Coming to Grips with Christian De-Conversion

August 29, 2007 at 8:19 pm 54 comments

A RoadI have recently been reading a couple books on addiction, grief and loss. I am doing this because of what I see as the lack of books, support groups, or programs which deal specifically with De-Conversion or Apostasy from Christianity. I have found several books which help one recognize when you are in a dysfunctional or manipulative religious cult of some kind or another, and they have been somewhat helpful. But how does one deal specifically with the loss that accompanies Christian apostasy?

And there is loss. I have been a Christian for my entire life, as far as I can tell. And while I truly am at peace without the threat of eternal damnation looming over humanity, I cannot go that that many years as a devout Christian and not feel a some kind of vacuum left over in my soul.

I don’t think that vacuum is the absence of God. Rather it is the loss of my weekly Bible study, the camaraderie, always knowing when your Christian brothers and sisters will be there.

But maybe I am wrong about that, or at least maybe there is more to consider. Maybe I do sense that absence of God. After all, I have recently come to the conclusion that my Savior, my Redeemer and Lord, Jesus Christ is in fact dead – if he ever existed at all. I worshiped that divine mirage for most all of my life. When a good friend has died, I feel loss. This is not quite as bad as that – but it is a similar sense of grief.

I ran into a couple from my old church just yesterday out in the grocery store parking lot. It was great to see them. I can only hope they are sincere when they say they want to try and see us again – to come visit at our new house. But what do I do when they see my bookshelf with my latest reading material? What do I do when they eventually ask me why I have not yet repented and returned to Jesus? I have no desire to recruit them into the ranks of apostasy! But I fear that after they see that I have really rejected the Jesus of Faith as a mythical god, I will lose them again, they will again prohibit their teenage kids to visit our house, and that cycle will continue.

I am lucky in that I do not have children going through this with me. De-Conversion really is like a divorce – a divorce from a large part of myself and a former way of thinking, and much like a divorce, I have to slog close family and friends right along with me. My wife, who was raised catholic and still practices that religion, has been tremendous, very loving, patient and a goldmine of wisdom. We listen to each other, and in the meantime we have challenged each other with our different beliefs. We have reached an understanding with each other that we both accept. But I also know that many leave Christianity only to drag a confused spouse along with them, and there is never a truce in the differing beliefs, much less a mutual understanding. It sometimes even ends in marital divorce.

In that regard I am lucky. But many apostate Christians are not. They have husbands, wives and children who are left confused. There is a loss. And there is grief. This is why I advice caution to those who are leaving the Christian faith. It is easy to get wrapped up and excited with any change in philosophy that has shaped your life. You may feel like you have discovered some hidden knowledge or something new and fresh! And while the discarding of former beliefs may be inevitable for you, remember that something has to fill that void that used to be filled with a Christian faith. Choose wisely, slowly and cautiously. There is no rush. Go slow, and evaluate along the way. You do not even have to discard your faith completely. Some become atheists. Some hold onto a vague conception of God. Others change into other esoteric forms of belief. Whatever you do, you are moving through a period that will change, not only your life, but your family’s lives as well.

This is the point where I am at now. I am no longer a Christian, but in a way I miss the childlike beliefs and worldview I once had. Maybe there is some kind of god, but right now I am of the opinion that I will never know for sure. So I am stuck in a godless, morally neutral universe, and I am on my own with coming to grips with that reality. In one sense, that is exciting, empowering, liberating, and even, dare I say, spiritually awakening! At has been a grand new world of discovery for me and seeing my life with a whole new perspective! On the other hand, I have to deal with the fact that God is not there to guide me, he is not there to direct me, or to love me, to gently chastise me when I need correction. There is nobody there to answer my prayers when I need help, or advice, or comfort, or wisdom. All my life, what I took as that presence of the Divine was really emotion and hope and wishfulness welled up deep inside me, and I am just now realizing that. I am on my own – it is time for me to ‘put away childish things’ and grow up.

I know this article maybe depicts me as gloomy and maybe overly sensitive. I admit that I do dream, I do wonder and get lost in my thoughts, – but I am far from gloomy. I love life, I love what I have been given, and I love to laugh. It is just that my life has changed recently because something was taken away from me that likely never existed in the first place. It is sometimes hard to come to grips with that.

I wish there was a better way for me to deal with this. For now, I talk to my wife, a couple of friends, and write dopey articles on this website. But there is no easy place to meet with others like I did at my Baptist church. There is no ‘First Church of the Apostate’ here in my town. Maybe I could be the founding pastor, eh?

Enough about me. I need your thoughts and experiences.

-HeIsSailing

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On what basis do Christians reject other gods? Is the Bible Historically Accurate?

54 Comments Add your own

  • 1. keelyellenmarie  |  August 29, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Coming to grips with the whole thing is hard. It took me months before I could say out-loud to myself “I don’t believe in God,” because I felt like I was losing so much. I actually found that once I said it, I felt so much free-er, a burden of guilt I’d carried for the last few years as my faith grew too hard to justify was finally lifted. Its still hard, because I miss the closeness and the thankfulness involved in worship and church… I think it is good for people to celebrate the beauty of the world, of other people, and the goodness in their lives, and I think ideally, that is supposed to happen in church. But church involves so much other crap, and you just can’t get that feeling there unless you can make yourself believe, and I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I almost wish there was a place I could go once a week with a bunch of like-minded friends and instead of being thankful to a god that doesn’t exist, we could just celebrate what we have. Because that is what thankfulness and worship is–happiness or celebration focused in a certain direction. I’d like to put the focus back on the people and things that actually make life worth living… not some imaginary man who supposedly does.

