Monday, July 23, 2007

What is Christian agnosticism?

I am a Christian agnostic. I need to explain what I mean by that, because I'm not aware of anyone famous who means by that what I do. One of my friends has told me that in talking with me, he needs to remember that I truly mean both words; not a compromise or a middle ground between both viewpoints, I genuinely mean both things.

I was pretty happy as an evangelical Christian, but I doubted a lot, especially over the course of the past year or so, and I couldn't find many plain answers, so that landed me in agnosticism. I am not trying to persuade my Christian friends to change their beliefs or actions in any way, except to recognize that many of the evidences for the truth claims they make are not as solid as they might think; doubters and nonbelievers ought not be dismissed saying, "They don't believe because they don't want to", belief in God ought not be considered obvious.

In particular, the Christian agnostic label falls strangely on evangelical ears, and understandably so, because of the evangelical emphasis on salvation through personal faith in Christ. While I might use those words to describe what I think, I mean something a little bit different by "faith" and "Christ", and I want to be careful not to play a linguistic shell-game -- I do believe something different from evangelical Christians. I'll talk a little more about Christian agnostic soteriology later, but I do want to describe what I mean by "faith" and "Christ".

When I say that I have faith in Christ, I don't mean that I make any particular truth-claim assertions about the existence of God, the historicity of Jesus, or the inspiration, authenticity, or inerrancy of the scriptures. Instead, I mean only two things:

  1. Living like the Bible says that Jesus lived is the best way to live.
  2. I am not Jesus.
Point 1 seems to me to be reasonable. I need a compass for my life. Some people think that the best way to pose this compass is in terms of values, like courage or honesty or respect, or in terms of a goal, like financial success, world peace, an end to poverty, or having a family. I think that it's more powerful to have a person as a compass. We never see big, abstract goals come to fruition, and values are ambiguous, but I come face-to-face with people who cook my lunch, play croquet with me, who give me hugs, or tell me jokes. The ineffability of God, the unfathomable beauty of compassion, self-sacrifice, and courage, I can only apprehend when wrapped up in a person.

Point 2 is more subtle, and you can tell, by seeing what people in our culture think. There seems to be an understanding that "good people" deserve to go to heaven, regardless of how they relate to God. There is a general agreement that Jesus things like loving people and listening are good things. What is missed, though, is that I'm not the main character in the story of my life, and that if I was, my story would be a very sad and boring one.

Dan Liebert, Verbal Cartoonist, wrote:
If they ever make a musical about my life, there will probably be a lot of songs about jacking off and pizza.
One of the funny things about The Onion is its stories about Don Turnbee, describing the challenges he faces in fast food restaurants (in one, he isn't sure what to do with extra ketchup packets, so he stockpiles them). The joke, as I understand it, is that The Onion reports on life not based on what is really important, but on what Don Turnbee, for instance, would think is important.

Don Turnbee is lame, and I don't want to be lame.

There was a guy I knew once, I took classes with him. He's a very good person, an excellent student, and a good friend to have. He was just stunningly lame. He was the reincarnation of Marty McFly's dad from Back to the Future, with bonus lameness for looking like he accidentally stepped into the wrong decade. He wore coke-bottle glasses and velcro shoes and a Mister Rogers sweater. You could ask him about President number, say, 23, and he'd tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Benjamin Harrison -- when and where he was born, when he took office, his family members' names, his cabinet... I had to check Wikipedia to know that we ever had a president named Benjamin Harrison. Every day, at noon, he'd say, "High noon, time for lunch".

The thing that I always wondered about this fellow was whether he was aware that he was lame. I think that if you're lame, and don't know it, that's bonus lame points.

I very much like the Jesus Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
I think that the theology behind that prayer is the best lens through which I can see the world. The repentance in the Jesus Prayer is my antidote for lameness, found by my embracing my lameness.

The purpose of this world view is up in the air. At the least, it can function as a layover on a spiritual journey. It's nice, because it insulates living a good life and having a wise direction from doubt in the goodness of God. That is, if I can find God to be real, and basically congruent with who the Bible describes Jesus to be, I can find inspiration and hope from that, but, if not, I still have some idea of what the right thing to do is.

One major problem with Christian agnosticism is that it doesn't give me much hope. I don't know that God will make everything turn out well in the end, and I would like to be able to have that hope. I don't necessarily think that Christian agnosticism is a good idea, but it's what I've got to deal with right now. One of the good things about Christian agnosticism is that if there's anything at all to the Christian claims in the existence and goodness of God, and the historicity and divinity of Jesus, I'll find them to be true, eventually, by God's grace.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." -- Matthew 5:8

72 comments:

  1. I am in a similar position in my life right now. My family, husband, and friends are overwhelmingly Christian and follow Him faithfully or "claim" to be but their faith is so insignificant or is pulled out only at the times when it's what to say or do (did that make sense) that I feel incredibly isolated and frustrated. The few Christian friends I have shared my new (within the past year) frame of mind with are in anguish, and the few "convenient" Christians I have spoken to look at me like I am a heathen. I googled "Christian agnostic" and happened upon your blog. Thank you for your candid thoughts. It is validating and helps me feel like I am not completely alone.

