Friday, May 2, 2014

How one needs to hear Jesus Basics

I was out walking on water recently when much to my surprise I suddenly slipped and fell.  Fortunately I wasn't hurt (other than my pride) and I quickly got back up and continued walking.   The whole incident set me to wondering though.   How did that just happen?   Why did I fall so suddenly having navigated that same stretch of water successfully so many times before?   After giving the whole thing a good run through in my mind the best I could come up with is this:  If you just flat out refuse to adjust your walking style when you encounter a patch of ice you will always be in danger of falling - ya dummy.

This is the same advice I would give anyone attempting to interpret the teachings of Jesus that exist in the Bible.   If you don't assume a proper "walking style" or "reader's bias" when reading the teachings of Jesus you are going to always be in danger of falling.   I believe I have learned this from hard-earned life experience.   I slipped and fell hard some 40 years ago, after being introduced to fundamentalist Christianity.   This took place not long after I had had a near death like experience - as a man of 20 while in the Army.  During my experience I believed I had left my body and was taken into the presence of God where I was bathed in an overwhelming love for some period of time.   Then a voice which sounded like rolling thunder spoke to me and said: "Tell others about me".   My instantaneous response, upon hearing the voice, was to be stricken with fear and I immediately blurted out, without having any time to think:  "I can't".   I then was slowly re-bathed in the love, which calmed me be back down, and then I was sent back to my body without hearing another peep from God about my protest.  

For a period of about a year after this experience I felt elated and a bit crazed at the same time because - think about it - I believed I had just seen God but I had also just told God "I can't" tell others about you.    I felt bad about my weak kneed performance before the throne of God.  I felt bad about letting God down by telling God "I can't" tell others about you.   However,  in spite of this twinge of bad going on in my mind from time to time  I also  was convinced at some deeper level that God understood my situation.  After all I had decided I was going to give it a try.   Even though I said I can't.    So all seemed OK for awhile.   Until I realized I didn't have the slightest idea what I could tell anyone about God - other than what I have just said in the last few sentences.   So I eventually began to worry quite a bit about this inability of mine to speak on behalf of God - my failure to answer the call and the sense of my own ignorance.   

So I went searching for answers to the questions I had about this experience in the lion's den called Evangelical Christianity.    They had answers for me.   Boy did they.   But there was always something just a little odd about their answers.   After a few years in the fold I became particularly concerned about the lack of intellectual integrity leaders seemed to be willing to exhibit while not seeming the least bit concerned about it.   It wasn't until about 10 years into my indoctrination that my concern for my own spiritual welfare came to a head.   I eventually slunk out of the world of Evangelical Christianity - due primarily to the overwhelming sense that I was losing my own intellectual integrity by attempting to understand God through the lens of this belief system.   I left this version of Christianity having not once said a single thing to another person that I believe was of any benefit to their actual spiritual well being - other than what the simple act of trying to be a friend is capable of doing for people.    Once you finally get the courage to leave a cult on your own you are pretty much just that - on your own in the world.   You no longer fit in anywhere.   Everyone is "the other".    My road to a full recovery from the cult of institutional Christianity has been long and hard.

One of the first teachings of Jesus I considered (in a heartfelt manner) after finally leaving fundamentalist Christianity was the saying in Matthew 23:15 where Jesus is reported to have said: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are."

If there was anything that I had become aware of after leaving institutional Christianity it was my awareness that I had indeed become a child of hell - if there ever was one.   I had become a person with a huge amount of internal torment always boiling just below the surface.   How had I gotten this way?   All I ever wanted to do was try to live a good, upright moral life being true to my God?

This web journal is an attempt to share aspects of my Christian experience with others who might currently still be suffering in the same hell I once lived in.   The hell of institutional Christianity.   And what a magnificent hell it is, full of guilt and shame, doubt, worry, judgement and condemnation tragically mixed with the blessed companionship of those other lost souls called "the saved".   Nothing can top institutional Christian hell for being a great tourist attraction along the path of hard knocks of life.   I highly recommend it for anyone who wants the full measure of suffering before leaving this world.  But I just wouldn't recommend living there for any length of time.