  • 2. astudent  |  August 29, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    HeIsSailing,
    You said,
    “And there is loss. I have been a Christian for my entire life, as far as I can tell. And while I truly am at peace without the threat of eternal damnation looming over humanity, I cannot go that that many years as a devout Christian and not feel a some kind of vacuum left over in my soul.”

    The Bible which is the authority on Jesus and Christianity says,
    “even now many antichrists have come, They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (Excerpts from 1 John chapter 2)

    So the truth as stated in the Bible is you never were a Christian and you almost admit it to yourself when you say, “as far as I can tell”. Then you do admit it, “It is just that my life has changed recently because something was taken away from me that likely never existed in the first place.” That something is Christianity. You deny Christ therefore you are an antichrist. I have no idea what is troubling you, unless it is doubt.

  • 3. karen  |  August 29, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    I am no longer a Christian, but in a way I miss the childlike beliefs and worldview I once had.
    All my life, what I took as that presence of the Divine was really emotion and hope and wishfulness welled up deep inside me, and I am just now realizing that. I am on my own – it is time for me to ‘put away childish things’ and grow up.

    Wonderful post, HIS. You are really on a roll lately! :-)

    I think the points I quoted above are the crux of the matter. Yes, it is time to grow up. It’s interesting how religion paints the believer as a perpetual “child of god,” isn’t it?

    Growing up is tough, there’s no doubt. You’re responsible for your own actions and there’s no divine hand “working all things together for good.” Things can go terribly wrong for no reason, and that just plain sucks.

    On the other hand, becoming a grown up has a lot of privileges. I look back on my childhood with a certain nostalgia, and with sadness for all the people I loved who have died, but I wouldn’t want to go back and be a child again. The time for that is over, just like the time for childish faith is over for me. And I can live with that – as I’m sure you’ll find a way to do also. It definitely gets easier over time.

    The good news? That still small voice in your head was YOU, all along. And you’re still there! You have the strength and courage and wisdom inside yourself – you don’t have to rely on magic to summon it up. That was a very empowering realization for me.

    Remember Dumbo, and the magic feather? What he finally realized is that he didn’t really need it – he could fly all along just fine without it. :-)

    In terms of the purely practical, have you thought about visiting a Unitarian church or joining a humanist or secular organization? There are places where nonbelievers meet to support and encourage each other. I don’t feel the need for that in my life just now, but it’s nice to know those groups exist if I’m ever in a place where I would like to have one.

  • 4. Thinking Ape  |  August 30, 2007 at 12:05 am

    astudent, do you actually believe what you write? I suppose Frank Graham was never really a Christian. By the way, could you please lecture us on what a “Christian” is?

  • 5. StaCeY  |  August 30, 2007 at 4:23 am

    LOL “first church of the apostate”

    That is probably the ONLY church I would fit into…
    as I believe I would be considered apostate by just about
    EVERY single belief/non belief system under the sun.

    After more than 10 years of devoted
    catholicism/christianity….
    I left not only the church(es) itself…
    but my 10 year paid position as pianist there.

    When I say they couldn’t PAY ME to go to church…
    I put my money where my mouth is.
    It was making me so ill….
    I had to leave my job.

    I’ve been out of church for over 3 years now…
    but I am more in love with my celestial Father…
    my Life in God… than I have ever been before.

    I HATE church and religion…
    yet my whole life is an adventure in God’s Glory.

    What does that make me?

    Have I de-converted or not?

    Am I christian?
    I’m utterly astounded with the NEW symbolisms
    and meanings I see in Yahshua’s life and recorded words…
    since I started listening for meaning from within … instead of listening to pastors, doctrines, councils, etc etc etc.

    Am I athiest?
    I am anti/without- theism… I think? Is theism God? or religion.

    What does that make you…
    when you love God…
    and hate religion?

    On second thought…
    I’m not sure even the first church of the apostate would have me.

    and your articles are not “dopey”.
    I appreciate your candid honesty.

  • 6. HeIsSailing  |  August 30, 2007 at 6:26 am

    astudent sez:

    So the truth as stated in the Bible is you never were a Christian and you almost admit it to yourself when you say, “as far as I can tell”.

    The ‘as far as I can tell’ was a reference to how long I was a Christian, not whether or not I was a Christian. Just to clear that bit up.

  • 7. astudent  |  August 30, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Thinking Ape,
    What are you thinking about? A Christian is someone who believes in Jesus Christ!!!!
    How can you even ask such a question? Don’t you even know what you oppose? Yes, I do believe what I write. At least I understand the basic questions about what I am writing. Or perhaps you meant what does a Christian do and just didn’t think out your question.

    HeIsSailing,
    You say, “The ‘as far as I can tell’ was a reference to how long I was a Christian, not whether or not I was a Christian. Just to clear that bit up.”
    I understood what you meant. At the risk of repeating myself: the Bible which is the ultimate authority of Christianity, as that is where the term originates, states that those who leave Christianity were never Christian in the first place. You say you were Christian and left the Church. The Bible says you were never Christian in the first place. Before you get mad at me remember I didn’t write the Bible. But as I think more on the subject, you have no one else to get mad at, as you do not believe there is a God, so you can’t really get mad at nothing: can you?

  • 8. girlwithnoname  |  August 30, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Wow…thanks for that HelsSailing. I am much like StaCey. I have walked away from Christianity because I don’t believe Jesus came to save us from sin like the “church” does and I don’t see God like christianity portrays it. It is difficult. There are things that I have let go of that make me sad to some degree, but the freedom I have experienced and feel now wipes away any regret or doubt of where I’ve come. I can’t go back. I am not a christian and I am not an atheist. God is not a being in space…to me God is real…expansive. I do see beauty in so many things and I now have hope for my life right here and right now. That didn’t exist in a christian way of thought (to much hatred). It is depressing and well, just so full of crap. My spouse worked for the church. Thankfully…he doesn’t anymore and we are so excited together for what our lives can be without it!! It has been a different experience for me because I have had three very close friends to walk through this with. But isn’t that the cool thing about cyber space now? You don’t have to be alone in your loss (which might really be your gain) or your thoughts…you have a place to put them. Thanks for letting us share.

