Hot, Cold, Lukewarm? Or not at all?
Earlier today, my wife and I took some close friends out to the hills for a hike. With the hunger built up from the hike, we settled into camp for a barbeque, picnic, then lots of fun and laughter. It was a great day to escape from the routine of our lives at home.
The funny thing is that our religious beliefs never came up for discussion. I know that the majority of our friends are devout Catholics, but our beliefs never once influenced our day. In fact, unless we are headed for mass or similar church functions, they never do. In general, we keep our spiritual lives safe behind stained glass to be visited only on Sundays – and there they stay the remainder of the week.
This is true for the vast majority of people who call themselves ‘Christian’. Most Christians are on the sidelines, unless they were like me, a self-serious Christian who found that kind of belief to be tepid and lacking in power. If Jesus was who he said he was, God incarnate and the Messiah for the World, I figured I had better take him seriously, and allow him to dynamically impact my life. Tepid Christianity seemed pointless to me; after all, Jesus threatened to spew the lukewarm church of Laodicea out his mouth (Rev 3:16). Jesus preferred a cold believer over a lukewarm one, and I looked at people, like the Catholic friends that I enjoyed today with, with pity.
Well, I thought it was pity. Was it actually pride? Superiority? Self-Righteousness? Yeah, in hindsight, I think so.
I was a devout Christian for most of my 43 years. After spending a year *really* studying the Bible and how we interpret it in our modern world, after a year talking with my wife and debating Christian friends, of prayer, contemplation, reading, and more than a few tears, I concluded that there was no way The Bible was Divinely Inspired, much less inerrant, suitable for all our needs and the exclusive path to our salvation. So the last couple of months, I have had to come to grips with the fact that I have no Christian beliefs. With the exception of a rare few, my Fundamentalist friends have pretty much forgotten me. My catholic friends? They enjoy going to the hills with me for a fun hike, and a picnic no matter what my beliefs are.
So do most people. If most of the people I know could not care less what my religious beliefs are, why is it so important?
Why is it important whether I believe or not? Life seems to continue just as it always has. So what is the big deal about leaving Christianity? Why not just ease the transition away from Christianity? Why not continue to believe and just become ‘lukewarm’?
Many reasons. Your beliefs shape your worldview. Without a Book of Divine Authority to tell me what to believe, what my ethical standards are to be, what my life’s devotion is to be, I am left with nothing higher than myself and my wife to figure it all out. I feel like I have left playland and entered the real world – as hard and cold as it can sometimes be – to fend for ourselves. There is no protective hand from a guardian angel or heavenly father to guide us. It is about us – not God.
And I gotta tell you – that freedom to discover and explore is truly exciting.
The de-Convert was kind enough to invite me to occasionally contribute to this site. My name is HeIsSailing – named in honor of a song that describes the hope of an all-saving, universal Messiah who will rescue mankind from all their ills. It is a Savior, a Messiah, a Childish Hope that I desperately wish existed, but in truth exists only in the imagination. I now understand that Christianity, while having many positive attributes, can render its most faithful with a childish and under-developed worldview. The root of that view is the Church Creed which the faithful accept, and the Scripture that is interpreted to fit that Church Creed.
As critical as I can be of Christian beliefs, I am still fascinated by the whole belief system, and find the Bible more interesting now that I ever did, even as a devout believer. I am not much of a debater – despite my sometimes tough questions – but do I enjoy sharing my views and learning from others. So let’s contribute, learn and have some fun!