The De-Conversion New Years Sermon

January 1, 2008 at 3:20 pm 29 comments

As a Christian, New Years Day was always a very special day for me. It was the day I would turn my back on all the past mistakes of the previous year and pray that God would make me a better individual in the year to come. I forgot those things which were behind me and pressed on towards the prize of the higher calling.

ToastingHowever, now as a de-convert, I cannot simply forget any of my mistakes of the past year. It is my responsibility to make sure I deal with them in order to move ahead. I cannot simple “give them to God” and know that they have been cast into the sea of his forgetfulness where he and I would remember them no more. I cannot accept that that I can simply confess that there is now therefore no condemnation for those actions but if I deserve to be condemn, then I have to pay the necessary price.

Also, I cannot simply expect my invisible diety to help make me a better person, I have to make the choices to change areas of my life which I deem as needing improvement. In other words, the responsibility sits squarely on my shoulders. I have to admit that it was so much easier to give things to God than for me to accept now that they are my responsibility. Throwing away my crutch and standing on my own two feet is sometimes a difficult feat to accomplish.

God doesn’t have a plan and a purpose for my life. It’s up to me to determine what I want my life to be. God isn’t going to bless me if I pay my tithes to the church. I have to work for my living, spend and invest wisely.

God isn’t going to bring revival and change this world. I have to do what I can to make a positive impact on those around me. God isn’t going to provide for the needy and those less fortunate than I am. It’s my responsibility to do what I can to help others.

I have to exercise and eat healthy in order to be in good health. A man being whipped 2,000 years ago is not going to bring me miraculous healing. If I abuse my body, I will have to face the consequences. For those genetic issues I’ve inherited, I have to work hard to delay their impact on my health.

Overall, the bottom line is that my life is my own. Of course, there are outside influences and circumstances beyond my control that may impact my life. I can’t trust God to keep me under the shadow of his wings and keep me safe from all harm. There are no angels with charge over me to keep me in all my ways. Plagues may come near my dwelling. Pestilences may cause me fear. However, I have to use wisdom and be conscientious in my decisions. When I face difficulties, I have to find the strength to deal with them.

What do I want for myself in 2008? It’s up to me to chart my course, navigate the storms, and reach the the desired stopover point on my journey.

Happy New Years!

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Who, really, is a Christian? Christian Education or Indoctrination?

29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. JustCan't  |  January 1, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Well said, sir, and well thought out as usual. Happy New Years to you as well.

  • 2. the chaplain  |  January 1, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Excellent post to start the new year properly.

  • 3. Richard  |  January 1, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    The de-Convert-

    Beautifully, beautifully put! One of the most pervasive themes in the philosophy of existentialism, which has influenced me a lot (especially as I was leaving Christianity) is that of responsibility. As in, we are totally, utterly, from top to bottom, responsible for our lives.

    From the standpoint of psychotherapy, its amazing how much of our behavior can be understood to stem from a desire to avoid such responsibility, by blaming ones genes or upbringing or past or society or the devil or some other boogeyman, or, conversely, by passively expecting someone to rescue you. There is a saying: sometimes you have to accept responsibility for things youre not responsible for. In other words, you life is what you make it, no more, no less. One famous therapist, I forget who, used to deal with this issue by often interjecting, abruptly in the middle of a session, “Why dont you change your name and move to California?” His point was to remind his patients, vividly, that your life is yours to create, at all times, by what you do, and what you dont do.

    I think this is one of the central failings of fundamentalist religion: the view that responsibility should be outsourced to God. It doesnt have to be this way, in religion. In most versions of Judiasm, for example, “tikkun olam”, the repair of the world, is taught as one of the highest values, often expressed that we are to be “God’s junior partner” in the betterment of the world. Liberal Christianity teaches something similar. For my part, I regard this as the heart of ethical maturity, which I think is exactly what you were suggesting in your post.

    So I concur: Happy New Year/ Its Up to Us!

  • 4. Yobaba  |  January 1, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I will join in to say what an excellent essay The de-Convert has presented for the New Year. Responsibility is everything. However, shall we take this topic one step farther and say that, not only do we ‘own’ our mistakes – we can also take ownership of our successes.

    Belief systems based on fear are worthless, particularly when the same system gives the practitioner an ‘out’ through blanket forgiveness of wrong-doings. I suppose from a control standpoint, however, it is practical for religious leaders to be able to keep their followers fearful and doubting their own ability and self-worth.

