manners.
    It doesn’t portray mostly good characters and
    A mostly kind God.
    Not that I myself am perfect.
    I’m tired of traditional Christians continuing to
    Believe in a book that supports racism, sluttiness, abandoning children, killing of babies, feeding baby animals to a Mayan-type deity, incest, robbing of neighbors, rape, pedophilia, etc.
    I stressed out so much that I stopped studying the Bible.
    Like you, I just believe in a kind and helpful God and Jesus who help good people most of the time.
    Really…the male and female characters in the Bible…the male and female writers of the Bible’s parts…were just people…like us…trying to figure out life…tried to explain it in their
    ways…
    I stopped going to church years ago…i stopped reading the bible
    Yesterday…
    I still believe in God and Jesus…

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Roseta,

      I absolutely agree that the violent descriptions about angry God in the Old Testament are horrible–especially in light of your personal experience. However, I don’t think the actions and attitudes of angry God are true. God didn’t do what they thought he did.

      As you said: “The male and female writers of the Bible’s parts were just people like us…trying to figure out life…tried to explain it in their
      ways.” I agree, the writers were people who felt they had a connection with God, but they wrote from the limitations of their times, cultures, and limited understanding.

      I think it is good for people to begin to read the Bible systematically, but most people begin with the Old Testament and I think that is probably the worst place to start. Beginning with the gospels is best.

      Here is an article you might fined useful regarding God in the Old Testament. https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/the-god-of-the-old-testament-vs-the-father-of-the-new-testament/

      Like

  31. Mark Covey says:

    I just found this page. It appears to align with the journey I am on. It will be interesting to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. William Vietinghoff says:

    I came across this forum by good fortune. For years now I have wished for the opportunity to sit down with a person or persons who are religious and willing to discuss which (1) practices and states of mind are meaningful in relation to our attainment of inner peace and fulfilling a responsibility to our creator and (2) which of those are merely elements of a belief system. This forum will be the closest I ever get to that opportunity. I would appreciate comments.

    However I use the word “religious” in one of its definitions as a derivative of the Latin word “religare”, meaning to “bind” or “unite” (There are other arguments as to the origin). “Religious” then applies to people who see their “unease” in life as being disconnected from some greater divinity and seek ways to close that connection – to bind or unite with that divinity, by self determination, if necessary. By “religious” I don’t mean “maintaining a membership in and slavishly following the dictates of a church organization”. I’m not trying to change anyone’s beliefs; I’m curious as to whether anyone shares my thoughts.

    To begin, this is my view of and my premises as to the significance of Jesus, whom I respect: He was an ordinary person, as you and I, but extraordinary in that he recognized that he possessed a personal divinity, as do you and I. That recognition made him aware also that he was a part of that greater divinity that defines and runs the universe. Because that greater divinity, that intelligence, is incapable of description, he referred to it as “My Father”.

    Having achieved that state of joy he wanted to share it with everyone. He recognized that people are egoistic; they live in their heads, act out of their cynicism and prejudices, and allow their endless thoughts to separate them from that realization of their real selves and their connection to that greater divinity. He gathered up disciples to assist him in traveling and spreading his message. His message: If you change your way of thinking and behaving, you can have the kingdom of God that you envision and crave, right here on Earth.

    My research indicates that parts of the New Testament were written in 40 A.D. at earliest. In the beginning the words of Jesus were transmitted orally, so one has to ask what was forgotten, added, or changed in the process – people being people. The later written gospels were sometimes translated incorrectly, or had changes made by the scribes who believed they had a better understanding of what Jesus intended. As a result, “baggage” has been added that results in more attention being paid to the importance of Jesus than his message.

    As an analogy, suppose there was a method that could be used by anyone who was suffering from a health problem that would relieve it and even cure it: high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic pain, deficient immune system, stress, and mental tension. Suppose it was written down on a piece of paper and given to everyone. It would say at the top, “Try this and you will see that it works.”

    Would it matter that the user did not know the name of the person who prescribed the method? If I told you the person was Dr. Herbert Benson, and the method was called “The Relaxation Response” would it matter? That information would be an interesting piece of history for those who love history, but knowing that would not make you any healthier. Would you want celebrate his birthday? Would you want to spend each Sunday morning in a quiet beautifully decorated building hearing about his life?

