About this Blog

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

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

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

The Intended Audience for this Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Objectives

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

My objectives are:

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

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

The Meaning of Jesus without Baggage

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

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

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

He included me in his invitation

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

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

Major Baggage Issues

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

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

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

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

~Tim Chastain

223 Responses to About this Blog

  1. Jackie says:

    Is there an actual religion that follows Jesus without all the baggage

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Good question, Jackie. If you find one, please let me know! I will say that there are individual churches that come much closer to avoiding baggage, while there are many churches that are FILLED with so much baggage that the message of Jesus is almost buried.

      If we are seeking for a group without baggage, I think the best we can do is to find one that is close enough to the place on our journey that we can be comfortable with it. Anytime there are people together, there will be some understandings that differ and ideas that vary on the best ways to follow Jesus. I think the key in our personal following of Jesus is to focus on loving people appropriately and to continually reflect on the good news message of Jesus.

      A group need not be perfect in order to follow Jesus effectively; in fact, there is no perfect group because none of us is perfect. But that does not mean we cannot accept each other and benefit from our shared kinship in Jesus.

      • Chas says:

        For me, that group/place is here.

      • Tom M. says:

        I went primarily to Baptist Churches when I was younger and most of those that I went to added a whole heap of extra “baggage” to believing in Jesus.
        The sad part is that I did believe…and still do…in the core beliefs that they taught but it was all that extra man-made “baggage” that kept me feeling a bit distant.

        After years of not attending Church I decided that I was going to explore several until I found one where the emphasis was on the love and acceptance of God.
        After visiting about a half of a dozen churches in my area I was lucky enough to find a Nazarene Church that, while holding all of the key doctrines I believe in, puts the emphasis wholly upon the love of God and our need for Jesus.
        I have been attending that Church for about a year and half now and feel at home in a local congregation for the first time.
        My point is that sometimes you have to keep looking until you find your own Church “home” which is a good fit for you as an individual.

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Tom, I am so pleased that you discarded the baggage but not Jesus. The right congregation makes all the difference in benefitting from the believing community.

          • hchilds2015 says:

            Tom: I agree with all you have listed as baggage. I am grateful for a place to go where many of my own beliefs are confirmed as a logical way to see things. I am happy with my own United Methodist faith, but sometimes my mind takes me to places many Methodists would not go. Your blog seems to cover that territory very well.. Many older people remain stuck in the past, but at nearly 81, I have always tried to grow and evolve as I receive new information. We can all use encouragement that we are on the right path, or at least the best path we can find. When I read some thoughts of Christian Fundamentalists, I sometimes have a momentary doubt about my own belief in Jesus and in God, and whether I really want to be a Christian, because I disagree so much with their way of thinking. I’ve experienced some miracles in my lifetime, which have really strengthened my faith. But when others chip away at beliefs I have that are different from extremists, I do waiver a bit. Perhaps it is good, from time to time, to question our own beliefs, which tends to strengthen them in the end, instead of just by rote and have unquestioned beliefs. The questioning seems to keep the spirit alive. Thanks again for your helpful blog, for sharing your ideas, and helping other people to share as well.

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            HChilds, I am really glad that you are so happy with the UMC and that you continue to grow and develop, even if you sometimes question certain things. I think this is very healthy.

            I used to be a fundamentalist, and their beliefs sometimes do cause us to wonder whether they are right after all; but I think this is because they are so extreme and adamant. Once I began to grow out of fundamentalism I never felt drawn back, even when people were telling me I would go to hell for disagreeing with their doctrines.

            Your statement: “Questioning seems to keep the spirit alive.” is right on target in my opinion. Questioning is not a sign of loss of faith; it is a healthy process to prevent us from becoming rigid and tied to dead tradition. Thank you for visiting and commenting; you seem to be an enlightened mind.

  2. consultgtf says:

    Yes, As human I will fulfill all my duties only when I think, I am being watched and will be punished if I don’t follow the rules! How many of us will disagree with this confession, as I am born with free will, which I would like to test.
    If I can assume and change GOD, thinking that things will change accordingly, there can’t be a better fool than me!
    but this is/was tried by many, by so called intellectuals and kings, conducted elections to FINALISE GOD?

    And today after creating and worshiping new God, After 1690 years nothing has changed except, we suffer more and dying a pathetic.

    God is God,(I AM WHO I AM) as He commanded,
    “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”;

  3. Lemon says:

    @Jackie, I think that Universalists follow Jesus’s teachings but do not believe in hell or a wrathful God. We have a church called Circular Congregational who hold similar beliefs and are a Christian church. They exclude no one and even perform gay marriages. Great blog, Tim!

  4. lee says:

    I have come to believe these tenants. Hope there are more people who do as well.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Lee, there seem to be a rapidly growing number of believers who think this way. I am glad you are one of them!

  5. Cliff Jackson says:

    A missionary to the lost sheep outside and, especially, inside the fold, I, too, exhaust myself with religion and religiosity. Vainly, for years on end I carry on, misunderstood and pilloried by atheists and religionists alike, speaking their language, intersecting their lives, feeling their pain and confusion.

    Sometimes I despair.

    Then I withdraw a bit to re-energize, bloodied, scar tissue concealing the true cost: the wounds inflicted not by the atheists but by His own who know not what they do.

    His own who know the words but not their meaning, who chant the lyrics but hear no music, who bow and scrape to (their literalistic understanding of) every jot and tittle but know not the living Spirit residing in them, who religious-speak a time-warped language rather than understandable English, who sacrifice the very love of Christ upon the altar of the shibboleths of Holy Dogma.

    And at such times I crave the company of saintly sinners, authentic atheists, because they are real people, not religious robots parroting programmed mantras in robot-speak.

    My despair is deep. I just want to give up on them. The chasm is too wide. Between them and me a vast gulf is fixed.

    And it is lightless, a void, without hope or meaning, two parallel worlds, the only bridge my weary mind extending tendrils, paltry words, vainly into the darkness toward the other side.

    My shredded, bloodied Self, not fully crucified, rebels against His yoke, no longer easy but exhausting, futile, and Darkness calls my name: “It’s okay. You don’t have to do this anymore. You can give up. Simply curse God and die. Leave them in their literalistic legalism, for they are happy in the harbor of certitude.”

