Confessions of an unbelieving believer

Confession“What do you do that an atheist can’t do?” This was the beginning of a conversation I had with God a few years ago. Did you ever notice that whenever God asks you a question, He’s not looking for information? Actually, it’s usually the beginning of revelation…for me. And I was about to get a big one.

Now, I didn’t perceive any rebuke or condemning tone in the voice. More that of a gentle loving father. But as the leader of a local church, He had my attention. At this point in the conversation, I was sure there was plenty that I could do that an atheist couldn’t do. Of course, I was about to have my world turned upside down.

Here’s essentially how this conversation went…

“What do you do that an atheist can’t do?” I heard from God.
“I can preach…” I countered…
“Atheists can motivate people with inspiring words too,” came the return.
“I can teach the Bible”
“So could they if they studied it and were trained to do so…”
“We have very moving times of worship during our services…”
“There are talented atheist musicians and songwriters that can move people’s hearts, even to tears, too”
“I can give good counsel…”
“So can their psychologists and counselors…”
“I can give people principles for a better life”
“So can they…”
“We have stronger families and marriages…”
(No response…)
Then I remembered a Barna group statistic I saw where it found that atheists have a better track record in successful marriages than Christians…that was depressing.

At this point, I was getting the basic idea of what God was driving at…
“Okay, I give up. I guess there wasn’t much that I could do, or that we do in our church services, that atheists can’t do.”

The only sure thing I knew I had over the atheist was that I believed I was going to heaven when I died. They don’t….but they don’t care about that either.

Now I was ready for revelation…

And the revelation was two-fold: First, there are many things that Christians can do that atheists can’t do, but all of them require faith and/or a demonstration of the supernatural power of the Spirit.

The second revelation was personal and hard to take. I was an unbelieving believer.

I was stunned.

Here I was, a so-called “Bible-believing” Christian for about 25 years at this time. And I was no cessationist. I was a Spirit-filled Charismatic pastor, fully convinced that the gifts of the Spirit and everything in the Bible is for today, even having had many personal encounters with God. Now suddenly realizing that I have bought into a brand of Christianity that isn’t much different that being a good atheist.

Oh yes, I agreed that all of the word of God was inspired and 100% truth…I just didn’t believe it. You see, you only believe what you practice. And I didn’t practice most of what it said I should be doing…apparently, other than things that atheists could do in their own power.

Very little in my activities, or the activities of my church, resembled anything we see Jesus doing, or in the book of Acts, nor did it have near the same world-changing effect on my culture that they had. Our so-called “Spirit-filled” services were still very predictable and at a very human level. Oh, we had great worship, occasional prophesy, tongues, the usual Charismatic fare…. Nonetheless, we had essentially the same relational squabbles and problems that unbelievers in the world have. We faced the circumstances and issues of our every day life just like unbelievers did…on a human level. We had the same limitations and powerlessness as they in just about everything. And we thought that was normal! I hadn’t seen that Paul actually rebuked the Corinthians for acting like mere human beings (1 Cor.3:3).

I was believing in Jesus, but I wasn’t believing like Jesus. Jesus’ life and ministry was not my standard for Christian living and ministry. My culture and what other churches are doing was my standard. As Jonathan Welton points out in his book, “Normal Christianity,” I was an “average” Christian instead of a “normal” Christian (see link below).

What I finally saw was that what we do and value in our version of Christianity was not what Jesus and the New Testament writers did and valued. They went around doing good by healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. We trust medicine, psychology, and have funerals for those things (and I’m not against any of these things). We value knowledge, seminary degrees, charismatic personalities, eloquent preaching, good programs, and scholarly teaching. Again, none of that’s bad, in and of itself, but we fail to see that Paul trusted in and valued something else. And he actually rejected his religious scholarship in favor of real experiential knowledge of Christ and walking in Holy Spirit revelation (Phil.3:4-8) .

Paul wanted his worldly Spirit-filled Corinthians to trust in something totally other-worldly too. Look at what he said to them…

“And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (2 Cor.2:4-5)

Do you see that? Paul wanted them to actually put their faith in the supernatural power of God more than just clever preaching! We do the opposite. We value and trust persuasive words and are fearful and suspicious of supernatural power.  We’re no show and all tell. We want to argue people into the kingdom rather than demonstrate it.