    If wrote down the teachings of Jesus on a pad of paper, without mentioning him, and gave it to some uninformed savages in the jungle on a desolate island and told them to live that way and they will see their lives become more peaceful and joyful, would it matter that they knew nothing about Jesus, his birth, the cities he visited, his capture and execution?

    It is the teachings of Jesus that are important, not the person. When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”, he meant each person must open himself or herself to his words only and to that very specific understanding of achieving the self-realization that he was describing. There is no other way. I don’t think he meant you have to swear a personal allegiance to him.

    If you are one of those that has to rise early each morning to drive to your job or take care of a house and family, and you are in need of support in your concern over paying your mortgage or rent, the health problem of your spouse, your child’s progress in school, the condition of your automobile, or your sister’s divorce, the notion that accepting Jesus saves you from eternal damnation in the afterlife is of lesser value at the moment than your need for the stamina to meet those challenges. Jesus wanted to leave the instructions to attain that stamina, but the “baggage” gets in the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perry says:

      Yet more food for thought with some unique twists and turns and angles I hadn’t considered. Will take awhile to digest. Not sure or not whether I can or will agree with all, but still like having it to consider. Thanks, William. What a shame we can’t have conversations like this at most spiritual gatherings, at least not in the area where I live, because to do so would almost immediately result in proclamations of eternal damnation. Again, much appreciation for some unique thoughts to chew on today!

      Liked by 1 person

      • William Vietinghoff says:

        Yes, Perry, my words were meant as food for thought. I’m really trying to ask the question and get comments from readers as to this question: “What is the very minimum you have to know about Jesus in order to become awake to the life he wanted you to live?” For example, this thought has been expressed by others: If you discover that simply following his teachings (such as “love others as I love you”) rewards you with inner peace and inner power, do you need to worry about the debate as to whether he was a divine son of God or a person like you and I.

        Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi William.

      You have a lot of interesting thoughts, and it is apparent you have spent much time considering them. This is important–to think for one’s self.

      I agree with you that, whatever else he was, Jesus was fully human. Opinions differ, even in the New Testament, whether he was pre-existent or selected (adopted) by God as his son. He uses the term ‘Father’ to describe his personal relationship with God. Jesus also says God is our Father, which is a metaphor for God’s unending love and care for us.

      Beyond sharing with us God’s love and his desire to heal our woundedness and bring about our reconciliation with him/her, with ourselves, and with other people, Jesus did not give much other information about God, except that God’s kingdom of peace and joy would grow slowly throughout the world. I agree with you that much of our conclusions about God are nothing more than speculation.

      I believe the teachings of Jesus are very important, but I think Jesus, himself, is of extreme importance beyond his teachings. Though I believe Jesus was fully human, I also believe he is unique. He has a special connection with the Father. He also brings about the reconciliation with God that leads to our reconciliation with our selves and with other people.

      In addition to sharing with us the possibility of a richer life during our lifespan, he also speaks of eternal life after our deaths, which he secured and demonstrated through his own resurrection.

      So it seems our perspectives are not in total agreement, but they don’t have to be. I am in dialog; I do not try to persuade anyone to accept my views. Did I respond to your thoughts or did I misunderstand them? What else would you like to discuss?

      Like

      • Tony says:

        So does it really matter if we call Jesus thee actual son of God or Just a very enlightened human son of God???

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Tony, I think everyone has to answer that question for themselves.

          Like

        • Chas says:

          Tony, I have recently spent some time reconstructing an ‘Original’ Gospel from the three Synoptic Gospels, by eliminating anything that is not in two or more of these. What was left was very interesting, as the original writer did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but seemed to think that he was ‘adopted’ or ‘anointed’ as the son of God. This is why it has been so important for us to receive the changed versions, in which the writer believed that Jesus was born of a virgin, and was therefore the true Son of God. Unless that is someone’s belief, they might feel at peace, but they will not have relationship with God.

          Like

          • tony says:

            Ive recently been praying to Jesus as the Son of God & i have to say that since i have been ive noticed that im more calm in situations & i feel this, its hard to explain i feel that ive just gained something in my life that has filled a hole in my Heart or something! I still get days where i cant be botherd to pray & i feel low but this time i still stick to praying to Jesus through out the day & dont stop!

            Liked by 1 person

        • tonycutty says:

          Love how (in a comment below) you’ve started to chat with Him and learn more about Him. As you spend time with Him, He will explain more about who He is. You are one of the people who has done the ‘seek and you will find’ thing, and you won’t regret it! Bless you my friend.