    But giving up is not in my nature so long as I have voice to speak for the voiceless, power to assert for the powerless, spiritual wrongs to be righted. Others walk away, vote with their feet and their pocketbooks. Not me. I re-join the fray.

    Because, you see, when I was lost and undone, He reached way down for me. When I was near to despair, He came to me there. And He told me that I could be free.

    Yes, He set me free, of this I give testimony here in the darkness between the two worlds: My Jesus set me free, giving me hope for my despair, peace for my troubled mind, and rest for my weary soul.

    I must freely give that which I have received. So I trudge on.

    As do you, my fellow sojourner on this road.

    Nice to find you! It is always better not to be alone, no?

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Cliff, I agree that interaction with some believers can be painful, but they are our brothers and sisters. I really like the sentiment you expressed though: “I crave the company of saintly sinners, authentic atheists, because they are real people.”

      It is wonderful to have a few fellow sojourners in life. It was nice to discover you, as well. It IS better not to be alone.

      • Thank you! I have extensive Facebook Notes, many on religious issues. Some are “out there”, probably beyond your parameters, especially my Daliesque “weirdest Easter sermon” in which I explore the nature of time, alternate/parallel universes, and alien “Jesuses”, in short, the ultimate expansionist view of the Resurrection.

        Would it shatter my faith if intelligent alien life is found in our universe? Nope. Nor other universes. God, the Creature lurking behind it all, is in control, n’est pas?

        Btw, please feel free to share any of my Facebook Notes you think might benefit your readers, and I will do the same. I am going to start at your second blog piece, having read the first, and go progressively through them. Over time, I will probably share them all. Thanks for thinking your thoughts and for sharing them!

  6. Tara says:

    Hi Tim,
    I first started my search today on Google and I am glad I read your blog. My problem with baggage is that I am a feminist and for the past year and a half I have struggled because I grew up in a Christian home and I still go to church but I feel so out of place because I do not agree with the oppression of women and that’s exactly what the bible says. I also believe in equal rights for all including the LGBT which most churches have a huge issue with. I know so many people who say you can’t choose bits and pieces of the bible to believe in but that’s exactly what I do because I refuse to believe and follow some of the stuff included in the bible. So now I ask myself, then what do I call myself, because it seems impossible to be a Christian and a feminist at the same time, though I do believe I am a Christian?!?

    • Chas says:

      Tara, when you say that you are a feminist, what does that mean?

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tara, I am glad you found the blog as well. Women are oppressed in many churches, and it is just wrong. I believe women (and girls) have the same value and access to the Father that men have. Often churches and leaders promote Patriarchy, in which women are subject to men, but this is misguided and unbiblical.

      I hope you visit again soon!

    • hchilds2015 says:

      Tara: I also have been a feminist since I was a little girl, but I’ve never seen that as a contradiction to my beliefs as a Christian. I just see that as faith and confidence in myself and in other women as well. I want to see justice and equality for women whenever it is being denied them. Tom has provided the best answer, a simple one. I do believe in equal rights for the LGBT as well, as long as attitudes do not become militant. As a feminist, I have strong beliefs, but am cautious about going too far to the extreme, as some women do. My personal test when I get too carried away, is to visualize a world in which there are no men, only women, and that brings me back to earth rather quickly.. We really need both to have a happy and balanced world. I think that is one of the reasons the Creator made us that way. I am not a literalist either. I treasure my Bible and there is guidance there if we seek it. But it was written a very long time ago, in different generations by different people, and translated from other languages. Sometimes I think that trying to follow it so closely is a sign of insecurity. God gave us magnificent brains that we can use to figure out contemporary issues by using that resource. It won’t always be perfect, but neither is the Bible in today’s world, which is so very different from when it was written. I think you can decide to be a Christian and a feminist, without trying to reconcile the two. You are charting your own course, and others do not need to agree with you. It is your life and you are doing a good job of figuring it out on your own.

  7. SallyA says:

    I am intrigued, seeking, and hopeful.

  8. Amy Haiken says:

    Tim, I’m so glad to see new entries! I love your positive message and outlook.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thank you Amy! I was interrupted from my usual cycle for a few months due to circumstances beyond my control. It is good to hear from you!

  9. eduardo martinez says:

    Hi to all. I’m a former ex Jehovah’s witnesses. And atheist for 13 years after I was disfellowship. I love to read and i’m proud of my critical thinking, I won’t fall in any other cult like org. Six months ago I was reading about Jesus, and after read Acts 7 59,60, my heart shook. I discovered I never knew him, so after reading and reading I happen to like him a lot, and be grateful for what he did for us; I always considered selfish from Jehovah to kill his son to vindicate his name, I wouldn’t do that to my son, but to think that God himself came to earth and suffer like us and died for us, well, that’s empathy and love. And after prayed for the first time in some years, I found peace and I knew he was listening to me. Anyway, my critical thinking is still on, and I don’t believe an actual flood happened, nor that some people will suffer for eternity in a literal hell, I don’t believe the bible is supposed to be taken literal or that is without errors; I’d like to say, the critical mind God gave me can’t handle that. And I can’t stand people who are judgmental or dogmatic like my former “brothers”, cause I find that unloving. Are there others like me? Your blog has helped me a lot to understand Jesus. And to know that I’m not alone loving him without baggage.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Welcome Eduardo! I read a lot too and depend on critical thinking. It does bring into question the validity of some beliefs we are taught, doesn’t it? I am glad you now have a strong relationship with Jesus–that is the most important thing of all. And a healthy relationship with Jesus produces love instead of dogmatism, judgmentalism, and condemnation.

      Good luck on your continued journey!

    • Chas says:

      I wonder to what extent judgmental or dogmatic behavior comes as the result of doubt in the minds of people who behave this way. Maybe they are fighting to retain a house that is built on sand. My Dad, who certainly did not believe, was able to undermine Jehovah’s Witnesses by merely pointing out that they believed that only 144,000 people were to go to Heaven and asking them how they knew that they were among that number. It seems that they were unable to reply.