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    1. Being an agnostic Christain, I find it unfair that god would leave no obvious solid evidence that he exists, and if you don't have blind faith without evidence you are going to have to live with eternal punishment. What kind of god promotes credulity.

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  2. Dude, thanks for this blog. As teressa said, its validating. You just made a day in my life a little easier.

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    1. I also feel validated . I have had to keep my views to myself. People distance themselves from you when you express a view that is out of step with the majority of our society. No one can honestly say that they are certain of the existence of God. They believe. There is absolutely no proof.

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  3. I'm glad you can relate. Chuck me an email--alex.szatmary@gmail.com--if you want to talk.

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  4. I really appreciate what you had to say in this blog. I can relate to pretty much all of it. I have been thinking along these lines for about the past year. I spent a year at a Bible School and after that year I felt a passion and an excitement that I choose to believe was from God. It was a hope that if I seek God with all my heart, I will find Him. I desire to see a miracle or an answer to prayer that cannot be coincidence. My mind is very skeptical, however, and I cannot speak honestly and say I have seen one. One of the lecturers that I had in Bible School once said that the most important things in life cannot be proven; love, freedom, God... It is a step of faith that I take, but not being completely convinced of what I choose to believe and follow robs me of the hope, joy, and peace that I desire

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  5. I find your statements puzzling.
    I believe the answers are there, even if some are unknown to everyone.
    I would like to hear some of your questions.
    I believe you must have seen some hypocrisy in your faith which has lead you to a (Agonostic) non committal view of life and your faith.
    So the first question to answer is " Am I a Christian?"
    Are you? When were you born again?
    e-mail- stpkeaton@aol.com

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    1. Being an agnostic simply means you don't think it is feasible to prove there is a god, many Christians no they can not prove it, can you? Please state your sources and be sure that they can withhold a peer review.

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    2. You are also using an AOL email account which points out that you live in Rural America. You could stop using your one sided thoughts that have been contained and passed down through generations from your area. Also, YOU as a Christan are not supposed to JUDGE others. It's Ironic how you were trying to call Jeremy a hypocrit just then. This is another reason why it's hard. Because most people like you slap on their christian mask when it benefits you, however when you want to commit a sin you take it right back off. Go pray at church and cry at the alter, but go home and start cussing and sinning, right?

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    3. Not Jeremy, Alex... Same message applies though.

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  6. I really enjoyed stumbling upon this post. This reminds me very much at where I am at. On the one hand, I am a skeptic, and have many doubts (existence of God, historical accuracy of Jesus, afterlife, etc.) On the other hand, I believe in living by most of the teachings and actions of Jesus. For the past 8 years or so, I have become more of a skeptic not only about Christianity but also about religion in general. But I had such a great religous upbringing that I can't just dismiss it all. At this point, I guess I would describe myself as a "Christian Agnostic" as well.

    unreasonableteacher.blogspot.com

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  7. My brother is exactly where you're at, but he's ashamed to talk about it. It breaks my heart for the fact that he feels so alone, and also for the fact that he cannot feel the presence of Jesus in his life. As for me, I know Jesus is real. Is he in the mold so many denominations have formed Him? Probably not. But with pureness of heart, seek Jesus, and He will find you. With sincerity, ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and He will. But be fair about it. Don't create such grandiose threshholds of proof, by which even your next door neighbor couldn't prove his own existence. My life is way too full of encounters that could only be Jesus. Terminal diseases healed, supernatural events witnessed by multiple people, and the gentle love that only my heavenly Father could give this very fallible and so imperfect a guy.

    To those with doubts, please know that it is not our belief or lack thereof that makes God real or not. If God exists, it is not because we created Him with our faith, but rather He created us with His faithfulness. It is our existence that is dependent on Him, and not the other way around. Let the grace of God come to you, but be willing to embrace it when it presents itself. You seem like a great guy. . . so much like my brother. I wish you peace, my friend.

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  8. Many years ago I had a conversion experience and commenced a journey through the pentecostal movement eventually getting into a right wing organization before being thoroughly pissed off with it all. However, after many years I can not completely deny the conversion experience but still consider myself agnostic in that I can not really know it it is true. Hence christian agnostic suits my current philosophy just fine.

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  9. You've really hit a nerve with me. I've been in church all my life, my fathers a pastor, his father was a pastor, and so was his! This past year I've been hit with several levels of unthinkable pain.....my heart has been beaten and crushed. Thoughts of leaving it all fill my mind 24hrs a day. Trusting GOD only seems.....nevermind.

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  10. I rejoice for those who enjoy the embrace of God and "know" this to be the case. And yet, I am still able to enter into the joy of my own agnosticism as the Holy and Loving Mystery behind all things reassures me that my honest pursuit of Ultimate Reality is not in vain. To me, Jesus seems to best reveal what I hope God is like, and as I seek to follow Jesus I pray that God will continue to manifest Godself's loving presence as I seek to learn better to care about that which I believe he does; communion and ultimately union in his Kingdom here on earth as it must be where he IS in and of him/her/its self.

