I had a rave/rant with (well "at" really) a good friend about some fundamental christian principals.
I've noticed more and more, with myself and with countless others who have ditched traditional christianity, one of the most fundamental flaws with the belief system. It's not just a theological concern - its a life or death concern.
Many people embrace christianity because they are broken, beaten, abused and rejected. They have a self image that only the promise of new life in Christ can rebuild. They have had experiences that say "you are useless, a failure and your only hope is in something greater than yourself to lift you up and love you".
This sounds wonderful, and it is! It kept me alive, gave me the endurance I needed to continue with this life and a sense of being loved, mostly. The thought prevailed that no matter how broken and disgusting I was, Jesus saved me - I'm a sinner saved by grace.
There's a lot of theological discussion going around these days looking at the different aspects of the theology of Jesus, the "sacrifice", the example, taking on the "sins of the world", becoming sin so we don't have to reap the eternal consequences etc. Heaps of alternative views, and all backed by scripture - of course - that's always the case isn't it! Endless arguments all backed by scripture and everyone having the correct understanding (creating even more denominations/sects etc).
But that's not the point. Scripture is not my concern any more these days. Feel free to toss it around and analyse it into oblivion, but it makes no difference in the end. What does make a difference is life now.
The most fundamental flaw with christianity is that we are born sinful - that we are born into sin. We are sinful and broken from the day we are born because of a "condition" that has been passed down through all mankind from, well, from the "fall" apparently.
Why is this a problem? Because no matter how much we love Jesus, defer our perfection onto him, claim freedom from sin because of him, stand in God's love because of his sacrifice etc, the fact remains that we are still faced with the most fundamental doctrine that we are useless, doomed to fail, born filthy sinners - unworthy, unable to face God, except through his magnanimous sacrifice of Jesus.
It means that our value as humans is only through Jesus. We can argue the semantics and subtleties of doctrines. Yes there are many views that say that God loves us totally for who we are, but only after we accept Jesus. Some even say that God only sees Jesus when he looks at us.
Here's the problem in a nutshell, no matter how you try to frame it. All traditional christian doctrine suppresses our intrinsic value, our self worth, into something worthless - worse than worthless! We are born enemies of God! The deep damage this does can easily be seen if we can take a step back.
I see so many people who no matter how much they know that God loves them, still think they are only of any worth because of Jesus. This is crippling! It brings death where life was intended. I see people struggling with depression, failure, suicidality, because the very thing that "saved" them is killing them! Self love, self value, at a deep level is not only unachievable, it's undesirable, and even sinful. To love ourselves is supposedly pride, which was the greatest sin of all.
But Jesus said it - love your neighbour as yourself. Do you love yourself, or are you afraid? How can you love yourself because you'll end up full of pride. It will trap you and lure you into a life of hedonism and narcissism! You won't be even interested in loving others because you will become the centre of your life instead of Jesus.
What a sad delusion! There aren't any terms and conditions on loving yourself. You know why? Because loving yourself means treating yourself as you treat others, as you understand love, as you embrace unconditional love and compassion for yourself, as you live loved.
Jesus was a cool guy, but we were not born sinful and needed saving by him. Even he never said that (yes, you can read John 3:16 with a different lens, as you can most scripture). We are perfect! We are loved - we are love. We have simply been taught the lie that we are broken at the most fundamental level, so we live our lives, coloured by that. The lie goes deep and creates a paradigm that we refuse to acknowledge - a paradigm that cripples our growth as humans, that causes us to do unloving acts, because we think that's all we are capable of without Jesus' magic trick with God.
Repent - which simply means change your mind! Change your mind about who you are. You were never broken, you don't need fixing or saving. You have simply believed a lie, so repent.
You can throw scripture at me, argue theology, whatever... It changes nothing. The fruit of our lives is the test. If whatever you believe doesn't bring life and love to yourself and everyone around you, you are believing a lie. If you aren't "living loved", you have completely missed the point.
At best, traditional christian doctrine can keep us alive, bring comfort, and help us have compassion and empathy for others. But it stops short of real life, real love, and giving us the ability to live to our fullness right now.