  10. Nan says:

    I’m no longer a believer having left “the church” over 15 years ago. The last church services I attended were at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. At the time, they were most definitely without the “baggage” and were all about worship. I don’t know if this is how they are today, but for anyone looking to fellowship with like-minded people in the faith, it might be worth checking out.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Nan. I was never involved in Vineyard, but I read about it a good bit when it was first coming to people’s attention and for the next ten years or so. In fact, I had a very close friend who was part of Vineyard, and he was among the most balanced people I knew.

    • Chas says:

      Nan, you say that you are no longer a believer, although you give the impression that you liked the Vineyard Christian Fellowship experience. What caused you to cease to believe?

    • Deborah says:

      All I can say to fifteen years ago is way to long to tell any one to check it out. I attended the vineyard church for years. I was even a Sunday school teacher which is the one thing, I did right. The vineyard in it’s thoughts and ways are changing so fast I fear for them that they are losing their first love. I would not tell any one to go there. I love Jesus and I realize none of us have it all right. I think there is more to that story of the tower of Babel. God confused them for a reason. Think about it. I think God wants it to be one on one first because he knew when we come as a group we will try to take over and make it about us. I thank Jesus every day and do my best to let other people know what I am about.I am about Jesus and saving Grace and Love for me.I refuse to shrink back from man and most people I meet respect this and tell me I will have to think about it.Let’s get more people to think about Jesus. God the Father is able to do the rest. Loving Jesus is the best thing I will ever do!

  11. John Messimer says:

    I have been an Episcopalian all of my life and not saying there has been baggage in the past. We seem to be dealing with a lot of the doctrinal items that kept us from truly expressing the Gospel, such as female clergy, gay ordination and gay marriage. I truly sense we are very aware of the past baggage and the new baggage some wish to bring forward or at least hang on to the old baggage. In all of this I have never lost the abiding faith in Jesus, only strengthened my belief that our only law is to love one another as he loved us.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      John, as you point out–religious baggage is not limited to fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. All traditions carry some amount of baggage they need to work through.

  12. Carol Allen says:

    ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS I AM A CHRISTIAN AND WOW-WOW -WOW

  13. Mike says:

    Thank you for this.
    due to events on my life I needed spiritual healing and I found a great church with a great community of people. I honestly can’t buy into the contradictions and negativity that floods the stories in the bible. I do believe however that Jesus was a MAN who did die for what he believed in. Salvation for mankind. Anyway, I am glad to have found at least one person who feels like I do

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Mike, I am so glad you found a great church for you; I know how good it is to find one! And I am also happy that you seem to have enjoyed what you found here. There is so many baggage beliefs that get in the way of hearing and following Jesus.

      Be sure to let me know if you think I can help in any way.

      Have a great day! ~Tim

  14. tony says:

    I believe in Jesus, but i dont fully believe everything in the bible!
    If i could i would love a bible with just the red bits of what Jesus sais! Any such thing? Appart from cutting my bible up! Lol…
    I really do find all the rules in Religion alot of rubbish & rubbish made by men & not GOD!
    GOD would not set one lot of people against another or send plagues to people!
    I really cant believe some Christians believe all that stuff! And then ya hear GOD works in strange ways! No i think thats people!
    I believe in Jesus & i think some things he said was taken wrong by people too & thats why one reason i would probebly not be accepted in ya everyday church! I also believe Jesus was very much into getting people to realise just how powerful we truely are & to tell us that GOD is within everything & always is!
    be nice to meet like minded people 😃

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I was raised with a lot of that religious baggage, but I have worked through much of it and now I would not be considered acceptable by many churches either. However, as I have learned–there are a LOT of us in that situation, and it is nice that a number of us are able to interact with each other here. Like-minded people, as you say.

      Welcome to Jesus without baggage! I hope you continue to visit and interact as you feel inclined.

  15. Camryn says:

    Thank you so much. I definitely identify with the first person you said this is for. I got tired of the church and of God and completely dropped Jesus along with it. I definitely missed feeling the comfort of Christ being my savior but still felt that the rest of Christianity was a bunch of bull. I’m glad to hear others are the same way. I was always taught “you can’t take bits and pieces of the bible.”

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Camryn, I have discovered over the past few years that there are a LOT of people who are the same way. And I am happy to say that some of them, like you, find support in this blog and others.

      I hope you continue visiting and that you participate as you feel inclined. We don’t have all the answers, but please let me know if you feel I can be of help to you. You can even contact me by email if you prefer (see Contact on the menu band at the top of each page).

  16. Jesus is a person, not a religion. As a new Christian, it was hard for me to decipher the difference between religion and a genuine walk of faith in Christ. God has been faithful to show me the difference and my journey has many points in common with yours. I really don’t fare too well with religious folks and it helps me to know that Jesus didn’t either. It was unspiritual, religious leaders who put Jesus on the cross. Now, the same kind of people try to keep Him there!

  17. Tim. Love your site. I’m C of E (English Anglican, like you Episcopalians) by tradition, though increasingly coming to terms with a personal revelation I had — That Christianity is essentially life without bull****; that the rituals, rules and strictures are exactly what He did not want us to follow, but came to free us from. Cheers. Miles.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks Miles! I hope you continue to visit–and interact if you so desire.

      • Thanks, Tim – I will.

        I went for a walk today, to think. I’ve recently decided to leave my church. Not a particularly fundamentalist crowd (C of E, like I said), but a very conservative (Tory, over here). I found that I could not reconcile the hypocrisy of congratulating ourselves on raising £700 for Christian Aid while most subscribe to a political party that perpetuates the need for the most hard-pressed in my country to rely on food banks to survive.

        • On top of this, I began to wonder if the smells and bells and ritual were really necessary – None of that in the Gospels. Then I got to thinking of Jesus’ teachings: Basically taking the power from the priests and giving it to the proles; making all food clean and emphasising that what’s in you heart is what counts. End of. That’s why I see the likes of Islam, which came later and went boosh — here’s a another nice fat rule-book, with the utmost suspicion.

          • Sorry – You’ll notice that I’m new to this WordPress malarky and haven’t figured out how to edit.