You see, Jesus seemed to think that believers would lay hands on sick and they recover (Mk.16:17-18). Apparently, unbelieving believers don’t. I used to say that’s for special people with a healing gift. And my prayers were begging God to do something He told me to do. I said “amen” to the theory of “Christ in me” (Col.1:27), seated in heavenly places (Eph.2:6), but I acted like He was “out there” somewhere. I lived like an orphan, waiting for Papa to come home. Like the elder brother, waiting for things He said I already had (Lk.15:31).  And I certainly didn’t believe that I could raise the dead! (Mt.10:7,8).  But Jesus seemed to think I should do all of these things in the normal course of ministry, and even greater things (Jn.14:12). You see, I said God’s Word was true, but I didn’t really believe it with my actions. My faith was humanistic, based on what I could understand with my intellect and do naturally, and the Kingdom of God coming to earth was something that only happened when Jesus returned. My small and powerless Christian world was being rocked at its very foundation.

And this is the version of Christianity I saw all around me. And this facsimile we call faith is taught to us everyday, even in popular Christian music.

To give you an example of what I mean, while I love Jeremy Camp’s music, I realized that his popular song, “Walk by Faith” was actually teaching something else. For the chorus states, “I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see…” But isn’t faith, by definition, always when we cannot see? (2 Cor.5:7). I mean, when we can see it, it no longer requires faith, right? Do you see what I mean? We have adopted this absurd view of faith that isn’t actually faith, but we think it is.

But again, I saw that my “faith” was more influenced by my culture and popular teachers of doctrine than by what God actually says in His Word. I realized I had changed what He said about me and how I was supposed to live into something compatible to my cultural surroundings. And it’s cultural because we don’t really believe in miracles, signs, and wonders as a matter of course in our naturalistic Western churches, even though these are happening with regularity through very common people in other parts of the world.

The problem with cultural influence is, if you say something long enough, and it sounds biblical, it becomes orthodoxy. And as Sam Soleyn points out, “Cultural longevity legitimatizes absurdity.” And we have inherited almost 500 years of humanistic, enlightenment Christianity that teaches us a lot of good things but denies the miraculous and supernatural (unless to say it’s the devil doing it), which makes our Churchianity look more like Greek philosophy than Kingdom reality. Of course, we can just dismiss and demonize people who dare to believe what the Bible calls “normal” as hyper and extreme, a false gospel. I laugh at the utter irony of it all when I think about it now.

So this paradigm-changing revelation of my unbelief was the beginning of a journey for me. And I certainly haven’t arrived yet, but I know I’ve left the shore! Since this encounter, I have been contending for a life of faith, taking God at His Word, learning from the best who walk in this supernatural Kingdom reality, and learning to do what I see my Father do (Jn.5:19; 20:21). I have seen hundreds of people healed, many on death’s door, many of incurable diseases. I have seen financial miracles in my own life and in the life of others, and hopeless marriages restored. I have seen people miraculously set free from all kinds of demonic strongholds, and best of all, I have had many love encounters with my heavenly Father as I learn to rest in His embrace.

Now, we have also not seen miracles when we thought we should. I have had people literally die in my hands as I was praying for their recovery. But many are living now that wouldn’t be because we risked taking God at His word. I still see too much sadness and not enough joy and victory. But I’m never going back to my old powerless “unbelieving” orphan Churchianity again. It’s too late for that. I’m determined for Jesus to get His full reward in and through me. I will live in the tension of believing what I cannot see more than what I can see. To get out of the boat of my comfort zone and learn how to walk on the water with Jesus until my experience matches my understanding.

Beloved, this world we’ve been called to is too broken, too crippled, too sick, too hopeless, and too bound by Satan’s lies and bondages to just sit back and let him destroy the very ones Jesus paid a terrible price so they could be free. It really matters what we believe.

I think it appropriate to end with a line from Jonathan David Helser’s song, “Earth Like Heaven” that I believe is what’s happening to me, and what I see happening all over the body of Christ in this hour…”She’s not dead, she’s just sleeping…and she’s waking up.”

