I don't consider myself a religious person (at least I hope I'm not, because being a religious person isn't the quick route to my Christmas card list). Certainly not a "Christian" by the modern, fundamentalist definition(s). I do consider myself a person of faith in God and Jesus Christ, but more than anything, if I had to attach a particular word to who or what I am, the word would be "spiritual". Kinda hard to fit that one into any corner.
You have NO idea how many people find that threatening. You have NO idea how many people felt threatened in real-time when they read that first paragraph. Or, if you're like me, and have moved dramatically away from traditional evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity, you probably do have a pretty good idea.
The biggest threat I/we pose? We don't put God in a box shaped like the biblical canon.
I've said many times that if the bible is more than a supplement to your faith, it's the object of your faith. And it is for most evangelicals. Take away, or alter in any fashion, their concept of the bible, and they have no god whatsoever. So, yes, they're worshiping the bible. If you believe the bible is the one and only arbiter of all truth, you're worshiping the bible. If you believe the bible is "God's Word", all perfectly inspired and God-breathed, perfectly kept through the centuries, then you're worshiping the bible. I should know. I used to believe some of these same things...and then I decided I was no longer willing to let other men determine the standard of my own belief.
In one of the books within the book itself, Jesus says that God's Spirit is what will lead us into all truth. He never made any promises about a bible. So, right there is the proof that most people who are "bible-believing Christians" aren't really, because they obviously don't believe their bibles.
I'm constantly accused of "picking and choosing" which parts of the bible I believe. You bet I do. Everybody does. Everybody. Don't believe me? Go back to the previous paragraph and get back to me. One of my personal unfavorites concerning where I am now with the bible - "If you gonna throw out part of it you need to just throw out all of it!" How stupid. This is why I constantly remind people that the bible isn't a single organism, but a collection of 66 different books composed by at least 40 different people from all walks of life. If I turn and look behind where I'm sitting now, I'll see my bookshelf. It has probably 30 or so books on it, ranging from health and home remedy books to a dictionary to religious themes to coach Dean Smith's autobiography. If one of the home remedies turns out to be crapola, should I just chuck the whole bookshelf into a bonfire? Wouldn't that be kinda stupid? How controlled - by the ideas and thinking of others - would I have to be to do that and think I'm doing a good thing?
I like the idea of God's Spirit. I like it a lot. God within us. Some might call it the conscience or the inner voice. Whatever works for you. BUT - here's why evangelicals and fundamentalists don't like it...
They can't control it.
The bible? If they can point you to that box, they can keep you in that box. As long as you're devoted to it, you have to be devoted to the words in it, or, their interpretations of those words. They'll conform you to its shape, size, even its dialect. You'd be surprised at how many Christians think God's an Englishman. Seriously. Or how many pentecostals prophecy or interpret tongues in middle-ages King's English, replete with thees and thous. Seriously. Because they worship a collection of books, being controlled by the religious culture they're a part of.
That God cat, on the other hand, if he were to communicate directly to you, bypassing the middleman of religious authority, well now, we just can't have that kind of thing. He might tell you something different than they want you to believe. Loss of control means increased threat for shaky religious people, especially when, by and large, modern Christianity is attempting to make disciples of Paul rather than of Christ. Everything, every single thing, about the way modern evangelical churches are ran is shaped by Paul. Not by Jesus. From authority structures, "pastors", deacons, elders, "discipline", and so on. Jesus never talked about any of those things, and in fact, said to call no man your "teacher" in a spiritual sense, because you have only ONE teacher: God.
(When I say "everything", I should temper that with the acknowledgement that they go back to the OT for the idea of tithing. They gotta get paid and all. 10% sounds about right for that. A lot less stress than giving ALL, which is something Jesus taught was to be done when needed. Can't have those big houses, fancy cars, and private jets if you go doing something crazy like giving most of your money away to people who need it.)
The "God within" concept has taken me so far away from tradition I'd need Rand-McNally to find my way back. This threatens people. Needlessly. I no longer use the term "personal relationship" with God. It doesn't genuinely fit. I consider myself in a "process" or "experience" with God. I don't understand God well enough to be "in a relationship" with him (and neither do you, btw). I don't have genuine relationship with people I don't understand, so why would my experience with God be any different? Doesn't mean I don't love God or that I lack devotion to the process and experience. I'm just being realistic. When I have to rationalize (or accept rationalizations of) God to religious people, or make excuses for God to secular people, that would be one hell of a dysfunctional relationship.
I'm pursuing truth, and truth alone. If you're of the "God's gonna get ya!" mind about that, first of all you're a religious addict, and second, pushing the sociopathic, "Love me or I'll kill ya!" version of God doesn't exactly sway me or make me all warm and fuzzy. I'm pretty sure that if God can create the universe as we know it, he isn't threatened by a few questions, even those with sharp points. Frankly, when I physically meet God, Lucy got some splainin' to do. You don't get answers without asking questions. Quickest route to lacking knowledge? Stop asking questions. This is why unhealthy groups create an environment of fear where you're afraid to question, and usually the leader is the only acceptable answer. Actions should be informed. Belief should be informed. An informed person doesn't generally conform. As P/QF survivors can tell you, being informed, or even making so much as an effort to be informed, often equates to being rebellious.
If you're afraid to ask questions of or about God, then you're being controlled, either by someone or something, probably your religious paradigm, and it's mucho unhealthy. If you're in a church that doesn't allow questions, whether on matters of faith or of the leadership, you're in a cult and you need to leave. Immediately. If you're in a church that teaches you to fear God (not in the sense of respect, but in the sense of reprisals for unapproved behaviors or questions), you're in an unhealthy, cultic group, and you need to leave. Immediately.
I'm not interested in letting you, or anyone else, control my mind by constantly pointing me to a collection of books. I can, and will, do my own thinking, especially where God is concerned. That one's kind of a biggie. If you wanna let someone else do your thinking for you, that's your call. I recommend you don't. If you want to worship a collection of books, that's your call. I recommend you don't.
If you feel threatened by this article, that's called a "tell". It says a lot more about you than it does about me.