Designer spirituality worsens by the day

March 27th, 2011

The widespread assumption that true goodness is achievable in human beings by one’s own effort was vividly illustrated by an exchange on Facebook this weekend. John Andrews cited a troubling observation by Mark Twain about the darkness within. Though he added no doctrinal argument, his passing reference to God was enough to start Diana Caile fuming with wounded self-regard.

Doyl Watson replied cogently from a Christian point of view. Caile resumed the debate a short time later, still mixing confusion and indignation, but now embracing the very God she had disavowed earlier.

This kind of “designer spirituality,” which so easily entraps many well-meaning individuals including quite a few Christian Scientists, may become the dominant American worldview within a generation or so, if Bible-believing followers of Jesus Christ don’t pick up their game.

Here is the Facebook back & forth:

Andrews: Mark Twain said we all have a moral sense that tells us what is good and how to avoid it, and an immoral sense that tells us what is bad and how to enjoy it. Wickedly cynical, and not the last word about mankind biblically – but looking around us (and into our own hearts), it seems all too true. Hence to the question, “Can we be good without God?”, my answer is no.

Caile: I’m a good person, mother, friend, etc., I do many good deeds, I am spiritual, but I have no relationship with God (with a capital G). Being good is in the fabric of who I am, it doesn’t come from reading the bible or having a priest (especially one who rapes children) tell me what to believe. I am a better Christian than many Christians who are so in name only. Religion relieves people of personal responsibility – sin and repent and all will be well. Your question makes my point. I believe in not committing the sin in the first place. And defining “sin,” that’s a whole other story. To tell a child he/she was born of sin has been a tragic disservice to humankind. I respectfully couldn’t disagree more.

Doyl Watson: Diana, I understand what you are saying, and there is certainly a great deal of validity, in the fact that you recognize moral right and wrong without have a relationship with God. And it is certainly true that claiming Christianity does no…t make one good, or any better than the non believer. Additionally everyone CAN be good, according to our own judgement. According to your understanding and definitions, everything that you have said is true. Unfortunately, by the standard definitions, and God’s definitions, its not like that. God has defined what is good, and no matter what any of us say or do, that will not change. As a Christian, I will have to give an account of every sin I committ, whether I knew it was sin or not, whther I meant to hurt anyone or not. I do not claim any betterness, or perfection as I know I am just as sinful. Being a Christian does not change my sinfulness, per se; It is because I have recognized that I cannot be good enough to earn my own salvation and I accept God’s gift of Forgiveness, that I will not have to pay the penalty. Of course that does not give me a license to keep on sinning, I am expected to do my best to change my behavior. Much FALSE “religion” in general tends to “relieve people of responsibility” But true religion does not. The Bible does NOT. It holds us all accountable. That may not be obvious to you or even some professed Christians, but in the end it will be. As for your references to the “doctrine of original sin” – a misunderstanding of scriptures taught by some denominations -, that is not accurate. The meaning of the passage it comes from means that we all tend toward sin from the beginning of our understanding what sin is. It simply points out our need to change our behavior, to be more like God.

Caile: I appreciate and respect all your comments, but I have no use for another human being interpreting God for me. It is sacreligious for any human being to think they understand God and can interpret God. My relationship with God is between me and God. I do not believe we are separate from God, and that the dualism hoisted on the human race by religion is what led us “out of the garden of Eden.” I live my life by the supposed Ten Commandments, but not because I read the Bible, that is common sense to me.

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