New South Wales
Australia. Aug. 99
I have walked a long road in just under three years. From Christianity, to Messianic Judaism, gave Orthodox Judaism some thought, and from there to agnostic belief, and today January 2001 I would have to say atheism. During this walk I rediscovered that you do not need religious dogma to have principles, ethics, or morals, after all religion is only a theory as to the nature of man, a man’s place in the universe, and religion has been and still is used as a form of control to guide human actions. There is not a man on the face of this earth today whether he is a Minister, Pastor, Bishop, Cardinal or Pope who can prove to you that heaven or hell exist, except by faith. "Faith" is merely someone’s assumption that something is true without evidence to support it. "Faith" is a blind belief in something unknown and unseen. This testimony remains ongoing, as I slowly lost sight of God. So let me begin…….
My wife Gloria and myself became Christians in Nov.1987, at an Assembly of God, Pentecostal Church in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. A few weeks after that we moved to Ballina in the Northern rivers area, Northern New South Wales. We were Baptised in Shaw’s bay a few weeks after our arrival there. We gradually became more involved into Church activities. We would usually attend all services, participate in ministry training courses, mid week meetings, bible study classes, both within the Church and within the home, early morning prayer meetings, as well as prayer walks around the community etc, as a regular part of our life. We were water baptised, Spirit filled (spoke in other tongues) "born again" believers in the true sense of the word.
Gloria also became involved in the Music ministries, as well as leading in Bible study groups for women, K.Y.B. (know your bible,) and scripture readings in old peoples hostels, and playing an active role within the Church. We were also involved in combined Church services committee meetings, trying to encourage unity among the various denominations. This was short lived for us, (approx. 14 months) as it meant we had to compromise on what we believed in. We believed that from Genesis to Revelation was the inspired and infallible word of God, (fundamental) and many Christians in our opinion went to Church on Sundays and spent the rest of the week in the world, many liberal Christians do not believe what the church teach. So for the sake of unity and harmony we resigned from this role.
Gloria and myself built up quite a considerable library within our home as we studied God's word. We obtained Concordances, Bible Dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew Lexicons, Study Bibles of most translations, study books on Spiritual warfare, Exorcism, and Christian counselling. It was our life and we loved it. Every one of our friends were Christian, We never associated at all with non-believers with the exception of our family members. Two of our five children were also Christian and still are, it was this conversion of two of our three sons who were teen-ages at the time, which brought both my wife and myself into Christianity. They encouraged us to go to church with them and we did, and at the second service my wife and I went down to the altar and gave our hearts to Jesus, and we never even queried what we were doing, just took the pastors word for it. As new Christians we had no knowledge of the bible, or of its origins nor of the history of the Church. Here we were as new believers, we had chosen to base our entire life on the contents of a book, which we knew nothing about. It is a long story, which I intend to write about one day, but to speed up this testimony a little, it mainly started about two and one half years ago. One Sunday morning after the service at the Baptist Church in our home town, a lady from the congregation approached me, and asked me what my views were on Israel and the Jews. It was something that I had never given much thought about, so I said to her. "As far as I’m concerned the Jews have had it, they rejected Jesus and the Christians adopted him." I then went on to say, " That if a mother neglected her child, and put her child up for adoption, then the foster mother who raised and cared for him, would have sole rights to the child." And that was the end of the matter, or so I thought. My wife and I were driving home from the service, when I sensed something within me saying. "You were wrong about the foster mother, because the life force is in the blood, and that it is this force that binds the child to the natural mother for life, adoption or no adoption." This had a powerful effect on me as I began to understand that the mother of Jesus, would have been a Jew, and that made Jesus a Jew. I kept trying to put it out of my mind but my soul was not at peace. Eight months went by as I struggled with this issue and I just knew in my heart that I could defer this issue no longer. I said to my wife Gloria, "I feel that I have to learn about Israel and its people and that we should become involved in a prayer group that focuses on Israel, the Jewish people and their culture, as I believe that God is trying to show me something." She did not want to go at first but as I’m very deaf, she said that she would come with me to take notes etc. It wasn't long before Gloria also started to look forward to these weekly meeting the same as I did.
We joined a local prayer group in town, where we are still living. This group came together once a week, in a private home, mid week to pray for Israel and the Jews and to assist with finances to help the Jews living in foreign lands to return to their homeland. This group consisted of about twelve to fifteen people from various church denominations around the local area. We would start at 7:00 PM until 10:30PM and then have supper and have discussion time.
