I became a 'born again Christian' early in life, being baptized in an evangelical American Baptist (ABC) church in 1974. I became very active in it- youth group, volleyball, choir ( no, I can't sing, but I was in it anyway!), the clown ministry to nursing homes, retreats, etc.
I went to contemporary Christian concerts ( Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Larry Norman, Petra, Phil Keaggy, Steve Taylor, etc, etc.), an inter-denominational group with a weekly singing and Bible study- we also went to concerts, retreats, and so on.
I went to Christian coffeehouses, other events, and other churches for fellowship and teaching-to 'fellowship' and learn, not to church hop.
Skipping ahead a bit- I tried to convert LDS/Mormon missionaries at the ripe young age of 17, but after an extended period of time, I was baptized as a Mormon at the age of 18, in 1981 after going through the missionary discussions twice, film strips and talks with other Mormons/LDS. That lasted for a bit over 2 years. I went in it because I brought up 'critical liturature'/ born again 'anti-Mormon' or anti-Mormonism material, and they answered it to my satisfaction, and I didn't know of many of the Bible verses that they use, so they caught me off guard. I did go to other Christians about it- a meeting with a Bible study teacher at my then home church, First Baptist, which included two LDS/Mormon missionaries, a friend who is still in it- 'J' , and the guy whose house I took the missionary discussions in, 'Jack'. There was another meeting I had with an area minister who I already knew for years, but it was too late and I didn't think he had the better positions all in all. I also was at a meeting for my friend, 'J', a Christian who he knew from his former church, 2 missionaries (I think 1 or 2 were the same ones at the other meeting with my former Bible study teacher at my former church, First Baptist), and 'Jack'. This was at his former Assemblies of God church and was an effort to keep 'J' out of Mormonism.
It didn't work.
'J' and a friend I knew for many years were baptized before I was! 'J' is still in it, as far as I know (I haven't heard from him in a few years now), and the other is out. both were in bornagainism before joining Mormonism.
After I was baptized and started to go ( I didn't tell my parents for a few months), I was very active in it for 2 years and 2 months (as my memory serves me on my time in it). I went with the Mormon missionaries to a number of their appointments when they were with 'born again' Christians, went to many events like dances, a weekend 'mini-mission', general conference broadcasts, and quite a number of other events. I read and studied it, and believed in it with both mind and heart. I sought to convert others to it as well.
When I eventually saw that their answers were not as solid as I thought, and saw the foundations of Mormonism fall, I left. I never had a negative experience in it. I also never danced so much before or since! I *have* danced since then, however!
After I left, I went right back to my born again faith, and the church I left. I was again active in it, and other activities and studies in bornagainism.
Everything was fine until the mid-1980s. A friend of mine, 'G', who was in bornagainism at the time had met someone who was in the Boston Church of Christ, and was invited to a Bible Talk . We decided to go, and talked to those there afterwards. We were not influenced by the Bible Talk at all. The only reasons I called the Boston Church of Christ/International Churches of Christ person was to find out where my ex-friend was- he couldn't be directly reached where he lives at the time, so I had to leave a message where he works or ask the BCOC/ICOC member to see if he heard from him. I did this a few times at least, and then the Boston Church of Christ member asked if I wanted to 'study the Bible' with him. Well, you know what that means! Carefully crafted lessons that the member gives to potential converts. At the time, all I knew of the BCOC/ICOC was that it had the baptism problem, and later that it had a lot of younger people in it.
I went along with it- my interest was to research and reach those I thought were in false religions, i.e.- not agreeing with what I believed to be the one, true born again faith. Well, it took them a bit of time and effort, but I was baptized in to the Boston Church of Christ in 1987. Keep in mind that the reasons that I joined any of these other groups was that I thought that they were closer to the Bible then what I already believed. I knew what I believed. I didn't join either the Mormon Church or the Boston Church of Christ/The International Churches of Christ because of the love-bombing, the mind control, etc.