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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66 Responses to Confessions of an unbelieving believer

  1. walkthwalk92 says:

    I really enjoyed reading your Confessions of an unbelieving believer, and thank you for Hoping that many more will read and appreciate the truth in it. God Bless

    • melwild says:

      Thank you for reading this and for your encouraging comments. I felt compelled to write it. It ended up being a bit long, but I too hope that people will be blessed by this testimony and that it will en-“courage” them to risk taking this awesome, scary, joy-filled journey of faith. It’s really worth it. Blessings to you too.

  2. Fantastic post. I’ve had this conversation with God, too! That was when He began to teach me how to walk on water (not literally, but you know what I mean!). It’s been a wild ride ever since!

    May I reblog on Sunday?

    Thanks for reading my post on the Christian Gazette. 🙂

    In Christ,
    Praising Jesus who invites me to live like I believe His Word!

  3. melwild says:

    Thanks Tami, and amen! It’s a wild ride but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    And you’re welcome on reading your blog. It looks great and I really liked your testimony in “Rise, Kill, Eat…” Good stuff! I want to read more when I get more time!

    Yes, you may reblog any of my posts. I appreciate that. 🙂

    Blessings to you.

  4. Reblogged this on Lessons by Heart and commented:
    Do you agree with the Bible 100%? Do you believe it 100% – now that is the question. Enjoy this thought-provoking article by Mel…his is an excellent blog, by the way. Spend some time reading his other posts.
    May the Lord’s face shine brightly upon you today. \o/

  5. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for the breakfast for the soul this morning, it was wonderful to drink deeply of the words the Holy Spirit impressed upon you. Found myself nodding through the whole post, not skimming a single word, but loving it all. Thank you Thank you!

    • melwild says:

      You’re very welcome!. I’m glad you could relate. God is doing some awesome things these days with His sleepy bride. We’re waking up! Exciting times. Be blessed.

  6. Cindy Powell says:

    Bravo! So grateful to have happened upon this post. It always encourages my heart to hear the stories of others who have been awakened to the true gospel message. Been on that journey myself for some years now. It’s cost a lot, but I wouldn’t trade a thing. I can’t bear the thought of failing to lay hold of EVERYTHING it cost Him so dearly to purchase for us. It really is such a terrible insult to the price He paid when we settle for so very little. Many blessings and much grace to you as you continue on the journey–may your words awaken many to the amazing truths of our King and his kingdom!

    • melwild says:

      Thank you for your encouraging comments. And I know about the cost. But like you said, He’s the One who paid the ultimate price so we could be with Him as His sons and daughters, to know Him and make Him known. And the world He loves will get the benefits when they see Him rightly represented as a good Father, seen in His glory…in and through us (Col.1:27). As Bill Johnson has said, the world deserves an encounter with God. And we’re it. So, it’s worth it all to get out of our little boats and learn how to walk on the big water with Him! Many blessings to you too!

  7. topetychus says:

    Really enjoyed this. It also gave credence to a revelation from the WORD I received via the Holy Spirit not quite long. I pray believers get to Wake Up! before it’s too late. Our Faith and Works as “believers” just have to be in sync, directly proportional NOT inversely proportional. It’s only then we can be True Believers. God help us all.

  8. waltsamp says:

    Your post is very humbling and inspiring. I have a post “The Reformation of American Christianity” at that comes at Christian renewal from a different, and less encouraging, way. However, I feel that I am being Spirit-led in my desire to contribute what I can to bring about a new reformation. Thanks for the uplift.

    • melwild says:

      Thanks for stopping by and for your encouraging comments. I do believe that God is waking us up to a new reformation of sorts. The Church is not getting weaker, she is finally waking up out of her religious slumber! His Word isn’t changing; our understanding of it, and who we are in Him is changing. We must remember that the Kingdom is always advancing, even when the status quo church isn’t. What was appropriate 500 years ago, even 50 years ago, looks broken today. So, you do have a part to play in that advancement. 🙂

      I like what Graham Cooke said about this. There are three phases to a reformation. First, the “holy dissatisfaction,” which can sound negative for awhile. We know there needs to be serious change, we just don’t know what it is yet. Second is the transition phase, where the pioneers blaze new trails in the Spirit. We often don’t recognize it for what it is at first, it looks awkward and it’s the most uncomfortable phase. Also, it’s the most challenged by those who don’t want to give up their ol’ time religion. It tends to be hybrid of old and new. I think the whole post-modern, emergent movement, the apostolic renewal in the 90’s, set the stage in the early part of this transition. But it’s still not the answer or the final change. It’s just a new version of the old, but it’s a start. And it did make us start the deconstruction of our traditions and assumptions and take a fresh look at the Scriptures. The third phase is walking in the new thing God is doing in His Church. Like the Reformation, this phase changes everything!

