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No two Christians worship the same God.

When I was still a theology major in college, I remember reading a book comparing and contrasting Wesleyan-Arminian theology with Calvinist theology. The result? I became thoroughly convinced that in a very real way, the two sects of Christianity were not worshipping the same God. I was uncomfortable with proposing the idea that one of them was “wrong,” but it seemed obvious to me that there were some irreconcilable differences between a Calvinists perception of God and a Wesleyan’s perception of God. Each school of thought reduces the essential qualities of God to different attributes. While the characteristics of justice (Calvinism focus) and mercy (Wesleyan focus) are not mutually exclusive, the elevation of either of these characteristics over the other does present a different person.

The Calvinist God is defined by his strict adherence to justice. His creation of the universe and His relationship to it are quite different than a God whose essential property is mercy. Although my systematic theology professor—a man who I admire greatly for both his intellect and integrity—came very close to making the claim that these two conceptions of God are not presentations of the same divine person, but he always shied away from saying it outright. And with good reason, the claim opens up a Pandora’s box of sorts.

There are some very serious ramifications for this line of thought. It indicates that at least one of these two sects of Christianity is not worshipping the correct Person. They are worshipping an idol of a God. A twisted version of the “one true God.” Then again, these are not the only two “versions” of God within the Christian faith. Catholic theology, charismatic theology, orthodox theology… they all present their own spin on who God is. Despite the surface similarities between the deities of each of these schools of thought, to say that the God of the Southern Baptist is the same as the God of the Russian Orthodox is a bit of a stretch…

Continue Reading March 30, 2009 at 12:15 pm 49 comments

Thoughts on my de-conversion, one year later

So it has been just about a year since I made public that I had abandoned the faith to which I clung so dearly for seven-plus years of my adolescent and adult life. It seemed appropriate to write down, for my own sake, some of my reflections on the process that has occurred during this last year. For anyone who reads this, what follows may or may not be coherent, that is my fair warning to you—I am writing as I think, I am not writing any kind of academic essay.

The Kubler-Ross model describes five stages in which persons deal with grief. Generally this model is attached to a tragedy of some kind: diagnosis of an illness, loss of a loved one, economic turmoil, etc. I was not raised in a religious family, and began flirting with the prospect of religious faith as early as sixth grade when I became friends with several evangelical Christians. During my freshman year of high school I experienced a profound conversion experience which radically altered my life. It would be easy to attempt to relegate this conversion experience as having simply “bad” or simply “good” consequences; however, to do so devalues the way in which my religious faith has shaped me as an individual. I digress. Nonetheless, it is important to know that my Christian faith pervaded every aspect of my life over the next seven years.

By no means was I a perfect Christian, I was never quite able to figure out how to acquiesce to the tenets of my own faith. Regardless, my faith was incredibly important to me…

Continue Reading July 20, 2008 at 1:07 am 207 comments

Thoughts on Ethics, Post De-Conversion

When I was a Christian, I would oftentimes become frustrated while attempting to understand a moral sentiment put forth through biblical text. Why in the world would God make absolute morality so ambiguous? When Moses wrote, “thou shalt not kill,” did he mean “thou shalt not kill” or did he mean “thou shalt not kill without just cause?” What about abortion? War? Poverty? At times a golden nugget in Scipture would pop out that seemed to make things clear, but there was always a level of ambivalence that I felt was never fully appreciated by the mass of Christianity.

Upon looking to my struggles through developing a proper hermeneutic of Scripture to find a moral system fair to the text, and the supposed author of the text, I cannot help but laugh. Wading through the waters of religious dogma to discover an absolute morality seems so much easier than developing a moral system beyond a conception of a divine transcendent being which by necessity decrees certain actions “good” and certain actions “bad.” When I left Christianity–in fact, in my preparation to leave Christianity, even–I recognized that I would somehow need to construct (or not construct, perhaps) a new moral system.