So what is this "reader's bias" that I have mentioned?   It is the same reader's bias that Jesus insists one needs to have when he said;  "Be careful how you hear - you who have ears to hear".   It is important to hear the teaching of Jesus with the right cognitive bias or one runs the risk of becoming delusional - at odds with reality - as is the case with almost all institutional religion today.

I have come to believe that the most helpful reading bias one needs to hold in order to be spared the "wrath of Jesus" when reading sayings attributed to him in the Bible is to first do one's best to try to accept Jesus for exactly who he was.  But who was he you will say?  If a person brings an institutional church listening bias to the teachings of Jesus, one which believes Jesus is the only begotten Son of God who died for our sins, then you have brought a reading bias that gives the teachings of Jesus the power to harm you - unwittingly.   There is no quality that Jesus possessed that others can not possess or attain.   Jesus taught brotherhood with him is obtained though a belief in a shared vision (or definition) of God and a shared vision of morality.   If you are attempting to read the teachings of Jesus with a "Jesus is God and I am not" bias you will never understand what it is Jesus actually taught about God.

The problem with many people reading the Bible today is they read it as a sacred document - thinking it can be fully trusted.   It is not and can not.   In fact I can't help but wonder if the Bible might be the most wicked book ever written by man.    This is because the book (quite logically) contains the words from all manner of voices - the enlightened voice, the well-meaning but deceived voice and more than likely a smattering of the intentionally deceiving voice.   Still many read the Bible as though it has somehow been preserved so as to contain only reliable sayings in harmony with one another.   Modern scholarship has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the Bible is full of irreconcilable contradictions and factual errors that should make it much easier today for people to accept in a "heartfelt" manner that the Bible is just not all that "bright" at times - and a wise person will remain wise only if they question anything and everything they might read in the book - including the sayings of Jesus.   This is all part of the "bias" one needs to have before attempting to read Jesus.  It is a "realistic" bias.  It says we all are stupid people - including Biblical authors.   We can't possibly know what is true at all times.   We can't write perfect books with a perfect understanding of God.   It's absurd.

Here is why I believe Jesus said "Be careful how you hear".   Because he knew after he was killed that his teachings would be twisted, misquoted and re-interpreted and taken out of context.   But he also knew that some of his sayings would more likely be remembered close to "word for word" if he designed them in just the right manner.   I believe Jesus was a genius of the highest order.   What better way to help preserve your actual enlightened teachings within a brutally conservative and superstitious oral culture that opposes the very teachings you are promoting than in parables that have a tendency to not be readily understood and are prone to misinterpretation?  If people are arguing over the meaning of these teachings at times then these same people will probably be all the more cautious to try to preserve the actual sayings word for word for future generations to ponder.
So I believe a  person needs to fully understand that many of the sayings of Jesus are and will naturally be in direct conflict with other teachings in the Bible.   This is the reading bias that I have found brings me the most satisfying and self-empowering interpretations of the teachings of Jesus found in the Bible.

I will finish this post with one example of what I believe is a "logical" interpretation of an odd teaching of Jesus.

Jesus is said to have said in Matthew 5:29-30:  "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."

Most traditional interpretations of this passage suggest Jesus was so concerned about people sinning that he felt he must admonish people to be diligent in their struggle against sin to the point of being willing to destroy the body if necessary.  However the institutional church also teaches that one need not actually follow this stern advice of Jesus since Jesus has now died for our sins - thereby making this teaching null and void from a practical standpoint.

Not a very satisfying explanation in my opinion.

Here is an interpretation that I believe makes sense because it has a strong understanding of human psychology at its core.
Jesus is using the eye and hand in this saying as metaphor.   The eye is how one sees the world.   The eye is being used as metaphor for "one's worldview".   And perhaps more specifically the right eye symbolizes your "religious" world view - your understanding of God.   And the "right hand" of God is often seen as metaphor in scripture to mean Christ.    So in the context of this teaching one's own right hand is the "Christ" one has embraced.

So I believe Jesus is teaching that if one's worldview becomes such that it begins to "offend the self" - causing one to stumble - then it is time to cut off or jettison that world view or one runs the risk of pulling the mind, and by extension, the body into a hell.   Likewise if the Christ you have envisioned begins to offend your sensibilities then it is time to give that particular understanding of Christ the boot as well.  Jesus says it would be better to enter life maimed than with a right  eye or right hand that offends.    It would be better to not embrace any understanding of God or a Christ if that understanding of God and that Christ offends the very self.