            Anyway, for sometime I’ve also critically studied scripture and though “really?”. I’ve increasingly come to accept that Jesus is God Incarnate, not God Inlibrate (i.e. in book form). I’ve ultimately come to the point where I desire Jesus in my life without, as you say, the baggage.

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Yes Miles, I often find commenting on less familiar formats to be a bit tricky as well, but I think everything came through in a clear sequence.

        I wish you a good transition as you leave the Church of England. I think it is important for a person to find a community that is sufficiently compatible with their beliefs and tastes. I personally do not care for the highly liturgical services of some services, but I know it suits other people very well. And I also have difficulty that seem to align with a political party; we have that same problem among many of our churches in America as well.

        I really like your concept that Jesus is not ‘God Inlibrate’. This is a VERY good way of describing some people’s approach to the Bible–an approach that I cannot support. Thanks again for the contribution of your comments here.

  18. Conway says:

    Tim, what sort of Christian do you consider yourself to be? It seems I along with many other bloggers here including yourself have very similar views as to what type of religion suits us best and that our love for Jesus and our Father come before any world wide third world (or less) “religion”. So when you strike a conversation about the Lord and someone asks you what type of Christian are you now? What is your reply? I personally tell people I am just “simply Christian”. Does that even make sense?

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Conway, I have spent a lot of time trying to determine how I should describe myself in answer to the question, ‘What kind of Christian are you?’

      I consider myself an evangelical, though many evangelicals would vehemently disagree. But I have the fire of the good news of Jesus burning in all my being and feel compelled to share the good news to those who are interested (without the usual attempt to convert or recruit them to ‘my views’).

      Some people consider me a progressive believer, but the term ‘progressive’ is used in different ways by various groups and can mean emergent, progressive in worship, focused on progressive Christian politics, or progressive in denying Jesus’ uniqueness and his resurrection. I am none of these.

      I prefer to call myself a believer or follower of Jesus, though those are both vague descriptions. Sometimes I say that I am a theologically progressive evangelical–figure that one out!

      Your response of ‘simply Christian’ is a good one, in my opinion. I try to stay away from using ‘Christian’ myself–certainly not because I do not follow Christ–but because the word Christian carries so much baggage in the minds of many people. However, I think it is a valid response and appropriate to those who choose it for themselves.

      Labels are very useful but are always so inadequate! They often serve as short answers to a question that requires more nuanced explanation. Thanks for this excellent question; what are your thoughts?

  19. Tony McGurk says:

    2 weeks ago I left the Jehovah’s Witness religion because from reading the Bible without the Watchtower publications telling me what to think & believe regarding their interpretation as well as much online research about their history & activities that have been hushed up by the leaders, I came to the conclusion that they are not what they claim to be. My conscience would not allow me to continue as part of it all. Found your about page both interesting & helpful as the Watchtower piles on the extra baggage like no other.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I am glad you broke away from a group that did not allow you to think for yourself. It is easy to just accept some authority to dictate what is true, but being spoon-fed is ultimately unsatisfying when one begins to think and question the authority. It is also a burden on our humanness in determining our own thoughts.

      Indeed, the Watchtower does pile on the baggage, but I am not certain they are the masters at it; fundamentalist Christianity piles on plenty of baggage as well.

      • Tony McGurk says:

        I put a post on Facebook on Monday for all my JW friends stating that I was no longer considered myself a witness due to my conscience not allowing me to accept doctrines & practices that I felt were out of harmony with scripture. I stated that I still viewed them all as friends & loved them dearly but if they chose to unfriend me that was their personal choice. I came home from work Tuesday & couldn’t believe the attacks I had received in the comments under my post from so many of my “loving Christian friends”, Every one of them accused me of rejecting God which is an outright lying accusation as I’ve not done so. I have felt closer to God in the last 2 weeks than I have in the past 20 years as a JW. . One woman who lives locally & is one of my wife’s best friends & a good friend of mine too said that I obviously have no love for Jehovah & his Son whatsoever & don’t care about my wife or any of my JW friends or I wouldn’t be doing this to them, as though I’ve committed some kind of heinous crime or something. . Then she unfriended me… My wife who’s still 100% loyal to the JW Governing Body Leadership tried to defend them by saying “It’s just because they’re concerned”. Yeah right… I’d previously read warnings on a few ex-JW websites saying that even close friends you’ve known for years will turn on you in an instant if you leave, I still wasn’t really prepared for the extent nastiness I received..

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Tony, I am so sorry for the response you received from you former friends and co-religionists. But I am not surprised; exclusivist groups who feel they, alone, have the truth tend to respond this way.

          However, your message to them may yet lodge in their minds and cause some of them to begin, or continue, their journey of questioning what they have been taught. I hope you feel support in your new journey from others you know and who care for you.

          • Tony McGurk says:

            From what I’ve read Tim on ex-JW sites it’s a common response & I also understand why they think the way they do due to the conditioning by the organization. It seems that people need to be ready to question & have doubts for God to see in their hearts that it’s time to have their eyes opened as any amount of reasoning with them just falls on deaf ears & no matter how much evidence is shown they just shrug it off with a totally indifferent attitude. I have seen this 1st hand with my wife who’s still 100% into it.

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            I think it is good that you are connected to ex-JW sites. I have not seen them, but I know that ex sites can be very supportive of new exes.

            On my only visit to a Kingdom Hall many years ago, I observed that no one said anything original. Instead of a self-prepared sermon or lesson, the speaker read straight from a Watchtower publication. No independent thought at all.

            I don’t know if this is the common practice, but it seemed routine for that Hall. Even when they approach my door, they seem to stay close to the literature they bring with them.