  • 9. Heather  |  August 30, 2007 at 10:40 am

    TA,

    By the way, could you please lecture us on what a “Christian” is?

    If we want to get technical, I would actually say that a Christian is someone who is Christ-like — aka, acts like an/the Anointed one. Which I’ve always found interesting, because in today’s times, the word is used for a belief in the Anointed one alone. BEhavior kind of seemed to be removed from the meaning of the word, even though the meaning seems based on behavior alone.

  • 10. Thinking Ape  |  August 30, 2007 at 10:40 am

    astudent

    Thinking Ape,
    What are you thinking about? A Christian is someone who believes in Jesus Christ!!!!
    How can you even ask such a question? Don’t you even know what you oppose? Yes, I do believe what I write. At least I understand the basic questions about what I am writing. Or perhaps you meant what does a Christian do and just didn’t think out your question.

    So the demons that were cast into the swine were Christians? Not only did they “believe in Jesus Christ,” but they were a lot more obedient than most Christians I know.

    I do know what I “oppose.” It is only through knowing Christians and a thorough knowledge of Christian theology and scripture that I can no longer consider Christianity a valid belief system.

    And so back to my question, what is a Christian? You say it is someone who believes in Jesus Christ. What does this mean? For the Bible says even the devils believe. I believe Jesus existed, taught and died, similar to what one of the Christian fathers, Origen, believed. Yet you continue to think that because your KJV messed up and said “because of your faith,” you actually have no clue what the early Christians believe – nor the teachings of your founder.

    So what is a Christian? Maybe you should look at what Jesus, who is called Christ, taught. Or maybe I may as well call you a follower of some twisted interpretation of Paul.

  • 11. Thinking Ape  |  August 30, 2007 at 10:40 am

    P.S. it is Jesus’ faithfulness in God’ that saves, not your faith in Jesus.

  • 12. lostgirlfound  |  August 30, 2007 at 10:50 am

    StaCeY … I think “girlwithnoname” says it best when she talks about not needing to define or put lables on “where” we are. (and if she didn’t say it here, she’s said it in our conversations!)

    You said:
    What does that make you…
    when you love God…
    and hate religion?

    It makes you a thinking human being who has chosen a spiritual path to help you define your life and existance. And it’s OK … if God is who he says he is, maybe his Kingdom is bigger than any organized religion is ready to admit.

    HelSailing, Karen is right … you’ve been amazing these last few weeks! Your vulnerability and articulation of this “journey” has helped sustain me through a very tough time. Thank you

  • 13. Heather  |  August 30, 2007 at 11:12 am

    HIS,

    know this article maybe depicts me as gloomy and maybe overly sensitive.

    I think this depicts you as wise. This isn’t something you’ve rushed into, and you seem to be analyzing this as objectively as possible. This does sound exactly like a divorce/death, or even a situation where one partner has dramatically changed, to the point where the other partner doesn’t recognize the person s/he first married. And you’re also seeing that de-conversions don’t just affect those de-converting. It sends out a lot of ripples, and does cost you friendships/connections.

    In a way, I think I’m more fortunate. I’ve always been “lost,” according to my evangelical friends, so there hasn’t been that strain on the friendship, or the fear of me dragging them down with me. But I do know that the friendship is difficult sometimes, because there’s a connection that you aren’t a part of (and for you, anymore). It’s like the whole “outside looking in.” THere’s always going to be that block, because religion is such a huge part of their life, and I have different beliefs. And while I’ve to discuss Christianity, given how much I know about it, there’s also a part of me that wonders … what if I say one too many things that makes them start questioning “wrong,” and then makes then de-convert? It wouldn’t just be the friend I’d affect — it would be their entire family. So your story has reminded me about being carefully with what I say, because I kind of feel like I could “destroy” something.

    In an odd way, though, I’m finding similarities between this and the novel “Peter Pan.”

  • 14. karen  |  August 30, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    HIS, you make a good point about the lack of support groups for people questioning or leaving their faith. I help moderate an online support of that nature – exit-fundyism at Yahoo!groups – but it would be a wonderful thing to be able to have real-life meet-ups, wouldn’t it?

  • 15. mahud  |  August 30, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Great article, and not gloomy at all ;)

    I appreciate the advice about the effect changing your beliefs can have on family and love ones :)

  • 16. Stephen P  |  August 30, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    “astudent”:

    What are you thinking about? A Christian is someone who believes in Jesus Christ!!!!
    How can you even ask such a question? …

    At the risk of repeating myself: the Bible which is the ultimate authority of Christianity, … states that those who leave Christianity were never Christian in the first place.

    Well, make your mind up. Was someone who believed in Jesus Christ, and then changed his mind and left Christianity, a Christian or not? First you say he was, then you say he wasn’t.

    The more I discuss with apologists, the more I get the impression that the prime qualification for being a Christian is a serious inability to identify contradictory statements. (I’m sure that’s not literally true, but I come across it awfully often.)

