A thinking, feeling Christian
When Tyndale translated the Bible into English, he wanted every Englishman to read it and understand it for himself, and so be freed from a monolithic Magisterial interpretation. Reformation and Enlightenment led to the Bible being interpreted like a statute-book and science textbook. Predestination is eminently logical:
God is omniscient and eternal
God is the Primal Cause
Therefore God knows everything which is going to happen
Therefore God has intended it
Therefore God knows who is going to Hell
Therefore God has created “ane for Heaven and ten for Hell”.
Since “no-one comes to the Father but through Jesus” (John 14:6), all Muslims will go to Hell.
The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (I have only seen its Amazon review and Rachel’s post) argues that this has made Evangelicals unable to contribute to intellectual life, instead viewing Middle-Eastern politics through the alleged prophecies of Revelation- the Rapture is coming- and believing in Flood geology, claiming that strata were not laid down over billions of years, but in forty days. They reason with beautiful logic but their conclusions are worthless, because of their original, vitiating error that the Bible is inerrant, and applicable in this way.
Rachel Held Evans argues this way of thinking is alexithymic: without words for emotion, or understanding of it. How else could anyone contemplate a majority of people going to Hell, or the genocide of Canaan, with equanimity or even satisfaction?
This way of thinking makes Christianity monstrous and ridiculous: the atheist has great ease, and a moral obligation, to refute it. I escaped it, through Love- horror at the thought of people being damned.
Part of my answer is that the Deuteronomic history- slavery in Egypt, liberation, passover, wandering in the desert, and genocidal conquest of Israel- is all a myth created after the exile in Babylon; and the creation and flood stories are myths or parables rather than history. Part is that the interpretations are wrong, so I argue about the meaning of malakoi.
All that is refutation and escape. The atheist has natural feeling, empathy, rational thinking and moral reasoning without all this Biblical falsehood. If I use my own, but value the Bible and Relationship with God, is my Christianity just holding me back, or can it actually give me anything?
The Bible, freed from the impossible demands of infallibility, is the great classic, showing human responses in ecstasy and despair- and so it makes my own responses in extremity acceptable. It shows a growth in the understanding of God, from ceremonial purity to God with us and in us, from wrath to love. It is a great koan: being internally inconsistent, it shocks us out of the desire to be consistent, for consistency is only compatible with perfection.
And I have relationship with something greater than the thoughts I am conscious of in my ego-self. Whether it is the creator of the universe or particular brain-states and impulses within me, strands of Christian thought help me come to terms with it.