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  11. Hi, readers,

    I have been so stoked by the response that this post has gotten over the past couple of years. I'm refocusing this blog to be about this sort of stuff primarily. I crave input. Comments are great, but I also want to have conversations about doubt and faith.

    Email me at alex.szatmary@gmail.com if you want to talk more.

    -Alex

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  12. I think I struggle with this same thought and a famous methodist preacher wrote a book about it...go figure. It's called The Christian Agnostic...(funny how those things work.) I haven't read the book yet, but it looks like it might hold the key. I think from the review and such on amazon, that having dobuts is normal. Let me know if this helps.

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  13. I'm reading The Christian Agnostic by Leslie Weatherhead right now, actually. It's enjoyable, but he's more of a relativist than I am.

    I think that the big difference is that he's saying that God is sort of real, and I'm saying that we can sort of know that God is real. (Having only just started the book, this may be an unfair characterization.)

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    1. Hi
      Thank you for your blog. I think it was in the 1970s that I first read "The Christian Agnostic" by Leslie Weatherhead (Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton 1965). I reread it recently. What an honest book! Concerning doubt, Weatherhead quotes Dostoevsky as writing "My hosanna has come forth from the crucible of doubt". This thought has helped me greatly. I hope it helps you.
      John
      jecbster@gmail.com

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  14. I'm at the same place myself. I hold a lot of teachings from Jesus to be true, I believe in God but I too have my doubts, I'm not so gullible what christians say anymore and I'm skeptic towards a lot of things. I googled christian agnostic and came to this. It's number one

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  15. Thank you for posting this, I was actually reading up on humanism but it sounded a little too atheist for me, and I wondered if it was possible to combine Christianity with a degree of health scepticism (i.e. agnosticism), and I'm so glad that your post was there when I googled "Christian agnosticism" (:

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  16. Doubt & Faith
    I doubt it will rain today! Is that because it rained yesterday or it hasn't rained for the last week and your area is in that cycle.
    People throughout history have danced,prayed, and even made sacrifices for rain.
    ALL BECAUSE OF FAITH!
    Faith that if you don't do the things desribed in your community or religion or ethnic background or folklore you will be condemned.
    You know you will be condemned because history of that community is factual.
    definition of Community: in reality, it's beliefs/laws as a whole, shape the people in it.
    Throughout history all communities,villages,towns,cities,
    counties,states,countries,
    continents, and the world are shaped by one belief and one belief only: coexistence with each other and passing that way of life(religion/law)down from one generation to another.
    The Four Agreements, by Miguel Ruiz
    and THE BIBLE will explain all of this.
    The only belief there is, is that all humans want or need, is acceptance of themselves without judgement from others.
    Gee, I wonder where we have heard this before. Do not judge others.
    When a life is taken by another, is when most humans ignore all their beliefs and they take a life in return.
    Yes, God gave us the freedom of will to choose our lifestyle and beliefs, but he did not give us the right to push our beliefs on others. We may write about it and tell others about it but we are not to force it on each other.
    I stand at the door and knock, he who it opens it, shall receive me.
    As with all people, we open the door for some,slam the door in their face for others, and for others we look out the peep hole and never answer.
    Which one are you? Is the question for all of us.
    We are to procreate: have children:
    experience the joy, pain, sorrow and grief of watching a child grow in their life,letting them go and making their on life.
    Just like God had to watch Jesus walk his own life. Did he interfere, NO, not even at the cross.
    So, I ask of you, find your faith, be kind and giving of yourself, but don't condemn others, that is
    GOD'S job. Yes, we have to stand up and fight & kill others in the name of faith.
    But with no faith, can we coexist with each other?
    Don't put a title on yourself, christian, atheist, agnostic, catholic, jewish , muslim, budhist.
    Just have Faith as your guidance and you will see the LORD at work without you having to fit into any one category. Jesus did not judge others or put them into a group.
    Why should you put yourselves into a group(Christian Agnostic)?
    You are only changing the title of your belief.
    I am not a Yankees fan any more,
    I am a Red Sox fan.
    Yes you changed teams but your still a baseball fan.
    Yes you change Religion titles, but you are still a believer in faith.
    Remember the next time you are in the book store to look at the front of the books. Titles not religions.
    TORAH
    KORAN
    BIBLE
    They are not religion titles,
    They are a FAITH/BELIEF!
    Bottom line a blueprint for
    COEXISTENCE!

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  17. I, like most posting here, have been struggling with this for almost 3 years now. I've grown up in a Christian home, with a Christian family, Christian friends, and the same general, "sterilized", Christian environment my whole life-- that it until I transferred from my Christian school to a public school, but I won't tell my life story, you would all die of boredom.
    I just share the same situation with Teressa--ever since my school transfer, my family's Christianity has slowly declined, only using their faith when it seems they should. Since then, so too has my belief dwindled, but I wasn't ready to give up my belief in God (and I never will, mind you).
    I'm just so glad I googled "christian agnostic" and found this--I thought this was something rather taboo and all who doubted would be smited.
    One aspect of my life has just gotten so much easier...Thanks.