          Liked by 1 person

          • tony says:

            This is the longest ive ever kept praying to Jesus for & longest ive lasted in any faith. I mean ive tried buddhism all the new age stuff but it never felt like i was fullfilled. Then got back into church again with my Aunt & then started praying to Jesus more & more then as stated before i feel like This feeling of something like more appriciation for people around me & more appriciation for Life. Im not fully healed in any way. Lol But Jesus i believe is working in side of me. I gotta admit tho that im still finding it hard to see everything in the bible as God breathed tho! I suppose one thing at a time hey. Jesus will help me sort things out! I appriciate our chat thank you🙂

            Like

  33. Amy says:

    Finding this blog at this time is a sign for me of God’s gracious love. I experienced an epiphany over Easter and was finally able to lay down the burden of substitionary atonement – the idea that Jesus had to suffer and die to appease the wrath of God the Father/Judge
    I hope to connect with others who are on the way of transformative love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Amy, I am glad you had your epiphany! And I agree that substitutionary atonement is misguided and brings us to many harmful conclusions.

      You will find many people here who are on the way to transformational love, and you might check out their blogs, including the five blogs I list as some of my favorites near the bottom of the right-hand column of every page.

      Like

  34. mothererased says:

    Love the name of your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Why than you, Mothererased! I am so glad I selected it; you would not believe some of the lame names on my list of possible blog titles. I am lucky I did not choose one of them when I first began blogging and really didn’t know what I was doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. David says:

    Discovering we live on a flat earth has brought me back to God.

    You may find this useful

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Jack A Kissir says:

    Jesus said that we would go on to do greater things than he had done. This could only happen when we become aware of the same thing Jesus became aware of and that is, “I and my Father are ONE!” I prefer to say it like this, “I and my Creator are ONE!” When we have the “MIND” of Christ then we can understand the statement I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. avatarmir says:

    I love God. I love Jesus. My instincts are to run to Him and hold him and be beheld by Him… everytime I want to get closer to Him in this life and look into traditional/churches of Christianity I am instructed to immediately fall on my face and claim my identity as a sinner. That feels wrong. And it takes away from my looking at Jesus and my nature as a child of God.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Frank Hobyak says:

    Hello all. I am very glad I stumbled upon this site. I was raised to believe in God, then became an agnostic, due to the fact that every church I had ever been to did not treat homosexuals and non believers as if they were human. I am a straight man who is turning 30 years old on the 29th of June. I have many homosexual friends and I love them all to pieces. I know Jesus loves them as well, because his father/he created them! I also love to donate my time, money and energy to “drunk bums” on the street. I do this because I do not know the path they have walked, and the terrible things that may have happened to them during their childhood that they could never, and probably will never be able to shake off. Just as Jesus would have done. Also I have an incredibly hard time taking the written bible literal. It puts my mind at ease to know that I’m not the only one who is a Christian, whom believes in science, and believes that the bible, other than Jesus’ loving ways, are not meant to be taken so literal. I have now asked Jesus for forgiveness for being a non believer for quite some time, and I haven’t felt this amazing in a long time. Thank you Jesus, and thank you friends for listening.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Frank, I am really excited for you! You seem to demonstrate the love of Jesus toward others, which is the most important part of Jesus’ teaching and example. You have empathy, compassion, and care for others; and you align yourself with Jesus. You sound like a follower of Jesus to me!

      There a many, many people who are Christian, believe in science, and believe that the bible, other than Jesus’ loving ways, are not meant to be taken so literal. You are certainly not the only one. I am glad you found the blog, and I hope you continue to find it helpful.

      Like

      • Frank Hobyak says:

        Thank you kind sir. I will definitely be checking up on a daily basis. God bless you!

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Great! I usually post new articles once a week–mostly on Monday.

          Like

          • Frank hobyak says:

            I just wanted to tell a little testament to Jesus’s healing powers. I am a truck driver of 2 years who has unfortunately experienced 2 cases of whiplash. During these 2 years I was an agnostic asking any powers that be to help my neck into place and and the constant pain on my back, chest and shoulders. I received no healing through chiropractic measures. I just recently turned myself to Jesus for forgiveness, and I asked Jesus to help heal my soul and pain. Just this week I manipulated my back back into its proper position with my own hands. It was as if Jesus himself had taken over my hands and popped it back into place. Thank you Jesus!

