A Confession – I Want to Believe

June 15, 2007 at 2:24 pm 56 comments

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil – John 3:19 (KJV)

Footprints in the SandA confession – I want to believe.

I was a Christian for most of my life of 43 years. I fell away for one simple reason: I finally found the claims of Christianity to be unbelievable. I no longer believe in presupposing that the Bible is inerrant and divinely inspired so that I can wrap my worldview around it. I do not trust the Christian Church, run by mortal and fallible men just like me, to know my path to eternal salvation. Like the noble Bereans, I had to investigate the Scriptures for myself, and read them without the filter of Church Creeds to interpret them. And the Scriptures, while more fascinating than any Creed could make them, do not in any way hold as an infallible belief system.

But I want to believe. It is so much easier to fit into society when we all have common beliefs. It is easier for people to relate to each other when we all have our shared beliefs to bond us together. It is not easy going against the stream of common or popular thought. Most people take their belief in Christianity for granted and never think it out. Maybe they do this because of a lack of care, lack of concern, or because of the fear of doubt. Maybe it is because they trust that their church has the correct path to heaven. Maybe it is because they were born into their religion, and their religion gives them a cultural heritage that they see no reason to question. Yes, most Christians take their beliefs as axiomatic. It must be true because… well… because! I dared to step out and challenge those assumptions. And I have found that all Christianity is – baseless assumptions. Our churches are not the body of Christ run by the power of the Holy Spirit, but politically driven institutions run by human beings no better than you or me.

But I want to believe. I want to believe in the same thing my wife and my wife’s family believes. It would be so much easier to go with the flow. I would not feel so uncomfortable refusing to receive the bread and wine my friends depend on for their salvation. I would not feel like I am standing out, or that everyone probably looks on me as a sinner, when I refuse the elements. But my conscience tells me otherwise. How can I not get upset when I am accused of having an illegitimate marriage because I have left the Faith? But I can no longer take the knowledge of the salvation via the death of Jesus Christ for granted. What is the evidence that it actually happened? I am not asking for proof, but when the existing evidence is non-existent, unclear, contradictory, or just flat out fabricated, then something is wrong. Belief without evidence is called Faith. Belief despite contradictory evidence is called Delusion. I cannot continue believing in falsehoods and willingly accept a self-delusion while maintaining any integrity.

But I want to believe. The Gospel story is a beautiful story, and the fabric of it is very plausible to me. If God exists, I expect him to be transcendent, perfectly holy and separate from us. I fully understand the ancient writers when they say we are sinful and imperfect beings next to a perfect Divinity! It makes sense to me that a holy God cannot accept us as imperfect as we are because it is against his nature. God cannot accept our sinful nature any more than water can mix with oil. So he sent a part of himself, The Christ named Jesus, to suffer and die to provide whatever mysterious mechanism that is required for us to join him in paradise. As Daniel Dennett has said, religions, including Christianity, are brilliantly designed. I want to believe this beautiful idea, and I am not the only one. From the Phoenix, to Osiris, to Mithras, to Adonis, and even Gandalf and Aslan, the age-old dying and rising hero motif has been popular throughout history, and for good reason! It is very appealing to the mystically minded, and I admit, very compelling and even hypnotic to me. But Jesus, as a mythical god figure, fits right into that motif, just like the rest of mythology. All the other ancient Mediterranean gods are now viewed as myths, but I had always assumed that Jesus was different from the others. Why should Jesus be held to a different standard from the other mystery religions that abounded during that time? I am challenging those assumptions.

But I want to believe. I want to believe that there is hope for us here on earth, comfort for the sick and needy, help for the helpless and love for the unloved. I want to believe in assurance for abundant life here on earth, and everlasting life in the hereafter. I want to believe that I will spend all eternity with my wife, the woman that I love. I want to believe there is hope in the future, there is relief when I get older, and there is confidence of my eternity. This is lovely and wonderful to believe – but I had always neglected to consider the other side of the Gospel story. I neglected the belief in everlasting torment for the wicked unbeliever, the belief that Jesus is the exclusive path to salvation with no other option available, and the belief that the way of salvation is narrow and few will make it. I neglected the belief in a demanding and sometimes brutal god who will punish the unfaithful on earth with disasters and illnesses, and test the believing with similar disasters and illnesses. I neglected the belief of the faithlessness of man, that we can loose our salvation merely for lack of faith in Jesus. I neglected the unanswered prayers with excuses of not being in God’s will, or being chastised by God because of a faithless and sinful life. I just conveniently swept then under the rug, and continued with my happy Christian beliefs as if whistling in the dark.

But even as an unbeliever, I still want to believe. What it boils down to is this. I want to believe the beautiful, lovely and hopeful aspects of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to believe in salvation, a loving heavenly father, and hope for eternal life. I do not want to believe in eternal punishment for my loved ones, even if Scripture tells me that is their ultimate fate is unbelievers. I tried to excuse God who seemingly ignores us when we need him the most. And I know that I was not the only Christian who wanted to believe in this selective way. In fact I am willing to bet that most Christians choose not to believe the unsavory aspects of the Gospel, despite what their Bibles and churches tell them. The gospel contains both sides, both the good and the bad, and I was taught that if I wanted to be a serious Christian, I have to accept that. God is who he is, and no amount of believing what I wish to be true would change his nature. I could not claim to know the mind of God and invent my own religion of only peace and light.

That is the dilemma. Do I continue to be a Christian who pretends all is well, or do I follow my convictions and leave what I know is not true? I figure if there is a God, he knows my heart and knows I do not believe. So why pretend? It seems honesty is more noble then putting up a front of piety.

So as a Christian, I was forced to fully accept and believe everything in the Bible as literal truth. Now, as an ex-Christian, I fully reject the belief of the Gospel of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

But I want to believe. Despite what John 3:19 claims, I am grieved to lose my beliefs. I feel like I had been hoodwinked for most of my 43 years on Earth. It is sad, and somewhat painful to put my entire belief system up for critique and find it entirely lacking in any credibility. But I must, not because I love darkness, but because I must be true and honest to myself, and to my family, friends and loved ones. And in that sense, I really do want to believe.