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  18. Let me shed some light agnostic christain. After all God expects us to study and show ourselves aproaved unto him, and this is for you to make your one decision.
    They were one of the first to write a biblical story on christainity and mind you, its preaching contradicts the teachings of the Old testaments and the new teasdtaments and the writtings of the earlr apostles.
    Agnostic Christains claim that a blind and insane angle created the earth. Jesus was sent into the world to save mankind, and Jesus did it by escaping the cross (not dying).
    Q. how does jesus save mankind by chickening out of crucifiction...There must be the shedding of blood to establish a new covenant (just as abraham was ordered to sacrifice unto the lord).
    Alexdanderus (may of splet it wrong) taught false teachings, and around 330 AD (the time that agnostic christian made their "Book") studies reveil that they merged their teachings with greek phylosophy, egyptain and babylonian mythology and persian theology.
    *some of their teachings are found in the Quran. This is why the quran is soo messed up, because mohammad was taught by false christains most prob agnostics.
    The truth has always been "The Bible" and the death and ressurection of Jesus Christ. Please study for yourself, there are many information that reveal the truth. how am i right because in 1945 a copy of the agnostic christain bible was discovered which reveals what i have explained.
    Do not be led astray by doctrines of the devil (satan is a lair) John 10:9-10
    please email me if u wanna discuss i can shed some light unto those who are feeling confused d_onli_afro@hotmail.com

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  19. Milkman, do you mean gnostic, rather than agnostic?

    I feel a lot like you, I think, jeremy5678. It's so easy to be sceptical, and when you see something that may be a sign from God it can seem like a coincidence. I struggle a lot with the idea that I can never prove God beyond all doubt to myself, maybe I should pray about it more...

    I hope (and pray) everyone here finds answers or renewed faith that keeps them strong.

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  20. Thanks for this! It's nice to know you're not totally alone in the universe with your beliefs and that someone can put it coherently.

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  21. I'm not sure if "Milkman's" comments were an elaborate joke, but let me state as clearly as possible that he has mistaken the word "agnostic" for the "Gnostic" sect of the early years of Christianity.

    My only other comment is that "Christian agnostics" would do well to inquiry into the Orthodox Church (Greek, Russian, Eastern, etc.). I have found solace there for many years - it's a great place for doubters who wish to experience the love of God in a wholistic, historic, way unencumbered by our modern culture. Only by purifying our vision may we see God.

    Please know that I have no interest in trolling for converts - Orthodoxy is "a way" that just may be "The Way." And my vision is still very cloudy. "Kyrie Iesu Hriste eleison me" indeed.

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  22. Hi there, Anonymous of 7/20/2009. I agree, Milkman is confused or hilarious, and it's often tricky to tell the difference.

    I was an Orthodox inquirer a couple of years back; this was immediately before my Great Apostasy. I recommend all western Christians, heck, everybody, check out Orthodoxy. Ideas in it have been tremendously helpful to me, and I feel like it's given me a more historically grounded sense of Christianity. However, Orthodoxy's endorsement of icon veneration is idolatrous:
    http://orelsewhat.blogspot.com/2009/04/chemosh-is-god-not-idol.html

    I like how Orthodoxy teaches that we should refrain from answering a lot of questions directly and analytically. I think that it says to neatly, though, what the truth is.

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  23. When I was growing up, my dad always said he was a Christian--but he really wasn't. He believed that being a good person would get him to heaven and that being a Christian means teaching people how to fish rather than giving them fish. I realized when I entered high school that my dad is and wasn't a Christian. You and my dad may consider yourselves Christians, but I consider someone who is a Christian to be someone who believes in Jesus Christ and has accepted Him as their Savior. John 3:16 You can't have it both ways. Really, what you're describing is being a good person and putting the label of Christian on it.

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  24. Interesting responses to this question. You are a Christian or you're not! There are no others. Stop choosing your faith and what you believe in "a la cart". Picking and choosing what fits you.
    Just remember John 8:19 Then they asked him, "Where is your father?" "You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also."
    Once you experience living through the Holy Spirit you will see God transform you and start living the life of Jesus. I wish each and everyone of you can experience it. Pray about it and have God enter your hearts. Blessings to all.

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  25. Looks like people are still finding this blog when they google "christian agnostic". That's how I ended up here.

    It's a lonely place to be. All of my closest friends and family members are Christians of one stripe or another, and I used to believe. Now I doubt. I still love Jesus as described in the gospels (especially John) but I eventually had to admit that I don't believe the things a person who calls him-or-herself a Christian is supposed to believe.

    I've been trying to find a likeminded community. I tried Unitarianism for awhile, but it didn't quite fit. I want to have honest conversations with people who respect both my doubt, and my desire for belief. I want to talk about what Christian Agnosticism looks and feels like, the lived experience. Because when I try to explain my position to well-meaning friends and family, they say "That's an oxymoron!" instead of "what does that mean to you?"

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  26. Umbrella Today: Yup, I'm still blogging. I know how you feel. I like that question, "What does that mean to you?"

