Thursday, February 8, 2018
--- Me and religion ---
I was born into a Christian family. You would think that explains my Christianity. Ehhhh, not so fast. In a 2009 study by The Barna Group (https://www.barna.com/research/evangelism-is-most-effective-among-kids, accessed 2/4/18), based on two nationwide telephone surveys and a nationwide online survey of 2632 adults, 992 of them self reporting as "born again Christians", only 64% became Christian before the age of 18, and of those, only half were led to Christ by their parents and one in five were evangelized by some other friend or relative. (And, since I'm a statistician, I will add that the error in this survey was a maximum of +- 2.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level for the whole sample and +- 3.2 percentage points for the born again Christians.)
I'm a werewolf. My primary source of belief is experience. Beliefs aren't as "sticky" for me as it is for other folks. I have to have a reason to believe something - and I'm very suspicious of apologetics (more about that in a later blog.)
But, it's important that I come clean about my position in religion before I start blogging you. I will not use this blog as an evangelism tool - that's not what it's for. I will not criticize any other religion in it (unless someone beats me up for asking). My goal is to encourage you to ask questions and to get out and find the answers in the real world, and my primary target here is what schools call "religious studies". You might call it "religious philosophy". It is important.
You can't even talk about the history of any field of learning without talking about religion. For instance, Sir Isaac Newton was a devout Christian and much of his motivation for writing the Pricipia, in which he detailed his theory of mechanics including his famous "Three Laws", was motivated by his religious fervor, as is indicated in a letter he wrote to Richard Bentley and which is available on the Newton Project website (http://www.newtonproject.ox.ac.uk/view/texts/normalized/THEM00254 accessed 2/4/18). Most art before the Renaissance was motivated by religion. Most early philosophy was informed by the religious beliefs of the philosopher. The impetus of early classical music was religion. and so on.
So, yes, I am a devout Christian, a pandenominationalist because I hold to a very core system of Christianity, pretty much that expressed by the Apostles' Creed, that allows me to navigate most denominations but I am also very interested in both the philosophy of religion and the wide scope of world religions. In other words, I have been studying the Bible and the history of the Christian religion since my early 20s, but I have also studied most of the major religions and many of the minor ones. I''ve even read some of the scriptures.
As a therianthrope, I've had shamanistic experiences since childhood which, although it doesn't seem to have subtracted from my Christian faith, I'm sure they have colored it. If anything, I recon that my experience of the Holy Spirit as a spirit guide has rather solidified my faith in Christ.
I respect other religions in that they have emphasized various facets of reality in more detail than my own. For instance, Buddhism's close evaluation of desire, though not missing in Christianity, is certainly scrutinized in much more detail. The modern fear in the church of anything different (I have heard church leaders warn their congregations to avoid yoga because it derived from Hindu beliefs,) was not a part of early Christianity. Even Paul quotes from pagan philosophers (Acts 17:28).
So I look forward to further adventures in religion in the Denver area and I hope you will join me in your own parts of the world.