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Atheists and Freethinkers Alike Celebrate Liberated Minds




Atheists and freethinkers alike celebrate liberated minds but for different reasons. I had said in my page where I explained about All My Mentors Are Dead Online (about iAMMAD) that there was a very strong Christian influence in my life and therefore it will follow that there will be a Christian viewpoint influencing everything I discuss here in this website. Albeit much of what I discuss here will not settle well in the craw of many in religious circles who view free thinking as somewhat of an enemy to faith. There are many in some religious organizations that will monitor and control everything their people watch, listen to, and read. If they do not directly control what is consumed, or forbid what they feel should not be entertained, they will strongly urge their people with fear inducing tactics. This sort of thing does not work in secular organizations for the most part but sadly it is very effective, and might I add damaging to faith and hope, within institutions of religion.

I am not angry as some might suppose (or as my acronym implies) but I have a very low tolerance for bullies especially those who use doctrine as a whip and ideas of loyalty as restraints strapping their follower’s minds to a proverbial whipping post. I am not angry now although at one time not too long ago I was ripping mad. I was almost once among what Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, former Professor of Theology at Concordia University, Irvine in Irvine, CA, called the ‘mad alumni’ of Christianity in his lecture entitled, The Gospel for Those Broken by The Church. At that time I read eagerly the twenty written pages of his oral presentation or lecture. At that time it was exactly what I needed (as God would have it) to unravel tangled ideas of obedience and sanctification in order to usher in floods of amazing grace.

Lecture Overview

Dr. Rosenbladt speaks about the “sad alumni” of the Christian church who after having been saved “by grace through faith” begin to believe, through much teaching to this effect, that they somehow have to maintain their walk by their own power and will. If they are not taught this directly it is implied by the continuous therapy and self-help preaching that is imposed. Many pastors are simply trying to help the people with the issues of the day or the prevalent struggles (they identify as sin) in the church. But this leaves the hearer feeling unfulfilled and unloved unless they throw themselves at the altar weekly. This is something that I came to refer to as “my Baptist penance” when I realized that this was basically what I was doing. To appease the guilt induced by the preaching (not conviction from the Word); but to appease the guilt I would run to the altar leaving perhaps lighter in spirit but remaining unchanged.

Then Dr. Rosenbladt talks also about the “mad alumni” of the faith who leave angry and never return to an organized community of faith. He speaks of several paradigms: A strictly Law focus. Then the ‘Law – Gospel’ perspective of which many add a paradigm of ‘Guilt – Grace – Gratitude’ where those who struggle with the whole gratitude thing (as do we all because of self-focus); those who struggle with the gratitude begin to wonder if they were ever really a recipient of grace. Then lastly he speaks of the ‘Law – Gospel – Law’ paradigm that is likely responsible for both the sad alumni and the mad alumni. I do not want this explanation to be too lengthy because as it was very life-changing for me at the time it may be of little interest to many who venture this way. But to summarize a little further I will comment on the paradigms he spoke about. Feel free to go read Dr. Rosenbladt’s entire 20 page lecture here if you wish.

Law

The ‘Law’ paradigm is strictly works based religion. Christian churches that fall into this category are woefully close to those reproved and rebuked by Paul in the book of Galatians. With the condemnation of the Law there is only guilt and shame and fear. There may be things the adherent can do to appease these feelings but ultimately there is little hope.

Law – Gospel

The ‘Law-Gospel’ paradigm always begins by showing the condemnation that the law brings and the inability to undo ‘crimes’ against the law. There may be guilt. There may be shame. And there may be fear. Assuming the mind fully comprehends condemnation there is likely to be all three of these at some level. But then there is the amazing, wonderful, grace-filled message of the gospel that all of this – the guilt and shame that brings about fear – was taken care of once and for all at Jesus’ cross.

Dr. Rosenbladt shares further that often there is a ‘Guilt-Gospel-Gratitude’ idea of what our progress should look like. One of the problems with this, however true it may be, is that looking for the proof of gratitude (a self-focus as mentioned above) will always hinder the actual ability to walk in gratitude.

Dr. Rosenbladt did not mention this as I think of it now but the progression of ‘Law-Gospel’ should always be ‘Guilt-Gospel-Grace’ and Grace continually. Some churches that do not teach grace, and promote grace, and practice grace continually refrain because of fear of being considered soft on sin. They often only constantly teach ‘Law-Gospel’ in hopes of seeing many saved, preaching salvation repeatedly to the saved in their services. They perhaps see rapid short term growth but never see deep lasting individual growth within the church members. This emphasis on ‘Law-Gospel’ only, apart from grace teaching, is a shameful disservice to a grace-needy people.