            Liked by 2 people

          • tonycutty says:

            Praise God! He is so faithful🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Frank, this is wonderful! Thanks for sharing it.

            Like

  39. Stephen Merritt says:

    Hi Tim and thank you for this site! I’ve just begun reading having stumbled across it in my search to avoid cashiering my faith entirely. I can totally relate – lots of baggage like most (or many anyway) that come here. I’m not about to give up on the church but am not attending one at the moment. Looking for a fresh perspective to keep from becoming so selfish and self-focused that I leave. I’m not looking for,perfection, just a church without baggage. Anywho, thanks and I’m looking forward to digging in!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Stephen,

      I am glad that you like the site and also that you have not totally given up your faith. But you are right, a lot of people who come to this blog are questioning the baggage they have been taught or are already far along on their journey away from religious baggage. Sop you are in good company.

      Some have given up on finding a good church match, but I like your statement that we don’t need a perfect church–just one that is not eaten up with baggage. Right now I am in search of such a church myself. As you continue your search, you might or might not find some of these suggestions helpful https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/5-steps-to-finding-a-good-church-fit-for-you/.

      I hope you continue visiting, and always feel free to share your thoughts as you feel inclined.

      Like

  40. robert says:

    To jesuswithoutbaggage – I’m glad you’ve found relief and peace in your concept of Jesus and God. All you need now is about twenty other people in your community who believe the same, and will contribute their time and resources to establishing and strengthening the local fellowship of believers. May your new church grow and prosper.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thank you Robert. I am searching for such a group right now. I hope you have a group like that yourself.

      Like

  41. pamela gutierrez says:

    I am excited about this new blog, i hope for more understanding about what I am feeling tbanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Pamela, I am glad you are excited. Apparently something in the blog has struck a chord with you or perhaps has addressed a need. I hope you continue to find help and support for your journey here. if you have questions or comments feel free to share them, and if you do not wish to do so on the blog itself, you can email me at tchastain@cfl.rr.com.

      Like

  42. Jon says:

    This is an interesting blog… Lately I’ve been struggling because I want to and do believe in Jesus, but the soul crushing crap that comes along with just about everything I’ve ever been taught about Him has just about pushed me away completely. Is it not true that the main goal of following Jesus is to love God with all that we are and to love others as ourselves? After all, these are the two greatest commandments, or at least that is what Jesus said in the Bible…

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jon, I am glad you find the blog interesting. There are many of us who are attracted to Jesus but repelled by the baggage often associated with his message. The good news is we can follow Jesus without this baggage.

      You ask a great question: “Is it not true that the main goal of following Jesus is to love God with all that we are and to love others as ourselves?”, and my answer is a resounding YES!

      I hope you continue visiting and feel free to share your thoughts or questions as you are inclined.

      Like

  43. Marcy Ikeler says:

    Howdy! Nice to be “here.” 🙂 I wonder if the churches we need exist–so please prepare yourselves to lead home-based worship groups. Group leaders in the counseling fields suggest 6 to 8 members is an idea number for group interaction. I would think you could safely extend the number to a dozen, for worship purposes, if counseling needs are dealt with after the worship, and with a willing volunteer(s). Always be preparing your group members to start their own services as the groups will grow. When leaving the group is seen as a natural outcome–perhaps it will lessen power struggles that may develop among strong personalities within a group.

    With a group too large–participants are less willing to share. Sometimes, the most outspoken members of a group make decisions that need to be made by all. Use a secret ballot method for votes. Make a list of probable problems that can develop within groups and methods to deal with dissension. There is nothing wrong with separating into a women’s worship group and a men’s worship group–as each gender might feel more comfortable with their own. If there are three rooms–one each for women, men, and children–awesome!

    Do not demand each person participates in any part of the worship–let it be voluntary. (Instead of a “let’s go around the room,” as that will put a focus on the person that doesn’t want to share at that time.) Do the same with prayer–and there is Biblical support for private prayers.

    When people are reluctant to leave a group because of the bonds they have developed–arrange for all the groups to meet, say once a month, at a community center, as an example, so everyone can see their friends again.

