Walk Away How I walked away By Skipp Porteous As all Christian fundamentalists do, I grew

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Walk Away How I walked away By Skipp Porteous As all Christian fundamentalists do, I grew up believing that "all scripture is by given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." Later, while preparing for the ministry, the scholars at LIFE Bible College taught me that the word "inspiration" literally means "God-breathed." Of course, I didn't understand everything in the Bible; some things even seemed outlandish. Nevertheless, there was a moment in my life when I made a commitment to blindly follow "God's word." This commitment came about after hearing a fascinating story about Billy Graham. As I remember the story, Graham took a train to a certain city to conduct one of his famous evangelistic crusades. When Graham dismounted the train, a reporter fired a question at the evangelist. "Reverend Graham," the reporter shouted. "What do you think about sex before marriage?" "It doesn't matter what I think," Graham shot back. "The Bible calls it sin!" Rather than applying situational ethics to the problem, or simply coming up with his own conclusion about the matter, Graham said authoritatively, "The Bible says..." Seeing things in black and white, with no gray areas, made life so much simpler. It precluded the need to think. For years I lived with complete dependence on the Bible as my source of reality and truth. My wife embraced the same precepts. Our circle of friends consisted entirely of Bible-believers. Though trained in the Bible as a minister, I still looked to other Bible teachers to lead us into the "deeper truths" of God's word. This brought us into all sorts of religious perversity and irrational activity. An introduction to the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International initiated us into the Pentecostal/Charismatic world of speaking in tongues, prophetic utterances, exorcism, and faith healing. From there, we went on to encounter paranoid Christian cults caught up in conspiracy theories and "end-time" revelations. Eventually, after 12 years of marriage and 11 years of ministry, a difficult divorce ensued. This caused many Christians to display their intolerance. While their hatred toward me only increased my faith, my desire to associate with them disappeared. After my divorce, I took a sabbatical, assumed a job at a local newspaper, and, with my three children, moved into a small apartment. I planned to reenter the ministry after a year's leave, hoping to become refreshed, and having new vision. During that year I started an objective study of the Bible. I figured that by approaching it with an open mind I would discover new insights. I'll highlight a few of my discoveries. Christianity is based upon the New Testament record of Jesus, yet there is no account of a single word written by him. We have only the words of others who claim to tell us what Jesus said. Some of these writers never even knew him. What they put into writing as many as sixty years after his death was hearsay. The Gospel writers don't even agree on Jesus's genealogy, or exactly what he said, or the details of his life, leaving us with a record replete with inconsistencies and contradictions. It is apparent that many of the sayings of Jesus were made up by his followers. As with any folk hero, the stories became more and more exaggerated as time went on. Most of the New Testament is a collection of Saul/Paul's letters. Paul was a sexist, racist (he endorsed slavery), bigoted zealot, yet his carefully crafted monographs succeeded in creating a major religion out of the life of an obscure Jew who apparently only wanted to streamline Judaism. Paul, not Jesus, was the real inventor of Christianity. The fruit of Paul's letters have been the root of more than three hundred Christian denominations and sects, most of which were formed as a result of disagreement over the correct meaning of Paul's words. The Bible's self-proclamation of "inspiration" is problematic. All "sacred" books make that claim. For example, as an evangelical Christian, I rejected the Book of Mormon, though it, too, claims to be from God. I came to realize that "sin," a simple three-letter word, perpetuates the entire born-again industry. No one is perfect. Everyone occasionally makes poor choices, and sometimes acts maliciously, but no one "sins." Sin is nothing more than a theological concept which has no basis in reality. Sin sells religion. No one is going to be punished by God for sins. When I finally accepted this truth, it set me free. Have I rejected God? No. Man created God in his own image. I reject that image. Do I have faith? Yes. In fact, I soon realized that my fervent prayers revealed my lack of faith. True faith and trust is solid; it asks for nothing; it does not beg or implore. That is real faith. [ref001][ref002] Return to table of contents Copyright 1995 IFAS Walk Away / ifas@crocker.com [ref001] articles.html [ref002] ../uparrow.gif This file is copywritten by the Institute for First Amendment Studies. Subscribe to The Freedom Writer and Walk Away news letters by writing to or telephoneing the Institute for First Amendment Studies: Post Office Box 589 Great Barrington, Massachusetts. 01230 Telephone: (413) 528-3800 E-Mail: ifas@crocker.com Web page: http://www.crocker.com/~ifas

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