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  27. Anonymous 9/13,

    It's because of the kind of response that you afford people who are not like you that you completely lose them. The culture doesn't get your Christianese and the brash attitude that you have as just another deluded and fanatical extreme fundamentalist.

    Learn what it means to meet people where they are at; in other words, "grow up." Broaden your horizons by venturing outside of Christian fundamentalism and allow yourself to seek some of the answers being proferred concerning spiritual matters outside of your unilateral lenses. Really, it will do you a lot of good (No, I'm not Satan trying to deceive you).

    God loves people, not just Christians!

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  28. This morning I woke thinking about the different definitions of "faith". To say "I have faith in you, brother," is a very different thing than to say "I believe this because someone told me it's true." The first, not the second, is how I think of my faith in Jesus. It occurred to me that that makes me something of a Christian agnostic (if I could be said to be a Christian at all by our culture's definition.)

    Have you read any George MacDonald? "That which thou seest not, and never didst see save in a glass darkly--that which, indeed, never can be known save by its innate splendour shining straight into pure eyes--that thou canst not but doubt, and art blameless in doubting until thou seest it face to face, when thou wilt no longer be able to doubt it." http://www.classicreader.com/book/1048/44/

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  29. Awesome. It's nice to find similar minds out there.

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  30. Thank you so much for this blog. I am in a similar place in my Christian life.

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  31. I also found your blog by googling Christian agnostic. After reading the Old Testament I don't understand how anyone can believe the Bible is the literal word of God. God commanded 42 children be mauled by bears for calling Elisha bald-head? Really? But of course, when you realize the Old Testament can't be taken literally it makes you question the validity of the New Testament as well. I think it's ridiculous for people to say you can't be both Christian and agnostic. EVERY Christian is agnostic to some degree, whether or not they choose to admit it. It's easy to pretend you don't question the Bible if you ignore all the atrocities committed in the Old Testament. And if you don't question those events can you really be a good person? Thanks so much for your thoughts and good luck on your journey!

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  32. Like the majority of other commenters here, I found this blog by googling "Christian agnostic" and I am so glad that I did! Reading your post and reading these comments has been vastly uplifting. This topic is one I've been struggling with for several years. I grew up in a liberal Christian family and community, and so Christianity has always been a part of my life. But over the past few years, the intellectual side of my brain has refused to accept some of the details of Christianity so blithely. I still take enormous comfort from church and from the teachings of Christ, but I no longer think that what I believe is necessarily objectively true. This apparent paradox has troubled me for some time: how can I believe in the "way, the truth and the light" while acknowledging that it may not actually be true? The idea of Christian agnosticism, therefore, really strikes a chord with me. I'm glad to hear there are other likeminded people out there; most of my friends and family are either devout Christians or hard-line atheists and so I often feel that I have nowhere to turn. Like others above me have said, thanks for the validation.

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  33. I feel your pain, my people. I've been arguing with my adamant, Southern Baptist girlfriend about Christianity for years now. I probably question too much, but she accepts everything in faith. Basically, i can't be a "good Christian," because i don't think a loving God would damn everyone of non-Christian faiths. However, i do want to believe in something transcendental, and i too think the teachings of Christ are a good moral compass. I think many Christians are brought to agnosticism by the realization that Christianity has been altered. Certainly no church in existence can claim to be The Church referred to in the Bible. Agnosticism is healthy, and it keeps us from being too gullible. I think what brings us together is the belief that something good still resides in the Christian faith.

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  34. Thank you for your post. I've always been a believer and heavily involved in the Christian church -- brought up in various denominations and then steeped in the evangelical-style church -- but was always unhappy and conflicted and disturbed by the churches I was a part of.

    And eventually I came to the realization I wasn't really an evangelical, but an agnostic -- a Christian agnostic.

    Like you, I felt that the basics of Jesus' life were worth emulating... I just could not make specific truth claims, all the sorts of things that drive evangelical politics and social movements.

    Really, all I know is that (1) I am not God, I am just a woman with limited knowledge and (2) I care more about process than details. IOW, I care about how we treat people and compose ourselves, I don't particularly care to argue specific doctrines -- because I believe that process proves itself but that specific doctrines are generally unprovable. We spend so much time arguing over who is "right" (without a way to prove that) that we often neglect treating other people with love.

    It's been difficult and I did lose a lot of my old support structure as I began to embrace my realization of self, but it's worth it. That horrible feeling of internal conflict has been gone now for awhile; my only real issues are dealing with those within that mindset, who can be critical if one does not agree with and support their version of truth.

    It's always good to know we are not alone, so thank you for this page. :)

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  35. i identify as a xian agnostic and have written about it here: http://irobyn.com/?p=503. Thanks for writing!

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  36. I very much enjoyed this, thank you so much for writing it. I think I am in a similar situation right now. Stumbled upon Christian agnosticism in Wikipedia and I think it describes my state of mind.

    As I see it, there's no way to get to belief in Jesus through evidence or argument, There's no evidence that would stand up say in a court of law against a good lawyer.

    That said though, Christianity at it's core, provided you don't get too old testament about it, is a pretty good way to do things.