    There is no reason to point heavenward when we accomplish something wonderful (whether that ‘something’ is a mere hit or even a grand slam homerun). As The de-Convert pointed out, the human concept of ‘God’, in whatever form, is neither tenderly nor vindictively watching over us. We, as humans, simply ‘are’. The evil we conceive of comes from within each and every one of us, just as does the good. We are capable of performing heinous acts, but we are also capable of greatness. Put another way, there is no devil sitting on our left shoulder to tempt us any more than there is an angel perched on our right shoulder to save us. There are no props. We simply ‘are’.

    Believe in yourself and take ownership of the inherent good that you can accomplish. Good or bad – you are the only one who is in control of ‘you’.

  • 5. child of god  |  January 1, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    As one de-converting, you sound as though you are closer to god now than ever before. The problem with being a Christian is you believe in Christianity, i.e., just another man-made religion. Personal responsibility is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus. He never relieved anyone of that. The religion that has grown up around the cult of his personality is a sad thing, because if one focuses on his teachings solely and ignores the rest, he laid out a blueprint for a better world, one in which we do participate, hand in hand with the father that he spoke of, to make life better for all: no religions, no governments, no crime, no poverty, love and truth governing all. That’s why he was murdered. That is the ideal. The reality, well, you know what that is. I don’t have to explain it. However you think, that is what your life will manifest. It all starts with a thought. If you believe god won’t help you, then for you, that is how it is. I am a former Catholic, a former atheist, a former occultist, a former heddonist, a former evangelical, and now simply a child of god, in that order. It’s been a long, strange trip. But it wasn’t until I learned that my thoughts were the culprit that kept me from being prosperous, healthy, and knowing god’s love for me and experiencing it, that things changed for me. It’s really quite simple. That is why I missed it for so long. Repentance merely means a change of mind, and you must keep your thoughts growing in the right direction. That is the talent we receive that we must cause to grow. We reason, therefore we are like god. Christianity is a mockery of the life of Jesus and is used to control people. Their personal pan Jesus won’t save you. He doesn’t exist. They didn’t even like to quote his teachings in the evangelical church that I once attended. They ignored him except on Easter and Christmas, that latter not even having anything to do with him. The real Jesus demands much more of us, and that is where your sense of personal responsibility for your life and the world will bring you to a better understanding of him, his teachings, and perhaps hope.

    “Religion is a defense against the experience of God.”
    Carl Jung

  • 6. JustCan't  |  January 1, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    cog:

    re·li·gion [ri-lij-uhn] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
    4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
    5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
    6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
    7. religions, Archaic. religious rites.
    8. Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one’s vow.
    —Idiom
    9. get religion, Informal.
    a. to acquire a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.
    b. to resolve to mend one’s errant ways: The company got religion and stopped making dangerous products.

    I’m afraid what you’ve described is still religion. I’m told every day that someone in my life is not religious, just has a personal relationship with Jesus. Religion is man-made, I’m told.

    This is simply not how the word is defined. We cannot change what a word means if we do not wish it to apply to ourselves. Instead, to take the label from us, we must change our behavior, or people en masse must decide that the word is defined differently. Certainly after reading your post, it would be more than probable that any honest reader would describe your belief system as a religion.

    But I do agree that religion is man made, if that helps at all. :-)

    JC

  • 7. Jersey  |  January 1, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    I hate it when people say “it’s God will” then go on to pray and ask him to change one thing for their own favor and benefit, Hypocrites!!

    Jesus had an idea, his own interpretation of the Law, and later generations spun a whole set of beliefs around it. (Think the movie “Dogma” as I say this.)

    God didn’t bring me to where I am or whatever, as it is impossible because in IMO there is no such being.

    I messed up, I paid for it. And no, none of this “God forgives you, but you must still live with the corporate punishments of that sin.” He either does or doesn’t, but can’t since such exists not.

  • 8. Saifuddin  |  January 1, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. Just stopping by… interesting post, thank you.

    -Saifuddin

  • 9. Rob  |  January 1, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Well said. In many ways, life is pretty terrifying and the freedom we have to live outside of a safe, self-contained system that tells us we’re not in control of our own destiny is double-edged. Our mistakes are our own, but so are the victories too.

  • 10. LorMarie  |  January 2, 2008 at 12:25 am

    To me, dealing with mistakes means learning from them and moving on. I’ve made some pretty dumb mistakes this past year. Not only will I deal with them, but I won’t allow myself to be saturated with guilt over them. Thus, I won’t live under any condemnation. I don’t see those biblical passages the same way that you do, but then again, I likely didn’t have the same experience. Whatever brings us the peace of mind is the thought we should follow.