        • Tony McGurk says:

          Yes Tim that’s the way it works. On Sunday meetings there is what they call a public talk which is a sermon. They have a whole host of different talk outlines & various speakers are assigned different talks to do. The outline contains the main points to be discussed & the scripture references that are to be used. These outlines come from the head honchos & the speakers write their individual talks but must stick to the main points in the outline & use the cited scriptures. After the public talk there is the 1 hour Watchtower Magazine Study. Each WT contains 4 study articles, one for each Sunday of the month. The article is read a paragraph at a time & the printed question at the bottom of the page for the corresponding paragraph is asked. People put their hands up & the elder conducting the Study selects someone to answer. The question is based on the paragraph & the answer is IN the paragraph. Some read the answer from the paragraph, some parapharase it into their own words but it is still an answer that is designed to be given by the Leaders at head office. It is an accepted understanding that your answers are in line with JW teachings & the subject of the paragraph. I gave a rather controversial opinion in my answer once & was accosted after the meeting by a very angry elder. The mid-week meeting is the same, all designed around the Governing Body overlords in Brooklyn so that no one can go off on their own tangent & risk teaching something doctrinally unacceptable. No room for “independent thinking” as they call it. Independent thinking is of the devil & seeks to undermine the unity of the congregation & there are regular warnings about it. Once you start to think for yourself. independently form the WT’s controlled environment you soon start to see it for what it really is & that is the one thing the leaders fear.

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thanks for the insights into Kingdom Hall protocol. That makes sense of my observations.

            ‘No independent thinking’ is always a bad idea because no one is unassailably correct in all their thinking. Besides, weren’t both Russell and Rutherford very independent thinkers?

          • Tony McGurk says:

            Yes but it was OK for them as they were the doctrine & rule makers. Russel broke away from organized/institutionalized religion to seek Bible truth independent from Church control. He & his small group of Bible students wanted to get back to the roots of Christianity but as so often is the case with break away groups they soon became that which they wanted to escape from only much more controlling

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Yes, original thinkers frequently create compelling ideas that then become the new restrictive, controlling ideology that must be escaped.

  20. George says:

    Love the site and the thought space you’re nurturing here. I hunger for the discussions, frustrated at how so many can’t even get to a place to enter the discussion. I can’t help but automatically classify the site as “liberal”… which speaks to my habit of unnecessary judgement perhaps, and that is a bit of a turn off for me. Unfairly to be sure, since many of my own positions are “liberal” but I despise the label. I want to know whatever is true, plain and simple, and I’ve come to believe with some level of confidence, that this life is far more than what the world says it is, that God exists, and love is a central if not the primary purpose behind it all, and subsequently, that Jesus has a special role in our purpose here. No one demonstrates or teaches of love better than Jesus, and it doesn’t matter what you believe about him, you can follow him even as you question everything about him. Following, step by step, loving a bit here a bit there, and moving where he leads us, that doesn’t require anything but a little trust. My following Jesus started long before I ever read any significant part of the Bible. The Bible though caused me to stumble when I did get to it… I started from the Jesus bits and moved backwards… and the farther back I went the less it made sense to me. At some point, I had to change how I considered the Bible… instead of a single thing, it’s a sampling of the minds of followers across time, with all the cultural biases and historical nuances and political meddling. I’ve had to reach outside of this document stream to help me interpret the mess of it. But what additional sources are reasonable? For me the most reasonable has been near-death-experience research. Honestly, that has been the foundation for me. I can trust consistent testimony from folks across generations, cultures, religions… all speaking of a fundamental reality that seems to resonate deeply with Jesus core themes, teachings and message. The testimony from this source is that the absolute most important aspect of our life is loving, in all its depth and breadth. Interpreting the Bible with this in mind, I can arrive and most of the same positions you speak of here: obviously, if you aren’t loving, you aren’t following Jesus. Even as I know this is true, that love is central and that God is loving if not love itself, I can’t quite dismiss Hell, Satan, and Evil. I can’t quite dismiss Atonement, I can’t just accept that at-one-ment is all there is to the atonement tradition. There are NDE’s that reflect something of these darker aspects. No doubt, the predominant message from NDE testimonies is clearly love, but the whole idea that “you can’t truly understand the love of God without understanding his wrath” rings true to me despite its bitter taste. Why does it ring true? I don’t know. Does it ring true to you? Is there a way to make sense of atonement even as we put Love in the center where it belongs?

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi George, welcome to JWOB. I don’t consider myself theologically liberal, though it doesn’t bother me when people use the term. And of course many conservative believers call everyone a liberal if they deviate from their ideas. The term I use most often, when such a term is needed, is ‘theologically progressive evangelical’. However, I am not sure how useful labels are because each one has a broad scope.

      I love your statement: “No one demonstrates or teaches of love better than Jesus, and it doesn’t matter what you believe about him, you can follow him even as you question everything about him. Following, step by step, loving a bit here a bit there, and moving where he leads us, that doesn’t require anything but a little trust.” It is so true.

      Jumping into the Old Testament can really be confusing–and distressing, but I am glad you concluded, correctly, that it represents the thoughts of many people, all of whom were bound by their culture and limited understanding.

      We seem to think differently about ‘God’s wrath’, but that’s okay. I don’t accept the view of an angry, violent, and vindictive God. If you are interested, I have a number of posts on the topic, as well as articles from other people, at https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/books-and-resources/angry-god-and-the-father/.

      I hope you continue to visit the blog and interact in the discussion to the extent that you wish.

      • George says:

        Thanks for the invite to jump into the discussions. I think I will. :)

        Great link and I am in alignment with a belief in a God that isn’t vindictive. That petty, easily angered depiction of God, I have no problem dismissing. I’ve reoriented my view of the “wrath of God” with Jesus’ warning in his sheep and goats story Matthew 25:31-46. I think God will be brutally truthful as we are judged (together if NDE’s are to be believed) where we see the truth of how we were really loving in our lives. I haven’t chased down the textual history, to see how it may have been embellished, but the theme seems consistent across the story. The text here would seem to suggest there is eternal punishment. Whether God inflicts that punishment or not, I think is an interesting question. It seems to me, that under the full scrutiny of seeing the consequences of your actions or inactions, one might be tempted to blame God or forever turn away from God in an attempt to avoid the pain of humility.

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          I am glad you don’t embrace the petty, angry God idea. And I like your idea that God will be very honest in showing us our flawed lives, but I don’t think there is any eternal punishment except in that those who might reject God’s offer of eternal life will cease to exist–eternally at their own choice.