      I think the church at large is still in the second phase right now, but there are glimpses of the third. Things dramatically shifted in the Spirit about 5 years ago. A lot of people I’ve talked have had the same experience I had. So, it is an exciting time to be alive. We are finally finding out who we are in Christ! The bride is waking up and growing up into Christ, we are finding out what it means to be sons in our Father’s kingdom. This phase will bring real unity of the faith (Eph.4:12-16), not man-made unity.

      I will definitely check out your post. You sound like you have the heart of a pioneer. Let’s blaze some trails together. 🙂

  9. Anonymous says:

    Here is a post I wrote as to the belief that Christians can do things that Atheists cannot.

    • melwild says:

      I read your post. What a great testimony of courage and persistent faith. And you’re right, we can be more than overcomers in Christ and atheists cannot. Blessings.

  10. You are so right, God never ask a question that he does not already know the answer to. After the first maybe second question it dawned on me that He is all seeing, all knowing. He’s asking a question so that I answer the question which reveals a whole new world to me. Thanks for sharing and blessings to you. I hope you continue to provide His truth to others, boldly.


  11. Pingback: What we can learn from a three-year-old | In My Father's House

  12. Pingback: The problem with keeping God in our intellectual box | In My Father's House

  13. That’s what I’m talking about! It’s so amazing that no matter how long we’ve followed Christ, periodically we have a come to Jesus moment as some say. It not long and drawn out but it’s impact is life changing whether good or bad there is no doubt that we have been marked. I thank God for inspiring you to share your conversation with him. I’m even more grateful that through humility and obedience to believe God at his word you have become an instrument of the supernatural.

  14. Reblogged this on Liv4Christ4ever and commented:
    Very thought provoking. Look at the opening question. I’d like to broaden it to what do/can you do that an unbeliever can’t?

  15. “I will live in the tension of believing what I cannot see more than what I can see”. That just says it all! Nice piece 🙂

  16. secretangel says:

    Reblogged this on The Christian Gazette and commented:
    God is calling us to higher levels of faith with Him…

  17. secretangel says:

    Amen!! He is calling us to walk in the miraculous with Him. So many think miracles were a thing of the past. Thanks for sharing this, Mel. Love it!

  18. seo says:

    I absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for.
    Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
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  19. Pingback: What are you waiting for? | Liv4Christ4ever

  20. daniel says:

    Reblogged this on Daniel Lovett and commented:
    Are we ready to give up our unbelief? It might mean change. It might get scary. You might have to love till it hurts and all of that. You might have to get up close and personal with Jesus. What does reading this blog prompt you to do? What action will we take because we read this? How will our lives change? Leave a comment and please pray for me that I can begin to experience “normal” Christianity and stop trying to just convince myself that Jesus is not lying every time I read his words.

  21. Bette Cox says:

    Reblogged this on Church Set Free and commented:

  22. Arkenaten says:

    They went around doing good by healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead.

    How do you know this?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Hi Arkenaten.
      I believe this because I have no reason not to believe it, and because I’ve seen faith in Jesus do much good in my own life and the lives of others. I believe it because I have been at the receiving end of this goodness and have been touched by His love. I believe it because I’ve personally seen so many healed and set free with no natural explanation over the years, and because of the long history of similar things done through those who believe. It’s way too late for me not to believe! Take it however you want. I’m not trying to convince anyone, I’m just giving one of many testimonies of my walk of faith with God.

