So, while you walked up and down and wondered if it would rain, Winnie-the-Pooh sang this song:From “Winnie-the-Pooh.”
How sweet to be a Cloud
Floating in the Blue!
Every little cloud
Always sings aloud.
"How sweet to be a Cloud
Floating in the Blue!"
It makes him very proud
To be a little cloud.
The bees were still buzzing as suspiciously as ever. Some of them, indeed, left their nests and flew all round the cloud as it began the second verse of this song, and one bee sat down on the nose of the cloud for a moment, and then got up again.
"Christopher -- ow! -- Robin," called out the cloud.
"I have just been thinking, and I have come to a very important decision. These are the wrong sort of bees."
"Quite the wrong sort. So I should think they would make the wrong sort of honey, shouldn't you?"
"Yes. So I think I shall come down."
We deconverts are told a variety of reasons why we a)failed to continue to be Christians or b)were not Christians in the first place. These reasons range from not having enough faith, to having the wrong sort of faith, to having the wrong belief, to being too focused on religion, too focused on church, too focused on other Christians, and so on and so on and so on. Our belief (as firmly held as any believer) we were actually Christians is stripped away by definition.
Simple, really. Define a “Christian” as a person who always believes Jesus is God (amongst other requirements), and since we did not “always” believe—Voila! We could not (by definition) have ever been a Christian. But rather than stick with that, the Christian often takes another step to dive into what sort of “Christianity” it was that we thought we believed in, and to further explain how it was the wrong sort of Christianity.
Which leads us directly to the question: Where does one determine the right sort of Christianity?
I can’t look to other Christians. Whenever we point out the moral failings in Christians we are assured this is all expected. Christians sin, too. (Rom. 7:19) When we point out the moral accomplishments of non-believers, we are assured this, too, is expected. Even the Samaritan can stumble upon Loving his neighbor.
Morally, we cannot tell the difference between believers and non-believers; let alone the difference between the “right sort” and the “wrong sort.”
Intellectually, we are informed there will be those who profess to know Jesus as Lord, and even manage to do great works in Jesus’ name, yet are not saved. Matt. 7:21-23. A person who claims to be Christian and demonstrates prophesy and casting out demons is insufficient to be certain they have the “right sort” of Christianity. People who are very persuasive, with golden tongues and silver voices and woo entire audiences into being convinced of their Christianity may not make it. 1 Cor. 13:1
So using other people as our determinative for the right sort is out.
Perhaps the Bible? Yet in looking at the various authors, they present differing views as to what qualifies for Christianity. Romans 10:9 indicates it is a matter of belief. Yet Matt. 7:24 indicates it is a matter of action—actually implementing the words of Jesus—not just believing them. “By your fruits you shall know them.” Matt. 7:20. The book of James clearly states works will be the evident result of faith. James 2:20;26. Not to mention John 13:35; “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Now we are back to looking at people! And back to Christians giving excuses as to why this is not the way to look for the right sort of Christianity.
Perhaps look to Jesus for the right sort of Christianity? Fair enough, but which Jesus? The one who loved sinners or insulted sinners? The one who gave sight or the one who blinded? And for me to “look at Jesus” requires a determination as to the reliability of the historicity of the Gospels. Or am I being told to act like a myth? Am I being told to believe in a phantom?
We are informed the Bible is not a biology book, so we shouldn’t expect it to be accurate when it comes to biology. We are told the Bible is not a mathematics book—can’t expect it to be accurate regarding mathematics. It is not a book on cosmology, astrology, climatology, geology, chemistry—can’t expect it to be accurate regarding those fields.
News flash—the Gospels aren’t histories! If the Bible, not being a science text is unsurprisingly inaccurate when it comes to science; then isn’t it equally expected to be inaccurate when it comes to history? Not being a history text?
See, the constant problem in saying, “Don’t look to the Bible; look to Jesus” is that the Bible is the primary source for our information about Jesus! Tell me what you know about Jesus without using an anecdote from the Bible, and you will see what I mean.
We also have the problem of determining canonicity, Textual criticism, translation issues, not to mention the Synoptic Problem, the inaccuracies, and the contradictions. While a Christian may be able to overlook these problems, remember the person you are asking to “look” (i.e.-me!) cannot.
Finally, we are told to “Look to God.” While this is a pleasant phrase—does it practically do us any good? I have a friend who, whenever we part, says, “Drive Safe!” Pleasant words, but in the end no practical value. Does this mean drive the speed limit? Less than the speed limit? Pass a slow car? Take a right on red?
While we have every intention (with or without this phrase) of driving safe, the saying itself holds no practical meaning. It is the same with “Look to God.” For the theist this is easy—they mean “Look to my God. The one I believe in.” But remember—belief is not enough. And I have all those other theists…you know… the wrong “sort” of Christians all saying to look to their Gods, too.
It has struck me how I have heard this accusation a LOT when discussing on-line. How I was the wrong sort of Christian. And almost every time, it causes me to contemplate, “Why have I never heard this from my family? Or my friends? Or my former acquaintances?” Only recently did I realize why (and yes, this makes me slow.)
Because they have the same sort of Christianity as I did. If mine was “wrong”—so is theirs!
They have the same intellectual understanding of Christianity. The same moral beliefs. We shared the same prayer life. The same convictions. The same “fruits” working on the same projects at the same times. We cried together, laughed together, and fought the Christian fight together.
They dare not tell me I had an inaccurate picture of Jesus—it is the same picture they hold to now. They cannot say I was incorrect in my comprehension of the Canon, or inspiration or inerrancy—it is their same view. They cannot fault my morals, my beliefs or my knowledge. It would be an indictment against their own beliefs.
I wonder if all those people who accuse me of having the wrong sort of Christianity realize just how many others, standing behind me, they are also accusing? Is my entire family practicing the wrong sort of Christianity? I can assure you, they would be quite surprised to discover due to one itty-bitty deconversion (mine) we had discovered a belief held by dozens of people, across four generations (on many sides) was completely wrong.
Is my family doomed to hell because of me? Or my friends and church associates—1000’s, maybe 10’s of 1000’s when I consider all the sister/daughter churches of the places which I attended—these people would be shocked to discover one small deconversion was the hole which broke the dam, revealing their entire belief system is the wrong sort.
I wonder if they realize how many people they are condemning to hell because of the accusation one deconvert held the wrong belief? I know my family and friends understand this quite well!
Does one little bee-sting on the nose determine the whole hive must be the wrong sort of bees?