This site is spiritual but not religious. The difference in the two is that spirituality involves love, grace, acceptance of others and relationships. Religion involves rules, dogma, rituals and legalism.
Many people jump to conclusions or make generalizations that if you are Christian or Faith Based you are automatically religious and legalistic, not so.
We are mostly Christians that feel that Faith-Based Parenting is by far the best form of parenting available. We will quote scripture in the best way we know how, however, we are not ordained in any way and are generally as clueless as the next guy. However, the Christian baseline of morals, values, ethics and character traits, when properly understood in Biblical and historical context, are far superior to any other parenting book, program or curriculum we have researched (I’ve personally read about 300) and the Christian version has a long track record of actually working as opposed to some pediatrician or child psychologist (who don’t have children of their own) offering opinions or hypothesis on child rearing.
We are not Hypocritical, Conservative/Right Wing Fanatics!
We are spiritual but not close minded or blind followers of religious dogma. I constantly argue with organized religion and often criticize the very faith I believe in for being too judgmental, hypocritical and rigid in accepting others and their beliefs. Please don’t lump us in with all the fanatics. For more evidence of this, read my rants on Christianity 2.0.
**Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) – We’re not uneducated, hypocrites. A majority of my friends are atheists, non-faith practicing and some are even homosexual. Many Christians are overzealous fans not followers of their faith. You should still read this website, the parenting principles are still solid and sound.**
Why do We Believe in God?
Like many friends and people I often talk to, I was raised in a church, forced to go and listen to sermons on guilt, repentance and often chastised by hypocritical clergy and followers who lived a life no better than some common criminals. They preached on Sunday and drank and fornicated Monday through Saturday. Much of my experience with faith was memorizing head knowledge and dogma rather than actual exploration, relational and logical discussions on faith.
So why would we still believe this nonsense?
I (Lance) have been on both sides of the coin, first someone forcibly raised in church and required to memorize rote verse and prayers but not necessarily believing all the dogma. Second, a complete atheist, denouncing and criticizing God and all those who believe in him. Paul anyone? And finally a complete sell-out for Jesus and actually living (trying) a Christian life everyday rather than empty words and judgmental attitudes. I often criticize the followers of my faith because I believe we need to shut our mouths and let our actions speak louder. Rather than criticize, judge and condemn, we need to offer help, love, grace and an Olive Branch to build bridges with those who are different.
What has changed?
First, we all have advanced degrees, not that that has any bearing. I did extensive research on both sides of the arguments for and against Christianity and listened to arguments for and against it. I’ve read Dawkins and studied Darwin (who purportedly accepted Christ before dying) and I am a “thinking Christian”. Meaning I actually research what I believe and DO NOT simply follow blindly the teachings of religion. I try to follow the teachings of Jesus and seek the best evidence and translations of his teachings from scholars and non-Christian sources. If you have never researched the historical and scientific accuracy of some of Christianities teachings, I believe you are missing a key piece of evidence in the quest for faith and truth.
Why Do Religions Get a Bad Rap?
Many times we “shoot the messenger.” Are there bad people in religion? Absolutely, I talk with them everyday and even fall into the category myself from time to time. (Talk to me before my espresso). Are there bad leaders and clergy in religion? Yes. Are there people who claim to be “holier than thou” but behind closed doors they’re the complete opposite? Yes. Are there people throughout history who have used religion and peoples beliefs as a way to control, extort and abuse power. Absolutely. The Crusades, Inquisition, Catholic Priest Scandals come to mind.
What I have found is that often we run into religious people who are passionate about their faith but do not have the Apologetics, scientific or historical background to back up some of their claims and beliefs with logical, educated people. My own church upbringing did not teach me about the historical accuracy of Jesus, the archeological and scientific proof of many of the Bibles stories nor how the Bible and Science are not enemies but both seek a common goal.
Therefore many Christians can come off as fanatics to those who are not believers and even those of us who are believers. I have heard quite a few of my fellow Christians make some absolutely crazy comments. Put the bullhorn down street preacher of Hell and Damnation. There are also a lot of fans. People who buy into Christianity, go to church every week, slap a fish sticker on their car, then proceed to act in the exact opposite ways that Jesus and Christianity teaches. Here at Legacy Dad, we strive to be followers not fans of faith.
Documentaries like Religulous target and interview these fanatics and aim to show the masses “how ridiculous organized religion and its adherents are.” These documentaries and opponents of Christianity almost never take the time to interview someone knowledgeable on Christianity or Biblical History such as Josh or Sean McDowell or Lee Strobel. Instead, they interview those less informed and then poke fun at their beliefs because it serves their purpose to show Christians as non-thinking, anti-science, cult followers.
What is truly important is the message, not the messengers. Politicians misrepresent my constitutional rights every day in Washington, but that does not mean I pack up and leave the US over it.