Pretty radical.   But it fits well with many other difficult sayings in the Bible in which I believe Jesus is saying the same thing, or expounding upon this theme in some fashion.   "You are of your father the devil".   Why?  Because you have envisioned a devil as your God.   I believe one of the central messages of Jesus was and is:  Your traditional understanding of God is self-destructive and a pox on society.   Your religion logically leads to hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty.  There is no such thing as a God of wrath who is angry with us for our sins - except for those who envision God to be such.
I believe it can be demonstrated easily that Jesus taught people serve and are subject to the God they themselves envision and that we all are held accountable for what we believe about the nature of reality - as Jesus explains in his teaching about the "unpardonable sin" which I have attempted to explain here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit - The Unpardonable Sin

People who insist on utilizing common sense when contemplating the validity of their own specific religious beliefs are often regarded as enemies of organized religion - for good reason - because they often are.   Although the New Testament is a platform for writers of the early church to express what "some" had come to believe the life of Jesus symbolized, many of the actual teachings of Jesus that exist in the New Testament often seem to stand in stark contrast and in direct opposition to the beliefs of those same Biblical authors.   

There couldn't be a better example of this in scripture than the teaching of Jesus concerning blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.   Mark 3:22-30 and Luke 12:10.   In Mark Jesus is said to have delivered a man from an evil spirit (a mental illness) and certain religious authorities are then said to have made the claim that Jesus accomplished this "miracle" by the power of evil.   Jesus politely explains that if he did indeed deliver the man from his mental illness by the power of evil then the kingdom of evil is divided against itself and therefore can not stand.   Jesus used simple common sense logic to refute the ignorance of these particular religious leaders by showing that it is wholly illogical that good can do evil or that evil can do good.    Jesus then takes this opportunity to explain why it was such a grave mistake for these religious leaders to err in such a foolish fashion.   Jesus explains that all the sins and blasphemies of men can be forgiven (including blasphemy against the Son of Man, Luke 12:10)  - with the exception of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  Jesus declares that anyone who commits this sin will not be forgiven in this world or in the world to come.
 It seems reasonable to me that if this is true then it would serve a person well to understand exactly what this sin is in order to avoid becoming guilty of it - in this world.

Although I have heard and read many explanations for what this sin is I have yet to hear or read an explanation that has much "logical" foundation to it.  In fact most of the explanations I have heard or read are wholly illogical.   For instance the official explanation offered by the Catholic Church in Catechism 1864 states:  

There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.   The church then offers examples of the sin (1) Despair; (2) Presumption; (3) Impenitence or a firm determination not to repent; (4) Obstinacy; (5) Resisting divine truth known to be such; and (6) Envy of another’s spiritual welfare.   

Blasphemy is a single declaration of some sort which is judged as not true.   So these examples of the sin given by the Catholic Church lack any insight that would help explain the "mechanics" of the sin.   Just how does one go about committing the sin should they want to give it a try?    

Another common explanation for the sin is given by some Evangelicals who declare that the unpardonable sin is to deny the divinity of Jesus.   To deny that Jesus is God.
However, if this particular Evangelical church understanding of this sin is true then anyone who once believed Jesus was not God would be incapable of being forgiven of their sin - because all unbelievers deny Jesus is God.  So attempting to convert any "unbeliever" is futile - if one takes Jesus at his word that this sin is unforgivable - because an unbeliever denies Jesus is God.  Likewise, any person who converts to any form of Christianity that does not elevate the man Jesus to the status of "God" commits the unpardonable sin.   Thus all people have committed the unpardonable sin - for one can not come to believe Jesus is God without first believing he is not.  And if believing Jesus is God pardons one of this sin then Jesus lied about the sin being unpardonable.  

Surely there is a more "logical" explanation for this "frightening" teaching of Jesus  rather than these rather bizarre explanations given by institutional Christianity.  I wonder how many people are living in the world today with some small degree of fear that they may have committed the unpardonable sin - because of the church's inability to adequately or "rationally" explain what this sin actually is?     I personally know several people who have become chronically mentally ill from their confessed fear that they have committed the "unpardonable sin" and I have often suspected it of many homeless people I have spoken with.  So the numbers worldwide may be huge.  Yet the church seems to be content with their wholly illogical explanation for this foundational teaching of Jesus.