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  37. In all my years brought up in a very Christian family I always struggled to 'find' God but eventually the people and experiences I had gained from a Christian environment could not be ignored and I realised there must be something out there. But my own doubt and the lack of biblical truth I found whilst reading the bible drew me to find something different. The label Christian Agnostic suits me because I can't face a life with out my Christian faith but at the same time my doubts and own opinions are very much the forefront of what I base my life on. I have a lot of life to live though, but yet through the last couple of years in my spiritual journey, the label Christian Agnostic feels most comfortable and I need that label.

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  38. I think is OK to doubt and question it means we are using our God given brains. He wants us to choose him and love him since he made us free with free agency.

    I believe Jesus doubt on the cross the incredible pain, open ridicule, spit on him, prior to that bleeding out of every pore in the garden of Gethsemane. He even asks why his father forsake him!"

    Knowing that evil exists and Satan does appear to Luceferians, then I must reasoned that good must exist and God and Jesus are there....Look at the evil around you is beyond human...

    This movie helps me for perspective, when I get Christian Agnostic too :) "The Cosmic Conflict: The Origin of Evil"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMw0-736vqE Part 1 out of 4

    Trailer

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47wXWcdRlOw&feature=related

    Thank you....:)

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  39. I find certainty hard to come by, though many of the people in my church who are absolutely certain seem to have a strange power about them when they pray.

    For any phenomenon there are lots of possible explanations, and the only reliable way to choose between them that I know of is through experiment. When it comes to questions of theology we are blocked from experiment so we just have to sort of plump for something.

    I blogged about it here: http://evidencebasedfaith.com/god/god-and-reason

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  40. Wow. I found this 3 years after you wrote it. I wonder if you are still struggling. I'm 45, and I feel exactly as you do. I believe in Jesus. I believe He died on the cross for my sins (even though I really don't understand why that had to happen that way). I pray daily, I fast, I tithe (either in church, or to other organizations or people), I read my Bible daily. I have attended a number of churches over the years, trying to find where I fit in. I try to live a life pleasing to God, but my walk with Him seems to end there. Even my most basic prayers are never answered, and my life is neither better nor worse for all this effort at a relationship with Jesus. That "void" in my heart is still not filled. I feel so alone, so abandoned, so disappointed all the time, and I am now to the point of wondering if maybe the Bible is just wrong. Maybe God didn't say all those things we call "His Promises"; maybe I am holding Him to a standard I shouldn't. Long story short (finally), I believe in Jesus, but I am not real sure about anything after that....Thanks for letting me vocalize my frustrations.

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  41. @Anonymous, 2011-05-17:
    I'm not struggling anymore. I'm an atheist, and I feel peaceful. I'm writing now at:
    http://alexszatmary.blogspot.com/
    Thanks for reading and relating.

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  42. I agree so incredibly much. Especially with the faith in Jesus part. I had to explain a bit about the "oxymoron" nature of the term Christian agnostic to my someone, and why I still believe in Jesus even though there's no proof of a "historical Jesus". And I never thought I'd come across someone who pretty much said it exactly the same as me. I need someone real who I've grown close to over the years to live up to, because the Jesus I've read about is who I want to be like. The sad part of it is, when I was caught up in the church, I never thought about devoting my life solely to trying to live like Jesus, because I was worried about trying to do things right according to the rules. I thought that being close to god meant being in good standing with the church. So many people are too concerned with the fear of damnation, but I stopped being scared of that long ago.. I was only concerned with living life for god. I just didn't realize I didn't need a church to do that. As for hope, what's helped me is continuing to let my relationship with god flourish even outside the church. If you trust him completely as I do, there's nothing but hope. Try meditating maybe, that's my drug of choice. I actually just very recently started seriously questioning things, but when I looked back, I'd been questioning for a while.. I was just in denial. The catholic church was where I'd been since I was a baby, I never wanted to leave. But sometimes you just have to move on.. I feel myself becoming a better person because of it. Anyway, goodluck with everything, my email if you'd ever like to discuss anything. Laurenboudreauxmusic@yahoo.com

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  43. Oh, sorry, I hadn't read your last comment before I posted mine. I'm glad you worked everything out, then. :) Still feel free to email, I'm always interested in hearing about how people ended up where they are "spiritually".

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  44. I totally get it, I'm in the same place but I don't think it's good enough, I so desperately want to believe. I was a diehard calvinist/evangelical christian three days ago, and then i read something that raised a million doubts, and now I've never been more confused or miserable. I went from an evangelicalism to deistic existentialism in two hours. So what I've been doing is evaluating apologetics and reworking all the logical conclusions I can make about God. Science and logic have told me that God must be perfect, infinite, just, authoritative and good. I now believe again that if he cared enough to make me, it had to be for a reason. And if God has a purpose for me, he will help me back to faith. Don't stop praying, God will bring us both back.
    ~Christa

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  45. I believe in God and I have faith in Him, but sometimes I doubt the existence of Him. I think that this definition accurately describes the vast majority of Christians out there. I go to church and stuff like that, it's just that I'm sometimes uncertain of knowledge.

