I was raised pretty damn fundamentalist. In fact, we looked at churches like Saddleback and thought "Pff! They aren't TRUE believers." Frankly, we didn't have much respect for people who didn't take their faith seriously enough to entertain the notion of drinking a little poison now and again or handling venomous snakes. I mean, come ON - the Bible says if you really have faith you can do it and not be harmed!
Actually Christians and atheists all seem to agree on one thing: My childhood was wacky. Christians say it wasn't the "right" interpretation of scripture, and atheists say it's further evidence of the madness religious teaching can lead to. It's always bothered me a bit, the reaction Christians have.
See, I tried the whole mainline Christian thing for a few years. Churches where they let parents take their kids to doctors, or where women were allowed to speak, and no one wore funny clothes. My youth group invited Christian "hardcore" bands to play at the church, and my pastor and I actually had an outreach ministry to the dancers at a nude bar (he sat outside and talked with the bouncer while my mom and I went in to tell the ladies about God's love and grace). But the whole time I was being a "moderate" Christian, I was worried about that lukewarm verse, Revelations 3:16 "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." I worried that being a lukewarm believer was worse than rejecting God outright.
My grandmother (Carol Balizet, leader of Home In Zion Ministries cult) put a lot of focus on the promises Yaweh/Jesus made. If the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, if God only speaks truth, then the Bible is true. If the Bible is true, and God made these promises in the Bible, then the promises are true. (Yeah, I realize now exactly how many "IFs" are in there, but I was young and ignorant.) So what are some of these promises?
- If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move a mountain by commanding it and "nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20) (Also, a mulberry tree in Luke 17:6)
- You can stomp all over snakes and serpents and demons and "nothing will injure you" (Luke 10:19)
- You can handle venomous snakes and drink poison safely, and you can heal people through the laying of hands (Mark 16:18)
- Life and death are in the power of the tongue, of your words (Proverbs 18:21)
- If you believe in the biblical story and accept christ as your savior, you'll enjoy paradise in heaven (John 3:16)
These are the verses I lived the early years of my life by. Frankly I don't see the POINT of moderate religion. If all the IFs above are true, then why NOT live the crazy fundamentalist lifestyle? I mean really, he says you'll be known by your ability to handle snakes, drink poison, and heal people. Why *would* Christians go to doctors or lock their front doors? Why start a savings account, when God promises to provide for all your needs (Jehovah-Rapha, I will provide, somewhere in Deuteronomy I think)? Why live a balanced, reasonable life if you've got the ultimate Ace in Hole?
Now I've come to the conclusion that the IF statements above are all false - no god, no true bible, etc. But if they WERE true, why not have crazy faith? Why not TRY to move some mountains? How many Christians do you see trying to move mountains? Or fix the economic crisis? Or just pray away world hunger? No, they live small lives because they have a small god. And I have no use for a small god. Once I learned the hard way that the big God I grew up with was a myth my grandmother told me, I had no need for any kind of god at all. Who would anyone settle for something so paltry as the American Christian god?