      • Arkenaten says:

        You have actually seen people healed?
        How were they healed?
        Healed from what? Cancer, blindness, HIV/AIDS?
        Can you give more specific details, please?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, I’ve seen people healed of stage 4 cancer (doctor verified) and most other forms. We have a man in our church who had a brain tumor and was in a coma. The doctors told his family, he wouldn’t live through the night. We came and prayed and he got better. The doctors called it a miracle. This was about nine years ago. Since then he’s been to China, Europe, and twice to Israel with us, and is still doing fine at 70 years old. My sister in law was completely healed of rheumatoid arthritis (which is consider incurable) that was so bad that strong narcotic drugs were not helping with the pain. Her feet were badly swollen so that she couldn’t wear any of her shoes. She was completely healed, no swelling, no pain.This was about four years ago. She gets checkups every year and still gets a clean bill of health. One man in our church had diabetes so bad he was actually going blind. He was healed and the doctors said his vision is 20/20 now. We’ve seen many broken bones be healed and other trauma.

          I’ve personally witnessed hundreds of healings like this. I’ve also prayed and people didn’t get healed. Why, I leave up to God. One thing I do know is, the people who were healed and were given their life back were very grateful. Even those who didn’t get healed were grateful that we cared enough to pray for them.

        • Arkenaten says:

          And you would not consider any of these to be spontaneous recovery in any way other way other than from prayer?
          Do you not consider this point to a very capricious god indeed? You consider Yahweh to be omniscient yes?
          The Templeton Foundation has funded probably the single most comprehensive study of the direct effects of intercessory prayer ever undertaken.
          Its conclusions demonstrated that there are no direct links an in fact it showed in some cases to have negative effects on patients.
          How many amputees have you seen do you know have regenerated limbs as a result f direct prayer to Yahweh?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’ve seen broken bones instantly healed. I’ve heard them crack and pop into place with no one touching them. The doctors had no answer for the rheumatoid arthritis being gone in minutes. They rejoiced that it happened! If it’s for some other reason than prayer, does it really matter? They were healed. I feel somewhat like the man born blind who was healed by Jesus, when the Pharisees come along and grilled him along the same lines (John 9:18-27), he basically responded, “look, all I know is that I was blind and now I see.” It’s not much more complicated than that.

          We can all cite cases of abusive prayer, or a host of other reasons why people have negative results, or manipulative practices, creating false hope, etc. That’s just because flawed humans are involved. It proves nothing.

          Look, if you don’t believe, you don’t believe. There’s nothing I can do to change that.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I’ve seen broken bones instantly healed. I’ve heard them crack and pop into place with no one touching them.

          How did you know they were broken?
          How did you ‘’see’’ them healed?
          Do you have multiple medical attestations?
          Are the witnessing medical professionals now fully endorsing the technique you appear to be promoting?

          The doctors had no answer for the rheumatoid arthritis being gone in minutes.

          Were the results/testimony submitted for verification? Do you at least have corroborating written testimony (before and after) one can read, please?

          They rejoiced that it happened! If it’s for some other reason than prayer, does it really matter?

          To my nine year old boxer dog, Bobbi it most certainly does as she has arthritis in her right leg.
          She is not a believer/Christian as far as I am aware. As I am not a believer can you offer a method of prayer that will work that I could suggest to a Catholic friend of mine and maybe she can pray for the dog. It would certainly help the dogs as I hate to see her suffer and it would save me a fair amount of money on vets’ bills.

          We can all cite cases of abusive prayer, or a host of other reasons why people have negative results, or manipulative practices, creating false hope, etc. That’s just because flawed humans are involved. It proves nothing.
          Look, if you don’t believe, you don’t believe. There’s nothing I can do to change that.

          So are you dismissing the study done by the Templeton Foundation? Are you suggesting this Christian based organisation was not sincere in its aims?
          Do you believe similar claims from other faiths/religions where adherents have prayed to their own gods?
          As a follower of the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth and on record as saying:

          I DO think religion is poisonous. I totally agree with atheists on that one!

          How do you square away miracle claims by Roman Catholics, many of who have apparently asked god via Mary to intercede?
          Do you think these people are lying or delusional?

        • Arkenaten says:

          sorry, I forgot to close the brackets on the comments. You can fix if you want?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I have a feeling that no amount of verification will change your mind. Proving something doesn’t give someone faith. We’ve had doctors verify healing, but I don’t need scientific proof to believe.
          But I will pray for Bobbi. I hate to see pets suffer, too. No guarantees. 🙂

        • Arkenaten says:

          I opened a new thread. See below.