Both Gloria and myself decided to learn Hebrew and study Tanach. (Jewish bible) There is no New Testament in this bible, as believing Jews do not recognise Jesus as the messiah, and they do not recognise New Testament either. We purchased these books from a Jewish bookstore in Melbourne. We had been informed not to buy the Tanach from a Christian bookstore, as they were Christianised and was not of original translation. I must admit this came as a shock to us, our first awareness that something was amiss. We now understand why.
As I mentioned earlier I’m extremely deaf even with a hearing aid, and I have always struggled at prayer meetings, not knowing what other people are praying about. This had its funny moments though, as I would sometimes pray for something that was the opposite of what someone else had prayed for. During this time of meditation, (and that is what it was like for me, most of the time.) I started to see scriptures like I had never seen scripture before, I started to see scriptures in New Testament that were in contradiction, so I would go home and the next day pour over the Word. I started delving into various bible translations, using concordances, and bible dictionaries, I started seeking out early church history, and found that there was much error in New Testament writings. I started to share what I was finding out, with this group of faithful prayer warriors, but it only brought conflict. They just did not want to know about it. This prayer group was becoming uneasy and restless.
Even though at this stage my wife and I were still deeply involved within the church, and Jesus was our life. We still believed the New Testament was the inspired and infallible word of God, but there were serious questions just about to surface. I would call out to God and ask Him. "What are you trying to do to me"? We became convicted about the food we were eating, and so we began to change our dietary habits in accordance with old testament scripture, ( Tanach) and also the Biblical Sabbath, I could never understand how Christians could justify doing away with the fourth commandment, no matter how hard I tried. So we began to observe Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, and we would spent this entire time apart from normal sleeping, focusing on God. This was in addition to our other commitments within the Church. We would on most occasions attend both morning and evening services on Sundays, and whatever was going on mid-week as well. It was during these biblical Sabbath observances that Gloria and I would pray to God that He would bring people across our paths, who’s thoughts were similar to ours. Then within a couple of weeks, one day in a shopping centre we meet a woman that we had known years before, in another Church in another town. She shared with us that she also had a burden on her heart for years, to pray for Israel and the Jewish people, and that she had left the Church years ago. She said that she now belonged to a group of people, who met in private homes on a monthly basis and that they were a messianic group. She said that Jesus was a Jew and that his name was Yeshua, and that he was never a Christian but had a sect of Judaism called "The Way." We were excited because we still felt this way as well, and this was confirmation to some of the thing that I had been discovering.
We joined this group and found that they kept the biblical Sabbath, and followed the ways of Jewish law and dietary habits. We did not understand it at the time but this group became a stepping stone for us. By this time, we had already left the Church, but still believing that Yeshua was the Messiah. Our weekly tithes we now let accumulate and as it built up we would give wherever we felt led. We were still involved with the weekly prayer group for Israel, and as I started to share with them this new direction in our lives, it brought about the closing down of the prayer meeting of this small group of people. May I also mention, that this prayer group had not been sanctioned by any of the churches, and the leaders of this prayer group were asked by their church minister to please explain the purpose and direction of this prayer group. They were troubled by this as they thought that they may be asked to leave the church and they decided to close the prayer group down, and I was also becoming a thorn in the side that they could well do without. I felt sad about this, as I still believed that God was trying to show all of us something, but the sound from the pulpit was overshadowing the voice of God. Within a couple of months this prayer group reformed, those who had been asked for a please explain never returned to this prayer group, and needless to say both Gloria and myself were never invited to meet with them in prayer.
The teacher of this messianic group where we began attending, was an ex pastor from a Christian Pentecostal Church who had begun to see things in a new light. She was well educated in Middle East religions, having studied such at universities, and had been asked to step down from the pulpit because of her change of attitude and beliefs, and she now runs small messianic groups. This lady was a great help to us at the time as she was sharing about early Church history, and how the New Testament had been misunderstood. The pagan influences that had crept into the early church, such as Easter, Christmas, communion, and the trinity.
This trinity (3 Gods in one?) was first formulated in 4TH century writing, even bible dictionaries admit this. This excited me as this was added confirmation to my own research. As I started to delve further into Roman and Greek mythology I also became aware of the origins of the Original sin, the Virgin birth, the Trinity, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Hades, Hell, and Satan. Satan of the New Testament is not the Satan of the old, and how it began to influence New Testament writings. Gloria and myself are still pushing ahead, as God is still revealing His word to us. We no longer accept this messianic approach, as it still remains another doorway to Jesus or Yeshua, depending on where you are coming from.