- HeIsSailing

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Inconsistent beliefs within Christianity The Confessions of a Former Christian

56 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Noogatiger  |  June 15, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    “It makes sense to me that a holy God cannot accept us as imperfect as we are because it is against his nature. God cannot accept our sinful nature any more than water can mix with oil.”

    However even this statement has philosophical problems. Did good and evil, righteousness and sin as laws or precepts, precede even God? If not then what makes God Holy? What makes sin bad? If in the beginning only God existed, then holiness did not exist and sin did not exist and good and evil did not exist, nothing existed but the entity which was God, and then he created all the stuff and then decided for himself what is holy and what is not. He picked what he liked and called it holy and good, he picked what he did not like and called it sin and evil. He could just have easily decided that he liked the sin, (as we call it), and made that holy in his eyes.

    So God could accept our sinful nature if he wanted to, easily. He could make water and oil mix if he wanted to. He could decide to bring everyone to paradise if he so desired.

    The more you look at it from a logical viewpoint the less sense it makes and the harder it becomes to keep believing, even if you still want to. I wanted to also, but finally had to have some peace in my mind. When I gave up the fairy tales, I found peace of mind.

  • 2. Jeff de Ruyter  |  June 15, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Many have intellectually evaluated the faith, and stayed in it. Like myself. It is an intellectual decision at first. C.S. Lewis is another one who comes to mind.

  • 3. BlackSun  |  June 15, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    HelsSailing, I understand your grieving. Here is the conclusion of a post I wrote about letting go of trust in parents, god, country, meaning, and notions of free will (beyond the range of genetically selected behaviors):

    Though I draw a firm “line in the sand” intellectually, I admit it’s hard to keep stoic all the time about these questions. I miss the idea I used to hold that there’s a giant all-powerful father-mother-god to fall back on, that life itself has any particular meaning other than what I give it. I miss feeling like I live in a country I can believe in–or even that government itself is something to inspire faith and trust. I miss being the young boy who trusted my parents, and felt they loved and cared for me–and I miss the idea of my own humanity and ultimate free will.

    But the evidence is in. These things are illusory. Acknowledging this is part of being a conscious adult in this century. My longings for childlike simplicity and trust will die with me anyway. So why not live a life of clarity for the years I have left? Why not face the music and embrace reality? It’s called growing up. With a certain wistful resolve and nostalgia about my childhood illusions, I’m ready to firmly say with John Lennon: “I just had to let it go.”

  • 4. superhappyjen  |  June 15, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    I don’t want to believe in God, but I do want to be awed. I want to look at something unexplainable and be filled with awe.

  • 5. Heather  |  June 15, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    HIS —

    From how I’m reading this, it sounds like you still want to believe in a fundamentalist/conservative aspect of Christianity? Does this mean that’s the only way you could accept Christianity?

  • 6. agnosticatheist  |  June 16, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Heather,

    I tried to cling to Christianity while not believing in the “fundamentalist/conservative aspect of Christianity” and failed. For me, once my former beliefs started to collapse, it just kept going until the building totally crumbled.

    I think you can be left with a belief in a real Jesus who was a teacher of a philosophy based on Jewish teachings and you can apply that philosophy to your life but everything else pretty much crumbles. So you can stay a Jesus-ite, so to speak, but Christianity is based on a flawed system of Jewish mysticism that is no different than any other religious tradition.

    aA

  • 7. HeIsSailing  |  June 16, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Heather,
    No, I can never beleive in my Fundamentalist belief system ever again, and have no desire to.

    I do want to believe in a universal Messiah. My stagename HeIsSailing reflects that desire if you understand where that name came from. I think maybe everyone sort of hopes for a Savior at some level. A frequent commentator at my old blog used to say that we must believe because the world *needs* a Savior. I would not go that far, but I understand that need for wanting a kind of salvation.

    I wanted to continue believing in Santa Claus even after I knew the truth. Fantasy has a certain power to it that is undeniably there for me, but hard to explain.

  • 8. agnosticatheist  |  June 16, 2007 at 12:45 am

    HIS,

    The Gospel story is a beautiful story, and the fabric of it is very plausible to me. If God exists, I expect him to be transcendent, perfectly holy and separate from us. I fully understand the ancient writers when they say we are sinful and imperfect beings next to a perfect Divinity! It makes sense to me that a holy God cannot accept us as imperfect as we are because it is against his nature. God cannot accept our sinful nature any more than water can mix with oil. So he sent a part of himself, The Christ named Jesus, to suffer and die to provide whatever mysterious mechanism that is required for us to join him in paradise.

    I used to think this but now, not so much. The more I think about it, if God is making the rules, why did he need a BLOOD sacrifice in order to forgive man’s sin? He could have just as easily accepted Cain’s offering. After all, God suppose to look at the HEART. Isn’t that what is important? Why would he need to die to appease himself? Why does it take me believing that God raised Jesus from the dead to be saved? Wouldn’t it make more sense to say, I realize I’m a sinner and I accept God’s help to change my heart? What does all the mystic stuff have to do with my actions? Me believing in a man dying on a cross and raising from the dead has nothing to do with how I live my life. Shouldn’t that be the important thing? God could just as easily forgive my sin if I have a genuine heart to follow him. Hell, to say Bob Tilton is going to go to heaven because he “accepted Christ” but Ghandi is going to hell because he didn’t is not a religion I want to follow.

    BTW, great post. It really shows our struggle and why we keep talking about Christianity. I have to confess that I still listen to Christian music :)

    aA

  • 9. Dave  |  June 16, 2007 at 6:40 am

    Great piece!

    I’d like to request permission to cross post this to ExChristian.net.

    If that’s a possibility, let me know. Thanks! CLICK HERE

  • 10. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 16, 2007 at 7:50 am

    HIS,

    I think I’m stuck at this point:

    “That is the dilemma. Do I continue to be a Christian who pretends all is well, or do I follow my convictions and leave what I know is not true? I figure if there is a God, he knows my heart and knows I do not believe. So why pretend? It seems honesty is more noble then putting up a front of piety.”

    I’m not sure how to get out of it. It’s like a spiritual depression or something.