          • George says:

            “except in that those who might reject God’s offer of eternal life will cease to exist–eternally at their own choice”, I haven’t really heard this before. Certainly in-line with a God who freely lovingly gives us freedom. Could one choose to exist but to not love? That’s the notion of hell that I can understand. But, as Andy Stanley has said when asked, “what do you think of Rob Bell’s book” in reference to Love Wins, “I sure hope he’s right, don’t you?”. I hope hell doesn’t exist. People sure do seem to choose a hell on earth at times.

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            George, the concept of rejecting God’s offer of eternal life and ceasing to exist is called ‘conditional immortality’ and has a strong following among some evangelicals. If you are interested in reading more about it, you can take a look at these two articles:

            https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/who-would-reject-the-father/

            https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/conditional-immortality-and-natural-death/

            Let me know what your think! ~Tim

    • Tony McGurk says:

      Hey George, aI’ve just left the Jehovah’s Witnesses after 20 years & am undergoing a complete reassessment of my beliefs. Your simple statement spoke volumes to me. “No one demonstrates or teaches of love better than Jesus, and it doesn’t matter what you believe about him, you can follow him even as you question everything about him. Following, step by step, loving a bit here a bit there, and moving where he leads us, that doesn’t require anything but a little trust.”
      I’m going to copy & print this & stick it inside the front cover of my Bible as a reminder of the need to keep my focus on Jesus & the love he shows us & also teaches us to show to others. Thank you for this spiritual gem.

  21. Ahmed says:

    I’m Muslim and I feel the same way as most on this blog. I believe in God. I like this idea of no baggage. It could bring about great dialog.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Welcome Ahmed, it is good to hear a Muslim voice. I agree with you abut dialog; the baggage of various religions, as opposed to the central principles, often makes dialog all but impossible.

      I would be interested to know what kinds of baggage you have abandoned–if you wish to share.

      • Ahmed says:

        My religion may seem very strict and strange to many. There so much disagreement among various sects of what should be very simple. So much so that to some it is almost impossible to live in a modern world. There are different views even in families. What should be simple. Like the golden rule in the injil Gospel of Jesus pbuh. All of us believe in this or should. I have found that my relationship with God must be mine. I can not have a leader or so called holy man interpret for me who to like or hate. Hate is the problem. I have must love all human kind. I can stay away from the trouble makers. I wish more muslins truthful and speak against aggression. We must never forget suffering people,it causes wars. Jews, Christians, Muslims have all suffered enough. Do on to others as you want them to do to you.

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Ahmed, I am very encouraged to read your comment. I also cannot allow any leader to tell me who to like or hate, and in fact, based on the teachings of Jesus (pbuh), I do not hate anyone. I vocally oppose those misguided Christians who angrily and violently speak against Muslims as a group, or any other group, as some are accustomed to do. This aggression is not according to the teaching and actions of Jesus (pbuh).

          I know that Muslims all are taught to respect Jesus (pbuh) and the Injil, but I am also aware that there are some Muslims who follow Jesus (pbuh) in a much more devoted way and read the Injil for guidance. You sound as though you might be among these. Am I correct?

  22. Ahmed says:

    I believe in all the prophets. Adam pbuh Abraham pbuh Moses pbuh Mohammad pbuh. etc. Jesus is special. Because of his birth, his mother being special among other women, and healing the sick raising the dead. Plus he is coming back. The others are in their graves. They were men and died. They are in their graves peace be upon them all. So just what I read in faith runs very close to the gospel. Yes Jesus pbuh is awesome. Awesome is my word. God is awesome. Some ways we are close to Jewish faith and in other ways we are close to the Christians. I am a strong believer in being different. That it is ok. That we were made this way so we would have to come together. That perhaps there’s a reason or purpose to all this madness in the world. It has always been there. Love and respect support of all human beings is the only rule that can bring us together. The golden rule. To do away with all prejudice against all people. That’s not a dream it’s a relationship. Something we owe to all of mankind.
    It is not this kind of love that our God wants us to express. Is it not what Jesus taught us about. Is it not what Gandhi Martin Luther King jr. Mother Teresa Great men women of all different points of view all have in common? Wow I hope I am not preaching. I’m not a fan of preaching. I like to experience and reason.

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Ahmed, whether or not you are ‘preaching’ I like what you say. I agree Jesus (pbuh) is special, and I don’t think he is pleased with all the conflict and prejudice among different followers. Relationships are better than conflict and prejudice.

      You are a very interesting person, Ahmed. Do you happen to live near Florida in the USA? I would like to meet you.

  23. Ahmed says:

    Post thought. Thank you and your fellow blogger for allowing me to share on your site. Jesuswithoutbaggage. God bless you for your kindness

  24. Joshua says:

    Jesus/Yeshua will be when logic, narrative thoughts are no more. He knows every agenda and as David murdered an innocent man Urias to covet his wife and was deep in sin and burdened by it, came to himself through conviction and was humbled in receiving forgiveness as well as consequences for his actions. We too can be exalted from the mask of bondage.

    Our faith is that and when religion starts to be seen this is when we must reflect on ourselves. No it does not mean disregard the laws of God but it does mean know that the word can change anything. I fall…but my faith reminds me to get up because it’s NOT about me. God cares for everyone NOT just saints but he does not care for the pride of life that we Christians sometimes display.

    Those who do not believe what is written is written yet just because we believe without faith it is written for us as well.

    In the end caring baggage wether saved or no can be extremely dangerous and counter productive to furthering the Kingdom agenda.

    Which is to be holy, consecrated, set aside through the blood of Jesus by faith in his death, burial, & resurrection. And to love God with all our heart, mind and soul.

    If we do this, imperfect as we may be, I’m convinced God is pleased.

    We should never gloss over sin nor should we focus on it either but love covers a multitude of sins. Just as Paul/Saul was forgiven of pursecution of Christians, Peter of denying Christ himself we must see the heart of man is truely what God sees….and without FAITH it’s impossible to please him.

  25. jfranks3 says:

    Hi!

    I am a lover, follower, and believer in Jesus! I’ve read through your major baggage issues and I definitely agree that it’s important to focus on Jesus above other secondary issues. I have a couple questions I’d like to ask:

    1) do you believe that God has a side of anger & judgment? Or just love?

    2) what is your specific view on the bible?

