If you’re reading this blog, then chances are that you have a pretty good grasp on what Christianity is. But did you know that Christianity as we know it almost didn’t succeed in early centuries? You may have heard whispers of various ancient sects of barely recognizable Christian beliefs, and it turns out that the rumors are true. The ancient Christians that we know—whether we love them or hate them—had to struggle against their competitors known as the gnostics, better known to history as heretics.
For centuries, historians have known about the gnostic Christians and their texts only through the writings of their enemies, the orthodox or catholic Christians (which gave rise to the many denominations of Christianity existing today). You can imagine how hard it was to understand the gnostic point of view with their only documentation being from those who despised them. So it was immensely exciting for historians when the gnostic gospels themselves were discovered near Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1946. The discovery was an exercise in patience, though; it would be thirty years until an English translation of the full library would be published in 1977. Elaine Pagels must have gotten to work quickly, then, as her book The Gnostic Gospels was published in 1979.
When a person leaves religion or loses their faith, I’ve found that they tend to go one of two ways. Some people lose interest in religion altogether and want to get as far away from it as possible. In a way, I think this is a shame, because I’m one of the people that goes the other way; I decided that I wanted to give religion a closer look. I turned back around after walking away to scrutinize the history of Christianity and determine which parts of it, if any, are really true. And what have I found?
I had been meaning to read Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman for several months, but I kept putting it off. Now that I’ve finally read it, I wish I had done so earlier. It was incredible!
Just when you thought, or at least hoped, that I had forgotten about my series reacting to Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life, I’m posting about it yet again. On the bright side, we are nearly finished with this damaging book! This will be my reaction to Purpose Four out of five. This time, it’s all about serving God.
I’m glad I’m reading The Purpose-Driven Life. It is teaching me to humble myself and put God first. It’s allowing me to get rid of my worries and let Jesus take the wheel. Most importantly, it’s teaching me simple ways to better my life, like being in constant conversation with God, memorizing Bible verses, and defeating temptation.
This week, we’re returning to Rick Warren’s evangelical Christian bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life. In this post, we will specifically be looking at what harmful and even dangerous teachings are lurking in Part Two of the book: “You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure”.
The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren has been a bestseller in the Christian world for decades. It was on the New York Times Bestseller List for over 90 weeks and sold 18 million copies in its first six years. It has over 215,000 ratings on Goodreads averaging 3.93 stars and over 2,400 ratings on Amazon averaging 4.7 stars.
It was the middle of the day on a Tuesday, and I was sitting on the couch, probably on my eighth YouTube video of the day, surrounded by (virtual) stacks of resumes. I had gotten married and moved in with my husband a month and a half before, and I didn’t have a job yet. There wasn’t much to do. I remembered an idea I had had before I got married, and that was that when we were settled into our own place, we should probably read the bible together.
I remember sitting in class at Grove City College in the fall of 2015 and disagreeing with every single Christian point that the professor made. I didn’t really know about the word “atheist” then, and I didn’t exactly know what I was, but I knew I wasn’t a Christian. It was probably around this time when the events of this post took place, and when I first tried watching the famous Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. It was also around this time that I first saw Zeitgeist: The Movie.
I’ve had an interest in religion and atheism for a long time, especially since I started writing on this blog three years ago. I’ve covered topics like evolution and creationism, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (the religion I was raised in), and a whole lot of thoughts and opinions on religion in general and the existence of God. While I’ve done plenty of research, it still shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I tend to have my own personal biases when looking at evidence for things like God or evolution.