  • 11. HeIsSailing  |  June 16, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Noogatiger sez:
    “So God could accept our sinful nature if he wanted to, easily. He could make water and oil mix if he wanted to. He could decide to bring everyone to paradise if he so desired.”

    agnosticatheist sez:
    “The more I think about it, if God is making the rules, why did he need a BLOOD sacrifice in order to forgive man’s sin? ”

    Oh yeah, I agree with both of you. The Gospel is a beautiful story to me on the surface. Wow, God loved me THAT much! But the more I think about it, the more implausible it gets.

    If you want to watch a Christian squirm, ask the following question: As God is the standard of ‘goodness’ and what defines sin, does he define that standard himself, or is he bound by that standard due to some outside agent? Either choice presents problems to the Christian. If God sets the standard for sin he sets the rules for atonement. He can atone any way he wishes, thus no need for a sacrifice. If he is bound by some outside agent, he is not omnipotent.

    That paradox in itself makes the logic of the Gospel implausible to me.

    ****************************
    superhappyjen sez:
    “I don’t want to believe in God, but I do want to be awed. I want to look at something unexplainable and be filled with awe.”

    Being filled with awe and wonder is part of my worship. Do you know that I am still filled with that sense, even without the presence of God? I have to write an article about it soon.

    **********************************
    MysteryOfIniquity sez:
    “I think I’m stuck at this point:
    I’m not sure how to get out of it. It’s like a spiritual depression or something.”

    Don’t get me wrong! I am not at all depressed. I just contemplate and wonder sometimes. I just figure that I cannot believe in God (especially God of the Bible) any more than I can believe in Zeus. You or I cannot be forced to believe in anything that is otherwise mythical. So why pretend? If God is really reading my thoughts, he knows I don’t believe. And I have peace with that.

    ***********************************

    Dave asks:
    “I’d like to request permission to cross post this to ExChristian.net.”

    Sure, thanks. It is not much of a de-conversion story, but you can print it there at ex-christian.

  • 12. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 16, 2007 at 9:55 am

    HIS,

    I wasn’t saying you were depressed. I was saying I was spiritually depressed because I’m stuck at that point also! :-)

  • 13. HeIsSailing  |  June 16, 2007 at 10:09 am

    MOI,
    I would like to know more about spiritual depression and your other thoughts on this. I guess this is something I can relate too. Maybe you can write an article about it soon. If you already have, can you plant a link here?

  • 14. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 16, 2007 at 10:17 am

    HIS,
    Sure! I probably have written about it at some point. To me, it’s a bit like being manic (from what I’ve observed in my manic friends). You are spiritually high one minute and cursing God the next. I attribute it to detoxing, much like alcoholism. I suppose it would make a good post. Hmmm. Let me ruminate.

  • [...] 16th, 2007 In a recent post here HeIsSailing offered this wonderful glimpse into his soul: But I want to believe. I want to believe that there is hope for us here on earth, comfort for the [...]

  • 16. Karen  |  June 16, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I tried to cling to Christianity while not believing in the “fundamentalist/conservative aspect of Christianity” and failed. For me, once my former beliefs started to collapse, it just kept going until the building totally crumbled.

    Exactly the same thing for me. Once that foundation crumbled there was no way the rest of the building would stay standing. I know people who find ways to “jerry-rig” the structure and keep believing after they’ve undergone substantial changes to their beliefs, but for me there was no functional way to do that, and perhaps more importantly, no real emotional desire either. I would have felt like I was fooling myself once I recognized what I did about beliefs and evidence in general.

    HIS, I really empathize with your dilemma. I too went through a period of equal parts fear (of hell) and grieving. Thankfully, perhaps due to my personality traits, it didn’t last long. Maybe a year to 18 months, and then I really found my out of it. I think other people continue to grieve and feel that loss for much longer, which is perfectly understandable when you think about all the time, effort and energy you put into believing, but by all accounts it does dissipate over time.

    I like BlackSun’s contribution. (If you want to read an amazing deconversion story, check out his blog sometime!)

    I don’t want to believe in God, but I do want to be awed. I want to look at something unexplainable and be filled with awe.

    Jen, study astronomy and biology and physics (there are plenty of popular books and blogs on the subject, you don’t have to be an expert) and spend time in nature. I assure you, you’ll be filled with mystery and awe – not that god created all this, but that our universe is absolutely stunning and there’s still so much about it we don’t understand. And then think about where we were in terms of our knowledge just a couple hundred years ago, and where we’ve come just thanks to discovering the scientific method and you’ll be doubly awed and amazed.

    At least, I am! :-)

  • 17. hc  |  June 17, 2007 at 2:21 am

    Great post. My first steps away from Christianity were similar to those described here. Even as a child, I struggled to answer my own questions in a way that would preserve my faith. Around the age of nineteen I began to study a bit about Judaism, to which I considered converting. I read a particular piece of literature that suggested that one of the main differences between the two faiths was the appreciation of this life as opposed the next. It referenced some of the martyrs of the Christian religion, so quick to throw away their lives on earth for the paradise beyond. When illustrated this way, I saw the allure of Christianity so clearly. So tempting to never suffer the consequences of your mistakes. I couldn’t return to the Christian faith, yet occasionally I still feel fear and discomfort in the pit of my stomach at times, especially when I think of my grandmother, who passed away last year. However, I only have to think back to her funeral, when a man told us a story that made me sick: he went to her nursing home at the height of her terminal illness, and questioned her faith in Jesus because “he’d hate to see such a wonderful woman burn in hell.” If I hadn’t turned from the faith prior to that, his self-righteous speech would have done it in right then. Although I am agnostic, I too hope I can somehow spend eternity with my beloved grandmother… if there’s no room for true love without religious posturing, then I don’t want to believe in a heaven.

  • 18. HeIsSailing  |  June 17, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    hc sez:
    “Although I am agnostic, I too hope I can somehow spend eternity with my beloved grandmother… if there’s no room for true love without religious posturing, then I don’t want to believe in a heaven.”

    You nailed it, hc. When my very old grandpa died a few years back, don’t think I did not wonder about his fate after he died. He was a huge influence on my life, a great man, and a Roman Catholic. Which in my church meant you were just as good as an atheist. But men in their 80s do not convert, and he was happy with his beliefs, but I still was afraid for him.

    DAMN!! All the energy and frustration and worry spent over the years worrying about the eternal fate of my loved ones!! What a waste!! It just is sickening, and I almost feel ashamed of myself for allowing myself to be led down that path for so long!!

