Now we are ready to take up the subject of Honesty and Clear Thinking in the church and carry it to its conclusion. First let me say, many ministers who become Clear Thinkers leave the church. Sometimes it is not their decision. The church makes it for them. Many who leave the ministry, either forcibly or of their own volition, go into teaching high school, college or seminary. But some go into business of one kind or another.
Second, the ones who stay are usually firmly entrenched, high up in the politics of the church. Also, some are firmly established as liberal ministers of the church.
Third, many of the Clear Thinkers in the church never fully realize they are Clear Thinkers. They may or may not classify themselves as Free Thinkers. Many would be horrified at someone classifying them as an Atheist. The reason is that most of these ministers have never been exposed to any True definition of the philosophy of Atheism. They only know the false one expounded by the church and the religions. Since no one goes around asking "twenty questions" and grading or tagging them, they never give a thought to identifying their philosophical viewpoint. All they know is, Honesty in Scholarship, Truth and Justice is more important to them than their Faith or Belief in the church doctrines or claims. They are sincerely willing to follow the facts and truth in any direction, which they go.
(For sure, some of you reading this may be Clear Thinkers right now and you did not know it. Isn't it a wonderful position to be in, to discover you are an Honest person?)
The only conflict they have is with the doctrines and claims of their church. They are earnestly willing to do the good work of the church, as they understand it. I have talked to literally hundreds of ministers, rabbis and priests (literalists, conservatives and liberals). I have never found a single minister, or seminary student, who did not have a problem (disagreement) with one, two, or more of the doctrines, claims and pronouncements of their Own church. So in some respects, the liberal minister and the Clear Thinking minister in the church are very nearly the same. The difference, so far as the church claims and doctrines are concerned, is only one of degree.
If one had to truly believe all of the doctrines of any one of the denominations in order to be one of its ministers, there would be absolutely No liberal ministers in any of the Protestant or Catholic churches. We must omit the Universalist and Unitarian churches. They readily admit their ministers do not have to believe in the description of the God of the Bible. Neither do they have to believe in the Bible as the "Word of God.”
Let us set up a hypothetical examination of a Clear Thinking minister being questioned by a board that is asked to approve or disapprove the minister's call or appointment to a very liberal Protestant congregation. This could be Baptist, Church of God, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Church of Christ, or any of the many other denominations where there are liberal churches that have such boards set up to examine ministers. They all have specific theological questions that apply only to their denomination. Here we are only concerned with the general questions that one may think would entrap a Clear Thinker, if he were honest.
You will also notice that Clear Thinkers know how to use theological language and concepts to their own advantage. This use of theological language and concepts also confuses theologians when they use it on each other.
Q. Dr. Smith, will you describe God to us?
A. Definitely. The term, God, is our personification of the creative and sustaining life force of this universe. That organizing force permeates every animate and inanimate object. It is everywhere, within, without. Certainly, I can describe God. God is our name for the unexplainable beginning, sustaining and ending of all things. Without this Intelligent, Organizing Force we call God in our universe, there would not be a universe. (He could be talking about electrical energy, gravity, magnetism, nature, etc. Who knows what a life force is?)
This is what the Deists said. The Deists were the founding fathers of this nation. They gave us our Independence, the Constitution, its early laws and its insistence that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed, and not from any divine election or from a supernatural, personal God. They rejected the Christian doctrines of a creator God, a Jesus God savior, hell, heaven, Satan, sin and salvation. That was total and without exceptions. They rejected the divine inspiration of the Bible. They rejected all supernatural dabbling and intervention into the affairs or health of man and nations. In short, they rejected all religion.
The Deists were the controlling power in establishing the United States of America. They were the Clear Thinkers of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These Deists included men like Washington, Paine, Adams, Franklin and on up and down the political line. If they lived today, the church would call them Atheists, as they were often called during their own time. Look up “Deists” in the encyclopedias and remember, the definitions are written by Christians.
Many present day political and religious leaders try their best to "prove" that these early founders of our nation were God-fearing men and that they were guided by the concepts and teachings of Christianity. The fact of the matter is Honest Clear Thinking guided these men. They knew the past and they knew the power of ignorance and superstition. Therefore whenever possible, they included some form of religious language or concept so their basic and overall plan to give freedom to the people of this nation (and world) could move forward. I have heard politicians and ministers try to Christianize Lincoln, Washington or Thomas Jefferson. They either lie about the facts, or quote some of their own ministers and theologians who Did lie about those things. These founders of our nation were Deists and they gave no ground, morally, spiritually or politically to the Christians. They were reverent men. They used only the good and true parts of the Bible and they were Clear Thinkers! For that you can be thankful, whether you a Christian or not.
