But, given that others have pointed out that this sort of Christianity is not so much about commitment, although of course there is enormous commitment, but about fundamentalism - an extreme version of Christianity in terms of its literality and it's highly conservative, not to mention, paternalistic nature and is therefore only one form of Christian expression and certainly, thankfully, not the major form, the title of the Posts were misleading.
As they were and that is why I have changed them. Honesty is crucial if we are to sift through the dross and dregs of that which so many call Truth and unless we name something honestly and openly then we are dealing with the drifts and shadows of theological belief instead of the substance.
These conversations then represent extremes and to be fair to my Fundamentalist Christian, I am in many ways at the other end of the theological debate. We are, as we both eventually decided, probably too far apart to really understand each other although, as I pointed out, I like many started out pretty much where he still is but he has never been, and probably never will be, where I am at.
The discussions did not give me greater insight into why someone would choose such an unkind and restrictive form of religion, because I have some understanding of that anyway, but it did remind me that we are all seekers on the spiritual path and there is not one way. It also reminded me that this narrow path of fundamentalist Christianity does not represent the religion as a whole in any way, and is in fact, like all fundamental expressions of any religion, a distortion of the teachings.
That people can take the teachings of Jesus and come up with dogma which has the sort of judgemental and vindictive God one finds in this fundamentalism is surprising, if not astonishing. How anyone can hold a belief that those who do not accept the beliefs the religion teaches - no matter if they have never heard them or been able to hear them because of circumstances or physical disability - will be punished for eternity by God is beyond me in terms of spiritual understanding.
I can however understand it from a psychological perspective. What Fundamentalist Religions of all kinds offer people is a greater illusion of certainty. They have in their God the archetypal patriarchal Father - the one who protects them (as long as they behave and obey) and who will keep them safe. This is the same Father/God who demands only obedience of his children so there is no need, once the teachings and beliefs have been accepted, to take responsibility for one's self or make up one's own mind.
In essence, 'do what Dad says and Dad will look after you,' or do what God says and God will look after you. Disobey and you are done for! There must be a great deal of fear beneath such a belief system and a desperate need for certainty and the illusion of control. But we are all different and what works for one does not necessarily work for another.
And while I choose to stick with God and drop all religions, I do feel it is important to say that there is much which is good in all religions and the 'best' of any of them - which means the least extreme - can offer people valuable and productive companionship on the spiritual path. It was certainly where I started out and within both Anglicanism and Catholicism I found much richness and much of value - there was just too much of the patriarchal and far too many rules and regulations to suit me.
In fact, if I have any observation about religion is that they all remind me of the game of Bridge. When I learned Bridge, many years ago, it struck me that it was in essence an incredibly simple game which had been made more complex and more difficult - perhaps because people were bored - where they had then set about inventing all sorts of rules and regulations which had to be remembered, enforced and accepted in order to play the game properly.
Religion is the same. In essence a belief in God is a pretty simple, and I would say natural thing. What complicates it all is the theological 'red tape' which human beings have created - the wastelands of rules and regulations which must be understood and followed - before one can 'play the game' properly.
To that degree religions have turned spirituality into a game and one where everyone is the loser - the spiritual and religious followers and the religions themselves. That for no other reason is why God got me and religion didn't. I have much better ways of spending my time in terms of my Spiritual Life than abiding by endless theological rules invented by men - and it is mainly men who have invented such rules.
A quick study of the ancient Goddess religion, or the nature religions like Wicca, so deeply sourced in the feminine, shows that the patriarchal literality and demand for control is not a part of those spiritual paths sourced in and supported by the minds of women.
And in all honesty, one can only share views and beliefs - people are either ready or able to see the sense or lack of sense in them or they are not. It is not, at the end of the day about changing anyone's mind but about sharing thoughts and experiences as we all walk the long, difficult and fascinating path of life.