I was shown, by someone who was in the Boston Church of Christ at the time (and who got into trouble for being independent & keeping his convictions) that the New Testament (NT) taught that water baptism is essential to, and was the point of, 'salvation'. Their position is that a person is 'saved' by faith, but it is at the point of water baptism by immersion. That's what I thought at that time, anyway. There are still some interesting points to the position. The came from the mainstream Churches of Christ/'Campbellites' and from one of their schools of preaching. He went into the Greek, and I brought up the Greek and other points in books against the doctrine. I joined from what I saw then as proof of what was in the Bible, not emotions, nor subjective reasons. The same with the Mormon Church. I was never told that the Boston Church of Christ had incorporated authoritarianism and the controlling Shepherding/discipling practices into its system. I knew about and disagreed with that junk with the Ft. Lauderdale teachers, etc. I wasn't unlearned in the existence of authoritarian, but on the other hand, I didn't know the first thing about mind control at the time, or what the BCOC/ICOC was all about.
My time in the Boston Church of Christ lasted 7 months. My motto on this is: "In & out in 87' "!! I was in the old 'Outer North Zone'. This was before sectors, etc., were added. They came out with their exclusivistic 'Remnant Theology' doctrine in the Sunday bulletin while I was in. ( i.e.-They are the One True Movement of 'God' today. It developed more since the 'Remnant Theology' Sunday bulletin came out in 1987). I saw "Upside Down" ( a musical presentation they produced based on Acts in the 'New' Testament of the Christian Bible) when I was in, and went to the old Boston Garden weekly to hear Kip McKean say "Ameeeeen?!!" every 7-10 words ( give or take!). They now go to the new Fleet Center a few times a year, I think, but am not sure. They mostly meet in different smaller groups on Sundays and at other times.
My first 'discipler' was the person who I first met and called when I was looking for my friend. My first discipler and his wife came from the mainstream churches of Christ, but he and his wife once thought their baptism was valid in their former church, and the Boston Church of Christ accepted that. I have heard that they have been re-baptized in the Boston Church of Christ, sometime after I left . My second 'discipler' helped me pick out some new clothes ( I guess that was 'making the gospel attractive', as they like to do !!) , but the discipling wasn't spiritually enhancing. I wonder ( actually more than wonder!) about the divine guidance of their choice on that one, since I don't believe in it now and there wasn't a lot of spiritual/religious stuff in it! ( He has since left the Boston Church of Christ, and I think he is still out). While I was in, I was in a single adult household in my area. There were about 10-11 people in it! It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the church, I think. Since that time, 7-8 from that household group have left the church!!
The problems began when they tried to separate me from the only other friend who I hung around with, a Christian who, of course, they said wasn't because he didn't submit to their definition (which consists of more than just being 'saved' by faith at water baptism. They interview the potential convert to see if they are 'repentant and submitted enough after taking their canned 'Bible studies', confess, as a 'non- Christian' to someone else who they deem a true Christian, go to regular meetings, etc. See the old Acts Class studies, the new studies by Randy McKean, and an article in one of their old Discipleship or Upside Down magazines- I forget the reference right now. It is quite similar to an inside publication by the Jehovah's Witnesses' leadership- I think its called Our Kingdom Ministry newsletter. I don't have the documentation handy. It's somewhere downstairs!). They first wanted me to 'bring another brother' when we got together. This was OK- 'Christian influence'. Then they moved to, "Well, you could be using that time to bring people to the truth", and tried to draw me away from being with him. I didn't agree with this, and disagreed with how they used the Bible to do this. I don't know the order of all of this, but another issue was that I disagreed with something a leader said in a speech (Grant Henley), so when I brought it up that I had these issues, a meeting was set up with the zone leader and house church leader in the single adult household I was in. The household leader was present at the meeting, but didn't say anything. I was asked to write down my questions for this meeting, which I did.
