Featured Blog Reaction: by Flirting with Faith

August 1, 2008 at 8:37 pm 32 comments

A new blogger, Joan Ball, from the “Flirting with Faith” blog, recently found herself “in the land of Christian de-conversion.”

According to Joan’s testimony, she “woke up one morning a churchgoing agnostic (following years of rabid atheism) and put [her] head to the pillow that night a newly minted, highly unlikely Christian.” Of course, she was recently told by an atheist that because she converted, she was never a “real” atheist.

Here’s her reaction to our humble blog:

Now de-conversion may be a hot topic in Bible-college circles, but I wasn’t even sure if it was a real word. Webster’s online says that it’s not, but the folks that are contributing and commenting at http://de-conversion.com use it frequently.

She continues:

I am sure that there is much to be said theologically about whether or not “de-conversion” is possible if a person had a genuine experience with Jesus, and I am not remotely studied enough to go there, but as I read the posts of dozens of self-proclaimed “former believers” I saw a pattern emerge:

  1. I grew up in the church and loved the Lord once.
  2. I began to question and doubt.
  3. My questions and doubts were either dismissed or ignored or responded to with platitudes that I could not accept.
  4. When it was clear that I would not be satisfied with platitudes, I was told that I was defective, i.e. I wasn’t really saved in the first place, I was looking for an excuse to sin, etc.
  5. I am grateful to find this community of people who are also doubters and skeptics (and ultimately unbelievers) so that I do not have to walk this path away from the faith of my childhood on my own.

She concludes her post with a statement and a question:

…many of the posts betray what I interpret to be sadness as a result of the perceived loss of faith. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but a number of the respondents still attend church and participate in ministry despite what they describe to be a sense of isolation and unbelief. It made me wonder who these people are and how their churches (and churches in general) tend to handle a person who is struggling with a perceived loss of faith?

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32 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rover  |  August 1, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    The de-Convert,

    How do you feel when you read comments like Joans?

  • 2. The de-Convert  |  August 1, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Rover,

    First, I’m honored that this blog have sparked discussions across blogsphere. On this blog alone, we’ve had well over 15,000 comments in the 17 months we’ve been in existence.

    As for Joan’s specific comments, I actually respect her opinion and her experiences. How can I not, when I sat in her shoes not too long ago. I’m the son of a missionary/Bible College Principal, a former pastor with 3 members of my immediate family still in full time ministry.

    I may not have answered your question so if you have a more specific question, I’ll be happy to respond.

    Paul

  • 3. Rover  |  August 1, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Any tinge of regret about your decision? Do you ever think you may be wrong? Have you written about your experience on this blog? I don’t mean to have you repeat yourself.

  • 4. The Nerd  |  August 1, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    I wonder if it’s going to be her looking at us looking back at her, people on both sides shaking our heads, saying “wow, I used to be just like that”.

  • 5. The de-Convert  |  August 1, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Rover,

    Any tinge of regret about your decision? Do you ever think you may be wrong? Have you written about your experience on this blog? I don’t mean to have you repeat yourself.

    I wouldn’t call it regrets, I would say more that I miss a few things. I miss the security I felt when I prayed, that everything was going to be ok. It was a false sense of security but I didn’t know it at the time. I miss that sense of destiny I had that I would change the world (a slight messiah complex, I know). I miss the social aspects of church…. among other things.

    I actually never think that I could be wrong. My faith was never based on experience (like Joan’s) but based on my belief in God, the teachings of Jesus, and that the Bible was God’s Word. Hence, when I realized that the Bible was NOT divine and that it didn’t even accurately describe God as I believed (a loving, kind, compassionate father in heaven), there was no more basis for my faith.

    My previous blog was me asking a series of questions about God, the Bible, and Jesus. I did try to cling to my faith for a while but in the end, I could not as there was nothing left to cling to.

    Hope that helps.

    Paul

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  August 2, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Most interesting story Joan has. Thanks for the link de-Convert.