What is the unpardonable sin?

To begin, Jesus says quite plainly this sin is not against him - not the person of Jesus.   Jesus declares this sin is against the Holy Spirit - which is the "nature" of God.   The Holy Spirit is the "essence" of God or the "manifest attributes" of God.   When a person encounters the Holy Spirit they encounter Love.   Love is a Spirit, not a human being.  So in order to blaspheme the the Holy Spirit one must believe something untrue about the "nature" of God.  In the example Jesus gives in the gospel of Mark the religious leaders had come to "believe" that Jesus accomplished good by the power of evil.   But the logical philosophical implications of such a belief demands that reality be such that good can be created by evil - therefore evil becomes the father of good - therefore God must be both evil and good - which is logical fallacy.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a sin of belief that infers or directly ascribes something untrue to the "nature of God" - typically by way of faulty reasoning.    The reason this sin can not be forgiven is because it is a sin of belief.   No person can be forgiven for anything they believe - good or bad.   Everyone receives the full wages for whatever they believe for just as long as they hold that belief - right or wrong.   If you believe you can breathe under water and act on that belief you will not be forgiven for your foolishness for just as long as you persist in your belief.    To believe something untrue about the "nature" of God therefore can not be forgiven but it can be "repented" of (repent: to change one's mind).   If one changes one's mind then one will be free of the negative consequences of any false belief, including blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  

Jesus explained that those religious leaders who believed that evil can do good will suffer the consequences of their illogical thinking for as long as they persist in their illogical thinking - there will be no forgiveness for it.    Perhaps a more modern version of this teaching of Jesus might be:  A person can not be forgiven for any belief they hold concerning the nature of reality which contradicts reality - for just as long as they hold that false belief.   This is because such beliefs help to generate cognitive dissidence that keeps a person locked in a mindset that defies reality - which can lead to negative consequences in the right circumstances.   We once thought the earth was flat and feared sailing out too far.   We have since repented of this belief and been freed of the consequences of our blasphemy against the nature of reality.

Fully understanding what this sin is is extremely important for anyone who has chosen to believe in God.  To believe that God does not love you or is angry with you is perhaps the simplest form of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  It is illogical that God does not love you.   For it is impossible for God (Love) not to love you because love is the nature of God.   People who choose to believe in God but persist in the belief that God does not love them or that God is displeased with them or is judging them  typically manifest the fruits of the dire warning of Jesus concerning this sin - they often will "feel" cursed or "unforgiven".   

It is equally important to fully understand this sin  because what a believer chooses to believe about the "will" of God must also remain "logical" and in keeping with the "nature" of God or one then "unwittingly" commits this sin as well.  The institutional Christian church is rife with unwittingly committed unpardonable sins these days.


When the Catholic Church makes the claim that God opposes contraception and abortion it has unwittingly also made the claim that God is sometimes evil.   How?   God can not remain defined as "Good" or "Loving" if God at any point in time is found to be otherwise.   If man (in his vast understanding of God) declares that God opposes contraception and abortion then man has also unwittingly declared that God sometimes desires for women to bear children against their will and that God sometimes desires children be born severely handicapped or without adequate resources to thrive.   Pro-life extremists even make the claim that God would desire to have a raped woman bear her rapist's child - for the sake of the child.  Could there be a more evil accusation made against the nature of God then to suggest that God has so poorly designed the human reproduction process that women are sometimes required to bear rapist's children in order to be in compliance with God's will or that a child should be required to come into the world with a rapist father in order to be in compliance with the will of God?   

Conception is a human willed event in every case.  Conception is not a divinely inspired event.    Any madman with access to the right ingredients and education can call forth human conception from the void - at will.   How is one able to then declare that all conceptions are therefore logically God-willed conceptions?  It might have been understandable to believe that all conception was God-willed before the actual mechanics of conception were understood - but no longer.   Or how is one able to logically say that it is God's will for all man-willed conception to become fully formed human life simply because man has willed conception into existence?   Obviously the truth of the matter is  all human reproduction choices are solely in the hands of humans by natural "good" design.   It's God's will that humans decide when to conceive and if that conception should be allowed to move forward toward becoming fully formed human life or not.   It is "good" that man fully controls his own reproduction destiny.   For the sake of the future children.