  • 17. astudent  |  August 30, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    Thinking Ape,
    OK, you got me. It was an oversimplification on my part. I have used the same example of the pigs. To believe can mean, as most words do, many things. The demons knew who Jesus was so it can be said that they believed in Him. However they would not accept what He said, or said a different way; though they believed in who He was they did not believe Him. As far as obeying they asked to be cast into the swine. Jesus only let it happen. (Mark 5:12&13 Luke 8:32)
    A Christian is someone who believes he, or she is a sinner, in need of a redeemer, and that redeemer is Jesus Christ. One who understands and accepts that no one will inter Heaven with out accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    You said, “Yet you continue to think that because your KJV messed up and said “because of your faith,” you actually have no clue what the early Christians believe – nor the teachings of your founder.”
    No man knows what another thinks. If you want to say that in your opinion, I have no clue, it would be true, but the way you say I have no clue is dishonest and deceptive. You don’t know what I know and I don’t believe you have any interest in finding out.

    You said, “Maybe you should look at what Jesus, who is called Christ, taught.”
    Now you know I have. My posts are there for all to see. Perhaps you should look at what Jesus taught: looking for truth and understanding instead of some way to twist what He said in order to bolster your view.

    Also, “P.S. it is Jesus’ faithfulness in God’ that saves, not your faith in Jesus.” If that were true everyone would be saved. It’s not though.

    Stephen P,
    “The more I discuss with apologists, the more I get the impression that the prime qualification for being a Christian is a serious inability to identify contradictory statements.”
    The more I discuss apologetics with atheist, the more I get the impression that the prime qualification for being an atheist is a serious inability to understand a simple statement.
    “Those who leave Christianity were never Christian in the first place.” They never believed. It is possible to do everything a Christian should do without believing in your heart (mind). Said another way the person didn’t “change his mind”, because he didn’t believe in the first place.
    It is not something I made up. It is written in the Bible.

  • 18. marie  |  August 31, 2007 at 1:07 am

    HiS, yet another great post!

    You did such a great job of describing what it is like to de-convert–the conflict and all.

    It has taken me a while, but I am becoming more comfortable without God. I am actually fine without praying to a god now, I still dont really worry about the future even though I dont believe God is in control. I can’t explain it, but somehow things have just become more free and easier. I think it will come to you too.

    And all I guess I would say to “astudent” is that you don’t get it. And you wont. Your heart and mind are not where ours is, just as our hearts and minds are not where yours is. We honestly de-converted…you honestly believe. You cant convince us otherwise, just as we can’t do anything to directly change your mind. This site is about de-conversion, you are welcome, but you just will not understand.

  • 19. HeIsSailing  |  August 31, 2007 at 11:05 am

    keelyellenmarie, karen, StAceY, girlwithnoname, lostgirlfound, mahud, and marie thanks for your replies. kellyellenmarie especially mirrors my own feelings and experiences with this issue – and I want to thank all of you for your own perspectives.

    I just got back from the desert where I ran with my dogs. I was seriously considering what it would be like to found the ‘1st Church of the Apostate’. Well, it is fun to dream about, but I know it will never happen. My wife will stop me when she considers what kind of people a church of that name will attract!!

    Heather, to me, you have the most interesting perspective of all. You have never experienced this radical paradigm shift in your worldview, rather viewed it all as an outsider. Yours is a very unique outlook, that is for sure.

  • 20. HeIsSailing  |  August 31, 2007 at 11:09 am

    And I guess I have to address astudent – who does not offend me when he claims I spent the last 40 years of my life lying to myself and everyone else around me. But I have to ask you, astudent, you can imagine I was never a Christian, I really don’t care what you think of me, but why even make that claim to me? Why do you even bother with the accusation? What does it prove? Is it supposed to make me smack my hand against my forehead, and say, ‘doh! 40 years down the drain! I never was a Christian after all – I guess I’ll try again’?

    exChristian: I used to be a Christian. I left the faith.
    Christian: You are deceived! You were never a Christian!

    Seriously, what is the point of even bringing that up? Is it in any way edifying or correcting? What purpose is it supposed to serve? In what way is an accusation like that intended to make me react?

    I have been accused of ‘never being a Christian’ several times now, every time by Christians themselves – some of them my own friends who should know me better than that. Not one Christian, not ONE has ever asked me why I left the faith. Not in person, not online, not even from my closest Christian friends. I have been lectured at with apologetic arguments by my old pastor, but he never asked me why. I would appreciate that simple question from any of my old friends, but I have never gotten it. It seems instead, that they are quick to accuse and slow to listen.

    Since I was never a Christian, is asking why I left the faith moot?

    Seriously, are you a Christian reading this? It seems so absurd a question, but I cannot believe I am asking it, but I am genuinely curious. Why tell ex-Christians that they never were Christians?

  • 21. ESVA  |  August 31, 2007 at 11:53 am

    HIS: With regard to comment #20. I am in the process of de-converting from a Wesleyan Christian perspective. Wesleyans do not hold the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Therefore, they believe that it is possible for one to “leave the fold,” etc., a process or event they call backsliding. My guess is that those people who are saying you were never truly a Christian come from a Reformed perspective, which holds “once saved, always saved.” I can understand how it must be difficult for them to believe that one can believe oneself to have been saved, then lose the faith.

    The key phrase in that last sentence is “believe oneself to have been saved.” You undoubtedly were a sincerely believing Christian, just as I was. But you and I, and many others, realize that believing something doesn’t make it true. We know now that we never were “saved” because such a state does not exist, nor backsliding – all of it only makes sense within the construct belief systems of Christianity, not in the real world. In an odd way, your critics are right – and so are you.

  • 22. Dr Stewart Hardlypie  |  August 31, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Leave go the talking points, study the Word, and may you discover eternal damnation and the cold amoral universe (flip side) are merely the coinage of a despising mind. Best wishes!