So where to begin? Well first I had to assess if in fact there was morality. Without Christianity, is moral nihilism the path to go? Or perhaps there is morality, but it is subjective. Maybe there is still some sort of objective morality existing independent of humanity. What a mess!…

Continue Reading May 21, 2008 at 1:07 am 16 comments

Reasons I Remained Faithful (for so long)

seven 7It’s now been more than a year since I intellectually gave up Christianity and six months since I publicly renounced my faith. They say hindsight is 20/20, and true to form, it seems incredible to me that I was a Christian for seven years. Those seven years now seem like an eternity to me, overshadowing the previous fourteen. Maybe it is just because they are the most recent seven years or maybe because the last third of my life has been the most formative to who I am. Regardless, it is still almost unbelievable to me that for seven years I prayed, I studied the Bible, I attended church, I spoke proudly about my ‘relationship with Christ,’ I preached and I witnessed to those around me.

So why did I remain a Christian for so long? What is it about the Christian metaphysic, which I now find so distasteful, that hooked me? This is a question I have been pondering for a while now, and though my list is more than likely not exhaustive, I’d like to record some of the prominent reasons I remained faithful for as long as I did…

Continue Reading February 11, 2008 at 9:14 pm 64 comments

On Dealing With Christians

Partially as a response to the thoughts of LeoPardus and partially from the evolution of my own psychology and philosophy over the past year or so, here is something I just put up on my blog:

cross 13My road to de-conversion was a long one. I spent several years as an anxious theology major, and later as an anxious philosophy major trying to sort through the veracity of Christian truth claims. During the process of coming to reject Christianity, I remained quite agreeable to Christianity. When I made the leap and walked away from Christianity, a combination to the flood of responses (both positive and negative) and my own naiveté led to a most vicious lashing out against institutions of faith.

In due time, my anger subsided and I was left with the question, “What next?”

There is a great tension in my life regarding this question. On the one hand, I believe Christianity is just another mythology, if a bit more complex. On the other hand, my time as a Christians contributed a great deal to my formative years as a person. On the other, other hand, I see great amounts of harm come from those who subscribe to what I perceive to be false religious belief. On the other, other, other hand, I see people do great amounts of good as a result of their committed Christian faith…

Continue Reading February 3, 2008 at 5:32 pm 58 comments

The Problem With Pastors: Too educated?

Graduate 1In my time, during my pre-Christian, Christian, and post-Christian days, I have heard people make claims that I have found to be incredibly absurd. From both theists and nontheists, liberals and conservatives, friends and foes, people say things around and to me that strike me as just… off. However, last night I think I might have heard one of the best. “The problem with pastors, I think,” said an acquaintance of mine, “is that they are too educated.”

Now, I know that the Christian university I attend is no Wheaton or Calvin College; but, I think my school is fairly representative of evangelical colleges in America. I spent more than two years here as a religion major, studying for pastoral ministry. And I can attest to the fact that the religion majors here are in no way too educated. From my experience with seminarians in typical Christian graduate programs, I feel fairly certain in saying those students are more often than not too educated as well. Perhaps there is some period of academic revival that takes place post-formal education in the lives of some pastors, but it has not been my experience.

I think I understand the heart of what my friend was saying. He feels that pastors are too distant from their flock, that instead of meeting the immediate needs of their followers, they are busy parsing Greek verbs and throwing out obscure quotes by Anselm…

Continue Reading January 27, 2008 at 6:03 pm 76 comments

Is religious belief healthy?

DoctorOne of the things that often comes up in my conversation with religious believers (mostly Christians, per circumstance) is that even if there is no God, to dissuade someone from faith is still somehow morally reprehensible. Most often, they run down a laundry list of ways in which the institution of religion—independent of the veracity of its truth claims—makes a positive impact on the world.

A derivative of a common example used is that of an elderly woman on her deathbed. Perhaps she has been a non-believer her entire life, but she finds that as her life comes to a close she is fearful of its end. She decides to suspend her skepticism about religion and posit belief in some God. Wouldn’t it be wrong to convince her otherwise? “No Grandma, there is no God, when you die your mind will cease to function and your body will rot!” I’m no counselor, but this doesn’t seem to be comforting.

What about the social function churches (and other religious institutions) serve in our culture? Churches can provide a sense of belonging, a safety net, and very basically friendship shared over common interest. Furthermore, an exorbitant number of homeless shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, free medical clinics, rehab programs, etc. are operated by religious institutions around the world…

Continue Reading January 18, 2008 at 6:16 pm 51 comments

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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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