  • 19. Heather  |  June 17, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    **All the energy and frustration and worry spent over the years worrying about the eternal fate of my loved ones!! What a waste!! It just is sickening, and I almost feel ashamed of myself for allowing myself to be led down that path for so long!!**

    This makes me wonder how many questioning Christians are still ‘in the fold’ and not leaving for this very reason. If you’ve been in this mindset for twenty years, or even ten, leaving it would have to be terrifying because it can make your (general you, not you-you, HIS) life seem like a waste. Especially since the religion would dominate how one views the world.

  • 20. Anonymous  |  June 17, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    DAMN!! All the energy and frustration and worry spent over the years worrying about the eternal fate of my loved ones!! What a waste!! It just is sickening, and I almost feel ashamed of myself for allowing myself to be led down that path for so long!!

    This is when the “anger” phase of leaving the fold starts to kick in. There’s fear and depression and denial and anger, plus a few other stages. I think the process compares to the seven stages of grief (was it 7?) articulated by Elizabeth Kubler Ross.

    Which makes sense, considering how much time we’ve devoted of our lives to this belief system.

    This makes me wonder how many questioning Christians are still ‘in the fold’ and not leaving for this very reason. If you’ve been in this mindset for twenty years, or even ten, leaving it would have to be terrifying because it can make your (general you, not you-you, HIS) life seem like a waste. Especially since the religion would dominate how one views the world.

    I know at least a couple people who have quietly deconverted but still attend church and haven’t outed themselves even to their spouses. They are afraid of the censure and disappointment of their family and friends.

  • 21. HeIsSailing  |  June 17, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Anonymous commenter sez:
    “I know at least a couple people who have quietly deconverted but still attend church and haven’t outed themselves even to their spouses. They are afraid of the censure and disappointment of their family and friends.”

    I still attend Catholic mass with my wife, but she is fully aware of what I do not believe. I just use it as a time to be with her in quiet meditation, and I am fine with that. 1 or 2 of her friends know, most of the others do not. I draw the line at partaking in the bread and wine. I will not participate in that ritual anymore.

  • 22. hc  |  June 18, 2007 at 12:44 am

    “DAMN!! All the energy and frustration and worry spent over the years worrying about the eternal fate of my loved ones!! What a waste!! It just is sickening, and I almost feel ashamed of myself for allowing myself to be led down that path for so long!!”

    I definitely don’t think you should be ashamed of yourself. It’s natural to worry about those you love; if it isn’t religion, it’s that they aren’t eating healthily, etc. The problem occurs when one puts a greater value on someone’s lifestyle choices than on that person’s character. In this way, religion compels people to see others not in terms of accomplishments, humility, and integrity, but in how associating with said person will affect their afterlife. In my eyes, the worry and concern you extended to your family member was a sign of your affection, no less and no more. At the heart of it, a noble gesture, and you were with him in his time of need.

    “I still attend Catholic mass with my wife, but she is fully aware of what I do not believe. I just use it as a time to be with her in quiet meditation, and I am fine with that.”

    Do you feel at all uncomfortable in this sort of situation? It is my sincere hope that someday there will be a nonreligious community service establishment, where one can both devote time and money to the community, and study culture and theology without claiming one as superior to all others. But for now, my husband has been talking about finding a church. He is for the most part aware of my beliefs, and accepts me. I don’t want to take Christianity away from him. As unappealing as I find religion, he finds comfort in it. Knowing that you, HIS, can be accommodating and generous in this way makes me think I should do right by my husband and humor him. Do you find that you have to censor yourself when talking with the congregates? This is my main reservation. I was hoping you might share a bit about the experiences you’ve had at church as of late. ~warm regards~

  • 23. HeIsSailing  |  June 18, 2007 at 8:43 am

    hc asks:
    “Do you feel at all uncomfortable in this sort of situation?”

    No I don’t, but everyone’s situation is different from mine. We had a home Bible study that I hosted, but I disbanded it several months ago. That was just making everything worse. We do attend Catholic mass about every other week. She leads the small choir once per month, so I just take it as a chance to support her, and hear her sing – and I enjoy that.

    I promised my wife that I would not discuss her beliefs on the internet, so making a reply to your questions is kind of tough, hc. I’ll just say that she has beliefs very different from mine, but she has them mostly because of tradition. Her religion forms part of her cultural identity. When I left Christianity, she was confused as to why, and many discussions and many tears later, we are both comfortable where we are at. I assured her that I do not love her, and I did not marry her because of her religious beliefs, and even though I left Christianity, that would not change who I am. We promised to respect each other’s convictions, but we also promised to keep open minds and not stonewall. We have both kept those promises and our marraige is very strong.

    hc sez:
    “I don’t want to take Christianity away from him. As unappealing as I find religion, he finds comfort in it. ”

    Oh yeah, I understand and agree with you. Just because I left Christianity does not mean I am out on *another* mission field to convert my wife away from her beliefs. I think we are going to end up in the same place after this life, so what is the point of conversion? I love her for who she is and would not change a thing. I hope you view your husband in the light also.

    hc continues:
    “It is my sincere hope that someday there will be a nonreligious community service establishment, where one can both devote time and money to the community, and study culture and theology without claiming one as superior to all others. ”

    I would like to try skipping Catholic mass once, and instead go to the Old Folks Home for those two hours. It would be nothing fancy, just go for a visit. Some of those people just love to share stories of their lives with anyone who will listen. If they ask what church I am from (the administrators always do), I will proudly say “none”. I tried doing this several times when I led a home bible study, but nobody really shared my enthusiasm for it, and the plan always ended in a bust. It was so maddening that these folks would rather read a few verses from Matthew 6 for the umpteenth time than go out and live them! I still have that conviction, and I think it would be a fine alternative to church. I would like to try it a few times and maybe have some old church friends join us too. It seems a fine alternative to attending a religious service on Sunday morning.

    hc asks:
    “Do you find that you have to censor yourself when talking with the congregates?”