  • 23. secular_humanist  |  August 31, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    I do remember when I last believed in God. I was three years old and I had obviously been told of an omnipotent being. (It’s far too long a story to tell.)

    When I was taught of Jesus in sunday school, I did believe that someone named Jesus had lived and I liked the loving side of the messages. I never believed that Jesus was the son of god, born of a virgin, died for our sins (even that most of us sin much at alll), or that Jesus rose from the dead.

    Reading your post, I realized that I had spared myself a lot of anguish because I grew up without any need for those beliefs.

    I’m not sure whether it’s a coincidence that I decided in early childhood that I would never smoke, and never did.

    I hope that your friends are “christian” enough to remain your friend despite your change of beliefs.

  • 24. Justin Davey  |  August 31, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    May I recommend Pascal Pensees?

  • 25. Jon F  |  September 1, 2007 at 12:13 am

    HiS,
    Re you last comment, I found that even when I chose no longer to attend church (loooong before I then decided to completely give up on christianity) even then the contact with the other church members dropped away really quickly. It’s a club, and you’re but only as long as you play by the rules. No-one ever asked me why I was no longer coming to church let alone (later on) why I ever gave up on christianity! Why? Who knows?
    Jon
    PS: How are you getting along reading “Conversations with God?”

  • 26. karen  |  September 1, 2007 at 12:39 am

    even when I chose no longer to attend church (loooong before I then decided to completely give up on christianity) even then the contact with the other church members dropped away really quickly. It’s a club, and you’re but only as long as you play by the rules. No-one ever asked me why I was no longer coming to church let alone (later on) why I ever gave up on christianity! Why? Who knows?

    I had the same experience. I was a member of the same church for nearly 20 years but when I stopped going that was about it. The only people I still hear from are the missionaries who send me “prayer letters,” i.e. solicitations for financial support. Sad commentary, huh?

  • 27. Stephen P  |  September 1, 2007 at 3:25 am

    I had drafted a reply to “astudent”, but decided not to post it. I think Marie is right – he is (at present) beyond reasonable argument.

    HIS: I find it amazing that not a single one of your old friends asked why you left. And yet it does tie up with what I seen claimed by numerous other writers: that Christianity (or religion in general?), particularly the more conservative variants, is somehow correlated with a severe lack of curiosity. Conservative Christians apparently want simple answers; they don’t to want to understand; they don’t want to have to think.

    And one more point to HIS: you mentioned the lack of books offering support to de-converts. Have you considered trying to fill the gap yourself? You have the background, you have the writing skills. And I think you have here a group of people who could help with proof-reading and could offer suggestions. Of course only you know whether you have the time.

  • 28. astudent  |  September 1, 2007 at 6:39 am

    Marie,
    Much of what you say is true. We are not going to change each other. I have to admit that I search my own reasons for commenting and I think the main reason is I don’t understand why atheists are atheists. I was an atheist and I became a believer, and there are many things that atheist say that don’t make sense to me and they should as I can still think much the same way as an atheists thinks, but I am learning.
    Most of you are relieved and feel free from religion. I didn’t understand, but now I think I do. I say that you are not free from Christianity, because the manual on Christianity says you never were Christian, but you are free from religion. You are free from living a lie. I am not trying to be disparaging and I don’t mean you are liars, I just mean that you were living as if you believed and yet did not, so I understand why you feel free.
    Perhaps it is pressure from well intended believers that causes some to live a lie and I don’t want to add to it. The only reason that I feel compelled to comment is that you seem like you are trying to influence others, but that probably is not a bad thing if they do not really believe. God doesn’t put pressure on anyone to believe Him and neither should I, so as far as de-conversion, I’ll try to keep my comments to myself.

    HIS,
    We don’t ask why you left, because you don’t believe and you say so. Why ask? Isn’t that the reason? Well just so I don’t make the mistake you think we all make, why did you leave?
    We say you never were Christian because the manual that we believe in says it. No man knows what another thinks, unless they attempt to tell the other, but I don’t have to know what another believes about de-conversion when the manual on the subject they claim to be de-converted from says they could not have. That is why we tell you that you never were Christian.
    Personally I find some joy in the concept that you were never Christian because there is hope for you yet. You are a nice guy, but even if you were my worst enemy I would want you to turn to God.
    Well I said, I’ll “try” to keep my comments to myself. You can see that it is difficult for me.

  • 29. Ardegas  |  September 1, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    I can relate to what you’re saying, HIS, but I have 7 years of being freethinker, and those gloomy feelings have faded away. There is some nostalgia, though.

  • 30. Thinking Ape  |  September 1, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    astudent,
    We don’t ask why you left, because you don’t believe and you say so. Why ask?

    The problem is that your MO is not to ask. You accuse. Congratulations on being a stereotype of so many things people cannot stand about people who call themselves Christians.

  • 31. astudent  |  September 2, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Thinking ape,
    Your first words to me were, “do you actually believe what you write?”
    Now you say “I” accuse???
    You’re a lot of fun. Half the time you sound like Don Rickles and the other half Don Knotts.
    I really like constructive criticism.
    You know, when someone listens to the other and then says something that makes sense? Well, I guess not.
    There is hope for you though, perhaps you will evolve and then you can become a thinking human. We are a lot better at it you know (well may be you don’t) (no you really don’t).
    Congratulations on being a stereotype atheist. I didn’t even know there were “ape atheist”!
    Ape atheist and human atheist all sound the same-slam the Christian- don’t consider what the Christian says, just slam the Christian, but at all cost slam the Christian.
    The funny part is, even when you don’t think about what is said you attempt to present yourself as wiser by trying to ridicule Christians. You don’t even have an idea of how ridiculous you sound; and not just to me, but to the whole world!!!
    You see, you’re wrong again. As you can see, I’m not a stereotype Christian at all. I can be just like you. How do you like it?