Law – Gospel – Law

There are two forms of this paradigm.

First the more obvious of the ‘Law-Gospel’ message for salvation which is followed by a works based sanctification thereafter. This places the redeemed into a bondage relationship to the law from which they had been freed.

Then there is that which was mentioned above. The ‘Law-Gospel’ message that demands a response of gratitude. If there are not evidences of gratitude after a very short time then the whole authenticity of the persons conversion is called in question. The problem of course is the self-focus that was mentioned above. These two aspects of ‘Law-Gospel-Law’ will always inevitably produce despair in some, the “sad alumni”, or disillusionment and distrust in others, the “mad alumni”.

For me personally, I walked in despair for only a short time before it produced in me deep anger, not toward God, but toward those who repeatedly provided hope and then repeatedly snatched it away. I knew enough to know that this was not as Jesus would have it. And I read Galatians through enough to know that we were not on the right path. But I was at a loss as to how and why we got so far off the path of grace to begin with.

Conclusion

When we left the place we had called our church home for nearly two decades it was the most difficult thing we had ever done. But at the same time it was the most liberating thing we had ever done. We grew quickly in ways that we had only struggled to grow before. The fruit of grace toward others began to blossom in our lives. The desire to do good for and toward others for no reason other than their benefit was truly liberating. This whole website is in a way a continuation of that mission to extend grace to every man. There is no ulterior motive to gain your attention and then wallop you with some profound course-altering concoction of my own.

My only desire is to be a blessing and help to those struggling under thought-stopping bondage. It is a desire to constantly affirm free thinking and self-directed personal growth. My Christian readers will agree with me that a man chooses his path but God directs his steps. And believing that God is sovereign, and that truth in principle and practice is universal, I have to believe that this applies to everyone. As we grow independently but inter-dependently with others we become more deeply aware of our supreme need of Him. My non-Christian readers will likely agree that we need others. And a charitable attitude towards others is vitally important. This charitable attitude towards others, in our quest to grow personally, is what I hope to promote in these pages.

If there is anything here in this post that you can relate to, anything at all that I can help you with please feel free to contact me at Carl@AllMyMentorsAreDead.com. Comment below if you wish. Message me here. Or email me.

Honestly, I am not concerned if you are an atheist, a pagan, a member of either the sad alumni or mad alumni, or if you are presently where I was years ago and are looking for answers. I am not concerned with exactly where you are at except that I may meet you there. I am not asking you to meet me half way. I am only asking that you allow me to connect with you and to be a friend to you.

I mean that in the most sincere way.

Best wishes to you friend and
kind regards always,

Carl J. Dill

AllMyMentorsAreDead.com

Carl

6 Comments

  1. “When we left the place we had called our church home for nearly two decades it was the most difficult thing we had ever done. But at the same time it was the most liberating thing we had ever done. ”

    Carl, we couldn’t agree more friend! We found exactly the same thing! Initially it was EXTREMELY SCARY, we both literally had nightmares about it – we were told that by leaving the church we had fallen from grace, that God is mad at us, that we basically lost our eternal life, have no place in the Kingdom of Heaven anymore’ and that we basically were now messengers of satan. Through a direct “prophesy” (yes, they say they have prophets who have a direct connection) our friends and family were “commanded” to not have anything to do with us, else we will influence them in our wrong ways, and they will loose their eternal life too! It was scary and lonely!

    BUT, we are every day since we left, grateful that we chose to think for ourselves, that we decided to use our God given logic and common sense to reason out the Scriptures and to believe what it says, the plain and the simple, without preconceived ideas and doctrines. What we have found is that He is honest and true and will let Himself be found, by those who seek. We are eternally grateful for the decision that we made to leave and for His grace and kindness over us!

    Thank you Carl for your desire to create a place of safety for those who are coming out of that manipulation, and for wanting to teach how to start thinking for ourselves again. You are right, when people have been manipulated (and abused / bullied) in the church system for so long, they almost don’t know how to do that anymore, to think for themselves!

    May you be blessed in your work Carl and may all seekers of truth find the unadulterated truth.

