You don’t have to choose between common sense and Christianity.
You don’t have to believe that the Bible is perfect and inerrant.
Scriptures are “inspired and useful” (2 Timothy 3:16), but they are still created things, and it is idolatry to describe a created thing as perfect, inerrant, or sufficient. Bibliolaters say scripture is perfect because it is “from God,” but for those of us who truly worship the Creator, everything in existence is from God.
For a true believer, God alone is perfect. All created things, including scriptures, are subject to corruption. If we want to truly understand the Bible, we have to use our God-given reason to investigate its origins, transmission, canonization, translation, and meaning.
Faith doesn’t have to mean rejecting the facts.
In fact, faith (Latin fides) simply means fidelity, and the Gospel is full of stories that emphasize the importance of observed evidence in religion. As Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans (1:20) “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people have no excuse.”
The religion of Jesus, who allowed Thomas to prod his wounds for the sake of proof, has become diabolically corrupted so that unquestioning submission to authority has become its hallmark, and faith has become an excuse for all sorts of counter-factual dogma.
The Letter to the Hebrews (11:3) makes clear that faith substitutes for evidence only when no evidence is possible, in dealing with the origin of existence itself: “By faith we understand the universe to have been caused by the Word of God, that detectable things did not arise from something detectable.”
Only a Liar would try to turn faith/fidelity into blind acceptance of dogma that contradicts observed facts in Creation, from which we can understand God’s power and nature.
You don’t have to reject science and reason.
The “Logos/Word” which Christians see manifest in Jesus is how Jewish and Greek ancients referred to the organizing principle of natural law through which the Creator brings the universe into existence. It is the principle of causation which is the foundation of science.
Logos (λόγος) can be translated directly as Reason, and is where we get the word “logic.” To apply reason to natural law is in the spirit of true Christianity. To deny the facts in God’s Creation and deny reason is to deny the Father and the Son.
Religious stories don’t have to be materially factual to be valid.
Jesus taught in fictional parables, demonstrating that the spiritual importance of a story has nothing to do with its historicity or facticity. Those materialists who insist that stories must be historically factual to be spiritually and religiously true are implying that Jesus is a fraud.
The insistence on materialistic interpretation of scripture is not in keeping with the ministry of Christ. It is, in fact, the opposite of it.
You don’t have to believe that Jesus was equal to God the Father.
Messiah (מָשׁיחַ) and Christ (Χριστός) are simply the Hebrew and Greek words for “Anointed,” indicating Jesus was God’s anointed representative on Earth. Referring to Jesus as God’s Son, God’s Word, God’s Image (Colossians 1:15), and God’s Name merely emphasize this representative relationship.
As The Gospel of John 1:12 and the Gospel of Matthew 5:43-45 make clear, anyone who believes in the Name and loves all of God’s Creation becomes a “Child” of God as Jesus was.
You don’t have to hate other religions.
Jesus praised the faith of a pagan Centurion, and used a member of the hated Samaritan sect as a symbol of good behavior. Paul asserted (Acts of the Apostles 17:23) that the pagan Greek “Unknown God” was the same God worshiped by Christians. Jesus’ birth was attended by Zoroastrian Magi.
Christianity has embraced other beliefs from the very beginning, because it is the religion of the God of the Universe, not the religion of a tribal god bound to this or that culture. God is alienated from no part of His Creation: no world, no people, and no religion.
“With foreign lips and strange languages God will speak to this people.” (Isaiah 28:11) Will you listen?
Salvation doesn’t have to be a cheap magic trick.
Believing the sins of the world are erased by the material fact of the crucifixion puts the power of salvation in the hands of those who executed Jesus and turns salvation into a form of ritual hocus pocus. It denigrates the sacrifice of Jesus by reducing it to a sort of blood sorcery.
Believing the erasure of sin comes from following the spiritual example Jesus set before and during the crucifixion puts the power of salvation in the hands of Jesus, confirms God’s Anointed as the model of moral behavior, and reveals that salvation is about being a disciple (student) of Jesus’ teachings. Those who refuse to be students, rather than mere ceremonial artifacts, cannot be taught.
It was not the cross of the Romans or the mob of Barabbas that led to salvation, but the moral decision of Jesus, who accepted his fate in Gethsemane by saying “If it is Your will, take this cup from me; nevertheless Your will be done.”
Salvation is a moral decision in one’s soul; the material suffering that follows is mere consequence.
You don’t have to accept a primitive, archaic worldview.
In his First Letter to the Corinthians (13:11) Paul said “when I was a child… I reasoned as a child, but when I became a man I put childish ways behind me.” Likewise mature civilization and religion should put away the immature ideas and misconceptions of their infancy.
Just as with an individual, the personality of a religion can remain intact as its character and understanding of God’s Creation mature. The righteousness underlying ancient religion is not sacrificed, though we live in the modern rational world and must face the facts it presents.
In that same letter (14:20) Paul said, “in regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” 21st Century Christianity would do well to take this advice.
You can believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit without Trinitarianism.
In fact, the doctrine of the Trinity was imposed on Christianity, and its interpretation imposed on the Bible, by theologians aligned with Imperial authority desiring to instill blind, unthinking obedience in their subjects.
“The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” which certainly is found in the Bible, does not equal the doctrine of the Trinity simply because they are listed together. Trinitarianism is about demanding people swear (historically, under pain of death) that Father and Son are equal in age and power, in denial of reason and the clear relationship of subordination between God and Christ in scripture.
This strange and un-scriptural conception of God — since it requires the believer to shut off the rational part of the mind and simply accept dogma on authority — is a seedbed for blind, un-thinking obedience, and was used that way from its origin by the authoritarian faction that corrupted the Early Church.