Nature (the most prolific abortionist) speaks loudly against the belief that God opposes contraception or abortion by regularly demonstrating that children born unwanted or without adequate support too often become the children of a "lessor" god.   These children suffer needlessly and indeed the whole world suffers because illogical men spread illogical fear of God causing people to act against their better instincts by bringing unwanted children into the world in order to please an irrationally envisioned God.

Evangelicals blaspheme the Holy Spirit when they declare the Bible to be God's "Word".   Given the current state of Biblical scholarship and the advancements in our understanding of  human "beginnings",  (The fact that we have "evolved" and therefore we did not "fall" into our current physical and spiritual state) could there then be a more "asinine" statement of faith than to say the Bible is God's Word?   If the Bible can be found to have a single error or contradiction or one uninspired passage then it can not be called God's Word .  Therefore those who believe such things are guilty of an unpardonable sin, for they attribute the imperfect understanding and writings of man to God.   Jesus called the scribes (the people who wrote his version of the Bible), snakes.   I am rather skeptical that all snakes were barred from any participation in the creation of the New Testament.   How is Islam ever going to repent of it's belief in its infallible scripture if Christianity doesn't lead by example?   Those who demand that one's understanding of the "true" God be derived from a strict obedience to the ever-changing interpretations of a contradiction laden book are demanding nothing remotely resembling the actual teachings of Jesus found in that book.

The 21st century church has hard choices to make.   Will the church finally concede that just because the Bible says something is so this doesn't necessarily make it so?   Will the church finally concede that God is not a madman who demands humans bear children against their will?   Or will the church persist in its folly and resist the spirit of "truth" - the spirit of "reality".  

Unless the institutional church begins to address the illogical nature of many of its doctrines and teachings the church will continue to inspire blasphemy against the Holy Spirit of the type that causes real human suffering.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Death throes of a great deception - the fall from grace of the pro-life movement

There have been some unspeakably wicked things done in the name of God over the centuries. In my lifetime I can't think of a more insidious act done in the name of the Christian God than the nefarious campaign to teach Americans that God opposes abortion.

In Frank Schaeffer's autobiographical book - “Crazy For God” - Frank reveals that his father, Francis Schaeffer (the defacto father of the pro-life movement) came to regret his participation in the politics that would spawn the pro-life movement within the Republican party. In Frank's new book - “Sex, Mom and God” - Frank illuminates further the corrupt politics that brought regret to his father's last days. Both of these books are excellent resources for anyone interested in the strange history of the heretical anti-abortion doctrine being taught in American churches today, in part, for the purpose of garnering political support.

As a professing Christian I wrestled for years with the abortion arguments. Only in the last few years have I come to fully understand the deeply flawed nature of the anti-choice argument.

Safe modern medical abortion is a relatively new phenomenon in the world. When this procedure was unexpectedly legalized in 1972 many struggled to understand it. There were no centuries old church decrees concerning abortion that were widely known in lay circles in existence. The responsibility therefore fell on all believers to decide for themselves what the "will of God" might be concerning abortion. Although abortion was first widely embraced as a godsend by many respected Christians thinkers, including Southern Baptist theologians, opposing forces soon emerged intent on shaping the broader layperson's understanding. Certain Christian activists and authors like John Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer began teaching that abortion is an unprecedented form of last days evil and those who practice it commit murder.

With doctrinal uncertainty now brewing in Evangelical America, some in the Republican party saw the perfect opportunity to win a larger segment of the Evangelical voting block away from the Democratic Party. Frank Shaeffer and his father were commissioned to create several films designed to teach American Evangelicals that God strongly opposes abortion – that abortion is nothing short of murder. These films were then aggressively shown in churches throughout America – courtesy of the Schaeffer's politically connected benefactors.

This is a thumbnail history of how many Americans were first taught to believe God opposes abortion. For a more in-depth synopsis one should read Jonathan Dudley's articles penned for CNN and the Huffington Post – the first titled: “When Evangelicals Were Pro-Choice”, and the other: “How the Bible Began Saying Life Begins at Conception”.  Both articles are drawn from Jonathan's book titled: "Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics", which chronicles the now sordid history of Biblical based views of abortion.