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  46. I am glad I found this post. I am in my mid 40s and was raised to be a Christian. I was a very strong Christian in my 20s and I took the bible literally. But now I have serious doubts and like the rest of you, the term Agnostic Christian seems a label that fits where I am right now. I still believe in a Creator, because look at the world, how could this be some cosmic accident? But the Bible does not make sense to me now. A snake that talks? Animals going onto an Ark? God telling people to kill women and children? A prophet telling people to rape women? All in the O.T. I have serious doubts and am deeply disturbed by the belief that if you do not believe in Jesus, God will damn you to eternal flames and you will NEVER get out! Really? How can that be true? Or did the early Catholic church change the writing to suit their need for control and an expansion in church membership? Lots of doubts. I feel that the true God is bigger than what current Christianity is teaching. Even when I have prayed and pleaded with God to help me understand how he could torture people forever, the answer I get back in my head is, "I am bigger than that." Which makes me think that Christianity may contain truth, however it has many errors in it. That is just how I feel and I am expressing it here. I may be wrong, but I would be a liar to just go along with the Nicene Creed without question. I am still searching....

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  47. Exactly what ive been struggling with nearly my whole life. Growing up in a christian family in the church i inherrited christianity and accepted it and everything i was taught for many years. As i grew into my pre-ten years i realised that i was different from all the 'god lovers' in my family and in my church.
    I couldnt understand the faith they had and the way they worshiped and praised jesus.
    These feelings only grew stronger as i got older and i stopped going to church as soon as i was old enough to tell my parents 'NO'.
    In saying this, i still consider myself a christian, i still believe in god, and i still pray on a semi-regular basis. I do still picture myself in the future living a christian lifestyle in a chhristian family but just find it so hard to commit to something i will never if its true or not.
    People tell me i just need faith, but ive met muslims who have more faith in allah then i do in jesus, and buddists who have more faith in buddah.
    I believe without doubt in GOD and creation (or at least that GOD orchestrated our evolution or existence) But how can i be sure which faith is the right one?!?!..
    I do believe christianity is more credible then all the other religions out there but not sure if this is would be any different if i was raised in a different faith.
    Still it feels good atleast to find others who are facing the similar questions that i am.

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  48. Interesting that all his searchings simply led from one faith to another. Instead of believing an unprovable and untestable religious truth, he now believes in an unprovable and untestable philosophical idea.

    Atheism is not a bold fearless search for or discovery of truth. Atheism is not a conclusion, it is an a priori; it is an assumption; even Stephen Hawkings admitted as much when he said (as any rational person must) that you can't prove a negative. "There is no God" can't be proved. You may not need it to be proved for your own reasons, but there's no way atheism can be called rational while religion, any religion, has to be irrational.

    When you come right down to it, ANY belief is influenced, if not outright determined, by a combination of personal genetics and upbringing; nature and nurture. Religious faith can be said to be the result of a particular brain makeup and not necessarily based on empirical "truth". There's no reason to assume that atheism doesn't fit into the same paradigm.

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  49. Hi Alex,

    I'm 17 years old and very much feel like I'm in the same position as you. I grew up in a secular environment, but went (and am still attending) to a Christian school. Many of my classmates are totally into Jesus, but I have doubts about Christianity. I agree that the Bible is a great moral tool for me to use, but I have never experienced Jesus or come to any spiritual epiphanies yet. As I was typing into google what exactly my belief right now is called, your blog post showed up. I am very glad that there are people out there, who share my thoughts and have a relative understanding of this.

    So to sum it all up, thanks for the post! I'm very interested in talking to you via e-mail. If anyone else want to talk my e-mail address is alex.sweeten@gmail.com

    BTW, my name is Alex too :P

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  50. This is a nice site. Thanks.

    Freud once said that "if God did not exist -- man would have to invent him." He meant that human consciousness makes us very emotionally vulnerable and most people need to believe or hope that something greater than humans can provide us with some type of ultimate safety and security or we wouldn't be able to function. The bottom line is - we believe what we need to believe.

    I think there is an awful lot to admire about Christian thought - but not any more or less then Jewish, Islam, Buddhist, or Hindu thought (or thoughts by many world tribes). Most of the major common themes and stories from the world’s great religions are already proven to come from religions and philosophies that existed long before our current scriptures were written. These are all recycled ancient stories. The fact that those themes are so universal and survive so many retellings is enough reason to follow the lessons they teach.

    I just wish that we'd respect the fact that religion is culture bound. If there is a God (and I do suspect there is something out there), I do not believe for a second that only people who happened to be born into a Christian society know God. My Christian Church taught me that Heaven is only for those who believe in Christ. Well ---I do not believe for 1 single second that Gandhi is going to hell because he happened to be Hindu. If there is a place in Heaven for anyone --- there would be a place for Gandhi. If he got his grace from Hinduism -- then it must be a very great religion.

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    1. Actually, it wasn't Freud who said "If God didn't exist...", it was Voltaire.

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  51. I too am pleased that I have stumbled across this blog (also after Google Searching "Christian Agnosticism," which I discovered in Wikipedia, as someone else already mentioned).

