Over the past week, we've discussed heresy, orthodoxy, and points of doctrine. Some responses reminded me of a Christian theological perspective that I've encountered before. It says that the Bible is filled with myths -- the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and so on. The Bible is not really the Word of God -- meaning that we can attribute to it divine authorship. Rather, it's a collection of writings from an ancient Near Eastern people from millennia ago. And the religion that it describes is not particularly unique. All religions have pretty much the same claim to truth.
Now I understand this point of view. I used to think that the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection were superstitious hookum. I used to think that the Bible was just a book written by people. And quite properly, during this time period, I called myself an atheist. I didn't go to church or pray or do any other Christianly activity because, well, there was no point. Christianity was just a mythos, like any other. It had some points of moral wisdom, like the Sermon on the Mount. But ultimately, it's just mythology.
If I still thought that the Bible wasn't true and that Jesus was just a good, human teacher whose disciples later fabricated miraculous stories about, then I wouldn't go to church or call myself a Christian. And if I would ever reach that conclusion in the future, then I'd stop calling myself a Christian because there still wouldn't be a point.
So what baffles me about the demythologizers of Christ is why they even bother calling themselves Christians and showing up at church on Sunday mornings. Especially the latter. There's no cost to calling oneself a Christian. But going to church is an investment of time and, if you tithe, money. I don't want to be insulting, but...well, if Christ is not God and the Bible is an unreliable witness of him, then what is the point to Christ-related activities?
I don't understand the motivation behind denying the divinity of Christ and yet still clinging to him. Why not just call oneself an atheist, sleep in on Sunday morning, and spend tithe money on D&D books?
When, as a teenager, I reached atheistic conclusions, I got up, walked out of the Church, and never looked back. Why waste my time on a fictitious being and his deluded followers? I had better things to do. So I'm rather baffled by unbelievers, like Bishop John Shelby Spong, who stay around in the Church devoted to the worship of what they see as an imaginary being. If Christ was just some Judean peasant who was never divine, then those who have been enlightened to this fact are better off finding some other more productive and meaningful activity.
So I understand demythologizers who leave the Church. Their behavior is, however based upon inaccurate conclusions, internally rational. But I don't understand those that stay.