Dudley begins his Huffington Post article with a dash of understatement: “Evangelical anti-abortion advocacy rests on a surprisingly flimsy foundation. And exposing that fact makes establishment evangelical leaders nervous.” Nervous indeed. But I think not near so nervous as the establishment elite Republicans guarding their gates and counting the sheep at Republican Party headquarters these days – those who desperately depend upon the pro-life single issue voter to faithfully pilgrimage to the polls each election cycle to cast their vote for the Republican pro-life candidate. To save America from God's wrath. To save the unborn. Even a moderate shift in Evangelical thinking on the issue of abortion would be catastrophic for an already seriously wounded Republican Party in America.

Of all the special interest groups licking their wounds after the 2012 presidential election, I can't imagine there's a more disappointed group than America's pro-life advocates – the true believers in their cause.   If there ever was an election where the fate of the pro-life cause hung in the balance, this was it.   But it was not to be.   In the end, God did not deliver the votes necessary to advance the pro-life world view further in America.   Senate candidate Todd Akin in Missouri was beaten by 15 points while Romney won by 10.   Richard Murdoch lost in Indiana by 6 while Romney won by 23.   But Romney was rejected as well.  It seems God has spoken once again concerning his will and abortion in America.   And loudly.
But rest assured many in the pro-life movement will remain steadfastly incapable of hearing God's message.   This is because the God of the pro-life movement does not share the same values as the God worshiped by most people of faith in America.   The God of the majority of Americans is both a God of love and a God of common sense.  And the pro-life worldview can clearly be shown to lack both common sense as well as a foundation in core elements of traditional Christian spirituality.   

The vast majority of Christian laypersons in America (including Catholics) reject, or do not follow Papal decrees concerning contraception due to the "irrational" nature of these decrees.  But the success of the Papacy in advancing a similar "irrational" argument for an abortion prohibition has been much more successful in America, primarily because the Evangelical community - while mostly getting it right on contraception - has failed miserably to grasp the catastrophic irrationality of the anti-abortion argument - which, if embraced, becomes blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  The unpardonable sin.

So what's wrong with the pro-life world view - from a traditional Christian perspective?

If it is in fact true that what God values in human life comes into existence at conception and if that thing of value is actually destroyed when an abortion takes place  - and if it is also true that it is inherently the will of God that all conception (including conception from rape, incest or fornication) result in live birth, then the pro-life position remains perfectly logical – it has “common sense”.   But if one believes – as Jesus taught – that the human body is the “container” for what God values in human life - the soul - and the creation of a soul is a "process" and not all conception is necessarily the will of God, then the pro-life position becomes not only illogical but highly counterproductive.
The common sense of the pro-life world view begins its trajectory off the rails by denying that the creation of human life is an "extended process" initiated - not by God - but by the actions of human beings.  Pro-life believers stray further from common sense by insisting that what is of value to God (and man) in human life comes fully formed into existence as an instantaneous "God willed" event occurring at the moment of conception.  But the fatal damage to the pro-life argument occurs when one assumes it is somehow “logical” that God's universal will and desire is that all human conceptions result in live birth and therefore the human creation process should never be halted or interfered with by mankind.   What could possibly be the evidence for such a belief - in scripture or anywhere else?

At best this view of reality not only puts man in a box but it puts God in that same box.  God is not free to use the hand of man to ever stop gestation once conception begins – by the decree of man.   That God would desire all conceptions to come to term simply because man has managed to start the ball rolling is highly presumptuous thinking at best.  It lacks that quality called "common sense" - or any respect for the presumed autonomy of God for that matter. How can one just “assume” that all conception, (which in all instances occurs by an act initiated by man) be the will of God? In our distant past successful conception might have been considered an act of God but scientists today can produce conception at will in the lab, simply by mixing the correct ingredients. Man is who calls forth conception from the void.   Not God.

The illogical nature of the belief that conception is a miraculous event tied to the will of God is why pregnancy resulting from rape or incest often gives even the most staunch pro-life advocate an unsettled feeling from time to time. It is why Senate candidate Richard Murdoch had such a pained tone in his voice as he professed on camera that he felt required to believe that even conception from rape is the will of God.