The Bible clearly states that man is sinful, evil and will do destructive things. So, this should be expected from those who are trying to follow the teachings of The Way. Furthermore, we are all born with a sinful/evil nature it is not developed by our upbringing nor our environment. This has been proven in Early Childhood Education (which my wife specializes in). This means that even if you take all the bad things out of this world, or raise a child and the most perfect, nirvana like conditions, the child will still do bad things. If you have children, did you ever have to teach them to hit other kids, be possessive of objects or not play well with others? No. Children act this way naturally from birth (sinful nature) but I did have to teach my kids loving, sharing, empathy towards others. These traits were not inherit. Just like the game “telephone” everyone hears and interprets the message of faith differently and therefore the teachings sometimes get blurred and miscommunicatied especially by over-excited “fans” of Christianity.
We do not need more religion, rules and dogma, we simply need a relationship with God by faith in Jesus.
But, God and Religion has caused all the wars and destruction in the world!!!
Wrong. Man has (sinful nature).
And by misinterpreting Gods teachings, many men have caused destruction and death in the name of God. I agree with you on that.
God is a generous God but he also has a sense of humor and with this he gives us the ability to choose. Sometimes man makes the wrong choice. Sometimes man gets the message mixed up and then tries to communicate things in the name of God. This is called legalism.
However, Jesus’ message was of love, peace, grace and acceptance. This is the key to faith and his example.
Don’t take my word, some pastor’s word or your mothers word. Read it for yourself.
But isn’t the Bible fictitious and inaccurate?
There are many books written by unbiased and non-Christian scholars that answer this question with scientific and historical accuracy; however, most people do not take the time to research this accuracy. Furthermore, some of the best evidence on the historical accuracy of the Bible is written in the world of academia and never makes the best seller list. The books that usually get the most press and reading are those written from the far fringes of both sides of the arguments for the Bible. However, the most accurate historically are often the most moderate of views using peer-reviewed evidence from both believers and skeptics alike.
Here is a summarized version of what historical scholars, that have had their evidence peer reviewed in academic circles, believe about the Bible using a variety of scrutiny and techniques such as the criterion of multiple attestation.
1.The Bible was originally not a book as we see it today but a number of historical texts, letters and writings. These texts were not made into a book until 325 AD.
2. The 4 Gospels were all written within 30-35 years of the death of Jesus and are eyewitness accounts of the life and events of Jesus. These accounts have been proven to be historically accurate based on a number of criteria including: Eyewitness accounts by women (women were not allowed to give eyewitness testimony in the 1st Century and therefore the fact this is included in the Gospels actually hurts the case unless the writers were more concerned with accuracy over convincing someone.) The Gospels also contain many stories of Jesus humiliating and rebuking the very writers of the texts. Scholars believe this further shows the careful detail in recording accuracy over making the writers appear great or influential.
2. Less than 15% of the population was literate in the 1st Century AD. Oral Tradition was the dominate means of conveying information and retaining accuracy in the information. Many of our modern memorization techniques and mnemonics were developed during this time. Oral Tradition has also been scientifically proven to be historically accurate in preserving the actual truth of eyewitness accounts for up to 200 years after an event took place. The entire New Testament was written well within this time frame.
3. In the 1st century AD, religious teachings and stories were not aloud to be changed or crafted to make things “more believable or extravagant.” Jewish Pharisees were not aloud to speak publicly until they accurately memorized the stories of their religion. Religious stories were shared orally in a public, forum type venue and if someone ever tried to change an account, these stories were self corrected by the other practitioners and eyewitnesses because the stories were well memorized and eyewitnesses were still alive to attest to the stories accuracy. Plus, minor blasphemy in the 1st Century AD was punishable by death.
4. The fact that the 4 Gospels contain minor differences but retain all the same parables, key facts and stories further proves that all 4 books were written independently by each author and that there was no collusion or crafting of the texts. Many of the authors were in other parts of the world at the time and did not have access to the writing’s of the others Gospel writers. This again solidifies the criterion for multiple attestation.
5. Non-Christian authors alive during the times of Jesus also wrote about Jesus, his followers and also speak of his miracles and deeds. Josephus, Plutarch, Silius Italicus, Epictetus, and others all wrote about Jesus.
6. Martyrs for Fiction?
The writers of the New Testament were, in many instances, martyrs for their faith. Their prolific writings exist as a historical source. Why would these eyewitness observers die for fiction? These writers also took the subversive actions of writing to women and slaves rather than pandering only to men, which would hardly have made their writings popular according to the culture of the time. Yet we still have these writings preserved and available. The writers of the New Testament almost did everything wrong according to the culture of the time in trying to create a following. This gives even further evidence of the writers quest for truth and accuracy in their writing s rather than popularity and creating a large following.