  • 11. Lorena  |  January 2, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Personal responsibility is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus. He never relieved anyone of that. The religion that has grown up around the cult of his personality is a sad thing

    Well, that assuming that Jesus actually said and did what the gospels say he said and did. There is no reason to believe that the NT is more than pure literature, and that the writers took much liberty when depicting the man Jesus–like any other writer does when portraying any other person. The writing was done some 40 to 100 years after the man supposedly walked on the face of the earth. Much of what is written are second-hand accounts bound to be tainted by myth and after-the-fact reasoning that isn’t necessarily factual.

    Divine inspiration? Well, that can’t be corroborated, so in my eyes it isn’t a valid argument for the truism of the gospels.

  • 12. TheNorEaster  |  January 2, 2008 at 10:45 am

    God doesn’t have a plan and a purpose for my life. It’s up to me to determine what I want my life to be. God isn’t going to bless me if I pay my tithes to the church. I have to work for my living, spend and invest wisely. God isn’t going to bring revival and change this world. I have to do what I can to make a positive impact on those around me. God isn’t going to provide for the needy and those less fortunate than I am. It’s my responsibility to do what I can to help others.

    “God makes oranges. Not orange juice.” ~Rev. Jesse Jackson

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  January 2, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I cannot simple “give them to God” and know that they have been cast into the sea of his forgetfulness where he and I would remember them no more.

    Ah yes. The old “Alzheimer’s God” teaching. The doddering, old fool can’t remember your sins.
    Not even if you were convicted of them, and they are on file at the courthouse.
    Not even if you wrote them in your diary.
    Not even when you pray from your prison cell.
    Not even if they are written in the Bible.

    The doddering, old, *omniscient* fool just can’t remember them.

    What a dumbarse theology.

    Happy New Year to all who have been set free the knowledge of the truth (that we are on our own).

  • 14. societyvs  |  January 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Great post – and a happy new years to all associated with the de-conversion site!

    I think your point about responsibility is something lacking in the church to some level – a problem I think you rightly hit the nail on the head about. I say ‘cheers’ to a more responsible future.

  • 15. Techne  |  December 22, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I am a bit of a skeptic. I don’t disagree that we need to take responsibility for the events of life, nor do I think we should expect to escape the consequences of bad decisions. But the argument above would not stand up to rigorous scrutiny because it has some faulty logic. At the university in the 80s I was a philosophy major. We learned that you need to state your assumptions, then use tight logic to draw a conclusion you want. If the logic isn’t tight, you would fail. In order to develop a working philosophy, the premise is where you can take SOME liberty, but only to the extent it does not grossly violate established rational absolutes. I suggest readers think before they agree.

    If we remove the personal perspective and read this as a philosophical stance, here are some of the premises:

    * A rational person must take responsibility for mistakes
    * If God forgets something, we also forget it
    * Something beyond confession is required to escape condemnation
    * There is actually a price that can be paid to escape condemnation
    * A person must make choices to change his/her life
    * The individual carries responsibility for improving (side note: what about community? society? law? etc?)
    * It is easier to not take responsibility than to take responsibility for one’s mistakes
    * Taking responsibility can be difficult at times.
    * God is not going to bless you because of actions.
    * Individuals must work to earn a living.
    * Individuals must invest wisely to be responsible.
    * Individuals must spend wisely to be responsible.
    * Individuals must help those less fortunate to be responsible.
    * Individuals must eat properly and exercise to be healthy.
    * A man whipped 2,000 years ago cannot heal an individual’s physical body.
    * An individual must accept genetic based diseases
    * An Individual’s life is his/her own
    * There are things outside one’s own life that influence it
    * An individual cannot trust God for protection from all things
    * There are no angels to protect individuals from all harm
    * Plagues may come near an individual’s house
    * Pestilences may cause fear for an individual
    * Individuals must use wisdom to make decisions

    Well, that is a lot to ponder. The logic is not proper, but I think people can fill in the gaps to see where the argument is heading.

    In an attempt to move away from what the author THINKS God (and specifically Christianity) teaches, he ironically lands very close to a very solid christian theological position. IN FACT, EVERY ONE OF THESE PREMISES IS consistent with Christian theology.

    I find this to be a very Christian post. (Which may or may not be the intent and/or a problem) Just an observation.