    I grew up in a Southern Baptist home and was required to attend church since birth. When I was six years old, I can remember my Dad spending the whole car ride to church every week for a while insisting that my sister and I learn the correct order of the books of the Bible until we could recite them all perfectly. Even though I respect that my Parents tried to raise us in the way they thought was right, I have, for nearly all of my life, had much disdain for church and organized religion. Much of the picture I have of Church, and even of Jesus Himself from my early childhood is based upon angry obligation, rather than love.

    At 18 I had a job that made me work Sundays from time to time. My Dad threatened to kick me out of his house if I missed church one more Sunday (I had missed two in a row). I enrolled in college--surprisingly, a Southern Baptist one at that--and left home. I had heard all my life that "Jesus Loves everyone" but in practice from His followers, I saw that that was apparently conditional. If you questioned the Bible, if you were gay (I'm not, but I have many friends who are, and some of them have been deeply hurt by the Church), if you listened to secular music, used "curse" words, and on and on and on, you were condemned, chastised, or even avoided as a "stumbling block."

    Through all of this though, I have maintained a belief in God, but it is entirely outside of the hardline stance of my Baptist upbringing, or any denomination similar.

    In 2010, I lost my best friend to cancer at 29. My wife and I lost our unborn child to miscarriage. Both of my grandparents died, as well as three other family members on my wife's side. What this taught me was simply that I could not know everything, that once and for all, the Bible did not contain neat and tidy answers easily understandable and practical for every situation, (I've read it all the way through, including the Catholic Apocrypha) and that constant "study" of "the Word" is completely futile in the sense that one could actually understand the workings of God. Further, if one does not exhibit the "fruits of the Spirit" (love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control), then what would the point be anyway? I think it was at this point that I began to fully give myself over to agnosticism, at least within the Christian framework I cannot let go of.

    So the hardest struggle I have now is listening to family pontificate about all their vast "knowledge" of God and holding my tongue; of seeing candidates for public office, or religious co-workers spout off about how much they "know," or what we should "do" with any certainty--especially if their disposition does not reflect love or mercy or the fruits of the Spirit.

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  52. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm this same position right now and this really helped me. It's nice to know that it's not just me who feels this way.

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  53. I could relate a lot to what you said here. I too am an evangelical Christian, but recently I started having doubts, I really WANT to believe there is a God who is always looking out for me, but I'm starting to find it very hard. I still want to live my life as a Christian though, following the bible and using Jesus as my compass, like you said. Thanks so much for sharing this, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. :)

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  54. Profound: My heart has a "knowing" of not just God / Jesus / Holy Spirit, but of my relationship with Him. This morning (12/05/2012) I feel him. I do. I cannot / will not deny that. I am realizing that much of my angst has been the disconnection in my primary attachment relationship, my relationship with the Lord, that has occured as I have become much more honest with myself and my deep doubts. But, today I am struck with the raw truth of that relationship again. And, Dave, it can be true without you having to buy into all the wrath stuff, the fear-based compulsion to comply, the contradictions in scripture, the seemingly ridiculous stories (mostly in the O.T.), or in the exclusiveness message of the evangelical church ("we're right, they're wrong") stuff. I feel the Lord. I love him and trust him and want to do his bidding, which is to love him, to love others, and help them heal, and help them not suffer. Yes, I can praise and worship the Lord, because I DO believe. I am not privy to what I do not know, nor can I authentically espouse what I don't know. Let someone else preach Hell, judgment, and law. I bear the message of love and presence.

    I think about the little children that came to the Lord. They had no mind of hate, fear, special knowledge, compulsion to witness, and so forth. They simply knew love when they saw it and unabashedly responded to it.

    Folks can take their dogma and shove it. I rest in my daddy's arms and I'm trying to love others the way he did through Jesus.

    Dave Baird, Spokane, Wa.

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  55. The Bible says that God sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. If that is true or false what do you have to worry about. If it is true you are home clear. If it is false then there is nothing to fear either. Don't you think?

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    1. Hi Punter, Unfortunately Pascal's Wager is a false dichotomy, there are more than two options:

      1. The Christians are right
      2. The Atheists are right
      3. The Buddhists are right
      4. The Zoroastrians are right
      5. etc...

      I choose option 1, but you can't get there easily with logic.

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    2. I realize that there are more than two options. I was referring only to what the Christian options are within their religion.

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    3. By the way, I make my living betting on horse races where there are upwards of ten choices!!

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  56. Brilliant, then you can see that if you assume 1, and 4 turns out to be true, there is something to fear...

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  57. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  58. I want to know how this turned out for the author, this some being some years later. thanks

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    1. The author commented up the thread that he is now an atheist and has a new blog http://alexszatmary.blogspot.com/

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  59. Thank you. (^v^)(-.-)(=-x) -hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Rayneboi@gmail. Com

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  60. Thanks for posting this, Alex. I did a google search for "Evangelical Agnostic Christian" without knowing if there was even such a thing other than feeling like that is the way I would describe my beliefs. I grew up in the church and being a curious and skeptical child, I asked lots of questions which was frowned upon in my church. Instead of answers, I was just told that it was my duty as a Christian to believe and not to question. Anyway, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. Thanks!

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