    What to use as materials? Tim has it right–use the Gospels. There are wonderful books about the Parables Jesus taught, also. Invite people’s children to these worship meetings. Include them in the beginning events, (singing, for example)–then find a room, close by, where they can have their own studies. (Approved by the parents.) Everyone can take turns leading the children–or pool your monies for a childcare worker–so adults can talk with minimal disruptions. Let it be “okay” if a child interrupts–as soon as her/his needs are met, the child can return to the child room–and we can all make allowances for the shy child that needs to stick close to mum or dad for awhile. Let us regard little ones as Jesus did.

    It is preferable to rotate leadership among those wanting to lead services as we all remember Jesus is the real Teacher–and the rest of us are teaching assistants. Thanks, Tim! Sometimes–we have to be the change we wish to see.🙂 Be creative! Take yourselves back in time to when Jesus lived and “see” what He saw. Design artwork that reflects what Jesus saw and develop plays. Build a set that reflects your beliefs for use as a background for Christmas photos! Enjoy Jesus and each other!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks Marcy for sharing your experience. I have long been attracted to small groups rather than big churches in buildings with paid staff.

      Like

    • Chas says:

      Marcy, several points arise from your comment. Beginning from a small group is a way of being sure that you are surrounded by like-minded people, but, as you have recognized, the most vociferous personalities will inevitably try to dominate the group and there is the risk that two such people are likely clash, bringing disharmony. A weekly bible discussion group was formed at my workplace: normally about 6 people were present. It had a few basic rules to try to keep it open, these being that we should look at one passage each week; no-one should bring any previous teaching or ideas, but should just say what the passage meant to them; no-one should contribute unless they wished to do so, and no-one should directly disagree with any one else’s contribution. It went really well for a few weeks, with the most eager to speak going first and those who held back able to add to and even reach overall conclusions that no-one else had seen. Everyone spoke in each meeting. Its end for me came suddenly and unexpectedly when the person who had led the group, who was a pastor in a church, brought a passage and said that this passage represented the church, and not Jesus, and that we should discuss it on that basis. The problem was that when it came to me, the passage was all about Jesus, not the church. The outcome of this was that this person tried to impose his way on me and I walked out saying that I refused to be controlled. He spoke to me later and I pointed out that he had broken rule number one by bringing in a previous teaching/idea at the outset and he had tried to impose this on the discussion. He gave me no reply.

      The second point is whether it would be satisfactory for the group to divide into gender-based sub-groups. If there is someone who is not comfortable for the group to all meet and worship together, that person needs to be counselled separately from the group, as they are suffering from damage caused by some experience during their childhood.

      Thirdly, there does not seem to be a valid reason for limiting bible studies to the Gospels only. God can certainly show us what He wants us to see in many other books/passages.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Chas, I read Marcy’s descriptions on how such a group should work as simply suggestions based on her personal experience. But I agree with you that they are not necessary for every group. I think each small group must determine the specifics for themselves, and I expect there would be great variety in the way thye work.

        Like

  44. sachsfamily says:

    Wow! So glad I found your blog. I’m searching for exactly this, having spent years trying to make sense of the Evangelical church and its teachings which seem to go against Jesus’s teachings. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks, Sachs. I am glad you liked finding the blog. It sounds like you fit the group very well. I hope you continue to visit and share your thoughts as you feel inclined.

      Like

  45. Marcy Ikeler says:

    Thank you, Tim, for your supportive responses. 🙂 I read that some people were looking for a church. It is natural to want to form bonds with like-minded individuals. And, why not? There can be a problem, however, in “finding the right church.” Why not entertain the idea of creating what one needs? As Tim pointed out, I presented ideas people could use to start home-based worship groups–and, of course, anyone following these ideas would incorporate their own ideas into this endeavor. I didn’t mandate a format to be followed. I suggested each participant of such a group to list inevitable pitfalls of groups; and steps to be taken to deal with dissension of every form. (Instructions are in the Bible!)

    The comment made, in response to my idea about possibly separating women and men into groups, gave me a giggle–as I am a counselor. As I tell folks: try to live in the world that IS–and act as though we live in the world that should be when it is important to you. It is a fact that some men do not want to be taught by women–and I suggested rotating leadership. Now, I can either rant against the idea that some men find being taught by a woman objectionable–or accept it–and move on. (I like to pick my battles wisely–and I cannot not undo thousands of years of cultural conditioning.) What I can do, is make groups separated by gender equal in every way.