    3) are there any rules or regulations that you use to govern your life so that you are living a Christ-like life?

    I hope to start a great dialogue with you about these things!

    Thanks!

  26. maria says:

    Hello,
    My name is Maria and I am Greek orthodox. I believe in God and Jesus, however I don’t believe in church. It is very confusing to me because i am “supposed” to go to church every sunday and I just don’t find t need to do so. God is everywhere and in our everyday actions, and loving all,even the ones who don’t love us back, is the most important teaching of Jesus. I hate the hypocricity of most churchgoers at my local church who go to church every sunday only to go home and gossip, and even worst the ones who cannot understand the true teachings of Jesus and have no love in their hearts.Even though I feel ok about not going to church too often I have two small children and i do want them to believe in god and jesus too. Is it really so nessecary to attend church? I am so glad I have found your blog.

    • consultgtf says:

      Believing in God, means a lot! It is very nice to hear you say “I don’t believe in church” True, the present churches of any denomination is bent upon driving their message rather than “what God, wants to tell us” But why?
      The answer is, NO ONE is interested in listening to GOD! As this requires us to REPENT and FORGIVE others! which is HUMANLY impossible, Then the only option left is listen what the priest/pastor tells us, How many of us remember the “Bible readings” read during the mass, after the Mass? But on the other hand we spend enough money 1) to Buy the ticket 2) to Travel and get the parking slot 3) Spend money to buy some snack during interval… Total about 5 hrs of our time is spent for a illusion movie! why?
      Because, I like the Hero or heroine or … But what the use of going to church? No break or snacks! And no one talks about the REAL GOD and his commandments!

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Maria, I visited a Greek Orthodox church once. I had two years of Greek in college, and while the officiant was chanting with the censer (if I have the terms right) I was thumbing through the liturgical book in the pew and stumbled upon his text. It was exciting to read along with him!

      There are many believers who no longer feel that attending church regularly is of much benefit. I think the reason is that many churches are no longer relevant to people’s needs. In the past, people attended anyway out of duty, but that is no longer as motivating as it was.

      I was out of church for several years due to illness, and when I went back it seemed like a tiresome, unfulfilling routine. So I have visited churches only occasionally over the past few years. However, there are two things I miss a lot–communion and community. I really feel it is important to take communion (the bread and wine) that signifies my connection with the universal body of the church. And I miss the experience of being part a company of likeminded believers for fellowship and for building each other up.

      I agree that many churches have too much baggage for it to be a satisfying and nourishing experience, but I am currently looking for a church that meets my need without too much unnecessary baggage. Nothing is more satisfying than being in a church that fits–but even then I don’t think there is a need to feel obligated to go every service or get involved in things that are of no interest.

      I hope this helps. What do you think?

      • mrayia says:

        Well communion is very important but as far as the community goes, that’s a tough one around here where going to church is like a social event, to see and to be seen and show off your new clothes and such.. My mother in law also goes to that church and she always makes comments to me on how to act, what I should or shouldn’t say etc. \it can be very frustrating when all I want is just go and bring my children to take communion. As a result I stopped going as much..maybe I will be able to find a different one near by.

        I just don’t want any baggage!!! It so upsetting to me to see so many people go to church every sunday yet their heart is black as coal…what is the point? God is about love and forgiveness!!

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          I understand what you are saying, and I agree. I don’t think most churches represent the exciting community of like-minded friends I envision. And if one cannot be their self at church, then I think it is too much a social group or a group tied to tradition and routine; the church is not a club.

          I hope you find a church you like; in fact, I hope I find a church I like! But even then, I don’t think being part of a group is a commitment to be there every service, or even every week. It is important for us to help others, but it doesn’t have to be in church; and if we are not being fed, it is difficult to feed others.

          • mrayia says:

            I like your thinking…I would like to ask you something else I am having trouble with..
            As we know, Jesus’ teachings are all about love and forgiveness, which is what I am all about. When someone doesn’t treat you right ( an extended family member), when is ok to let go and is letting go not forgiving them? I have been putting a lot of effort in this relationship for 5 years now always making excuses and not paying attention…yet I am tired of always being the one trying..How can you keep true to your self and not letting your ego take over while protecting yourself from one’s unloving and unkind behavior? Believing in Jesus’ teachings doesn’t mean we should be a pushover, yet letting your ego take over is the biggest culprit?
            p.s I do live in Greece now, after having lived in the states for 12 years, in a small village surrounded by small minded, judgmental and sometimes hateful people…

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Mrayia, I would first like to note something I failed to address in your original message: “I have two small children and I do want them to believe in God and Jesus too.”

            I struggled with this when my son was growing up. One thing I did was to bring good books into the home that were appropriate to his age and which presented God and Jesus the right way. Storybooks about Jesus are usually okay (though not always), but storybooks from the Old Testament are often depict God as angry and violent.

            Another thing is to spend time with them talking about Jesus and also discussing sermons from church that are off base. I wish I had done a better job than I did of protecting him from bad influences at church and Sunday school. These things might be obvious, but I wanted to mention them.

            Regarding forgiving others, I think many people have the wrong idea about forgiveness. I agree that we should forgive people as many times as needed, but this does not mean we should act as if hurtful things never happened. When we hurt someone and they forgive us, it does not mean that it is as though what we did never happened. The wounds and scars and other consequences continue. Forgiveness means that we don’t continue to hold the hurt against them; it does not mean that the pain goes away or that we should allow ourselves to be vulnerable to further harm.

            An extreme example is abusive violence. Some believers say that a woman should forgive and stay with a husband who beats her from time to time. I disagree. Forgiving him does not mean you are now available for another round of violence. Sometimes forgiveness should come with a restraining order. The woman does not alienate the relationship by protecting herself, it is the man who alienates by repeated violence.

            When someone hurts us, I think we should ALWAYS forgive them. But that does not prevent us from calling them out on repeated behaviors and telling them the truth. We don’t have to be dishonest and act like there is nothing wrong in the relationship, because part of the relationship is the history of being hurt–and we don’t have to pretend it is not an issue. Sometimes it is better to restrict a relationship or even end it. We can still forgive the person–but at a distance.

