A Christian Pastor influenced my de-conversion
The most influential event for me in my de-conversion was actually talking to a Christian pastor.
I was visiting my brother in Kentucky, and prior to going to see Pirates 3 Saturday night, we all went to watch him perform at his megachurch where he plays the drums. As we were getting ready to leave, some of the people in my party were chatting with friends they knew, and while this was going on, the lady pastor there somehow caught wind of my parents’ recent divorce. She took advantage of this and she immediately started asking me very prodding, personal questions.
I tried to defuse them with stuff like “I’m handling it” but she wouldn’t let up. Finally, thinking it would satisfy her, I was frank about my reactions to the whole situation. She then started crying, and gave me a hug (freakin’ awkward) then asked me if I was trusting Christ. At the time I was somewhat of an agnostic Christian loosely clinging to emerging church theology but I really hadn’t used any form of faith in dealing with that particular situation. This quickly devolved into an attempt on my part to defend my faith-position on the fly to someone who was extremely well-versed in apologetics and well-practiced in religious debate (contrast this to me who only ever had to defend a Christian faith to people and was now finding himself unwittingly on the other end of the shotgun!)
After about an hour of me trying to get out of there gracefully, she had successfully broken down all my emotional and psychological barriers, and I was pretty much ready to just jump the gun and “re-commit” myself to Christ, but on an intellectual level I knew I was being manipulated. So I managed to ask her to pray for me to “find the truth”, so we prayed together and then I got the hell out of there.
The rest of my party had left except for my brother who had been instructed to stick behind and continue the conversation on the way to the theater.
After that weekend what stuck with me was the importance of “finding the truth” so, among other things, I wouldn’t be stuck in that situation again. I prayed to Jesus to help me in my search. I started up a blog where I could put down my thoughts on faith-related matters and struck up conversations with an emerging church pastor, Mike, on his blog. I also lurked on the Friendly Athiest blog for awhile (this was around the time of the “A Christian Pastor Responds” series) before beginning to post. I started exploring the blogosphere for different points of view, and started striking up discussions and debates with people of different faith backgrounds.
In the beginning, I wasn’t really opposed to arriving at a Christian faith (in fact I pretty much expected to!), I still prayed to God and felt him responding, and felt like he was blessing, sanctioning, and even guiding my search for truth.
But after a long period of doubt, prayers that felt totally un-listened-to, a frank look at the reality around me and a realization that the world truly acted self-sufficient and seemed a whole lot like there wasn’t a benevolent, supreme, eminent mover in it, I realized my beliefs in God were slipping away. I of course
fought this. Hard. I prayed earnestly and fervently to God to just do something, *anything* that would convince me he was real. I didn’t know what would convince me, but surely he would, and I wanted so desperately to be convinced.
Then, wondering if I was missing something by sticking too close to the Christian path, I tried spoon-bending. This is what pretty much killed off any belief in a spiritual otherworld for me. I became a monist agnostic deist… and then the deist part of it just sort of slowly tapered off.
I know at this point the atheist label is not wrong, but I still call myself agnostic because I sincerely believe that real “knowledge” about God or godlike entities is truly unattainable. I also know that a good many people have “spiritual” experiences that I am just not ready to discount entirely, simply because I just do not know what is going on in their minds.
But I am pretty certain that none of this would have happened, and I would still be contenting myself as a non-practicing emergent-leaning agnostic liberal Christian, if it hadn’t been for one eager Christian pastor on the prowl for a soul-saving.
- Derek Berner (Guest Contributor)