Yes, they used the term "God, or Nature's God." But look at Their definition of God or Nature's God in their writings, their correspondence and diaries. First, the people had to vote on the Declaration of Independence, then on the Constitution. (The only voters were white, male, landowner, citizens.) The people expected to see God or religion mentioned somewhere in the documents. Second, they often used the term "God or Nature's God." That left the term "God" as an impersonal term to be defined by each individual. Third, they felt they could give a little in order to get a lot for this country and its people. I think they did an excellent job and it is a shame the religious believers today keep trying to change those documents, always to the Loss of some of our freedoms. These Deists accepted purely and simply the same things to which Clear Thinkers of today adhere, "Honesty, Justice, Freedom and Logic.”
In no way did any of them ever believe or accept the Biblical God or the Christian churches' teachings. (It may or may not be interesting to note, almost all of them belonged to an outlawed organization called, “Free Masons of British America.” These were Clear Thinking men.
Many of the early signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Were Christians. However, they, or their fathers, had recently escaped the rule and thumb of the church in Europe. They knew the tyranny and injustice of the church when it has the power of government behind its doctrines and rules. Therefore, they placed their vote and popularity squarely in favor of keeping religion and government separated. Christians can use common sense - sometimes.
Q. Dr. Smith, do you believe Jesus was the Son of God?
A. Certainly, he was. In fact, Jesus himself said, we are all the Sons of God in a unique way. The life force of God enters us and we call that form the Holy Spirit. It is in all of us to some degree. Some men manifest more of the Spirit of God in their lives than do others. Jesus himself said we are all children of God and therefore, Sons or Daughters of God.
In saying this, Dr. Smith has equated Jesus and all mankind as equal. He has turned a question, which, to a Literalist or Conservative, has to do with the divinity of Jesus, into a statement saying Jesus and all men are alike. They are All either divine, or they are All mortal. He has further done this using the very words of Jesus in the Bible. No one will argue with him without accusing Jesus of lying or of being ill informed. So, no one on an examining board will question such a statement.
Q. Thank you, Dr. Smith. Tell us your understanding of the Holy Spirit.
A. The Holy Spirit is the influence and attitude of all the good traits of a good and just Godliness. It is the infusion in all of us to some degree of the Spirit of love, caring, understanding and wisdom. If followed, this Spirit in us makes us more God like, more human and more humane. The Holy Spirit of God is all this and more.
Here Dr. Smith has equated the teaching about the Holy Spirit with what the outcome should be in our lives after we have the attitude and spirit of a good and just Godliness within us. Notice that he has avoided the concept of a Trinity of Gods.
Q. We would like to ask you this time about the Church. Do you see the Church as the special vessel of God to carry the gospel into all the world?
A. The Christian Church is unique in man's history. It has claimed the special responsibility to sort out, preserve and distribute the will of God among men. The Church should also be an example, a moral light shining in the darkness, drawing men unto it. This is the gospel we share with all men. All men must be made a part of the Godly plan to share the morality and bounty of this earth with one another. They must be taught to develop their mind to the fullest and then to use that mind for the up lifting and betterment of themselves and all mankind. The Church must do this. It must be the Servant From God and not the Boss For God. But the church can only demonstrate that servitude when it serves mankind in his many and various needs.
A Catholic could argue here but only from the various pronouncements of the many decrees of the Catholic Church. What a Conservative or Literalist would wish to hear is, the Church should seek and save the lost souls and bring them into the Kingdom of God (for Kingdom of God read, local church - theirs). Dr. Smith has bypassed the concept of the church as being a ruler and savior of souls and moved on to what the church should be doing after the souls are in the church, according to the Bible teachings. Also, notice he says, "The church has Claimed (for and by itself) this special responsibility." He has also included all men (and women) in the duties and responsibilities of the church.
Q. Aptly put, Dr. Smith. Please describe the gospel to us.
A. The gospel is the good news. It is the good news that man no longer has to be a slave to his greed, his corruption, his passions or his ignorance. He can be free. The good news is the preaching of the word that love is better than arrogance, knowledge is better than ignorance, peace is better than turmoil, sharing is better than coveting and truth is better than falsehood. It presents salvation to all mankind from all those things that would drag him down and destroy him in this world, provided he will accept the good news and live it.
