Friday, February 19, 2010

Agnosticism in the Bible Belt

With the Launch of REACH--our college ministry at Grace Church--we've been going on campus inviting people out to our Thursday night "non religious" Bible study.

One conversation I had recently was with a very open and friendly student who held to a general belief in God (who he referenced as the Omega), but had serious issues with the biblical portrayal of God. Specifically, he took issue with the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden, and the tower of Babel. Although he was missing some details he recalled stories from his Catholic upbringing well and was able to articulate his concerns thoughtfully.

His questions came raw and real. His vision of God is distant and uncaring.

"I mean, why would God put a tree in the middle of the garden just to set us up for failure? Like...thanks a lot."

Regarding the tower of Babel, "Why would he get so mad at people for building a tower to get to heaven when we all end up there anyway?"

His concerns echo the thoughts of an unbeliever at REACH last night. In discussion groups one visitor understood Jesus only as "hope" for people who believe but didn't hold to the Christian understanding of Jesus as a resurrected, real, and returning.

Agnosticism, cynicism, and unbelief aren't isolated to the urban wilderness, but live in the brass buckle of the Bible belt. Moreover, it may thrive in a culture that easily touches religion, and where having some experience or connection with a myriad of churches comes easily--but just as easily comes to reject what they've seen as an uncompelling witness to Jesus.