  23. Arkenaten says:

    In a world of disgusting dipshits the likes of Benny Hinn, you can surely appreciate my extreme skepticism when it comes to such claims?
    Faith healers within the religious ranks are a dime a dozen and I am not saying that intense positive belief cannot have some quite amazing effects.
    What we are discussing here – I hope we are on the same page – is the verification of intercessory prayer – a direct appeal to one’s particular deity of choice and how we can verify this?

    And of course, the regeneration of a limb has always been the standard , and I would venture, perfectly justified ”call to arms” from skeptics.

    Belief is one thing, but if you are now going to simply hand wave away any reasonable claim for verification then you can appreciate why I, or anyone else, would have reason to seriously doubt your claims concerning the source of this healing.

    I am rather disappointed you did not directly address my question concerning the results of the Templeton Foundation neither Catholic prayer and their miracle claims. Was there a reason for you not doing so?

    But thanks for your efforts regarding my dog. I’ll let you know, that you can count on.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I can appreciate your skepticism and having “extreme doubts.” I don’t like how something wonderful is turned into parlor tricks or manipulation for something else. This can cause more harm than good. The healings I told you about were verified, usually by doctors and obvious changes, but we weren’t looking to prove anything so we don’t document them the way you’re asking. I don’t claim to be a “faith healer,” only someone who believes in it and has experienced it. But I believe that healing from doctors and medicine is a miracle (of science), too. I don’t consider that second-class healing. I thank God for doctors and advancement in the medical field. The human body also has an amazing ability to heal itself when given the chance, with proper diet and therapy, etc. I believe that some of the research in natural healing of cancer, etc., is very good, too. But with a couple of the ones I mentioned (rheumatoid arthritis and brain tumor) the doctors had no cure. I believe God healed them. Both were instantaneous and dramatic.

      As far as the Templeton study, I don’t know what the parameters of the study were so I really have no comment on it. My only general comment is that it’s not something that would change my view on healing because I experientially know to be true. I used the analogy (on Paul’s blog) of “knowing” my wife versus someone trying to talk me out of me knowing my wife. The argument has no relevancy for me.

      I will say that it’s understandable that prayer could have a negative effect on people if they have been given, or have, too high of expectations. Disappointment, even anger, can be a natural reaction. And I don’t know if healing works “on demand” in a lab experiment either. At least, it doesn’t work that way for me. It’s not a science and we know very little about how it actually works other than having faith. Even in Scripture, Jesus couldn’t do many miracles where there was skepticism and familiarity (isn’t this Joseph’s son?) in His own country. That might have something to do with it. All I know is, I believe in it, and I’ve seen it happen, so when someone asks me to pray for them, I do.

      I hope that makes sense. I appreciate your honest questions and comments.

      • Arkenaten says:

        I accept that you beleive in it and I accept that you consider your god, Yahweh, is responsible but without any way of determining if any deity was involved, especially if one considers that Yahweh is a work of fiction then to claim it is a miracle is, I am afraid , a claim that is unverifiable, and under the circumstances , highly unlikely.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I totally understand. “Miracle” is best understood as a faith term. And I don’t think people come to faith through miracles is good anyway. According to our faith, many saw Jesus heal people, they were even healed themselves, but they didn’t follow Him (believe). If my faith is based on getting healed or having a prayer answered, then as soon as my prayer doesn’t work, I lose faith. But my faith is based on relationship, intangible and unprovable as it may be, it’s very real to me. I don’t live according to my circumstances and other people’s doubts or faith. I know who I believe in, as real to me as if He were physically living with me.
          Anyway, I wish you the best. And I hope Bobbi feels better.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I made mention of deconverts and perhaps you should read their stories.
          I am running a mirror post over at my spot and there are several folk who deconverted and a couple who went through / were put through ”hell” .
          They were fully devout Christians for many many years.
          You may find their comments enlightening.
          Just a thought.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I feel bad for people who’ve been abused by religion. I’ve heard a lot of the stories, too. Historically, much of Western Christianity has been one of the biggest abusers. For that, I’m saddened. The only real problem with Christianity is the Christians!

          I will look at your posts if I get a chance, but franky, I have a busy life apart from blogging, and I seem to be the only “believer” you guys can gang up on at Paul’s blog. 🙂 I don’t even have close to the time I would need to answer everyone’s comments directed at me. But, eventually, I do want to check out what you have to say. I believe we can all learn from one another if we will stop and listen.