7. Agnostic Gospels and other historical texts.
The Agnostic Gospels and a number of other texts about Jesus existed and were not included in the Bible. This was not out of nefarious intent but rather that scholars determined these texts were written during the third century, 300 years after the death of Jesus and beyond the time of the accuracy of oral tradition. Therefore were not seen as credible, historical and accurate portrayals of the stories found in the New Testament. Scholars to this day have examined these texts and have come to the same conclusions. Sorry, The Da Vinci Code is a great FICTIONAL book that I truly enjoyed but it lacks actual historical accuracy as well as the Da Vinci Codes predecessors: “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” and “The Women with the Alabaster Jar”
8. Accuracy in Numbers.
Most ancient writings are considered accurate because they have numerous texts written during varying times, by varying people and cultures, all confirming the same information. Plato, Caesar, Aristotle, and Homer all have between 7 to 640 ancient texts confirming their accuracy and teachings. Also all of these texts are dated between 500 to 1400 years after the events take place and no one debates their authenticity.
The New Testament has over 5600 texts confirming its accuracy and with the recent discoveries of the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus, their translations and dating within 70 years of the death of Jesus further confirms the accuracy of the current New Testament. The recent archeological discoveries prove that the Bible we have today, is the same translation and texts that the Christians had within 30-50 years of Jesus’ death.
9. Jesus is just an amalgam of other Pagan religions.
One of the claims I heard made recently was that Jesus was just an amalgam of earlier mythical figures and that many of his attributes can be derived from earlier heroes of Greek and Persian antiquity such as Mithras. “Internet historians” point out that Mithras predates Jesus by around 1400 years; that he was born on Dec 25, to a virgin, in a cave; that he offered eternal life by spilling his blood; that he was buried in a tomb and rose again 3 days later; and that he said, ‘He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved.’
The point they leave out is that there were two Mithras in history, one Persian and one Roman. The earliest record of a narrative about the Roman Mithras is dated at least 100 years AFTER the manuscripts of the New Testament. The only specific mention of a Mithraic offer of eternal life exists in a piece of writing dated to 200A.D. Scholars now believe much of the Mithras stories really come from Christianity in an effort to merge the traditions for greater popularity for early Christians.
Furthermore, according to the Mithraic tradition, Mithras was born fully formed, from rock, and when he moved he left a cave behind. There is no mention of a virgin. The blood by which he saves is not the blood of Mithras, but of a bull he slaughtered. Christians have never suggested that the birthday of Jesus was Dec 25 – it was just a day we borrowed from existing pagan celebrations (along with Easter). The only reference to a Mithraic resurrection is from the writings of Tertullian, an early Christian Church writer and scholars have attributed the eating/drinking saying to Zarathustra, not Mithras.
This theory to debunk Christianity, comes largely from a 1903 work by a Belgian scholar called Franz Cumont. However, the idea that Jesus is an amalgam of various figures derives from the discredited and largely abandoned Religionsgeschichte (History of Religions) movement which was much in vogue in the 19th century. It depended largely on lacking or overlooking accurate dating of manuscripts, which is why it is now largely absent in peer-reviewed scholarship on historical accuracy.
10. The Old Testament was written from 1400 – 400 BC and foretold of Jesus.
Perhaps some of the most convincing evidence lays in the Old Testament or what the Jewish Religion calls the Tanakh.
700 years before Jesus was born the prophet Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, a small village near Jerusalem. Skeptical as anyone may be, I’m not sure anyone can conjure the exact place they will be born?
The Tanakh also contains prophecies that the Messiah would be crucified, that his garments would be divided by the casting of lots, that he would be given wine mixed with gall or myrrh, that he would cry out about being forsaken, and that none of his bones would be broken. This is spoken of in Psalms, Zechariah, and notably in Isaiah. What is key about this fact is that this was written about hundreds of years before the Roman occupation of Israel and the use of crucifixion as a means of death. In all, Jesus fulfilled at least 8 of the Messianic prophecies from the Tanakh. Dr. Peter Stoner (yeah Stoner) did the statistics and probabilities of one man fulfilling just 8 of the Tanakh prophecies.
To answer the question what is the probability of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies, Dr. Stoner used the principal of probability. First here are some statistics for reference:
- Being struck by lightning in a year = 7 x 105 or 1 in 700,000
- Being killed by lightning in a year = 2 x 106 or 1 in 2,000,000
- Becoming president = 1 x 107 or 1 in 10,000,000
- A meteorite landing on your house = 1.8 x 1014 or 1 in 180,000,000,000,000
- You will eventually die = 1 in 1
Therefore to determine the probability that one man fulfilled all eight prophecies, multiplying all eight probabilities together (1 times 2.8 x 105 x 103 x 102 x 103 x 103 x 105 x 103 x 104) gives us 2.8 x 1028, or for simplicity sake 1 x 1028 or 1 chance in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
This is math and science here use logic, does this seem like a random coincidence?