Here Dr. Smith again ignores a hell to be saved from and deals with the present evils from which all mankind needs to be saved. The gospel he is talking about is man should be the best Man he can possibly be. It is hard to argue with such an answer.
Q. Could you give us your estimation of the Bible as The Word of God, Dr. Smith?
A. The Bible is the most distinctive book in the hands of western man today. It contains the record from ancient times of man's quest for God, of his failures and successes. It outlines the changes of man's concept of God from a thundering, jealous, tyrant, demanding revenge on his enemies, to the understanding of God as a spiritual father who loves and forgives and cares for this earth and all of its people. The Bible reveals much good to us and contains teachings that strengthen our understanding of ourselves and of our fellow man. It warns of the evils of those days and these. It tries to understand human nature and seeks to raise man to a higher plane of existence. The Bible sings praises to life and nature. One's education is lacking until he understands the Bible and learns to rightly divide its teachings and admonitions.
Of course, to Dr. Smith, “understanding and rightly dividing," means separating the false from the true. It means separating the moral from the immoral.
I think that concludes the theological questions, Dr. Smith. Now tell us how you would administer the programs of this church?
Dr. Smith, the Clear Thinker, has passed with flying colors. The examiners may or may not be in full agreement with all Dr. Smith said, but he said enough. He has a past record of Liberalism in the church so they expected those answers. The church knows Dr. Smith is liberal. Dr. Smith may be one of the best-liked and most successful ministers of the church.
Not once has Dr. Smith said he himself believes any of the doctrines of the church. He Will say how he Interprets those doctrines. But he will never say he believes them without qualifying his answers. He knows most of the doctrines will not stand testing of any kind. You can only believe them or doubt them. You can bet that the Liberal ministers of the church doubt most of them.
Is Dr. Smith honest? My answer is, yes! He has not lied. Dr. Smith does not see the church as anything more than just another organization of man, like a corporation or government. He sees he can be of great value to many people around him in the church. He can have a respected platform from which to work and correct social injustices, political corruption and the like. He can preach, inspire and teach intelligent people some of the rudiments of thinking and living. And best of all, at no time does he have to cover up his philosophy of life. He can also direct his denomination along a more liberal and worthwhile path. If he has enough support, he can try to change the denomination's doctrines and policies. He has as much right to do so as do the conservatives or literalists, who try to make the doctrines of their church even more restrictive, harsh, unjust and narrow.
HONESTY IS THINKING AND ACTING ON THE BASIS OF THE FACTS.
You may ask, doesn't this continual tug of war between Literalist, Conservative and Liberal cause churches and denominations to split up? It does! In fact, All of the denominations in Christianity today, originally split off from some other church because they didn't agree with a change of doctrine, or wanted a change that didn't pass. That includes the Roman Church and the Baptist Church.
Since the Clear Thinker sees absolutely nothing divine about the church, the real question is one of expediency. "What is best for me and those around me in this place and at this point in time?" That is the question that has to be answered. Since only the individual involved can be honest about what is best for him, given his specific individuality, then that person alone is responsible for making his own choice. Some stay and some leave.
The same thinking and evaluation go into decisions about going into politics, teaching, selling or business of some sort. The Clear Thinker does not view anything in life as divine (in the religious sense). That includes religion, government, marriage, money or relationships of any kind. Nor does the Clear Thinker view himself or herself as divine. He tries to see things like he finds them to be or like he knows them to be. Everything in life is "Special" and to a Clear Thinker that is honesty.
Will a Clear Thinker steal? Will a Christian? It depends. Will he divorce his wife, or she her husband? Will a Christian? It depends. Will he lie? Will a Christian? It depends.
It is interesting to note that professed nonbelievers, who officially make up about 8 percent of the population of the USA, make up only about .002 percent of the criminal population for any given year. That is only about one out of every five hundred criminals. Either Clear Thinkers and other nonbelievers are very smart and careful not to get caught or they are by far our most law abiding and honest citizens in the United States.
The largest proportion of our lawbreakers is from the Literalist or fundamentalist religions. They make up about a fourth of our population and yet furnish over 40 percent of our criminals. That is two out of every five criminals. The Catholics furnish a disproportional share of criminals with over 30 percent, or one out of every three. The Conservative denominations (not counting the Catholics) furnish almost 20 percent, or one out of every five criminals. The Liberal churches furnish less than 4 percent. The Jewish, Oriental religions and sects furnish the rest.
In other words, every type of religious classification furnishes more than its proportional share of criminals except unbelievers and very liberal Christians. These are our best and most law abiding citizens. Be sure and ask yourself why does religion and belief make so many criminals? (See the Statesman's Yearbook. Type it into Google and get the British edition. It is the best-uncensored version.)
