Post Reply Presbyterian Minister Doesn't Believe in God
Born Again Mod
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33 / M / Baltimore, MD
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Posted 3/18/15
A Presbyterian Minister recently wrote a piece talking about how he does not believe in God and views the Bible as mostly fictional accounts of stories. The article can be read here. He claims he is still a Christian and that the Christian faith is large enough of an umbrella to include those who don't believe in God. He even recently had new members of his church join who as part of their profession of faith included that they don't believe in God. Here's a short excerpt from the piece:

“How can you call yourself a Christian, let alone a minister?!”

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not. Still, I like to answer it if I believe the questioner is sincere.

Though I self-identify as a Christian and I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I raised eyebrows a few years ago when I posted an article on my website about how my personal beliefs don’t align with those of most Presbyterians.

For example, I believe that:
- Religion is a human construct
- The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
- Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
- God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
- The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
- Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife
In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view. And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

Why is that so many people think my affirmations are antithetical to Christianity? I think it is because Christianity has placed all of its eggs in the belief basket. We all have been trained to think that Christianity is about believing things. Its symbols and artifacts (God, Bible, Jesus, Heaven, etc) must be accepted in a certain way. And when times change and these beliefs are no longer credible, the choices we are left with are either rejection or fundamentalism.


So, I ask - what are your thoughts on this? Can a person be a Christian and not believe in God?

I know my answer, but I want to hear from you all first!
Christian
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Posted 3/18/15
If one can just mold the meanings of words to one's own liking at will, I suppose one can call one's self whatever one wants. But then words have no meaning. One cannot deny the core of what it means to be a Christian and yet still call one's self one-- it's selfishness, hypocrisy, or simply foolishness. "I am still a proud minister--" I think that speaks volumes.
JenRL 
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Posted 3/18/15 , edited 5/29/15
(Edit: Sorry for the long rant! I started and couldn't stop)

He says he views Christianity as a culture. Christianity is much more than that (obviously), though it has influenced present and past cultures. It seems it's only the bits of Christianity (and other religions) he likes, and Christianity's positive influence on secular culture, that he wants to follow. I guess its just another form of "Cafeteria Religion", not Christianity.

As for his view of Christianity evolving to a belief-less religion, it simply won't be Christianity any more, if any religion at all. And in this case, playing with definitions and semantics is confusing. He should just give a new name to this belief-less religion to provide some clarity. More so, I pray that his heart would be opened to belief-infused Christianity.

Isn't the very core of Christianity as a religion, and to the Christian life, a relationship with God (which necessitates a belief in His existence)? You take away the core and you have an empty shell; you're drawing on a well of cultural tradition instead of the source of Christianity (John 4:14).

After all my rambling, I guess I would say that you can't be a Christian (in the common sense of the word) and not believe in God. Belief in God is absolutely fundamental to Christianity. Having a Christian lifestyle with a definite disbelief in God, yet calling yourself a Christian seems like putting an orange peel over an apple and declaring it an orange. He's cutting a branch off a vine and saying the branch is still connected and just evolving into something different. In reality, I'd say it's not evolving, but decaying (John 15).

I do applaud him for desiring positive good for society and I think "social justice, personal integrity and resilience, and building community" are all good things. But I don't think he's going about it well and I don't think that these things are the end all and be all.
Christian
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Posted 3/19/15 , edited 4/6/15
You do realize that on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the Presbyterian Church amended their constitution and, "voted formally to allow same-sex unions in every congregation where permitted by law" [The Christian Science Monitor and The Wall Street Journal].

I'm not trying to start a war here, but it's obvious that the Presbyterian Church allows a very confused and 'lost' modern, secular culture to dictate its doctrine and core philosophy. The very idea that they would allow John Shuck to become an ordained minister is evidence of that.

After hearing things like this day after day, I truly believe we Christians are starting to lose the battle.
Born Again Mod
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Posted 3/19/15 , edited 5/29/15
My 2¢?

There are a few doctrines which define a church as Christian - be they Catholic, Baptist, Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, whatever denomination, they all agree on a few things as fundamental truths. One is that there is a God. Second is that He is a triune God in the forms of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On that alone we find this Pastor at odds with Christian truth - shared by brothers & sisters in Christ across all denominations. Meaning? By the most basic of definitions (belief in God as a Triune God including Christ as part of the Godhead), he fails. That does not include other articles of faith which he disagrees with such as the basics of the Nicene Creed:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
If he doesn't believe Christ is God, he's not a Christian. If he doesn't believe God exists, he's not a Christian. If he's not certain Christ was resurrected, he's not a Christian. I mean - he's just not. To continue to pretend you are is to try to steal the title of Christ while not being willing to accept Him. He is mocking Christ while trying to do use His name.

In Acts 19, we have a tale of people who don't believe in Jesus trying to use Jesus' name to drive out demons. They fail, the demons overtake them, and Christ gets magnified as people realize that Jesus has the power & not these people trying to use His name without actually following Him. We see this here. Let us pray the Lord is magnified as others see the hypocrisy and false nature of these types of acts.
Christian
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Posted 3/19/15 , edited 5/29/15
What a foolish man. We should pray for him.
Christian
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Posted 3/20/15 , edited 5/29/15
I John has a lot to say about this;


Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.



Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
Christian
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Posted 4/5/15 , edited 5/29/15
If the main rule in all Christianity is to worship God, the Father Son and Holy Spirit, how could anyone claim to be Christian if they disbelieve the main foundations of our faith? This poor soul is both blind to God, and happily so! Please, God Almighty take pity on his soul! He is more athiest than Christian, and yet he was hired to be a Minister? I hope God allows him to either see the truth or find a profession where his views are recognized.
Christian
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Posted 4/6/15 , edited 5/29/15
Alls I got is 2 verses that I will quote..."The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good (Psalm 14:1 ESV)." "The fool says in his heart, There is no God. ”They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;there is none who does good (Psalm 53:1 ESV)."
Born Again Mod
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Posted 4/7/15 , edited 5/29/15

Okami-Tamer wrote:

Alls I got is 2 verses that I will quote..."The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good (Psalm 14:1 ESV)." "The fool says in his heart, There is no God. ”They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;there is none who does good (Psalm 53:1 ESV)."

Excellent points.

I am again reminded of this story: Acts 19:13-16
Christian
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Posted 5/2/15
Personally, I think no. My views differ from a lot of Christians(ex. being gay won't send you to hell) but this is obvious.
Christian
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Posted 5/29/15
That's just a good-hearted atheist then. Honestly, my own beliefs aside, there's nothing wrong with being a good-hearted atheist. I wonder why he wants to stay under the "Christian umbrella".

Scanning through his article though... his belief that the Bible is mythology is exactly where I was before I saw the light. His words awaken something in my memory. I remember thinking the same way. I was reading the Bible then. I had started accepting it as a valid theory and a legitimate culture, although I didn't think or want to adhere to it. Then right after that my life was shaken. So who knows? He might be on the path to something good. We'll pray about it...
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