  • 32. Mike  |  September 3, 2007 at 12:55 am

    Just for the record, I happen to really like the contributors to this website, even if we disagree on our theology. So Thinking Ape and anyone else that contributes here, if you guys are in St. Louis and you want to have a beer and shoot some pool, drop me a line.

  • 33. StaCeY  |  September 4, 2007 at 5:04 am

    I think this week I have finally come to the sobering realization that I truly have become de-converted of christianity.

    I love God with every ounce of my being…
    as my very being is in Him…
    and Yashua intreigues me now more than ever…

    but my understanding of Him…
    what His Life and teachings were all about…
    what it all meant… and means for us…

    is so COMPLETELY off the map of
    mainstream christianity…
    that it really is a game to even call myself
    “christian” any more.

    and I am simply growing tired of always feeling like I need to
    qualify every little thing I say….
    so as to affirm that I am still a disciple of Jesus…
    as I reject one by one ,
    all the major doctrinal tenants of the “Jesus” the churches are presenting…
    this Jesus of the “mainstream”.

    If others don’t see the Christ in me…
    is it my job to “convince” them of anything?

    So what if others feel it necessary to pin their own
    “alternative” labels on me?…
    in the abscense of my “christian” one.

    It doesn’t change who I am…
    and it doesn’t change my deep life in God.

    So why then is the whole idea so hard to come to grips with.

    I know I will be losing people soon.
    Who will love me now?

    I don’t fit in anywhere.

  • 34. HeIsSailing  |  September 4, 2007 at 6:52 am

    STACY, I would love to know what you believe now, or how your beliefs have evolved. Can you give us an idea?

  • 35. StaCeY  |  September 6, 2007 at 12:31 am

    HeIsSailing…

    Thank you for extending yourself in interest of my “story”.
    I’ve been a bit down… feeling a little lonely lately…
    perhaps focusing a bit too much on the “disconnect”.
    Wanting vital, sympatico relationships with others…
    but not really finding it.
    I would have responded sooner, but I simply couldn’t.
    Tonight I have plenty of quiet time to myself.
    I will dig deep to try and give you an idea.

    Sooo…. What do I believe now?
    What did I believe before?

    It’s so much easier to say what I believed before…
    because it was all “pre-packaged”.
    I bought into the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic church for about 10 years…
    up until about 4 years ago.

    But before I came out of the RC church…
    I came out of the world.

    That maybe is a little harder to explain.

    When I saw (after 9-11) that the church, all the churches, were “in bed” so to speak with the whole world system…
    every belief I had held to….
    quickly began to unwravel, like a runaway ball of twine,
    down a steep hill.

    The last election of GW…
    marked the end of my churchdom.

    What happened after that is a wild wild story.
    I have just started sharing my whole story in depth ,
    in audio on my blog.
    Part one will be up by tomorrow morning…
    if you’d like to hear. It’s 30 min worth of an
    introduction of my story.
    Haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet!
    This will be the first time I have had the courage
    to just tell the whole thing for real,
    without leaving stuff out…
    for fear of “christian condemnation”…
    and charges of witchcraft and heresy. sigh.

    Anyway…
    what I see NOW …
    is that Jesus/Yahshua
    was a MYSTIC AND A REBEL…
    in the cause of true freedom.

    Truly ONE with God…
    in communication and communion with God…
    teaching those with eyes to see and ears to hear…
    how to break free from the world system bondage…
    and enter into the REAL LIFE of co-creatorship in God…
    outside of the “matrix” veil.

    In the world… but not of it.

    The Kingdom of God NOW…
    within… in our very midst….

    I believe Yahshua spoke and taught
    in sign and symbol and in the “impossible”…
    in allegory and the metaphysical…
    for MULTIPLE reasons…

    These are the very ways that God himself
    taught me to hear and understand him…
    in LIFE itself… and impossible syncronicities…
    signs and symbolisms.

    The old testament also.
    allegorical… metaphysical… esoteric meanings
    all over the place.

    What I see now is that everything in physical existence…
    SPEAKS of spiritual truths….
    and differing truths and nuances…
    depending on the circumstances…
    and the observers involved.

    What I see now is that the 4 gospels ALONE…
    the story and teachings of Yahshua ALONE…
    WITHOUT all the paul/timothy crap thrown in ….
    WITHOUT all the ridiculous mainstream church explinations…

    the story and teachings of Jesus STAND alone…
    to give us enough info and clues…
    to move into the supernatural life of the Spirit…

    where the illusory rules of what is and isn’t possible
    begin to break down further and further…
    as we walk deeper and deeper into the “kingdom of God”…
    into the garden of life.

    Was Jesus the only one?
    I don’t know.
    Did others heal, disappear, walk on water,
    multiply matter, teleport, transfigure,
    read souls & raise the dead
    all on a regular and daily basis?

    Was the man a myth?

    I can prove nothing.
    But the teachings are all true….
    and the supernatural life is for real.

    That I can tell you for sure.

    Is God the Universe?
    Yes. … and the Universe is ALIVE….
    and we are alive in that very awesome
    UNIverse…. that is God Himself.

    that ONE VERSE…
    the union of word…
    word as creation of freedom or bondage…
    as we each decide.

    Outside of God…
    there is no life.
    We quite literally live in and of Him…
    He is the very fabric of our existence…

    and in his image…
    WE CREATE our own dreams and nightmares.
    our own unique heavens and hells…
    for both ourselves…
    and others.
    right here. right now.

    United with Him– heaven.