From this it is easy to see that the more Liberal the group, the lower will be the criminal percentage of that group. This means the more Liberal the person, the less likely he is to resort to unlawful or violent means to accomplish what he wishes to have and to be in life. There are many of these stories, some true and some not true, but this story will illustrate the point.
[This prodigal Islamic fellow was in jail for murder, robbery, spouse abuse and a few other charges. His meal was served and he protested that his religion was being violated because ham was on his plate. He said, "Faithful Moslems do not eat pork."]
There are also stories about Catholics, Protestants and Jews. The point is the believer believes anything he does will be forgiven by the Almighty. As long as he carries out his religious and denominational requirements, he will still be in good standing with his God. He even believes that his God has commanded violence against the enemies of his God. Thus, he is more likely to become a criminal.
The Clear Thinker knows he is totally responsible for his actions and there is no magic wand, no supernatural being standing ready to undo the damage, so he acts much more responsibly and rationally.
To be fair, the amount of education a person has also generally tends to parallel the criminal figures. But this brings out another point. The more educated a person is, the less he can believe, so the more liberal he becomes in his thinking. The more liberal he becomes the more honest he becomes and the more likely he is to become a Clear Thinker. That is something else to think about.
The educated Liberal is always tentative in proclaiming his opinion on any matter. Why? Because in spite of all he knows, he also knows there is still much more knowledge about the subject that he does not know.
The believer on the other hand, is always adamant and inflexible in his opinion. Why? Because he thinks he knows it all and there is nothing else to know or find out about the matter or about his opinion. Most of the time he says, "The Bible says” or “God says." The believer applies this same inflexibility to his politics. The believer is always right and all others are always wrong. One of the worst sins for the believer is called "Compromise.”
Religion tells people there is a divine and eternal standard of morality handed down by God. This standard of conduct is to be for all people and for all time. It is to be the only true guide to life. Of course, there are many things we can do that are very harmful to us and to those around us. The Clear Thinking philosophy is the first to recognize this fact. There are also many things that are harmful to some people because of their immaturity, and yet, those same things are uplifting and wholesome to others Because of their maturity. (See: "Morality" in Chapter 33.)
It is dangerous and therefore immoral to let little children play with household electricity. But for an adult who knows what he is doing, it can be very productive and rewarding. There are many kinds of activity that can be symbolized by this example of the child and electricity. Sex, drugs and relationships are three of those areas. Maturity and morality are the products and rewards of Honest Thinking and Honest living. Morality is Not a product sold in a God Shop (church). It is not a gift! You must make it yourself! Good Morality is a do it yourself project.
Religion tends to keep people from growing morally as well as mentally. In many ways, there are fifty and sixty year old religious people who morally are still children. The church likes it that way. These people are still incapable of making honest, personal moral decisions. They are still letting mother and daddy (that is, the church and the Bible) make their moral decisions for them. Just saying "No" is an ignorant response and is never enough. One must know Why and When something is wrong. Today, religious people are banding together trying to force these same infantile approaches to life upon the American people. They are running for political office, and worst of all, many, many immature people will vote for them.
The concept of Honesty demands that one shall have room to express that honesty in the decisions of life. The very foundation of morality is Honesty. Yet, the religious wish to con us with a system of morality, the very basis of which is a dishonest belief. Every sane person knows it is morally and socially wrong to murder or to steal. This is not divine wisdom. This is common sense. Many religious rules, however, would have us believe it is morally wrong and a religious sin to divorce one's spouse, no matter the circumstances. They would have us believe it is a mortal sin to disbelieve the narrow and immoral system of religion and morality that they teach. They would have us believe sex was the invention of a Deity and only has meaning and divine acceptance, as well as social acceptance, if the two people are married by a priest or minister of religion and are engaged in producing a baby. They would have us believe it is morally wrong to hunt for the truth about these religious matters, or to associate with those who do hunt for truth.
The list of moral wrongs supplied by the church looks like a long list of things to do when one wishes to go on a vacation or have some fun. It has in fact been joked about. That is, anything that is fun, fattening or fills the bank account, the church has declared it to be a Religious Sin.
Such a list includes many laughable and frivolous notions about what is sin and what is not. A random sample includes sex outside of marriage, sex for fun, keeping company with nonbelievers, reading certain books and novels, sex with oneself, wearing skimpy clothes, not praying, drinking alcohol, using certain drugs, dancing, playing cards, rolling dice, not being in church on certain days, cursing, gambling, disobedience and of course that bug-a-boo, honest doubting. However, All sins can be forgiven with the exception of not believing (honestly doubting).