  • 16. JJ  |  December 30, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    you’ve got to be kidding. The ultimate end of your philosophy is Neitschism of which I want no part. As Dewey in his book “From Thales to Dewey” stated “What do we do after we study all the philosophies? We go back and study them all over again or simply accept Neitschy’s concept of dread and die.” The only prospect you give for hope in your de-conversion is hope in this life and not the one to come. Sad.

  • 17. SnugglyBuffalo  |  December 30, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    The only prospect you give for hope in your de-conversion is hope in this life and not the one to come. Sad.

    Seeing as how there’s no evidence for any sort of afterlife, I think that’s a pretty good deal. What’s sad are people who are so completely unable to cope with death that they have to delude themselves into thinking they’ll continue living after they die with no evidence to support such a belief.

  • 18. LeoPardus  |  December 31, 2008 at 11:01 am

    The only prospect you give for hope in your de-conversion is hope in this life and not the one to come.

    It’s the only life you get. You’d better live it. Like SB said, it’s damn sad if you live for the next life, ’cause you’re gonna die and you’ll have missed the only life you had.

  • 19. Tit for Tat  |  December 31, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    It’s the only life you get.(Leopardus)

    Ah I see the fundy hasnt quite left you. You still use absolutes. I love my life now and think it continues ad infinitum, but like my growing from baby to old age, things just change. Nothing wrong with that. ;)

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  December 31, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    OK. I’ll modify it.

    It’s the only life you can count on. I happen to be fairly convinced that it’s the only one you get.

  • 21. orDover  |  December 31, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    I think JJ’s comment should be ignored simply because he/she cannot be bothered to spell Nietzsche properly. I don’t mean to sound rude, but that tells me that he/she either doesn’t know what (or who) they are talking about, or simply doesn’t care enough to pull out their philosophy reader and check the spelling of the man’s name.

  • 22. The Apostate  |  January 1, 2009 at 5:23 am

    orDover comments,

    I think JJ’s comment should be ignored simply because he/she cannot be bothered to spell Nietzsche properly. I don’t mean to sound rude, but that tells me that he/she either doesn’t know what (or who) they are talking about, or simply doesn’t care enough to pull out their philosophy reader and check the spelling of the man’s name.

    I understand how people can not bother, while purporting to be so infinitely wise, to misspell Nietzsche – even if it is several times in a paragraph. The reason we should, however, ignore JJ’s comment is because he takes a page from the late Francis Schaeffer’s book and decides to ridicule a philosopher without ever actually reading his works. For if he, JJ that is, had he would know that Nietzsche blasted the religions of Christianity and Buddhism for, ironically, leading people down a life of nihilistic destitute and meaninglessness. He explicitly stated that Buddhists were the most nihilistic of all, with Christianity not far behind – but the sheer number of people who claimed to follow a life of self-proclaimed slavery to a bloodthirsty and schizophrenic god simply astounded him.

    If Nietzsche were here today he would ask you JJ, what meaning do you find in your life and would likely find your answer pathetically wanting.

  • 23. cimi  |  January 1, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. No one is good enough to earn salvation of God, only Jesus. Good is not enough. How much good is good?
    Christianity is about Jesus and his qualities he lived in this earth. He was perfect and lived a perfect life.
    No one can earn salvation with the good deeds. It is a cross and not ladder. If it was a ladder everybody would had tried to climb up to heaven. Only through Jesus you and I can make to heaven. No Jesus no life, no heaven. God so much loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him not perish but have the eternal life. God is not going to send any person to hell. He does not want it. We decide, it is up to us, me and you! If you say “my way”, then your will be done. it is better to say to God, “your will be done in my life” because he will say to us in the end of time , “your will be done”. It is up to you and me!

  • 24. BigHouse  |  January 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Happy New Year, cimi!

    Are you lost?

  • 25. Josh  |  January 2, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    “The ultimate end of your philosophy is Neitschism of which I want no part.”

    I never understood this type of thinking at all. So a person doesn’t “want” a philosophy, so they go for another – or for a religion. Where’s truth?

  • 26. RD  |  January 3, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Blasphemy. We are responsible for our sins There’s no philosophising around it. You’re doomed and damned out of your own mouth. You are hideous.

  • 27. Ubi Dubium  |  January 3, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Happy New Year, RD!

    To quote BigHouse – are you lost?

  • 28. orDover  |  January 3, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I really think we should start a collection of these comments as lovely examples of Christians’ lovingkindness, humility, and grace. They are truly salt and light, God’s ambassadors.

  • 29. Pugao  |  January 10, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Everyone is entitled to his/her reasoning!!!
    Know the truth and the truth will set you free!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


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.

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 2,032,038 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 203 other followers