  • 7. Rover  |  August 2, 2008 at 8:08 am

    The de-Convert,

    I went on your blog but I could not find your journey chronicled?
    Perhaps you might give thought to laying your journey out in one article? I would love to hear it.

    How has your family reacted to you now becoming a famous De Convert who is, in a sense, helping others de convert?

  • 8. grace  |  August 2, 2008 at 8:28 am

    From what I can see, I have to agree with Joan’s observation. I’ve also noticed from personal experience that many de-converts seem to have come to faith originally in very authoritarian, fundamentalist kind of settings where any questioning, or expressing of honest doubt is discouraged from the very beginning.

    It also seems to me that the original faith of many de-converts seems to be based in a certain view of Scripture that allows Christian faith to collapse like a deck of cards if any apparent discrepancy or error is found in the Bible.

    I wonder if it all might have turned out differently for at least some de-converts with more support, a different kind of church setting, and presentation of the essence of Christian faith??

  • 9. The de-Convert  |  August 2, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Rover,

    How has your family reacted to you now becoming a famous De Convert who is, in a sense, helping others de convert?

    1. I am not very open about my de-conversion to my family as yet. No need to get my mom expending all her energy praying for me.

    2. We’re not evangelists for de-conversion. In fact, as Joan described, you’ll get the sense that we have that sense of “loss.” There are posts here describing a longing to believe. If you can stay in the faith (AND live you life with compassion towards others including gays, Muslims, etc.) then more power to ya. This is NOT an easy journey (hence this site to help those who are already there).

    Here are a few posts to read:

    I want to go back! I want the blue pill!
    A Confession: I want to believe
    The Stages of Grief of my loss of Faith
    Praying my way to losing faith (see Leo’s prayer near the end).

    Paul

  • 10. Rover  |  August 2, 2008 at 9:11 am

    I read your blog on Matthew that you referenced above. I am not sure what your point is concerning the teachings of Christ. The teachings you point out seem wonderful, though not necessarrily unique. What do you mean when you say they don’t describe God.

  • 11. Rover  |  August 2, 2008 at 9:25 am

    The de-Convert,
    Thanks for the other posts above about the difficulty of the journey. That is what I was looking for. Many here have had bad experiences with Christianity, but what about those of us who have had positive epxeriences. It must be painful to separate from that which was so central to one’s life. I appreciated the posts you recommended and it helps me to see the decons as real people with real struggles rather then smug “intellectuals” tolerating ignorant believers like myself. :) I still don’t know how to make a smily face – proof of my ignorance I suppose!

  • 12. Rover  |  August 2, 2008 at 9:36 am

    hey it worked!

  • 13. The de-Convert  |  August 2, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Rover,

    I read your blog on Matthew that you referenced above. I am not sure what your point is concerning the teachings of Christ. The teachings you point out seem wonderful, though not necessarrily unique. What do you mean when you say they don’t describe God.

    They are wonderful but SHORT. My point was I expected more that just a page of content. The rest of teachings found in Matthew more or less contradicted the views presented in that page.

    Paul

  • 14. Digital Dame  |  August 2, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I wonder what Joan means by a “genuine experience with Jesus”, how to recognize it, and what criteria she would accept for such a thing? It strikes me as dismissive of any experience that varies from her own, implying those who have chosen to leave Christianity behind never really understood it to begin with.

    Personally, I feel no sense of loss. In those moments when I am able to feel some sort of belief in “something”, it has nothing to do with anything I was brought up with, nor a hangover from my “born again” phase.

  • 15. Joan Ball  |  August 2, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Digital Dame: Pardon my use of the words “genuine experience with Jesus” if it struck you as dismissive of any experience that varies from mine. That could not be further from my position. I believe that there are many ways that people come to faith. That is why I love to hear people’s stories. As I have listened to these stories, more than one person has told me that faith was expected of them and they basically went along with it to keep the peace without a real sense of having embraced it beyond the expectations of family and community. It was those folks that I had in mind when I wrote that sentence.