    Peace to all! 😉

    • Sharlee,

      I have nothing but deep sorrow for the extreme spiritual abuse that you describe here. Can I forgive such people? I have no choice but to forgive. I have to remember the verses in the NT that say, “God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” I have every confidence that God will deal with the pride and arrogance you describe that motivates leaders to abuse so many “in the name of righteousness” who are earnestly seeking Him.

      I am thankful He led you out. And I am confident that you find areas of healing every day. My hope and prayer that what I have said here, and will say in the future, will help in that healing process.

      Kind regards to you always and forever,

      Carl

      • Hi Carl

        Thank you for your kind words of empathy and understanding.

        To be honest, when we just left, we were still so indoctrinated that we were too scared to say or even think anything, we just remained silent and went our way. But as time passed and we read the Word more and more and discovered more about their manipulation, crowd hypnosis techniques, false doctrines, and other lewd things that I don’t even want to mention, we went trough stages of anger (towards them as well as towards ourselves for having been so gullible, even though I’ve grown up in that religion), sometimes we felt sorrow, sometimes we felt pity.

        Yes, there are pride and arrogance, but when several of the leadership were confronted (separately) with the truths of Scripture and pointed out where their doctrines contradict Scripture – the one constant answer that we got was that they can’t preach anything different to what the church prescribes, otherwise they will be expelled and how will they provide for themselves. So to put it plainly, they are prepared to mislead the people by what they know is false, just for the money! Shocking, isn’t it?

        You are right Carl – He provides us with healing through Scripture – every time we find confirmation for the Truths that we discover, confirmation that what they taught was wrong, it brings healing, knowing that we can learn from Scripture.

        Warmest regards
        Sharlee

        • Sharlee

          The fear that you describe upon just leaving is something we can relate to. We were so conditioned by the sometimes ‘in your face’ behavior and the brazenness of certain individuals that I warned the pastor friend who first helped us. He was the first among many who helped us see that loyalty to a person can only go so far and it must be balanced with (and even countered by) loyalty to a proper application of Biblical principles and truth. I warned my pastor friend that he may get a phone call or visit challenging him for taking us in. Although we did not stay in his church I am very grateful for his help and kindness.

          Before we went to the church that became our ‘church home’ for a few years I was aware of conflict between our former church leadership and there and because of my leadership roles in the former church I called the pastor asking if he would be okay with us worshiping together with them. I will never forget how kind he was also. And his willingness to help. Going there (although we did not stay long) was yet another necessary step in our healing process.

          There is so much more to the journey out that I could write a book (perhaps I should); but I can say briefly here with great confidence that there was an unseen Hand guiding our steps and there was a constant Presence of Kindness and Grace that ushered us forward. (I know you can relate) The place of abundant blessing and freedom that we now find ourselves in, not a place really but a ‘state’ of being, is so powerful that we cannot refrain from a burning desire to help others. Sharlee there are so many others! Again I could write a book.

          Thank you for your second reply,

          I appreciate your engagement here…

          Carl

  2. Carl this is very interesting to me.

    I grew up in a household with a mother who was Baptist/Methodist and a father who was somewhat of an Atheist. Though, as I grew older I began to learn that dad really wasn’t as much an Atheist as he was tired of crammed-down-your-throat religion. Unfortunately, in some places there are those doctrines.

    I feel that being a Christian is a personal choice. An agreement between you and God. I have been called non-Christian because I choose not to go to church. I choose to make my decisions based on what I learn from reading the Word of God and what He says to me.

    Your post is very insightful!

    Eden

    • Eden thank you for sharing!

      Unfortunately there are a lot more of those crammed-down-your-throat religions than I ever realized. After beginning this cause to be a healing balm to those who have been beat up by churches such as these I began meeting people from all walks of life who have had similar conflicts and wounds. Even in my own journey I had to read the book of Galatians through about 100 times before I could get things straightened around in my head. I am thankful for all we went through however because through it I have been able to understand and help many. I think you know my ‘fight’ is not with the church. My heart is to help those who have been, and are being bullied, in places where they ought to find hope and peace.

      You are right that being a Christian is a personal agreement between you and Jesus. And He is not as much worried (of course He doesn’t worry); He is not as much concerned that you are ‘in church’ as He is that you are the church in and to the world. You are wise to make your decisions based on the scriptures and not based on what man says. I will be posting very soon about one of my mentors, A.W. Tozer, who is quoted as saying something that will affirm this dependence on scripture rather than on man.

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad you found it insightful!

      Kind regards always and forever,

      Carl

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