      • Arkenaten says:

        I would also like to add that, if we were to accept that this intervention was a direct result of intercessory prayer it would, I’m afraid, make your god capricious in the extreme.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I understand the sentiment. Seems like He picks one and not the other. But I think the answer probably goes a lot deeper than surface observation, and it’s certainly not because of some formula or performance-based favor. There is a mystery there that I suspect no one totally understands, even though some may think they do. There are a lot of other factors involved. Even Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble.
          And I’m sure you understand that a big part of our hope is not in this short life, but knowing that there’s a better life ahead, regardless of what happens now. For now, we’re called to do the best we can and love others the way we believe God loves us.

        • Arkenaten says:

          No matter how you try to rationalize it, it still makes Yahweh capricious in the extreme.
          One could even say cruel.
          The bible is glaring evidence of this
          – for Christians at any rate. I am truly surprised you all do not suffer cognitive dissonance almost from the onset.
          Though it does explain why quite a number of those who enter Seminary as believers leave as non-believers, and why a growing number of professional clergy are merely biding time.
          Furthermore, and this is a genuine inquiry, why, if you beleive the afterlife will be so much better than this one even on a good day, do you even bother with healing, especially someone who has a brain tumor?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, I understand why you would look at God that way from a surface reading of the Bible. And I totally agree on the cognitive dissonance thing. In fact, I think there are whole branches of theology built on these kinds of answers (“God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”) I have made this case against it myself. One example is my series of posts here…
          I suspect my take will not convince you (it was not written for skeptics but believers). But there is really good theological research on this from people a lot smarter than me.

          As far as someone being better off, I do ask the person they want to be healed or just given peace (or perhaps be in less pain). The man with the tumor had asked for prayer before he went into the coma. But, for instance, a single mom with small children is better off here (I had such a request). But, ultimately, we believe we’re better off in the next life.

        • Arkenaten says:

          But, ultimately, we believe we’re better off in the next life.

          And what do you honestly believe happens to those – such as me for example, who do not believe?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I moved this thread over (below)

        • Arkenaten says:

          er …. where? Can’t see it?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Sorry… I sent this too soon. You should see it now.

        • Mel Wild says:

          “And what do you honestly believe happens to those – such as me for example, who do not believe?”

          Haha…a loaded question. 🙂 I will try to give you a fair response…
          Understand first that there’s at least four theories of “hell,” if you will. (1) Dante-like infernalism or eternal damnation, (2) annihilation, (3) purgative restoration, and (4) various forms of universalism. These views are all held by theologians who take Scripture seriously. They just don’t interpret it the same way.

          First, I’m probably an agnostic when it comes to knowing for certain which one of these theories is true. My hope is that all will be with God. and since I know I’m not more loving and compassionate than God, the answer is probably one based in love and free choice.

          I lean toward what C.S. Lewis said, “the gates of hell are locked from the inside.” In other words, we chose to separate ourselves from God’s “heaven.” Lewis’s fictional book, “The Great Divorce” had some interesting insights on this. Also, the Eastern Orthodox have this view, and many of the earliest church fathers had this same view. In the end, God gives us what we really want. But I don’t believe it’s the traditional view of flames and Dante-like torment in a literal lake of fire, That’s a Medieval fear-based view of hell, based on the fallacy of misplaced literalism.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Not loaded at all. And I am aware of all/most of – I think so – the versions of Hell Christian believe, and also aware that the character Jesus of Nazareth did not teach it either, it being a Church construct.

          But you still have not answered what you think truly will happen to all non Christians.

          If you do not believe in the traditional Christian version of hell what is the point of a) salvation b) a human sacrifice.

          As for the Dante scenario, have you ever seen the Book called The Cage?.
          You should Google it if not.

          One can only choose to separate oneself from something if one believes in it.
          I don’t.
          Therefore CS Lewis quote, which truly IS loaded, is meaningless.

