My steps out of Christianity
[This post has been sitting in my files for a while. Finally pulled it out and “finished” it. Writing never really seems finished, does it?]
Noting that my journey out of Christianity is different from most (in fact, unique in my experience so far*), I took some time to try to recall the steps I took over the years. I list them here in no particular order (though they are roughly chronological). *For any who don’t know, my path was, very briefly: “saved” at 19; evy/fundy for many years; converted to Eastern Orthodoxy for about 3 years; left the faith entirely.
– I sought to base my morality, politics, and behaviors in more than just, “the Bible or my church says so”. After all, if something is right, it ought to be right for everyone, Bible or no Bible. I mean isn’t that what’s really meant by, “the absolute truth of God”?
Funny thing is that I did this right from the beginning of my Christian life. So maybe I was just doomed from the outset eh?
– I got sick of the shallowness. Those damn praise choruses [“Jesus I luuuuv yew. Jesus I neeeeed yew. Jesus I luuuuv yew. Yes I doooo.”] are just drivel. So is the “Jesus, my buddy” flatulence. There’s just gotta be more to a faith than lousy songs and Forest Gump level theology. This garbage was/is growing by leaps and bounds throughout Protestant churches, and was even making headway in some Catholic parishes.
– I got it through my head that young-earth creationism was WRONG. I.e. that evolution did happen, that the fossils were really old, that the flood of Noah was not global, that dinosaurs and humans never lived together, that the speed of light is in fact a constant, and so on. (I can’t tell you how humiliating it is to admit that I was idiotic enough to ever believe that crap.)
– I finally got a clear view of how utterly evil (dare I say, “utterly depraved”) Calvinism is and how prevalent it had gotten in the evy/fundy wing of the faith.
– I started to study church history in earnest. This is as opposed to reading Protestant (and ONLY Protestant) writers, teachers, pastors, etc for church history.
It is still astounding to me how utterly ignorant Protestants (and even a lot of Catholics) are of church history. And I’m not talking about pew potatoes here. I mean seminary professors. Try asking one to describe the origins of the Coptic church, or the history of the Filioque clause, or the development of monasticism and the effects of the East/West dichotomy thereupon, or for that matter just ask them what happened between 300-1500 AD. A palm-sized notepad and stubby pencil will be quite sufficient to write down everything they get right.
– Somewhat later -after some time in the EOC- I realized how WRONG monasticism is. It is in direct opposition to what Jesus commanded believers to do.
– I finally realized that everyone was just making up their ideas about God – their moral stances, their doctrine, etc. – as they went along. There weren’t really any “God-ordained” absolutes.
– I finally realized that no one was doing what the Bible said they were supposed to be doing in any consistent way.
– I finally realized that God never showed up or responded in any way. That if you want to believe in God, you have to imagine that he is responding to your prayers, and you have to come up with elaborate, contradictory, double-think to explain when and why he does or doesn’t respond. That if you want to believe God is active in the world, and you want to “see” evidence of it, you have to play a game I call “Where’s Goddo?” [Derived from the game “Where’s Waldo?”, in which you try to find a cartoon character named Waldo somewhere in a large, very busy drawing.]
– I finally realized/acknowledged that the lack of distinctiveness between Christians and non-Christians in terms of lifestyle, behavior, priorities, where their money goes, morality, etc. was a powerful indicator that there was no supernatural Holy Spirit operating in them. I found that this applied not just to pew potatoes but to nearly everyone. Including the great and holy examples that were held up for us. E.g., superevangelists, missionaries, monks, bishops, “prayer warriors”.
– I started to see the contradictions in the Bible for what they really are: contradictions.
– I found out that non-Christians ARE able to lead happy, decent, productive lives, and to love their kids, and be good neighbors, and to behave like good folk.
– I started piecing together a lot of bits and pieces of how Christianity was pieced together from bits and pieces of other religions (e.g., the ancient Greek and Egyptian myths).
– I definitely confirmed that the Orthodox, like the Catholics, were indeed worshipping Mary and had elevated her to “honorary fourth member of the Trinity”.
[Try saying this to an Orthodox or Catholic and you’ll get a quick denial. It’s a lot like the auto-responses you get for pointing out bible contradictions to most evangelicals.]