  • 16. Joan Ball  |  August 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Paul (de-Convert): I can’t recall whether or not I have thanked you for allowing me to be a part of this discussion and for your joining the discussion on Flirting with Faith. This is just the sort of cordial dialog that I was hoping to find in the Neverland that is the blogosphere.

  • 17. The de-Convert  |  August 2, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Joan,

    You’re quite welcome. You should add your blog url to your profile so when you comment on other sites, readers can click your name and get back to yours. It’s how this web really works.

    Hope this helps to get your blog going. However, if discussions ever take a turn, don’t blame me :)

    BTW, a good Christian site to visit is our good friends Seminarian Blog. The contributors there regularly comment here also.

    Paul

  • 18. Brad Feaker  |  August 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Joan,

    …many of the posts betray what I interpret to be sadness as a result of the perceived loss of faith. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but a number of the respondents still attend church and participate in ministry despite what they describe to be a sense of isolation and unbelief. It made me wonder who these people are and how their churches (and churches in general) tend to handle a person who is struggling with a perceived loss of faith?

    For myself – I do not miss that part of my life at all anymore. I DO miss some of the people – but not faith or Christianity itself. And as for my experience leaving the church – I have heard from absolutely no one. Not one call or visit – like I have become a non-entity. As a (now) completely open and out atheist that reaction doesn’t really surprise me…apparently I am evil incarnate to those people now ;-)

    Thanks for the post on your site…

  • 19. The de-Convert  |  August 2, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Rover,

    BTW, here’s my attempt at showing how I came up with that “Teachings of Jesus” page. However, it’s yet another one of my in-complete projects (like the Literal Bible one):

    http://thejesuscult.wordpress.com/posts/

    Paul

  • 20. Jennifer  |  August 2, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    This discussion is so interesting for me. I’ve never heard of a “De Convert” I’m am new to blogging, so that might explain it. The whole discussion makes me sad, it strikes a chord with me. I can “feel” your sense of loss…
    I’m going to think more on this before I comment any further.

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  August 2, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Getting back to comment on a couple things I noted earlier:

    Looking at Joan’s pattern and some input from Grace, I thought I’d say that you two might find my background a bit different. … Adult convert to the faith. Positive experience. Serious convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. Never became liberal. I know you two were looking at generalities, and that’s good. Just wanted to point out at least one exception.

  • 22. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 3, 2008 at 12:43 am

    I certainly didn’t have any negative experiences with Christianity. My choice to de-convert rests wholly in the fact that what I understand about Christianity does not line up with what I observe to be reality.

  • 23. Joan Ball  |  August 3, 2008 at 1:31 am

    LeoPardis: I’m not sure what you mean by “never became liberal.”

  • 24. LeoPardus  |  August 3, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Joan:
    I’m not sure what you mean by “never became liberal.”

    I see, neither you nor Grace had anything about that. I must have had it in my mind from something else I’d just read. It is a fairly common thing though for de-cons to move to liberal Christianity before leaving altogether.

  • 25. truthwalker  |  August 3, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    I can’t speak for all the deconverted, but for myself, belief in atheism has not caused any sense of loss. Actually, I consistently feel more “blessed” for lack of a better word, since I deconverted.

    I took the Bible very seriously, and to me personally, the experience of Christianity was nothing but a constant search for an explanation to my continual moral failure.

    Hence, leaving it has been wonderful. I have friends now who love me for who I am, instead of who I can be after Jesus “fixes” me. I no longer feel guilt for being human. I have to try hard not to be a loud mouth evangelist about it all, because I have never felt so much joy and peace in my entire life.

  • 26. Change of Heart… « Flirting With Faith  |  August 7, 2008 at 11:45 am

    […] when a posting on this blog titled “Atheism Sells” caught the attention of the folks at de-conversion.com. I’ve enjoyed learning a little more about this community of people and their journeys toward […]

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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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