    No, but I don’t go out of my way to express my views. If they ask, I will tell them. Recently, a family member accused our marraige of being illegitimate because I was no longer Christian. I tried my best to explain my position, but I confess I was pretty upset. Thanks for the questions and thoughts, hc. Maybe I will write an article about some of my experences since leaving Church, but like I said it is kind of tough since it all involves my wife too, and I don’t want to get her involved in this too much. Writing about leaving relgious convictions when spouses and children are involved is pretty tough.

  • [...] us to have faith in the truth—not in a lie, correct? As HeIsSailing said in his blog entry, “I want to believe” and a reflection of my own thoughts in this regard: “Belief without evidence is faith. Belief [...]

  • 25. Tookshire  |  June 18, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t get it…perhaps there’s a nuaince to what you are saying that I’m missing because I do believe…but other than the desire for inclusion, what exactly are you wanting to believe for? What would be the purpose of the inclusion? Standing inside a faith doesn’t make one any more included/accepted (believe me, those with faith can claim minority status and illtreatment as well).

    Being Berean isn’t simply enough, in my opinion, if taken at our current “church” definition and understanding. Anyone who has been even slightly introduced to creed world views (not necessarily accepted or as a “believer”) is already – and I realize this is my opinion, but I hold the opinion because I believe I’m correct – being dupped and unable to be Berean simply by a study, even of a scholarly level (vs simply reading on one’s own). (Sorry there’s a lot of noise here and it’s difficult to keep track of words.) Basically all the terms, thought processes, interpretations and definitions have been presupposed because said individual has, even at rejection of the final outcome, has completely bought into Constantinian processes. While I don’t think it impossible, I find that a doubter or an anthiest would have a difficult time with Faith (forget the Christian branding) in the God of Abraham because within the Christian mindset (no matter what denomination) almost everything about the God of Abraham has been removed, replaced, distorted, etc. so of *course* things would seem off kilter. But not, IMO, any more off kilter than a mindset or worldview of someone without faith.

  • 26. Merdeen  |  June 19, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Hey HelsSailing,
    I think a post about “Awe” and “being Awed” would be great. If you do write one I’d be sure to read it, whatever the aspect of it :)
    I often find myself in awe of nature type things. It’s lovely when it happens.

  • 27. curtis  |  June 26, 2007 at 9:44 am

    HeIsSailing-

    “It was so maddening that these folks would rather read a few verses from Matthew 6 for the umpteenth time than go out and live them! I still have that conviction, and I think it would be a fine alternative to church. I would like to try it a few times and maybe have some old church friends join us too. It seems a fine alternative to attending a religious service on Sunday morning.”

    I just want you to know, that I am a Christian, and I FULLY agree with you on this statement. Your insight on this matter is SPOT ON and I think that you probably have a better understanding of what following in the way of Jesus is about than most people who call themselves Christians do.

    Let me ask you this: if there were other people, like me, who shared your opinion concerning this, would you want to be around them? Even if they were Christians? Because if so, then in my book, and in my understanding of the Bible, that would be The Church.

    Great blog!

  • 28. Heather  |  June 26, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Curtis,

    ** if there were other people, like me, who shared your opinion concerning this, would you want to be around them? Even if they were Christians? ** I would answer this with a whole-hearted yes. Those that show a concern for others, have a great peace about them and who listen, are kind and compassionate are wonderful to be around. It’s living out one’s faith, as opposed to just talking about it.

  • 29. LeoPardus  |  September 21, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    HIS
    Criminy man. Another awesome post. I do so identify with what you say here. While I don’t share all the same objections to Christianity that you do, I would still love to believe. (And I’m sure my wife would like that too.)
    BTW, did you have kids to deal with in all this? That’s a problem for me.
    I don’t even know what the folks at church would say once they knew. Not so sure I really want to know.

  • 30. HeIsSailing  |  September 23, 2007 at 5:16 am

    LeoPardus:

    Criminy man. Another awesome post. I do so identify with what you say here.

    Funny – I wrote this article 7 or 8 months ago as somebody who was currently undergoing a de-conversion, and I just now re-read it. Wow. My attitude has surely changed since then. While I do miss much of the Christian .. .. culture, for lack of a better word, I cannot say I miss believing the faith anymore. My wife and I are both following different spiritual paths, but we both understand each other the best that we can. Above all, we communicate, and are not afraid to talk about this kind of stuff with each other, and it makes it all easier to deal with. I don’t miss it much anymore, I have to say. It is like the pain has eased, and I am getting more comfortable in this new paradigm.

    BTW, did you have kids to deal with in all this?

    No, and in that sense I am lucky. I did not have kids to drag around during all this. I still sometimes attend Catholic mass, and even get involved in some of their non-evangelistic missions to Mexico (I live mere minutes from the border). But nobody needs to know my real beliefs. It is just not on my agenda. Only one or two people in my current church know, I keep it all to myself, and it works that way.

  • 31. LeoPardus  |  September 23, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Interesting. I’m keeping it to myself except for my wife and two people. She wants to see that it “sticks” for a year or two before I go public with it. I think if she understood, she’d know I wasn’t going back without a bona fide miracle or some such. But I think she’s afraid to face that herself.

    Funny the ways folks go. You don’t miss it much after 7-8 months. It’s been about a year since I gave up on it all. I still want to believe as you put it. But of course I can’t. ‘Cause it just ain’t true.

  • 32. hmm  |  April 9, 2008 at 8:42 am

    18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say,

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
    and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”[e]

    20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

    24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles,[f] Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

    26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy[g] when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world,[h] things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

    30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”[i

    maybe we have a responsibility as thinking beings to analyze and question our beliefs before we accept them… but maybe we’re lost, you know? this passage is about accepting that God’s wisdom is greater than ours. how can we question something that is greather than us? isn’t faith about kneeling in submission, not to a tyrant who demands blood and complacency, but to a Wisdom far greater than our own– the Wisdom of untainted, unconditional love.

  • 33. The Apostate  |  April 9, 2008 at 11:35 am

    this passage is about accepting that God’s wisdom is greater than ours. how can we question something that is greather than us?

    You know, God’s wisdom could be and should be greater than ours. But God didn’t write the Bible. God should also show himself to be more moral and mature than us. If you have read any bit of the Old Testament, he seems just the opposite. Yahweh’s nearest competition for morality is Zeus and for maturity, Loki.