The pro-life believer feels confident that rape can not be the will of God – because rape is a bad thing. But despite the other obvious soon-to-be “bad things” staring them in the face, a woman required to bear a rapist's child against her will and a child growing up with a rapist father, they still steadfastly refuse to consider the possibility that God might actually prefer to terminate a conception. They want instead to trust God desires all conceptions come to term. And this belief is primarily held in place by another completely unfounded belief – that a soul will be lost if a fetus is destroyed. Clearly, not all things are possible with the pro-life God. And all by the decree of the pro-life believer.

The pro-life worldview is promoted in our Evangelical churches almost entirely by means of a very powerful appeal to ones' empathetic emotions, along with a preference for some scripture over others and a complete denial or perversion of yet others. All to try to make a case for “human soul life” beginning at conception. A particular type of soul life mind you – of the type that can somehow be destroyed by the act of abortion.

The closer one examines the pro-life worldview the more one discovers it defies almost all traditional Christian concepts and principles. And since the pro-life worldview declares the “soul” exists at conception, one must then wonder what a soul even is - if this is true. I think most all Christian theologians would agree that the elemental essence of a human soul is a person's “consciousness” or “self-awareness”, the “observer within” – that part of human life that Christians hope survives after death. That thing Jesus said no man could destroy (Matthew 10:28) and yet it is somehow in grave peril from the threat of abortion – having not yet even manifested itself in the world. Perplexing. Christians would perhaps be wise to settle all the “unprovable” theological arguments concerning the birth of the soul with the only passage of scripture describing such a birth. Genesis 2:17 (KJV) “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Clearly a process. Not an instantaneous event at conception.

The teaching of the pro-life heresy in America's churches (along with other blatant heresies all stemming from the belief in an inerrant Bible, made to say whatever one pleases) imperils the very survival of Christianity in America. Because these teachings not only subvert and pervert traditional Christian understanding but also impede our evolution to greater understanding of ourselves and our world. These teachings lead to the denial of science, but science is a secure path to understanding God: “God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20 NIV).

So what can be understood about the nature of God by observing how human beings are made – if one adopts a view that a human soul is what is of preeminent importance to God, rather than the body, as Jesus taught?

Scientists now understand, in part, why nature often aborts through miscarriage - to ensure that only healthy bodies become the future containers for human souls.  Chromosome damage is now regularly discovered in the autopsies of miscarried fetuses.  Chromosome damage leads to DNA replication errors, which causes birth defects.   Evidently the God of nature is much more concerned about ensuring a healthy body for a potential human soul than the destruction of a fetus through miscarriage, because nature is the most prolific abortionist of all.  Researchers currently estimate well over half of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion.   Some conceptions do not manage to implant in the uterus while others detach after an extended period of gestation.  Why is the pro-life movement not outraged at nature for such murderous behavior?
Our evolving understanding of miscarriage reveals nature is at work using her brand of wisdom to ensure not all conceptions result in live birth, one could argue for the sake of a potential soul.  But we also know that nature sometimes fails in her tasks and so we seek to perfect or purge those failings, as we evolve in our own understanding and dominion over nature, to advance humanity's well being. These facts about our "reality" should profoundly influence our understanding of God's will and abortion.

Perhaps the most fundamental teaching of Jesus recorded in scripture concerning the "nature of God" is that God must always be understood as "good" and “only good” when attempting to understand God's will. This is the vital understanding necessary to discern the will of God and abortion. For Christians seeking to know the will of God, in any matter, this core teaching of traditional Christianity – that God must always be defined as “good” - is the essential tool needed to discern not only God's will concerning abortion but God's will for man's future. It will be the only reliable compass able to steer Christians safely through the dark waters of human affairs in our coming hyper-technological ages.

Most people of faith understand at some level that a “good” God  can not possibly desire children be born with unhealthy bodies or into environments that would be toxic to the awakening human soul.   Yet the unhealthy fear of God bred by the pro-life world view keeps many from accepting the cold hard fact that humans must be the ones to implement God's will in this world. Humans will be required to bring God's Kingdom to the earth.   Rather than adopting a “body centric” view of human reproduction that foolishly mourns the loss of a fetal body after miscarriage or abortion, a bit of common sense, along with an understanding of what constitutes a “good” God, will lead one to God's will and abortion.  Just like nature, people should choose to allow a conception to proceed if a healthy body is understood as likely and the external environment is favorable for nurturing an emerging soul.   Choice is simply another of God's tools promoting our evolution toward perfection.