        • Arkenaten says:

          The Cage by C. Matthew McMahon

        • Mel Wild says:

          First, I don’t believe in human sacrifice for salvation, at least as it’s taught in the awful doctrine of penal substitution (which the Eastern church calls heresy). I am very critical of this doctrine on my blog. God is not a cosmic child abuser! I believe Jesus willingly gave Himself for us to crucify Him and pour out all our religious wrath upon, thus exposing the lie of redemptive violence and scapegoating appeasement. He did this because of other-centered, self-emptying love. French anthropologist Rene Girard has a brilliant take on “scapegoating” and how Jesus came to expose it for what it was by willingly submitting to on our (Roman) torture device called the cross.

          Second, the idea that one has to believe in order to choose seems fallacious. We can choose by not choosing, by doing nothing at all, by being stubbornly stuck in our dogma. We can choose by ignoring the obvious reality right in front us, staying stuck in our delusion. Cutting our own nose off to spite our face, if you will.

          But I do think we can separate ourselves by believing the wrong things, too. That it would be more tormenting to live with God than to be separated from Him. A fire can both heat a home and burn it down. The metaphorical “fire” of God that enflames one with love and passion can feel like torment to another. This would be a form of “belief,” either way.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Actually, Yahweh is ( or at least was in the bible) very much a child abuser as he sanctioned slavery and even laid out rules.
          That’s about as good an example of child abuse one is likely to get, and merely amplifies why Yahweh truly is/was a monster.

          Jesus of Nazareth didn’t give himself to me, so I am not included in any ”us”, thanks all the same.
          And whether he was sacrificed by Yahweh or simply allowed himself to be crucified it is still a blood sacrifice no matter how you wish to carve it up.
          And if you do not feel that ”punishment is due for sin(sic) ” (another silly term) and in this case blood, then all he had to do was announce that he forgave humans.

          However, as Original Sin is another church construct it really begins to get extremely complicated for Jesus does it not?
          A god who is unaware that Moses and Abraham are fiction?.
          Worse still, Adam and Eve as depicted in the bible, are wholly fictional characters.
          You are surely aware of the human genome project I hope?

          You are making presuppositional statements regarding your god.
          I do not believe so therefore whatever you or CS Lewis thinks have absolutely no bearing on me whatsoever.
          All I am interested in is an honest, straightforward response, free of any ambiguity as to what you truly beleive will happen to all non- Christians (and maybe we can include Catholics here too?) once we are dead?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Unfortunately, I’m out of time right now to answer your questions. I want to acknowledge that they are important ones that should be answered.

          I already told you that I’m an agnostic on hell. I told you where I’m leaning.

          Ironically, I would totally agree with your objection to a lot of the “doctrines” you brought up! I don’t believe in Original Sin, the requirement of blood for forgiveness. But I said that WE are the ones who wanted blood, who sought to scapegoat Jesus. When the Bible says His blood brings forgiveness, it means that He willingly went to the point of letting us slaughter Him in order for us to be reconciled with Him. We are the ones alienating ourselves from God. We are the ones who don’t love and who continuously paint God’s face with the “serpent’s” brush. Most of the Old Testament saw God that way; Jesus contradicted their theology. He basically told them they didn’t know the real nature of God.

          Alas, that’s all I can say now. I will be away from the blog world for a while in order to get some other things done.

        • Arkenaten says:

          But I said that WE are the ones who wanted blood, who sought to scapegoat Jesus.

          You continue to use the term ”we”..
          With respect it is nonsensical as ”you”were not ”there”.
          And I most certainly do not rank myself alongside any such ”we”.

          When the Bible says His blood brings forgiveness, it means that He willingly went to the point of letting us slaughter Him in order for us to be reconciled with Him.

          I reiterate, all you are doing s trying to justify this quite silly doctrine.
          All he had to do was say… ”You are forgiven… go your way and sin no more”, and if memory serves he had already said something similar had he not? And one surely must assume it worked … as he was Yahweh in the flesh, right?

          Most of the Old Testament saw God that way; Jesus contradicted their theology. He basically told them they didn’t know the real nature of God.

          The Pentateuch is historical fiction, I have tried to explain but you seem increasingly resistant to acknowledging this fact.
          Furthermore, if they did not know the real nature of Yahweh, whose fault is that?
          After all, according to your theology, Yahweh is the creator is he not?
          Surely as an omniscient deity he should have made sure they ”got it” from the get-go?

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