I could keep going but I think you get the point here?
Most people simply do not go the distance to research their faith and it’s accuracy or they only research one side of the coin accurately using the accounts of the fringes of the arguments rather than unbiased, peer-reviewed scholarship. Furthermore, some people take their past negative experiences with faith or people claiming to be Christian and simply apply a generalization that all faiths, sects, and churches are this way in an effort to justify their anger, concerns or experiences. This is like saying I got food poisoning once at a restaurant so I will never eat in restaurants again?
Please understand I am not here to debate history or peoples beliefs and I do not need to justify my own beliefs to anyone nor am I swayed by those who come at me with arguments against the Bible or my faith.
100% Scientifically and Mathematically Proven Fact!
I cannot prove the existence of my ancestors. I can however document their existence, but I cannot PROVE it with 100% scientific and mathematical fact. The ability to unequivocally prove or disprove anyone’s existence throughout history is based primarily upon surviving information, it’s historical accuracy and our ability to interpret that information.
While I believe the information I have researched is the most accurate and historical available, I realize that some people simply will not believe in God unless God himself came down and touched them on the shoulder during a reality show on Prime Time Television!!! Even then, they would still probably have some explanation why this was not true.
Plain and Simple.
I am a Christian because I have faith plus clear and convincing evidence that Christianity is accurate in its teachings and texts. I believe living my life by a set of defined morals and values taught by Jesus including love, peace, acceptance and grace is far superior to making it up as I go through life or having corrupt politicians dictate them to me based on their political leanings and aspirations. I tried living my life by my own set of morals, values and principles and I ended up educated, wealthy and having a great hedonistic lifestyle but still feeling empty and as if there was more to life than money and personal happiness. My faith now does not impose upon my lifestyle in the least in fact, it has made me a better husband, father, co-worker and citizen. I don’t believe that making up my own rules on morality or living a hedonist lifestyle was healthy or intelligent. However, I had to learn to be humble and submit my will and I had to learn to put my faith in something other than myself. This was a big, hard step for someone like me.
In my opinion, some people fear having a spiritual-faith based relationship because if they choose to believe, they can no longer do all the destructive things in their life in good conscience. And rather than change our ways, we continue to deny the existence and sometimes fight against those who believe because we are scared and do not want to change. Plus, as I said with my struggle, I had to admit life is more than just my personal slice of happiness and fortune. This takes faith, maturity and discipline. Principles not everyone wants to adhere to.
From my own personal experience, I am a much better person because I chose to change, believe and find a true relationship with Jesus. I know a lot of people who have left religion because they felt lost, hurt, confused and empty. But I have met very few, maybe none, who have an authentic relationship with Christ who have not filled those lost, hurt, confused and empty feelings with God’s grace and love. It’s not about a building, money in an offering plate or hypocritical rules; it’s about trusting God, healing our wounds and emptiness and discovering how truly great we can be as people by letting God’s love shine through our lives.
See My Testimony for more.
Most of all, I now enjoy my faith.
This was not always true, but I keep seeking truth and purity in faith and even now, I still question and examine my faith because through this comes further understanding.
If we have a bad experience with a mechanic, do we stop taking our car in for service and repairs? No, we find a good mechanic who can fix our car and explain the process to us.
Faith is just that, faith. At some point you have to look at all the evidence and choose. Since making this choice, I have had numerous things happen in my life that have happened positively because of my faith. I did not have this when I was an atheist.
If you are an Atheist or you are a non-practicing Christian:
So are most of my friends. This site is still relevant in all areas. The parent practices here work regardless of your faith beliefs and one seeks intelligence by studying and examining all sides of an argument. I invite all atheists or any other faith or belief system to open share and criticize this site as it will bring up further discussion and learning for everyone.
If you have left the faith, I hope our example on Legacy Dad may possibly rekindle your passion for Christ; it took us many years of exploring various forms of Christianity to find one that fit for us. True faith should be accepting, non-judgemental and open to all views and people. If you have not experienced that in the past, we invite you to come here.
See Lance’s Spirituality post
We have experienced many forms of Christianity as well as living and working with Muslims and Buddhist monks in foreign countries. We personally feel we can all learn from each other.
We are not gurus, we have nothing to sell and we are not looking for a fan club to support our cause.
We are trying to use the gifts God gave us to share with others and help parents and men in need. Our society is increasingly becoming more hostile, complex and our children are suffering in numerous ways because of it. Let us cut through our petty differences and find common ground to build on and focus on raising moral, ethical, leaders who will turn our communities, schools, churches, businesses and world around.
This is not about our agenda, it is about solving the Silent Epidemic.
Esse Quam Videri