    Now, although I appreciate the feminist ire in that sentiment, of a needing a mixed-gender group, it is a fact that some men will only share their deepest feelings with other men–and the same holds true for women. I believe the sexes were segregated at The Temple, thousands of years ago, also. One could see that as sexism–and one could see it as folks back then knew what I am telling you now. When talking about our personal relationships with God, and Christ, we certainly should be able to share our most personal feelings with whom we choose. So, don’t get hung up on ideals, and lose focus. . . on learning and sharing.

    You will just have to trust me that some women, myself included, prefer a women’s only group. I know a few men that prefer men’s only groups. It is not for anyone to judge these preferences–and super-impose their own morality upon others. (Or PC behavior.) Personally, I would start a “Mommy/Grandma and Me” Bible study, that includes the earliest literature used by Followers-of-the-Way, in my home–and will.

    I made the suggestions that I made to accommodate families that would like to worship with other families–and it will be up to those families to decide their own formats. As always–it is easy to be a naysayer and find fault with everything someone else proposes. It is much tougher to have the courage to share creative ideas. Tim: Thank you so much for this site. Hug!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Marcy, thank you for elaborating on the reasons for your preference that men and women meet separately in small groups. I certainly think this is an option, though it would not be my preference. In fact, I would not likely participate in a small group with this arrangement.

      However, I feel strongly that each group determine the details of how their group will work.

      Regarding Chas’ comments, I don’t think Chas was attacking your recommendations but dialoging with what you wrote. I have known Chas for a long time and he doesn’t have a spirit of judgment or condescension, but he does interact with comments with his own thoughts and perspectives. Usually this broadens and enriches the conversation.

      Again, thanks for contributing your thoughts and experience in using small groups. I think this is a very important area for believers to explore either in addition to, or instead of, participating in traditionally structured churches.

      Like

  46. Marcy Ikeler says:

    Well . . . I did feel attacked. I am entitled to how I feel about this, also, despite the defense you offered. I am leery of contributing to sites such as this because some people that contribute to dialog always find problems instead of seeing the good intentions behind an idea. So, everyone should make decisions about meeting with like-minded individuals because of Chas’s bad experience? Wow–let everyone know they have to disband their established Bible groups right now! I made suggestions to encourage those that want to worship with others but are unable to find a church–to be helpful. I believe that people that follow Jesus are to help one another–not pick at someone’s ideas–because a forum allows for it. There are problems associated with almost any idea. So, we should all just never try anything–because their might be problems? This is not the friendly site I had hoped it would be–a clique has already been established.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Marcy, I agree with you that you are entitled to how your feel about Chas’ comments. I am sorry you felt attacked and are disappointed with the blog. You were sharing your experiences and what you learned from them; and Chas was sharing from his experience. Had I shared from my experience, it would have been a bit different from either of you at some points.

      I think it is healthy to share together, but perhaps Chas could have pointed out his points of agreement along with his thoughts that were different. I can say for certain that I think what you shared is excellent, and I learned a few good tips myself. But again, I think each group must work out the specifics for their own group; and they would benefit by reading your suggestions.

      Let me assure you that there is no clique here; we tend to be a pretty cordial group–even when we disagree on something. In almost four years of blogging I have only asked two people to stop commenting on the blog. I think that’s a good record.

      I hope you continue visiting the blog and sharing your thoughts as you feel inclined. I believe you have things to offer.

      Like

  47. Chas says:

    Marcy/Tim. I was surprised to find that my comments had been taken as a criticism. I can assure you that no criticism of Marcy’s suggestions was intended; in fact, I am supportive of your efforts. The message from my experience is that a leader needs to be very careful not to impose his/her views on any forum that they establish. Someone who does that runs the risk of working against what God would prefer. As to my comments regarding the need for single-gender groups, I stand by my original comments. Anyone who is finding difficulty meeting with, or being taught by, those of a different gender, or race, is suffering in some way, so the need for some form of counselling would be necessary if they are to come out of the oppression that is causing it. I assume that, as a counselor, Marcy will be far better qualified than me to decide how best that counselling should be achieved (unless, of course, her counselling experience is with suffering females, whereas the problems seem to be with suffering males). I was not trying to suggest that single gender groups ought to be imposed, only that these would be preferable, otherwise the attributes/qualities of the missing gender would be lost to each group.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Jane DiPaolo says:

    An eye opener.

    Liked by 1 person

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