    Go it alone– I have been there and tried that….
    to the end of the dead end road.

    Does anyone here relate to any of this?
    I would love to discuss ANY of it.

    Thank you…
    Stacey.

  • 36. Jon F  |  September 6, 2007 at 6:30 am

    HiS,
    Much of what Stacey has described can be found the trilogy called “Conversations with God”. A must read!

  • […] I am moving forward, de-converting, and seeking new answers to the nature of God and Man. But don’t think for one moment that it […]

  • 38. HeIsSailing  |  September 6, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Hi Jon!
    I picked up a copy of ‘Home with God in a Life that Never Ends’, in what is touted as the last Conversion with God book. Is that one of the trilogy or a sequel? In any case, I picked this one up for a dollar at a yard sale a few weeks back.

    Well, I read it. Once I got past the fact that this ‘conversation’ is pure fiction, and instead looked at is as a kind of new Bible, or Revelation according to Walsch, I found parts of it quite enjoyable and uplifting. No, I did not take it all as 100% Gospel truth. I just read it with an open mind, as a way of thinking ‘outside the box’, and used it as a way to think of new ideas about God.

    I’ll be blunt – I diid find parts that were very good, but most of the conversation was plain old gibberish to me. But what I did take out, I found pretty challenging. God, however it is we conceive of God, is unknowable, however we choose to worship him in a variety of ways. I sometimes attend Catholic mass to focus on what may be a transcendent reality. I do it this way because I understand all the symbols being used, I understand the liturgy and the ceremony, and in that way I can concentrate on things outside myself and hopefully transcend myself for a short while.

    Do I really believe Jesus died for me? Do I really think I am eating his flesh, drinking his blood, or need salvation from my sins? No. But it is the only mechanism that I know of to focus outside myself, and ponder what may be a reality outside of me. I have a hunch that there are many Christians who are doing that, and don’t even know it. There are those who desire to worship God, even though they have no idea who God is – they just view God as unknowable, and use whatever mechanism available, like the Catholic mass, to enter into God’s presence. Not that they take it literally, neither do I. But just as a way to focus outside of themselves and enter into God’s (supposed) love.

    That is the main thing that I got out of the book. And that *is* challenging to me. I dunno, I think I may have just alienated not only the Christians, but the atheists here as well with that viewpoint. But I also attend Catholic mass to hear my wife sing, so I hope that excuses me in your eyes ;-)

  • 39. HeIsSailing  |  September 6, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Just one thing to add –

    In however way we choose to worship God, we are in fact creating God. We do create God in our own image. And we create God, or the Divine, or the transcendent in however way we wish – right now, I choose to do it with the Catholic mass. Man, this stuff is hard to explain – but I don’t believe in a literal God, but I use the mass to transcend into a place where God may exist. I create that God, and hopefully in the end it makes me a better person. That is what I take out of it.

  • 40. Jon F  |  September 6, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    HiS,
    OK, I’ll stop harping on about CwG! No, the book you read is not part of the original Trilogy. From what I have read elsewehere, it is really these 3 books that were the good stuff, with all of Walsch’s later books not really adding much that was significantly new. What I like about them is the fact that they provide a completely new model (or mythology if you like) of how to think about God and Man (if there is even in fact a difference), and the CwG model throws away sooooo many of the christian/biblical ideas that ex-christians gripe about, but then goes on the provide some very interesting alternatives. I see that as constructive. For me, we cannot directly access the reality of God and Man, we can at best construct a model. I would suggest you try and at least read Book 1 of CwG, as that is enough to get the main gist of waht he is on about.
    You’re a winner!
    Jon

  • 41. goldnblaze09  |  September 8, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I feel the exact same way about leaving the Catholic church. Although I never really believed in it, it was something I grew up with all of my life. I have just currently thrown it all away and although I am happier and more secure in my own beliefs now, I still feel an emptiness inside that hasn’t fully been filled yet.

    I know it will take time but I thank you posting this to reassure others who are still feeling a little lost during their de-conversion.

  • 42. DJH  |  September 8, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    I wonder if there’s any way to create “Apostates Anonymous,” is there?

    … Of course, the idea of a “12-step group” of people getting over religion is ironic, since the “12 steps” are almost all religious in nature. But I digress …

  • 43. girlwithnoname  |  September 9, 2007 at 10:16 am

    This is for StaCey
    Thank you for sharing a little part of your story and journey. I know how difficult it can be, but like I stated earlier I did have three very close friends walk along side with me in our de-conversion but I can’t say that we all de-converted (sometimes I think it was just me)…we just questioned together. About everything! So if you are all alone…I can’t imagine how much more difficult it is for you. So, I hope I am not breaking any kind of rules here on this site, but I want to offer my e-mail to you if you would like to share more or hear more of someone else’s journey that is very similar. So you know you aren’t alone…you do fit in! Please feel free to e-mail me at gwnnid@yahoo.com Seriously.
    This is for HelSailing
    I really like what you said here: “…but I don’t believe in a literal God, but I use the mass to transcend into a place where God may exist. I create that God, and hopefully in the end it makes me a better person. That is what I take out of it.”
    I think I get that. I know I keep saying this and I don’t mean to be exhausting, but I can’t say that I don’t believe in God altogether…but in a physical literal being…I don’t believe in that.
    What you said makes sense to me. Thanks.

  • 44. StaCeY  |  September 10, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Thanks GWNN.

    I would LOVE to share/hear more of your similar journey.
    While I do often feel like a misfit…
    (everywhere I go– lol)
    we don’t HAVE to feel that way with each other.
    Weather our journies are similar or not…
    if we are each living alive…
    and thinking for ourselves…
    there is ALWAYS something precious to be shared…
    and LEARNED from one another.