  • 34. ex-seminarian  |  June 11, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Enjoyed the discussion. I likewise love many aspects of certain forms of Christianity but ultimately found them to be something I was trying to force myself to believe. I’m a bit of a “persona non grata” to many of my old Christian friends– but I could never go back. It is so freeing to have stopped trying to make myself to believe things that are most likely not true.
    The usual things– God ordering the deaths of children in the OT, conflicting commands and precepts in Scripture, the dogmatism with which different Christians hold to such divergent beliefs were all big contributors to my “apostasy.”

    I also felt very much at odds with trying to have an attitude of humility while holding dogmatically to beliefs that were unverifiable and disputed among multitudes of different Christians across the milennia. “Pascal’s wager” does not consider the anethemas of so many Christians (and non-Christians) against each other! Being any type of Christian makes you a damnable heretic to another– authenticity trumps it all.
    There are around 35,000 Christian denominations currently in existence– many, many more have come and gone. Most experts conclude that there are about 10,000 world religions (again, not counting the multitudes of faith systems and beliefs that have come and gone). Why then should we hold so dogmatically to matters of faith?

    John Henry Newman quipped that 10,000 difficulties do not make a doubt. They sure should though! I wish I could “start over” sometimes and never become a Christian– but I’ve learned so much about humanity in general and myself in particular in the process. I’m just glad my change came no later than it did . . .

  • 35. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    wow.

    I like you.

    I see you have questions and doubts. No one can fault you for that. The church has done a piss poor job of wrestling with God as Jacob did in the desert. They tapped out and settled for what I call a “Lazyboy God”, one on which they can recline if the questions get too hard to answer.

    I have to say… is it just the pure unlikelihood of Christ rising from the dead that makes you doubt? Or do you have “empirical proof” that He didn’t? There are a lot of witnesses to that story, you know…

    And there’s a growing number – myself included – of believers who reject the traditional doctrine of hell. When Jesus spoke of hell, He almost always spoke of literal places, like “Gehenna” and “Sheol”, or the “Gates of Sheol”, anyway. I think his point was they were in danger of a miserable life.

    Question: is it a kind of hell to be forgiven… and reject it all of your days?

  • 36. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    jakecollier says:

    I like you.

    Thanks. I wrote this article nearly two years ago. It was a very scary and emotionally tumultuous time in my life. In a way, I still do want to believe. But I have also matured a little since this I wrote this – in the sense that I am at peace with leaving Christianity.

    I have to say… is it just the pure unlikelihood of Christ rising from the dead that makes you doubt?

    yup.

    Or do you have “empirical proof” that He didn’t?

    I have as much proof that he Jesus did not rise from the dead that you have proof that Muhammed did not take a night from Mecca to Jerusalem astride a Buraq with the angel Gabriel (Qu’ran 17).

    There are a lot of witnesses to that story, you know

    No there aren’t.

  • 37. jakecollier  |  June 23, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    1 Corinthians 15:6 – After that [(being his death and burial)], [Jesus] was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

    This is scripture, so your current “bent” would probably have you believe this is a detail fabricated by Paul, but the best evidence we have of events or happenings are the primary sources who record them. Perhaps if I’d have said, “there WERE a lot of witnesses to that story, you know”, you wouldn’t have been so quick to disagree.

    Just for the record, the Quran cites no group of witnesses to “The Night Journey” in chapter 17.

    However, it makes no difference at this point. Some will believe, some won’t. Either way, “enjoy your journey”.

    -j

  • 38. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Tacitus (c. 56–c. 117), writing c. 116, included in his Annals a mention of Christianity and “Christus”, the Latinized Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. In describing Nero’s persecution of Christians following the Great Fire of Rome c. 64, he wrote:

    Nero fastened the guilt of starting the blaze and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius 14-37 at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.[55]

    R. E. Van Voorst noted the improbability that later Christians would have interpolated “such disparaging remarks about Christianity”.[56] For this reason the authenticity of the passage is rarely doubted, but there is disagreement about what it proves. It has been controversially speculated that Tacitus may have used one of Pilate’s reports to the emperor as the source for his statement that “Christus” had been crucified by Pilate.[57] Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman wrote that: “Tacitus’s report confirms what we know from other sources, that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, sometime during Tiberius’s reign.”[58] Others would say it tells us only what the Christians in the year 116 believed, and is not therefore an independent confirmation of the Gospel reports. For example, historian Richard Carrier writes “it is inconceivable that there were any records of Jesus for Tacitus to consult in Rome (for many reasons, not the least of which being that Rome’s capitol had burned to the ground more than once in the interim), and even less conceivable that he would have dug through them even if they existed … It would simply be too easy to just ask a Christian–or a colleague who had done so … there can be no doubt that what Pliny discovered from Christians he had interrogated was passed on to Tacitus.”[59]

  • 39. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Jake, I am very familiar with 1 Corinthians 15. Can you explain to me how this claim of 500 unknown eyewitnesses can be verified? Can you explain to me why I should take it at face value?

    Joe, I am not sure I understand the point of comment 38. Could you elaborate?

  • 40. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Joe, I am not sure I understand the point of comment 38. Could you elaborate?

    Actually, since that was a cut-n-paste job from a wikipedia article (Historicity of Jesus), can I ask that you elaborate in your own words?

  • 41. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    HelsSailing—-

    I just randomly picked one historian from the second century, writing in 116 A.D., who mentions Jesus and his crucifixion in association with the Christians that Nero put to death.

    Now, I believe it is very historical that Christians were put to death in Roman arenas—and there is plenty of graffiti and other writings that show crosses and fish symbols, etc. in early Rome. Christians were definitely put to death for believing in Jesus Christ—and this just 50-60 years after he “supposedly” walked the earth.

    Did all of these people simply “make up” a character who never existed—and yet his existence would have been only 60 years before the time of Nero (A.D. 64)? Would the Apostles have “made up” a character, that whom, if they believed in him would lead to their very deaths? John was the only apostle not martyred. Would anyone die for someone that never existed–no–of course they knew him and walked with him. 11 men committing virtual suicide for “making up” someone they said existed? And all those in the short time afterwards killed by Nero and other emperors?