But it is clear the God of the pro-life movement values the survival of the fetal body over the well-being of any potential human soul.
A hallmark of any Christian heresy is this:  any belief or doctrine that, in practice, envisions God as “less than wholly good”.

The pro-life God is the vision of those who do not understand or do not accept certain aspects of reality and prefer to reject common sense in order to uphold their emotionally charged belief that there is never a good reason to destroy a fetus.  And if there ever were good reasons to destroy a fetus man could not and should not deduce those reasons.  This vision of God makes man a pawn of his own ignorance to be judged by a lessor God of his own making.
God trusts nature to use her wisdom at times to destroy a fetus to ensure the best "body environment" for the potential soul.  Humanity must follow nature's example by judging the "exterior environment" into which the potential soul will be born.   The mental and physical fitness of the mother and father.   The physical resources.  Is there severe damage to the fetal body nature is blind to?  Would pregnancy endanger the life of the mother?   Is the conception against the will of the mother?  And perhaps the most significant of all God's desires for humankind, will the child be loved?  All of these external environmental factors should be considered and found acceptable in order for one to be able to assert that "God approves" that another soul come into the world.

Those who oppose rationality in favor of a more superstitious worldview will disregard the reasoning in these arguments and instead focus on attempts to undermine rationality with spurious sacred text claims or throw up the fearful cry of eugenics.   They will use all manner of slippery slope argument to suggest that Godly people must never play God and other such nonsense.  If Godly people don't ever play God then they aren't Godly people.   For the record I do not advocate any form of eugenics.  Unless you define eugenics as the right of every woman to decide with clear conscience in prayerful council with her God when and if to bring a conception to term.   Let it also be noted that I do not advocate that conceptions that are discovered to be indicative of severe disabilities be aborted.   I advocate for what I believe God advocates.   That potential parents should rest assured that God is their loving partner in the creation of life process and therefore parents alone are free to make whatever decision they might choose without fear of their God - for the sake of the potential child.   Children born into this world with severe disabilities should be wholly embraced and nurtured by society.   Because there is no difference in self-aware human life once born.   We all will suffer and we must embrace one another to ease our suffering.
Ultimately the greatest sin of the pro-life world view is that it unwittingly asserts that God often wills that newborn human souls awaken in the hell of un-wantedness or severe physical deprivation, a place extremely rare for a person to survive, let alone thrive.   The pro-life worldview becomes a form of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in this case since it ascribes a negative quality to the nature of God by way of wholly irrational argument.   It declares that an independent act of mankind - the instantiation of conception - that is then sometimes allowed to come to term in a hostile environment - also by an independent act of mankind - is always the preferred will of God rather than termination of a conception. God's will is never actually even considered if one adopts the pro-life world view.   God is simply forced to conform to the dictates of the pro-life worldview - that all conception is God's will and all conception coming to term under any circumstances is God's will. 

Tragically, too many of this world's souls are still being born unwanted or into environments of violence and deprivation simply out of an irrational fear of God and misplaced emotions. And unfortunately the children born into these environments often become the outcasts of society, predictably the common thieves, the seriously mentally ill, our death-row inmates
- perhaps the "Judas" of our times, of whom Jesus said: "It would have been better for that man had he not been born".

The pro-life deception is capable of ensnaring anyone willing to close their mind to reason in favor of emotionally driven superstitious fears surrounding human reproduction.   If human beings are not free to decline to participate in God's creation of life process, at any stage of that creation of life process, then God can no longer be defined as good and humans are nothing more than machines being forced to reproduce, even against the best interests of society when necessary.  And if the well being of a potential human soul is not the preeminent concern of mankind when considering the fate of any conception then mankind has dismissed its real responsibilities to the potential child in favor of promoting its own fears and ignorance concerning the nature of reality.

If one envisions God from a truly traditional perspective then God has very clearly provided a way for nothing of substantial value to be lost if and when a fetus is aborted - other than the potential for human life, along with the value that has been psychologically projected onto a fetus by the parents and society.  That's reality.  The pro-life worldview is irrationality masquerading as pious concern. It errs on the side of fear of the unknown rather tha
n attempting to envision a world where God is a true loving partner in the creation of human life process.