The first email:
My first response:
Hello there 🙂
I went to your site to check it out as a courtesy since I assume you had seen mine.
These questions were on your intro page, so I answered:
If today was your day to die, do you know where you will go?
I believe the soul is eternal. I also believe the soul is a part of the divine (Part of God, if you will) and that when you leave the physical body or die (though you don’t really ‘die’ because your soul is immortal) you go to a place I, and many Pagans, refer to as The Summerland. After a time there, I believe the soul chooses whether to remain and become a ‘teacher’ or an ‘ancestor’ or to return for another lifetime on earth. Basically, I believe in reincarnation.
Do you believe you will go to Heaven or Hell?
No, I do not. I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell.
What are you basing your beliefs on?
Most pre-christian belief systems have their own versions of the afterlife or the underworld. I believe that you go where you believe you will go.
Reincarnation and these beliefs are what I believe in my heart, based on my own experience and understanding.
A) You think because you go to Church, or are basically a good person, you will go to Heaven.
I don’t believe in heaven.
B)You think you will go to Heaven, because you have never committed a serious crime, such as rape or murder.
I don’t believe in heaven.
C) You think you will go to Hell, because you have committed really bad crimes and think you can’t be forgiven.
I don’t believe in hell.
Basically, I value the historical Jesus as a teacher, healer, wise man, and spiritual leader. I think his message was one of honor, love, and compassion. I think that’s been shifted and instead, those that follow the religion of Christianity place more emphasis on a bodily sacrifice than they do on his message. The bible is a book of history (specifically for certain people – it is not a world history book) and a book of myth/religious teachings. But I don’t believe it is the “Word of God” as a singular teaching. I believe that it is meant to be a word of god and that many men who were following these teachings and traditions were inspired by their understanding and perception of God to write it, but it’s not the only authoritative source.
I don’t believe that the death and resurrection of Christ happened as it is said to have happened in the bible. (Edit: I should have said ‘I don’t believe that the death and resurrection of Christ happened as it is taught by Christian tradition’, but oh well.) I believe that the historical Jesus was crucified and buried and that the resurrection was a metaphor, something in common with many sacrificed gods of history and mythology. Compare it to Adonis, Mithra, Dionysus, Osiris, Horus, Attis, etc.
I believe that Jesus was a man who recognized that he was a child of god, as we all are and that he tried to teach that through this understanding, through ‘the path’ or ‘the way’ he was here to show us, that we could also be with god. He was here as a messenger, a teacher, a prophet, but he was no more or less god’s child than you or I. He just understood or he just had the knowledge that most people have forgotten or didn’t realize.
His death was both political and spiritual. He was killed by those who didn’t agree with his teachings. For the Romans, it was sedition, for the Hebrew Spiritual leaders, it was blasphemy and a threat to religious order.
Romans were in general very accepting of the religions of the lands and peoples they conquered and brought into the Roman Empire. They even went so far as to incorporate several deities and practices into their own religious understandings. They had no theological issue with the Hebrews in this regard. Their condition was that tribute and worship also be paid to the gods of Rome, whom Caesar was said to be lineaged from. The Hebrew people would not do this because they were commanded by their God not to. This created tension between the two groups but it was political, not theological.
The Hebrew priests saw Jesus’ teachings as a theological threat to their power and religion and went to the Romans with this complaint. Making complaints against Jesus’ preaching and religious work didn’t bother the Romans. It wasn’t until the High Priest convinced Pilate that Jesus was a threat to Roman law and order that he was arrested and condemned.
Later teachings and beliefs slanted the emphasis or links of his death to other more spiritual and religious reasons. Jesus died as a way to show us that we do not need to fear death. That if we can live as he lived and understand his message, that we have no need to fear death either.
You speak of being “Reborn”…
Jesus’ message was one of compassion and love, not of simply believing in his death and bodily resurrection. It is when his teachings are followed, when you act with love and compassion and healing towards everyone, even those who would seek to hurt or harm you, that you are ‘reborn’ in Christ. To me, this is an ongoing action, not something that happens once when you pray for forgiveness of “sin”. If you ‘take Christ as the Lord of your life’ that means that you have made a commitment to live in the most Christ-like way you can. Jesus only had two expressions of how to do this: Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love others as you love yourself. Simple, right?
I have a page specifically on my site which is addressed to Christians, it goes into a lot of detail, but religion and spirituality are very complex studies and it’s hard to fit everything onto a single web page.
I also don’t believe in ‘Sin’. Sin is a force that separates us from God. I don’t
believe that we are ever separate from god because we are of god. I believe that whatever wrong action we commit, that energy is visited back upon us in this lifetime. Usually pretty quickly, but sometimes it takes a while to come back around. This is not some amazing mystical teaching; this is natural law. Cause and effect, or sowing and reaping as Christians know it. Punishment or reward happens in this lifetime, not in “heaven” or “hell”.
As part of my spritual path, I also don’t believe in a Devil or Satan. Because I don’t separate God into some humanistic father figure who is all-good, I have no need to see an all-bad opposite. To me, the divine IS light and dark. Things like ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are subjective and not personified by an energy or god. Your intent behind an action is what causes that action to be good or evil. Your actions will bring about consequences. I, as a Witch, believe that actions should be performed with wisdom and with and understanding of this natural law that what you put out returns to you and that what you put out with this force affects others. Therefore, be responsible and take responsibility for your actions, words, choices, etc.
I think that you assume that because I am Pagan, I have never heard the teachings of Christianity. This is not true. I spent a great deal of my life attending Christian churches, church camp, vacation bible school. I have Christian relatives and friends. Two of my uncles are Christian pastors. I have studied the bible for many years and am not unfamiliar with it. I understand that it is part of your beliefs and something you hold quite dear to you. I find nothing wrong with that. But it is not the same for me.
If you would like to continue email conversations, that’s great. But please do not do so with the sole purpose or intent being to ‘convert’ me. That’s just going to frustrate both of us. I’m an ordained Priestess of Witchcraft. I’m not leaving that. It’s the path I am meant to be on, and I love it. I would
love to share thoughts and ideas with you. I truly LOVE discussing religion and philosophy. But I am no more willing to or desiring of leaving my path than you are yours.
We can talk and learn from each other with respect. I’d like to. 🙂
I thought the conversation had ended at this point as several weeks went by with no response. I was surprised to find this in my mailbox afterward:
Please forgive me for taking so long in getting back with you. I’m very sorry you do not believe in sin, the Bible etc. I’m sorry you feel the way you do about being born again, The Bible makes it very clear in John 3: You should not be surprised at my saying, you must be born again.
It is not by works..such as loving, doing good deeds etc Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her “I am the ressurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will have life even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
This is the truth being shared with you. Sin is real, Jesus paid the price for you. God is good and he gives you the right to choose, so if you choose not to believe in Jesus, and recieve him as your Lord and Savior, that is your choice. I pray someday you will change your mind, if you have questions, you can e-mail me. If not, I will continue to pray for you. I hope I have not offended you in any way.
Love in Christ,
And my response:
I understand that sometimes it takes a while to write back, and I do appreciate your reply. It’s no problem that it took a bit for you to get back to me. I’m not offended by what you said. I understand that Christians believe it is their duty and obligation to share their faith with others in hopes that those others will accept the message and become Christian.
We have some differing views as to what Christ’s message and role was and is, that’s all. 🙂
I am curious though. How did you come to be Christian? Were you always raised in church or did you sort of find it on your own later on? Did you ever study or belong to any other faith at one time?
I have yet to receive any response and it’s been a while. If/when I get one, I’ll probably post it, but I’m not expecting it.