            I don’t know if this helps, but I feel strongly about this issue and the way it is often distorted.

          • mrayia says:

            Thank you so much. Yes it does help a lot! I have been trying to distance myself, even though i feel a bit guilty for being upset or taking things personally, and we will see what happens I don’t have any ill feelings towards her, I sympathize with her yet I feel like I have had enough… I will let you know how it goes…

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            “I don’t have any ill feelings towards her, I sympathize with her.”

            This sounds like the definition of forgiveness to me. I hope it works out well; and if she asks why you are not as available, perhaps an honest answer without negative emotion might help–or not.

  27. Ann says:

    I am a 66 year old woman who has always believed in Jesus. I was turned off to church at a young age because of the double standards I saw there. Recently my son has started attending a nondenominational bible based church. He is excited about me going with him. I went even though it was extremely hard. I like the music and the pastor. My question is can I attend this church if I do not embrace all their doctrines. Online the minister gave an apology to the L/Gay community for any offense given any slang, inappropriate behavior by his congregation.!? He offered love and an invitation to attend but followed with Bible verses re: the sin of same sex relationships, ect. To me, this is the kind of judgemental behavior that turned me off in the beginning. I believe that everyone is equally loved and accepted by God. I long for a supportive community as I am fairly isolated in my life but wonder if this is a healthy choice for me. I have told my son that I will attend ocasionally. I have listened to some of the sermons online so was somewhat surprised by the L/Gay statement. What do you think?

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Ann, the church can sometimes be quite rough on its members, visitors, and even people who do not attend. I am sorry you were alienated by the church at such a young age.

      In answer to your question, I don’t feel that I have to agree with all the doctrines of a church in order to attend there, because if any two people agree on every religious issue then at least one of them is not thinking. If we are picky about every belief, we can become exclusive, self-righteous, and never find a church.

      However, I would have problems with certain major issues, and if a minister is constantly preaching that being gay is a sin–that would be one of them. But if this is only an isolated statement I would not necessarily leave, depending on the situation. The way you described the minister, it is possible that he is on a journey to be more accepting of gays and just needs more time and growth.

      If you generally like the music and the pastor, that is quite a good thing. If the differences are not too grating perhaps it could be a good place for you–especially if your son is going there. But in the end, only you can decide whether you are sufficiently comfortable with the church.

      • Matt says:

        I would say go for your son! You don’t have to agree with them, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs, just as you are.Unless they tell you that you are not welcome if you don’t believe as they do.Go to support your son in finding his own path.Who knows, maybe you could open some minds there.

    • Chas says:

      Ann, If I had to agree with all of their doctrines, there is no way that I would be able to go to the church that I do. I go, not as a member of their organisation, but as a child of God. The pastor has never asked me what I believe and I haven’t volunteered the information to him. I speak to those to whom God wants me to speak: that is my ministry.

  28. Matt says:

    Good morning! My name is Matt Ryan, I am 52 years old, raised Catholic (which really did a number on me). I really like this blog, and I have to say I don’t really know how blogs work. I have studied “A Course In Miracles” for about 4 years and I had to put it down because I became to confused. I stuck with it ’cause it spoke to alot of the beliefs I’ve always had. Similar to this blog. In “ACIM” which was apparently written by Jesus. He talks about things like He would never have condemned Judas, and how God is not vengeful, and how sin is not real. I have also been soured on Jesus because of all the fanatics that go around shoving Jesus down your throat and telling you if you don’t confess your sins you’re going to hell.Anyway, I hope that wasn’t offensive.

    I am a very kind and loving and open minded man and all I want to do is accept Jesus into my life and my heart. “ACIM” also says that it’s not the crucifixion ( Jesus’s death) that we are suppose to focus on but the resurrection( proof that He, and we, cannot die). I have tried everything prayer, meditation, studying spirituality, the Bible, A Course In Miracles, surrender… and nothing seems to work for me.The internet is full of ways to accept Jesus, but they all say the same thing, confess your sins and thank Jesus for dying. Can anyone help me accept Jesus into my life without “the Baggage” of having to say I’m a sinner, or focusing on Jesus’s death?

    Thanks for any feedback you may give. I am really down in the dumps and things just aren’t working out for me, this blog has been a small ray of hope for me.

    God Speed, and God Bless!
    Matt

    • Chas says:

      Matt, Having read a little about ‘A Course in Miracles,’ it is clear that it was not written by Jesus, as its author claimed, but was in fact written by a woman whose name I have now forgotten, and who is now dead. The ideas put forward are full of contradictions, which is a clear sign of human authorship. It also claims that nobody is responsible for any action that they have taken that led to suffering, but that people who are experiencing suffering are just imagining it!

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Matt,

      I am glad you are finding this blog useful, and I have enjoyed your comments. You mention that you don’t know how blogs work, so if you have questions about it just let me know and I will see if I can clarify for your.

      Let me say that I know what you mean about the message on how to accept Jesus; it is true that many believers are very vocal about it and seem to: “All say the same thing, confess your sins and thank Jesus for dying.” I wrote about this recently at https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/when-the-good-news-of-jesus-doesnt-sound-like-good-news-at-all/.

      If you are drawn to Jesus, all you have to do is follow him; no rituals or special words are necessary. Repenting only means changing your mind and identification to Jesus. Confessing means to acknowledge that you are a flawed and imperfect person. Identifying with Jesus usually involves baptism, but I assume that as a Catholic you are already baptized.

      I recommend that you read my recent series on the Good News of Jesus. It begins with https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/what-is-the-good-news-of-jesus-anyway/, and the rest of the series is listed at the bottom of the post.

      I remember ACIM from when it was popular in the 1980s and 90s, but I never read through it. I think it is good that you put it down. I agree with Chas that it was not written by Jesus but by a Helen Schucman who claimed she received visions and such from Jesus. You mention that she says the resurrection of Jesus is more important than the crucifixion as opposed to what some people claim. I agree with that statement, though I am not sure I would agree with her full meaning and context of the statement.

      I hope you find this response useful. If you have any further questions AT ALL, I am happy to interact with them. I hope you have a good day, and I look forward to hearing from you.

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