Where does this leave both Gloria and myself? From a Christian concept we are in exile, Our Christian friends have deserted us in droves. It’s hard to understand how all of these people whom we considered as sincere friends could turn their backs on us without ever asking us what brought about this change in our lives. But The Almighty God has put within us a burning desire for truth, no matter what the cost. Hear, O Israel: Hashem is our God, Hashem, the one and only.
Throughout the generations, beginning with the exodus non-Jews have taken the responsibility and become converts. The Hebrew bible (Tanach) speaks of the mixed multitudes (Exodus 12:38) that went up from Egypt with Israel, awed and inspired by Moses.
*The light of the Jewish faith has burned longer than any other. It is the oldest living religious light, and it is this light which challenges us (Gloria and Myself) to seek truth, and to study. * My views on this have changed, as I have become aware of ancient religions.
We now understand, that Jews should never become Christians or Messianic believers, being told that they are now a completed Jew in Yeshua or Jesus. Nor should anyone else for that matter, but we believe the deception that was set up by the early church fathers has been around too long.
Maybe it will take some great historical discovery to be made to bring about a change, and with that change of course would bring devastation for the believers in Jesus, along with economic woes throughout the entire Christian enterprises of the Christianised world. I personally believe that the death knoll of Christianity is already being tolled, and it must change direction or die. To Continue. Jim Lee. Aug. 99
The saga continues. June 2000.
Much water has flowed under the bridge since I put this testimony together in August. 1999. I could not access enough information from local libraries, so I purchased a computer to gain access into religious archives of universities and to equip myself with C.D. encyclopedias. I would have spent in excess of 1000 hours in research, in the last two and one half years. At that point of time we were giving some thought of converting to Judaism and still proceeded to continue doing research into biblical history. We have now turned our back on all revealed organised man made religions.
The Christian Jesus has been the creation of many people, he has been continually reworked by many Christian authors over almost two thousand years. He has been rebuilt too many times for too long a journey. Science, having been suppressed by the Church for centuries is now coming into its own, breaking down barriers and the church can almost no longer serve the needs of the modern man, who's own personal development has outstripped that of his bible. Many Christians no longer believe in what is being taught. They no longer believe that the earth and man are but a mere 6000 years old, according to the bible. Many no longer believe in Adam and Eve. For those who don’t believe in the Adam and Eve story, this alone should pose a serious problem. With no Adam and Eve then there is no Original sin, and without Original sin there is no need for Jesus, who was supposedly born of a virgin to set believers, free from the Original sin.
We are almost space age travelers still trying to move about in the primitive superstition of ancient times. I am quite convinced today that the hierarchy of the Catholic (Vatican city) and Anglican Churches know and believe that many religions lead to the creator God, and the dogmas of Christianity now firmly entrenched in the believer, leave a stumbling block of huge proportions. The new Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Rev. Dr. Peter Carnley, Archbishop of Perth made a public statement just recently (April 2000) that he believed that the Islamic and Buddhist faiths also lead to God. He also made the comment that too much emphasis was placed on the resurrection. He also stated that fundamental Christians would not be able to bully him. There are many others in similar position also saying the same. If this is what they believe then where does that put Jesus and the bible.
I have also started to put a lot of my articles to writing they are varied and cover many topics pertaining to Christianity and ancient religions. I believe it is important for all believers of the Christian faith to stop, to think and to question? It is no good seeking your pastor or minister for answers. These so- called ‘learned one’ of the clergy believe different creeds and doctrines, and they dispute each other, a Protestant bishop for example would probably hold the Pope in contempt. If Church denominations cannot agree on doctrine (homosexuality, adultery, and ordination of women are three examples and there are many more) how can you trust these various ministers to guide you into "truth." They themselves know only what they have been taught, and that information is second, third, or fourth hand. Why did God leave the writings of theology to modern uninspired writers, who cannot agree with one another? You must seek for yourself, and if you seek with an open mind you shall find. Today we should be using our knowledge in every direction (including the Church,) we should be testing all opinions by the facts that we know. All claims should be investigated, the object being to separate truth from what is false.
Leaving the addictions of Christianity (deprogramming your mind) is a bit like ridding your-self of an addictive problem such as nicotine. During the withdrawal phase life is hell, you want to stay addicted, but when it’s over you feel so much better, you feel liberated. I would have to say that leaving Christianity would have to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made. It is good to be set free from outdated mythology, superstition and dogmas. Once you can let go you begin to feel comfortable and relieved and you find that everything takes on a whole new outlook.
I believe it is healthy to explore different ideas and beliefs. I have become aware that no one changes his mind unless he himself wants to change it. If you don’t want to seek then you don’t want to learn, and in order to seek "truth" the mind must be open to receive that truth.