    So, my point is there were witnesses—and these witnesses passed on what they had seen. Also, much of this was such “common knowledge” that it didn’t even need to be repeated. They were some obscure “religious cult” to many of the writers of the time. They expected Christianity to fizzle out just as had many “self-confessed” messiahs of the day. But none of them denied that Jesus existed—many of them just didn’t mention him, because to them he was nothing of importance.

  • 42. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    HelsSailing—-

    Of course it was a cut and paste. I don’t know enough about Tacitus to write a thesis. LOL There is enough evidence Jesus existed. The President of Iran is trying (60 years later also) to say the Holocaust never happened, and some people (much of his own country) actually believe him!! Despite much evidence to the contrary. And why? Because they refuse to believe it actually happened. And this is happening in modern times.

  • 43. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Joe, I have no doubt Christians were put to death. I have no doubt of the Roman persecutions. I have no doubt Christians of the time believed Christ to be a savior and/or god (depending on what you want to call a Christian).

    Nobody is arguing that.

    I will argue this though…I keep hearing this from Christians:

    Would the Apostles have “made up” a character, that whom, if they believed in him would lead to their very deaths? John was the only apostle not martyred.

    I have heard this ‘die for a lie’ argument repeated for *years*. Just a simple question – how do you know how any of the apostles died? Can you cite sources how/when/where under what circumstances *any* of the 12 apostles were martyred? Thanks.

  • 44. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Joe Sperling:

    There is enough evidence Jesus existed.

    Again, nobody is arguing that. Jake was referring to the supposed resurrection of Jesus.

  • 45. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    HelsSailing—-

    I have to take the word of ancient church fathers like Origen as to how the Apostles were martyred of course. Accept for James, whom Luke in Acts says was “killed with the sword”. It is like many historical figures—-we take the word of historians, or early writers that some of these men existed.

    I do have to say this though—when I hear of someone saying “Jesus never really existed”–and they in effect are saying there was/is a conspiracy to say he existed when he was a fabrication, I think of the conspiracists of today——

    There are those who say we never landed on the moon, that there was no holocaust, that the USA helped with 9-11, etc. etc.—-and they try to do this with blatant information to the contrary available. And many believe them!!!

    So, when a small group of people (not surprisingly, atheists) say someone who obviously existed, did not exist, I take it with a grain of salt, and think of those other groups. Christians are committed to believing something, I agree, but there are those who are also committed to not believing, and will go to great lengths to prove that someone who obviously existed was not real. of course, and I realize this, it is a never-ending argument. But it is very cool to see both sides of the story though.

  • 46. Joe Sperling  |  June 23, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    HelSailing—-

    Again, nobody is arguing that. Jake was referring to the supposed resurrection of Jesus.

    Well, of course. Those who died for him said they saw him after his resurrection. That was their whole message. Those who believed did so for also believing that Jesus rose from the dead. So the existence of Jesus is deeply rooted in whether he was resurrected or not—-it’s more important than his literal and historical existence. Again, would you die or even come close to dying for a story you and 10 other guys “made up”? Would you allow yourself to be beat up for a story about some dude who rose from the dead, even though you knew it wasn’t true? Who knows—maybe you would. But it seems awfully doubtful that they would go to that extent for a story they knew was a lie.

  • 47. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Joe:

    do have to say this though—when I hear of someone saying “Jesus never really existed”–

    Joe, you are moving the goalposts. Nobody here is arguing that Jesus never existed.

    I have to take the word of ancient church fathers like Origen as to how the Apostles were martyred of course.

    No you don’t. You can easily investigate this stuff yourself. Origen and Turtullian spoke of Peter’s martyrdom in Rome. What was thier source of information? They referred to legends that you can read about yourself. You can check out the same legends that they did and see for yourself if they are reliable sources of history. The Acts of Peter, The Acts of Peter and Paul, The Acts of Paul and Thecla, etc.. are all available online.

    These non-canonical works are the earliest references that we have to the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul. Again, I urge you to read them before you claim that they died as martyrs rather than deny their faith in the resurrection of Jesus.

    That is just the alleged martyrdom of Peter. I will leave it to you to find out information on your assumed martyrdoms of Thomas, Barthalomew, Matthew, Andrew, Nathaniel, etc…

  • 48. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I have to take the word of ancient church fathers like Origen as to how the Apostles were martyred of course.

    OK, just what did the ancient church fathers say about the circumstances under which the Apostles died? Do you know? You are bringing up the ‘Die for a Lie’ argument. Can you back it up? Or are you going to take the word of your favorite Christian apologist, unchallenged?

  • 49. HeIsSailing  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Joe, do you want to know why I harp on these points so much?

    Because I know these arguments did not convince you to become a Christian – just as they did not convince me to become a Chrisitian – just as they do not convince anybody to be a Christian. I am willing to bet you were a Christian long before you heard the ‘die for a lie’ apologetic, or any other apologetic argument.

    As a Christian, I looked at this ‘die for a lie’ argument as an apologetic, and I asked the same questions of it that I asked you. I heard this argument from the pulpit and from Evangelistic books for years, but I finally started to do my own investigating. I asked myself if the assumptions behind the argument had any validity, and after researching, I concluded they did not. The fact is, nobody knows how/when/where or under what circumstances any of the Apostles of Jesus died. They’re supposed martyrdom for the Faith is pure legend.

    The ‘die for a lie’ argument simply has no basis.

    I critiqued countless apologetic arguments just like this one – all your favorites – I examined them as thoroughly as I could.

    In the end, I am convinced that nobody ever converts because of Christian apologetic arguments. People convert because of Faith or conditioning. They learn apologetic arguments later to somehow justify their beliefs. But those apologetics are not why Christians believe. Neither will those apologetics convince people who do not already believe.

    That is why, as I state in this article, I wish I could believe. But I just cannot. I have found that there is just no good reason to.

  • 50. HeIsSailing  |  June 24, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Joe,
    if you are still reading this, here are two very good articles on this very topic. Sorry, I should have posted them earlier. But you should read them. You need to know why that popular Christian apologetic argument is so bad:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/05/die-for-lie-wont-fly.html

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/06/how-did-the-apostles-die.html

  • 51. DagoodS  |  June 24, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Joe Sperling,

    The problem with relying upon the church fathers for verification of the tradition on how the disciples died is that the church fathers contradict. By what method do we choose which portions to believe, and which portions to not? (In fact, they contradict as to the disciple’s travels, and ways in which they died.)

