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

149 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.

  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!

  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!

  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.

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