I wrote this a couple years back, in regards to why I lost my faith. It’s not about the intellectual arguments, for me; it’s about the relationship I was promised, and that was never delivered:
Let’s consider our sundry human relationships. We generally engage in direct verbal communication with friends, with family, with coworkers. When we desire to convey an idea or express a sentiment, we do so, verbally and in person. Christians like to characterize their faith as a “relationship, not religion”, at least in the church circles I grew up in. So let’s evaluate that “relationship”.
Does God communicate with us verbally and in person? With scant exceptions, I’ve rarely found anyone who makes this claim. No, he communicates via inspiration, whether in timely thoughts during prayer, pervasive feelings or overwhelming emotion induced by worship songs, or moments of epiphany whilst reading his purportedly divinely inspired text. That’s the way the vast majority of Christians claim to communicate with their God. Yet, this sort of communication is fundamentally different from how we engage in human-to-human interactions.
This may sound puerile, but I’ll make my point. I have an earthly, human father. We don’t have an amazing relationship by any means, but we certainly do like each other and enjoy one another’s company. We talk about sports, about music, about movies. As in, we talk with each other. Verbally. Audibly. When I’m home from college, I still hug him before bed every night.
Does God do any of that?
Not in my experience. But it gets better. You know how Christians adore appeals to common experience as evidence of a greater reality? As in, humans tend to experience commonalities in terms of emotional desires and moral sensibilities across cultures, therefore we must be created by a Creator and even meant for another world altogether (according to Lewis). To quote one of my favorite bands: “Don’t we all want to belong? Don’t we all learn right from wrong? Don’t we all want to be loved?” Presumably these desires emanate from a Creator, precisely because they are meant to be fulfilled, if not now then in the hereafter. So, let’s run with that. Let’s presuppose the truthfulness of that assertion.
In that case, why did I grow up with an intense, innate desire to directly communicate with my Creator?
God evidently saw no pressing need to fulfill that desire. It obviously didn’t matter how much I wanted to communicate with him. How much I prayed, night after night, for years. How much I wept, how much I begged, how much I pleaded for something, anything to show me that God was actually there and actually cared about me. Instead I got a book. A dry old tome that frankly bored me to tears most of the time, though I never dared to admit that to anyone. I got vaguely positive feelings. I got indirect messages of love and approval from friends, family, and ministers. What did God give me? Nothing. Well, until I die. Then he might give a damn, if you know what I mean.
You have no idea how badly I wanted Christianity to be true. I defended God incessantly. I did not dare to question why he would not communicate, for so long. If He had bothered to actually, you know, talk with me, I’d be his most ardent defender. I’d be on his side forever and worship him until my dying breath.
I guess he wants me to burn.
Pope Francis: Personal Relationships with Jesus are Dangerous-Outdated!
Summary of eRumor:
Pope Francis said in a speech on June 25, 2017, that having a personal relationship with Jesus is dangerous and harmful.
Claims that Pope Francis said it’s dangerous to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ date back to an address he gave in 2014 — and the pope’s statements have been taken out of context.
Pope Francis was discussing the importance of the church when he made the remark in question before a general audience at St. Peter’s square on June 25, 2014. He was talking specifically about those who profess their faith in God but “don’t care” about the church, according to an official transcript posted by the Vatican:
At times one hears someone say: “I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I don’t care about the Church…”. How many times have we heard this? And this is not good. There are those who believe they can maintain a personal, direct and immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside the communion and the mediation of the Church. These are dangerous and harmful temptations. These are, as the great Paul VI said, absurd dichotomies. It is true that walking together is challenging, and at times can be tiring: it can happen that some brother or some sister creates difficulties, or shocks us
Critics of Pope Francis seized on the highlighted portion of the above quote and claimed that he said it was “dangerous and harmful” to maintain a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In reality, Pope Francis was saying that the temptation to practice one’s faith without the guidance of the church was harmful and dangerous — not necessarily that a personal relationship with Jesus was harmful and dangerous.
In July 2017, the Pope Francis quote was re-reported as breaking news by YourNewsWire.com under the headline, “Pope Francis: ‘Relationships With Jesus Are Dangerous And Harmful.” The story, which had been shared on social media nearly 70,000 times within weeks, reports:
Breaking with centuries of Christian tradition, Pope Francis told a crowd of 33,000 Catholics in Rome that “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ” must be avoided at all costs, raising fears he is an illegitimate pope with a sinister agenda.
The speech, which took place on June 25, is merely the latest eyebrow-raising announcement by the liberal Pope.
The post makes it appear as though Pope Francis had just delivered the address, when in reality he delivered it three years earlier. The post also includes bits and pieces of Pope Francis’ quote to make it appear that he called a personal relationship with Jesus Christ harmful in dangerous when he actually talking about the temptation to practice one’s faith without outside the guidance of the church.
YourNewsWire.com is known for publishing false or misleading content, and its disclaimer makes clear that it’s not a reliable source for news. The site states that it presents content “as is” without any claims about the “suitability, reliability, availability, timeliness and accuracy of the information” presented.
Given that the original quote was three years old and was taken out of context, we’re calling claims that Pope Francis said a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is harmful and dangerous “outdated.”
A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:Collected on: 07/24/2017
A 2014 quote by Pope Francis about the importance of the church was misrepresented in 2017 as a warning that a personal relationship with Jesus is harmful and dangerous.