    Christian apologists pick and choose only those few words or phrases which support their position. They ignore the problems of all the phrases and words which contradict their position. They are lying to you by not telling you the whole truth. (Quite ironic when the argument is premised on people not dying for a lie, isn’t it?)

    Take the merry-go-round of Clement, Peter, Tertullian and James. Clement was one of the first Popes in Rome (the lists of the Church fathers vary as to which number he was.) His papacy started sometime in 88 – 92 CE and ended in 99 CE. During that time he is credited with writing 1 Clement.

    An important document (especially in this argument) since it states Peter and Paul were martyrs. (Note: It is possible that “martyrs” meant people who suffered for their faith and held strong confessions, but for our purposes, let’s presume it meant death.)

    Therefore we have Clement saying Peter died sometime before writing 1 Clement. However, Tertullian indicates Peter was still alive and ordained Clement as Pope (88 – 92 CE) This flies in the face of Peter being killed during a Neronian persecution (have to be 64-68 CE). (The Acts of Peter and Paul.)

    Worse, Church tradition has the letter of Clement written to James on behalf of Peter. But according to Church Tradition, James died in 63 CE at the hands of Ananus. Why would Peter be writing to James in the 90’s CE, when James was allegedly killed in 63 CE and Peter in 64 CE?

    So what Church father do you use to set a date for Peter’s death? Tertullian? (post 90 CE), The author of “The Acts of Peter and Paul”? (64-68 CE)? The Author of Clement’s Epistle to James (Pre-63 CE)?

    What you will find, if you start studying the tradition of the Church Fathers, is that they disagree quite a bit.

    HeIsSailing is correct – this apologetic never works on those of us who have studied it.

    (P.S. Nice choice of articles, HeIsSailing. I especially like that first one. *grin*)

  • 52. jakecollier  |  June 24, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Friend (HelsSailing)-

    “Jake, I am very familiar with 1 Corinthians 15. Can you explain to me how this claim of 500 unknown eyewitnesses can be verified? Can you explain to me why I should take it at face value?”

    That’s the point I made after I cited the verse. No, I can’t verify it. I can’t verify that the great flood happened, but it does make good scientific sense, at least in terms of a conclusion that can be drawn from the equivocal evidence.

    I also cannot cite eyewitness accounts of the Buddha achieving enlightenment. This does not change the fact that following Buddha’s teachings will lead to a very, very happy and fulfilling life. Obviously, there is some reason to follow Buddha. Obviously, there is some reason to follow Jesus.

    I will say, it takes a long, long time for a myth to develop, or a religion for that matter. The Jesus movement sprang up immediately, from a monotheistic belief system (unique in that day).

    Also, the bible does not embellish any crazy, hyper-emphatic details of the resurrection. Even though the pure idea of a man rising from the dead, appearing to his followers, and ascending into heaven is quite extraordinary, there’s nothing more listed in the scriptures than what’s necessary to state the “facts”, as we’d call them if we believe. Nothing more than reiterations of what the scriptures had prophesied.

    I do not believe you should take the scriptures at face value. I’m in agreement with Paul the Apostle about that. I’m so very glad that you don’t, because doing so is what has gotten Christianity this terrible reputation – this black dog that follows us around. It’s refreshing to run into people who know what they’re talking about, and wrestle with the word – or “The Word”.

    Please don’t stop. Continue. I hope I can experience more of it with you, and people like you.

    Grace and Peace. -jake

  • 53. Joe Sperling  |  June 24, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    HelsSailing—

    You are correct. I did not become a Christian from apologetics—I think that is a rare occurrence—C.S. Lewis being an example of a person lead to Christ through that form of persuasion (to begin with—it wasn’t the sole factor in his conversion).

    That is why, as I state in this article, I wish I could believe. But I just cannot. I have found that there is just no good reason to.

    This is the whole reason that neither of us could ever come to an agreement. You want to “see in order to believe”, but Jesus says “did I not tell you that if you believe you would see…” I believe Peter was martyred, not due to church fathers, but because of John 21 where Jesus tells Peter that when he is old others will take him where he does not want to go, “thus showing him what manner of death he should suffer…” jesus himself says Peter will be martyred, but John will not. That is good enough for me. But of course, that is because I believe the Bible. I should not take the time to try to “prove” anything, because it basically just cannot be done.

  • 54. Joe Sperling  |  June 24, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    HelsSailing—

    Just to add. When one drifts from “believing is seeing” to “seeing is believing” as a Christian, one has become blind as Peter notes in 2 Peter 1:

    If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Anyone who lacks them is blind and shortsighted, forgetful of the cleansing of his past sins.

    Peter is talking about increasing Grace, and one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When one fails to do so they become “short-sighted”, using human reason and logic to try to understand God, rather than the Spirit of God within. This shift is from “believing is seeing” to “seeing is believing”, and one is walking in the “natural man”, rather than the “new man”, and has become utterly blind to spiritual things, because he is pursuing the supernatural through natural means.

  • 55. DagoodS  |  June 24, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Joe Sperling,

    I would agree that John 21 is a strong indication Peter died a martyr’s death. (Of course, John being a late gospel was written after his death, making the “prediction” not so remarkable.) 2 Peter is even stronger support. The person who wrote that certainly knew Peter was dead, and wrote in such a fashion.

    But if you had read the articles linked, dying as a martyr is not enough for the claim “die for a lie.” Many, many people have died as martyrs. What you need is a person who claims to have seen a physically resurrected Jesus, AND was given the opportunity to recant in order to avoid death.

    Since we don’t have a clue as to how Peter died (and I previously pointed out, even the early church writers provide conflicting tales in that regard) simply knowing he did die is not enough to bolster “die for a lie.”

  • 56. dangerouschristian  |  July 31, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I feel you, HelsSailing.

    I too have issues with my beliefs such as blood atonement, hell, original sin, “one way” to God/Heaven myself. Even now, I’m having my own spiritual depression that’s shaking the very core of my beliefs.

    It’s a tough one, my brother. But you’re one of those few who is facing the abyss instead of running from it like so many of us.

    Peace.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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