My wife and I believe in a Creator (energy force), but with no dogmas to follow, just our own intuition, and to love our fellow man and to reach out when there is a need. This creator is a creation of natural processes, which does not make judgments or dispense advice. There is no instruction manual. When all and everything was created the switch was turned on so to speak, and we have been left to our own devices, to follow the direction of our heart until the day when we depart from this life as we know it.
The more I search the more I discover, and am still discovering. There were religions that predated the Israelites, and these ancient religions and history of these people is what keeps me intrigued to this very day.
Agnostic / Atheist? August 2000.
If you have read my testimony to date then you will gather that I have not quite made it to the atheist stage. I guess at this stage both my wife and myself would have to class ourselves as agnostic. We no longer believe in any revealed organised religion as such, and therefore there are no miracles and no point in prayer. The big bang theory may have been the very start of creation as we know it today, still evolving. My wife and I would like to think that the psyche of man could be spiritual in some way but we don’t know and probably never will, after all dead men don’t talk. There is no returning from the dead to spread the news, is there? Even though traveling Pentecostal evangelists talk about all the dead that are raised to life in third world countries?
I now have an open mind, and am no longer held in bondage to any religion and I feel very confident that the Judeo-Christian God does no more exist, than the Greek, Egyptian, or any other culture Gods or Goddess’ that have existed and died through out the ages. That is why I consider myself agnostic today. I have not been everywhere and I certainly do not know all that there is to be known. Even though I believe that the possibility of God is highly unlikely, I do not have all of the answers, and I recognise that the possibilities exists –however slim those may be.
It is impossible to talk of world peace as long as religions exist, and it looks like religions will always be with us, along with their intolerance and hatred of each other. Christians never hesitate to put down other religions. If we look into Christianity’s past and present treatment of those with contrary religious opinions we find that they assail, insult and ridicule their tenets, and it become outrageous for anyone to say that Christianity excels at promoting compassion and humanitarianism. So much for "love your enemy".
Within Christianity itself there is very little tolerance among the various denominations, who cannot agree with each other over biblical interpretation of the bible, Catholics, Protestants and Pentecostal cannot see eye to eye. Each one doubts if the other is really Christian, and some of their offshoots are regarded as cults.
I feel we should cultivate a respect for the universe, cultivate an awareness of human fallibility (mine and yours) cultivate the tools to separate truth from what we would like to be true. I no longer have a fear for my "soul" in the "afterlife", because I believe that neither exists, as portrayed by the Church, but if something does exist then that will be a bonus.
I have no idea where mankind originated from, (I don’t believe it was from Adam and Eve.) and I don’t know what will happen when I die, I’m not perturbed about it either, and I prefer it that way.
Maybe death is the great equaliser? Whatever revealed organised man made religion you belong to, whether it is Christianity, Islamic, Hinduism, Judaism, or all of their various off- shoots, sects, cults, or whatever, I now believe that death may make us all equal.
The people who used to be our Christian friends and also the ones who used to turn up at early morning prayer meetings within the Church (if there were half a dozen we would consider it a crowd). They now say among themselves that we were never really Christian anyway, but there is no question in both my mind and the mind of my wife Gloria that we were sincere dedicated Christians trying to live the Christian life. I started to lose faith by studying the bible after those prayer meetings for Israel contrary to my own desire. Our loss of faith was something that happened to us while doing the things that Christians do, it was heart wrenching for us at the time, we lost many hours of sleep over it, however knowing what we now know it would be impossible for us to return to Christianity.
Freedom of speech is a friend for those who seek change, and freedom of speech is an enemy of the Church who seeks to maintain control.
. I can no longer believe that man is made in God’s image as taught by the Church, but just the reverse. That God has been perceived in the image of man. If man has been created in God’s image then how can we be imperfect? How can a supposed "perfect god" according to the church create anything imperfect? Perfection can only create perfection.
In closing may I say this, don’t be afraid to change. So often we find ourselves following the paths that others have set before us. Perhaps we feel limited by our own beliefs of what we think we can do and what we can’t do. In just a single moment that it takes to commit to change our ways, we can rewrite a new story. Change isn’t always easy, and it takes courage, but with courage comes growth, and with growth comes enlightenment. It is my desire that whoever reads this testimony will seek new ways to grow and to learn to love all our fellow men in all circumstances in the time that lies ahead. Jim Lee. August. 2000.
January 2001. I have finally come to the decision that you have to believe in a god as perceived by man made organised religion come faith movements, or you don't believe in a god. So from this point on I do not believe in a god, so that make me atheist.
Jim Lee. January. 2001.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)