    We should be a source of joy for one another…
    don’t you think? We live in the midst of an incredible mystery!
    We should all be friends.
    If I have made anyone here feel alienated in their differentness… or in my differentness… I extend my humblest appologies.

    It really shouldn’t be so hard “coming to grips”
    with our splits from doctrine (doctor’in)…
    should it? de- “con”version is a good thing… is it not?
    Who wants to live out a “con” version of life anyway?
    (the “con” artists are running rampid.)
    We should never let anyone steal from us the (co) authorship of our lives.

    The Spirit of God moves as the wind….
    Let’s all be Kites!

    check your email…k?

  • 45. The de-Convert  |  September 10, 2007 at 1:14 am

    Also check out our community site & forum:

    http://www.de-conversion.org/forum/index.php

    Paul

  • 46. StaCeY  |  September 10, 2007 at 1:15 am

    HISailing…

    My thing in life now is creative spontenaity.

    The structured ritual of the RC church…
    was both the source of my comfort and my fear…
    for 10 years.
    (Quite the antithesis of “creative spontenaity”).

    I took the whole thing very seriously though…
    as I was seeking supernatural enlightenment there….
    in the church’s teachings, doctrines, sacraments…
    and you obviously are not.

    What I found eventually was just a cyclical merry-go-round
    that was making me ill. There was no relief until I just jumped off. I sat in the pews as an observer there for many months afterwards (after “leaving” the church)… as I continued on there as the paid pianist… until everything there that I had once seen as beautiful and true… sat before me… counterfiet… and controling… and downright bizarre.

    It was interesting though for that last season…
    as a detatched observer.
    God spoke volumes and volumes to me there…
    more then He ever had before when I had been a member.

    Funny… I didn’t actually enter into the supernatural life with God…
    until I was finally willing to ditch “church” and “doctrine” there at the end of my “religion” road.

    HIS….
    If God is speking to you in those pews…
    by all means … sit there…
    or if it is a place of self discovery for you…
    why not?! It is the in-doctrination that form-u-lates your life for you… that threatens to steal your freedom and individuality, not the simple act of sitting in the pews for the “sensory” experience of it all.

    Superstition can take many forms.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • 47. StaCeY  |  September 10, 2007 at 1:27 am

    (what I meant was… to judge your “pew” experience… just because you are there… gaining something personal from the experience of being there… would be superstitious and silly)

    While I dislike institutional churches by their very nature…
    I TRY not to make generalizations about the people who visit them. people “go to church” for all kinds of reasons. This is just one more example of how it is important that we GET TO KNOW ONE ANOTHER personally… instead of simply making assumptions based on appearances and labels.

  • 48. StaCeY  |  September 10, 2007 at 1:46 am

    Also check out our community site & forum:

    http://www.de-conversion.org/forum/index.php

    Paul

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ok… so I see the forum is labeled…
    “a community for religious apostates”

    That would in fact be me I guess.
    However I am in NO WAY an athiest
    (if by “theism” we mean an intimate God)…

    So I don’t know if my honest thoughts…
    will just serve to become a nusiance
    for the vast majority in the forum.

    While I myself am not out to “re-vert” anyone to the heart of God… I speak very openly of my love and interaction with Him/Her… and also the supernatural freedom I find in Y’shua’s teachings/life story.

    I want to be a friend to each of you. Not an annoyance.
    know what I mean? I’m really not so sure I belong in your forum. What do you think?

    Stacey.

  • 49. Mike  |  September 19, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    HIS,

    Just wanted to say how much I appreciated this article of yours. It’s well written and moving. The loss, the uncertainty, the new vistas opening before one are all in there, and I do so identify with them. Thank you.

  • 50. mewho  |  September 20, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    What a great discussion! I love the information age and I think we all should. These discussions would have gotten us tortured, imprisoned and/or killed during the Inquisition. Torture was used after 1252 when Pope Innocent IV authorized the use of torture for those who didn’t accept the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Go to YOUTUBE and type “church inquisition”. You’ll really appreciate the 21st century.

  • 51. LeoPardus  |  September 21, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Just looking at astudent’s accustaion that HIS was never a Christian. That being made obvious by the fact that HIS left the Faith. ..BUT.. What if HIS should return to the Faith and show that he was truly back and truly believing, and give a beautiful testimony of God’s grace in bringing him back into the fold?
    Of course the obvious response would be “HIS never really left the faith” :)

    Gawd, doncha luuuuv circular logic?

  • 52. Leslie  |  April 23, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I enjoyed your post. I spent my entire life being a Christian as well. I spent 10 years in a “christian cult” and it was that experience and the realization that not only was this cult abusive and manipulative but so was every church I had been in. This made me see organized religion for what it really is, a business.
    I went a step further and spent much time researching and soul searching as to whether god himself actually exists or if he was a made up being like Zeus and Thor… Well the conclusion I came to was that god and the idea of a supreme being is completely false.
    I know exactly what you mean by feeling a “vaccum” and I agree that it isn’t an absence of god but rather a void of activities and relationships that were once a primary focus. I think that my greatest struggle was anger with myself at being duped as well
    as a saddness for so much lost time.
    I really appreciate your addressing thia as I too have noticed how
    little material there is on this subject.

  • 53. Cthulhu  |  April 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    #31 astudent

    I’m not a stereotype Christian at all. I can be just like you. How do you like it?

    That’s funny – you sound like a whole bunch of ‘Christians’ I know. Arrogant and condescending to me. And as for your logic…please choose from the list at this link;

    http://www.theskepticsguide.org/logicalfallacies.asp

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Attention Christian Readers

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

de-conversion wager

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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