Honest Doubt and Honest Thinking are the killer sins in religion. Why? “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mk. 16:16. Doubt is a thinking process. Believing is a non-thinking process. If one honestly and factually thinks, he will see the falseness of the church, Bible and doctrines of the religions. If he Thinks, he will not obey, he will not pay, he will not agree and he will oppose the church and its effort to rule and enslave mankind. So, he is unsavable (according to the Bible). Who really believes that a Just, Good and Almighty God is that unjust, narrow minded and hostile toward Honest Thought?
The Clear Thinker's philosophy does not have all of these childish rules and guidelines. To follow the Clear Thinking philosophy one will have to do some hard honest thinking about what is right and what is wrong. He will have to weigh the legal, social and personal results of the activities in which he wishes to engage. If one is wrong, he does not have a deity whom he can beg to correct the wrong, or to forgive him for his mistakes. The Clear Thinker must not only Think Honestly, but he must also Act Honestly, with himself and with others. The Clear Thinking philosophy is Honesty in action.
There are Clear Thinkers in the churches of today. They are there because they have made a choice to be there. They are in fact, some of the best leaders and ministers of the major denominations. You will find them trying to undo the harm that the church has done to people. You will find them in the front of social programs that are trying to make a better life for people. If it were not for the stabilizing effect of some of these Liberal men and women, the churches may have already seized the political and leadership power that they so desperately crave in this country.
The religious believers work fair or foul to obtain power in order to take away our freedoms and to institute in their place a government that takes its rules and guides from the church and Bible. They want the government to spy on the people to determine if they are thinking (believing) and acting like the church or government wants them to. They want a religious theocracy, a government ruled over by Their God and Their church doctrines. That is, they want religious tyranny. They want Their Bible, Their doctrines and Their church teachings to be the national basis for this country's laws and leadership. They know best about sex, children out of wedlock, education, wealth, crime, abortion, law, economics, politics, poverty, war and any other subjects that arise. They are spending billions of dollars to propagate their beliefs and to buy political power. They only want people in power who believe like they do. They only want the blind to lead the blind. They even want the blind to lead those who can see. I do not need a blind man to lead me. I have some of the light of truth and knowledge to guide me.
Believers are masters at sleight-of-hand and sleight-of-mind. They will use any available controversial idea or situation to advance their control over people and to enhance their power. They will spend millions of dollars to get their people worked up. They will advertise their ideas and positions, as one would promote toothpaste or pizza on television and radio. They will use character assassinations on those whom they have decided are “the enemy - who are following the Devil.” I see abortion, drugs, crime and homosexuality as areas that they will probably use to attempt gaining political power and creating more chaos.
(This chapter was written and completed in 1989. I have left the preceding in to show that even back then the "righteous right" were trying hard to do what they are being able to do today.)
Thank goodness for the Clear Thinkers in the church and in the political circles. They are trying to slow down the push by the Believers who wish to take control of this country through the Republican Party. Watch out for the 1992 elections! (This, written in 1989, has turned out to be So True.)
Down the line in today's world, the churches are beginning to show their true colors and the people of this country should not long submit to the narrow and infantile philosophies and beliefs that the church seeks to impose upon the people of this nation. Before long, the church is going to have to pay taxes. They must learn to speak the truth about their doctrines and tall tales. They are going to lose their nonprofit status unless they become nonprofit. They are going to lose their censorship power. They are going to have to pay for their advertising. They must learn to find some human needs in our world and render help, not just words. They must stop extracting wealth from the poor, the gullible and the ignorant. They must stop telling their lies.
Yes, there are Clear Thinkers in the church and for that you can give thanks. We must support those who are trying to bring honesty, justice and humanity back into our churches.
It may be the Clear Thinkers who save the believers' churches for them! Why? Because Clear Thinkers know that if any group is repressed, then every group is in danger. I want freedom for the churches. I also want honesty and responsibility from them.
We find that the Clear Thinkers in the church are far more Honest than is the church itself.
THE CHURCH NEEDS OUR HELP!
THE CHURCH NEEDS HONESTY!
(Have you contacted an official of your faith? Were you surprised at the difference in what you believe and what you are officially supposed to believe? Most people have a generic type of Christianity. When their personal beliefs are measured against what they are supposed to believe, according to their own religion and its doctrines, one finds the personal beliefs are very different from the official doctrines.)