Posts filed under ‘~Guest’
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!)…
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”–Carl Sagan
“I hate men base in deeds but wise in words”–Pacuvius
Dear Family and Friends,
I think it’s necessary to put on paper where I stand with the Mormon Church. The 11th Article of Faith says that “we claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
According to the dictates of my own conscience, I have determined I can no longer believe in the Mormon Church. Let me put this in plain terms. Over the years, I have observed situations, and uncovered many facts about the church that have brought me to the inescapable conclusion that the church is not led by true and living prophets…
My Early Years – Growing up, I was a typical American kid. I had a brother and a sister, a loving mom and dad, and we were taught to believe in Christianity, America’s status quo faith. Mom and dad were not religious fanatics, but they were mild fundamentalists who believed that Christianity was the only way and that no one could have the highest morality without belief in the Christian God. I swallowed this philosophy hook, line, and sinker from day one, though I didn’t become a baptized believer until my eighteenth birthday.
I was converted for the same reason that many others were — I was at a time in my life when I needed emotional and psychological support. I had fought my own battles with depression growing up, but when Christianity came along, that was the end of my singing the blues! Finding something to believe in is a big part of the psychological make up of the individual. I had also just fallen out of a relationship with a girl and this made me begin to “look upward” for help like I’d never done before. I was a party-goer, by and large, but I knew that someday, I would have to give up my selfish life and become a part of what I was taught God told me to do — to be baptized and live as a Christian. I remember how it felt to start looking for answers in the bible and pray like I never had before. I was a changed man at my conversion one cold February morning in 1994. What I felt Christ did for me was all too apparent in my mind. I decided to live for him since he gave so much for me, and I was so thankful that I had escaped the eternal flames of Hell that awaited me …
“Oh God, you are my God, and I will ever serve you…”
I grew up singing all the lame-ass church songs that you know are lame at the time, but you are too afraid of eternal condemnation to even whisper a critical comment about them. I grew up with church leaders who were bitchy and judgmental and used the only place they can criticize others without it being a sin to pick on kids in youth group. I have been to summer camps, winter camps, mission trips, water-ski trips, watermelon seed spitting contests, paint-balling, pizza parties, pool bashes, and bible jeopardy extravaganzas galore. When I was in 4th grade, I made sure to memorize as many Bible verses as possible so I could get the prize of a giant strawberry lip-smacker or fun-size Butterfinger. I wore dresses, which I hated, to church. I tried to fake sick to get out of church at least once a month. I had done all that a young evangelical can do between the ages of 1 and 21…everything that is, except think for myself.
I was pretty brainwashed until I was 18. My best friend and I secretly hated church and would goof off all we could and make fun of everyone because we thought we were cooler…but essentially I was under the spell. I was terrified of sin and anyone who sinned. I was freaked out by homosexuals or homeless people. I thought that divorced women were bad, that non-Christians who rode their bikes on Sunday instead of going to church, deserved an eternal pit of fire. I do not believe I was inherently judgmental, I was just overexposed to the church and God…
Since de-converting from Christianity, many who claim to follow Christ have accused me of wanting to lead a life of sin or wanting to hide from God, or just plain turning my back on God. I had one Christian named Dan, after I said the sentence that is the title of this post, tell me “Then you shouldn’t be, shame on you. It’s called faith for a reason. Sure God could reveal himself to us quite easily but he wants us to have faith in Him and Trust Him not just believe and not to be tempted.”
It’s odd to me that I do not attack their character and yet they attack mine, that somehow does not seem very Christian to me. I have some wonderful Christian friends and family. I have also made new Christian friends who I have met through various web sites.
Recently, I asked Dan a simple question – “Do you think I’m telling the truth when I say I don’t believe God exists” his response: “In a word…No.” I had given Dan no reason to call me a liar.
In fact, I do not call Christians liars for believing in God, yet some of them are so sure of their belief that they would call unbelievers liars for saying they don’t believe in the Christian God. I guess I understand this because I felt the same way when I was a Christian, though I never accused anyone of lying. I felt they had fooled themselves, not that they were flat out lying…
The debate as to whether a god exists has been around since man first believed in a god. This debate is unlikely to end anytime soon and I do not plan to make an attempt to end it. I will instead give a few reasons why the most popular God in the world, the Christian God, is not at all the powerful being he is made out to be.
In Christianity, God is said to be the creator of the universe, perfect in every way, a being of infinite power. It is believed that God can accomplish anything he wishes, There are of course no obstacles in the way of an omniscient being. These beliefs, although fully accepted by the Christian people, are flawed. In fact the flaw, or flaws, lie in the most important writing of their religion, the Bible. The Bible depicts God throughout its large number of books and in many of these depictions God is shown as a less than perfect, less than omniscient being.
The best area to begin with is Genesis, the beginning of the Bible. In Genesis God is depicted during his creation of the universe. An admirable feat by any account, but not admirable enough. The flaw in this situation is that God is not all powerful. He takes quite a bit of time to create the planet earth and the rest of the universe. Of course the rest of the universe is created very quickly, while this little planet earth takes the bulk of the six days, but I won’t stress that point. Taking time, any time at all in fact, not to mention an entire six days, is not a quality of a supreme and infinitely powerful being. A being of infinite power would create the universe infinitely fast and to a state of complete and utter perfection…
‘Emerging’ Christian Commentary
Beginning toward the end of college and continuing through grad school into my years as a youth pastor, I went through a radical rethinking of all my conservative evangelical beliefs. I had grown up thoroughly immersed in the evangelical subculture, and as a teenager was an on-fire, committed Christian eager to serve God and share my faith with others. I attended Wheaton College, a conservative evangelical liberal arts school, where ironically, I was introduced to ideas that led me to start questioning key aspects of my conservative faith – from the nature and reality of God, to the inerrancy of scripture, to the existence of “absolute truth” or even “universal morality” free from cultural influence, to the inherent rightness of the Republican party, to the nature of salvation as merely a “get into heaven free” card.
Thanks to postmodern philosophy, as well as friends and professors who led me to look at scripture itself in a different light, by the time I finished undergrad and graduate school at Wheaton I as thoroughly cynical and disillusioned with the faith with which I had been raised. I had learned that doubt and uncertainty were an unavoidable part of the human condition, and that questioning my faith was actually a good thing…