The meeting started, and when we couldn't agree with what the speaker said, instead of going on to another question, they dug into me. They were trying to break me down into submission under the umbrella of 'rebuking'. Gee, does anyone here relate to this?!
Can I hear an 'AMEN', someone?!
The meeting lasted for 3 hours. I know that most of the time was digging into me- emotionally trying to break me down into submission. The zone leader claimed that the part of the meeting that dealt with me only lasted about 45 minutes, I know that is bogus!! That evening was the house church Christmas party! I certainly not saying ho ho ho at the party!
NOT a party animal that night!
I was quite bummed out, to tell you the truth. I cried at that party- not from conviction, but from the emotional beating I got. A girl I knew, who has also left since, asked me what was wrong, but I didn't respond. I just cried.
I recovered by the next morning. An ex-member told me that I was lucky to recover that quickly. At that time, or after that, I got some information from Buddy Martin, a mainstream Church of Christ /'Campbellite' preacher who was in Massachusetts at the time, and worked against the BCOC/ICOC. I even read it in the household! I got a copy of a Christian debate with Jerry Jones (used to be an elder in the Boston Church of Christ, left it and is now back with the mainstream Churches of Christ) in it. It was an evangelical program. It was given to me by a member of the BCOC / International Churches of Christ! All of these things lead me away from the Boston Church of Christ / International Churches of Christ movement.
It was not emotions in or out. It was what I discovered as the evidence against what I was into. I could not compromise what I found. When I left, I decided that the church I grew up in was not giving me the 'spiritual food' it should. The sermons were lacking in depth for me, and so on. I went to a Southern Baptist church that a few people I knew went to. They were at a Bible study I went to. One of them was the study teacher. He gets into trying to reach and educate others and churches on Mormonism, JWs, etc. from a conservative Christian perspective (history, teachings, why he believes they need to be converted to keep them from hell, etc.). He does less of speaking in churches now, I assume since he is getting older. I went right back to my former born again, evangelical beliefs. I didn't believe I had reason to dump it all, so I didn't. I believed in it with both my heart and mind, as I did during my time in it before and since this time.
I was happy and active in my (now former) born again faith. I also had questions about what others said about the New Testament and Christian usage of the Jewish Bible/Tanack/ 'Old Testament'. Was the Christian 'messianic prophecy' case really that solid, as I thought? Are the NT accounts and defenses of the resurrection of the NT Jesus trustworthy and more so, perfect? These were only what I heard about others' objections and I had no doubts about the Christian Bible before I actually went into studying the issues. I had heard these objections before I went into the Boston Church of Christ / BCC movement (now collectively called the International Churches of Christ), but I thought about it, pushed it aside, and did so off and on for at least a few years. I finally decided to check it out. I checked it out with the NT texts only, checking the context, wording,and so on. I decided to expand the study to include the NT trial(s), crucifixion, and ascension accounts. I also did a good study of the Christian messianic prophecy case. The apologists/Christian 'defenders' of bornagainism failed, even though there were some OK points along the way. I had many more problems after just "let[ting] the Bible speak for itself" ( a popular Christian slogan), than before. Another popular Christian slogan is that "The Bible is its own best interpreter". It sounds great and confident, but I found that both slogans applied shows that the Christian Bible demonstrates itself to be human, rather than divine, in origin (Turning a slogan of Christian Research Institute president, Hank Hanagraaff, around). The Christian apologetics failed, the other side- whether from Jewish or skeptical sources-were not perfect, but they had more than enough to show me where the evidence should lead me. I found that I was not the only one who had found the same problems, either! I found most or all of my problems in the skeptical and Jewish sources!
I went to conservative Christian commentaries, as well as apologists such as Norman Geisler, Josh McDowell, Gleason L. Archer, etc., and they failed on demonstrating that the NT texts are trustworthy (worthy of our trust) and failed on the other arguments to defend the 'resurrection' of the NT Jesus. I went to the other side, including skeptics and Jewish sources ( Jewish sources on the Christian 'messianic prophecy' issue) and I found that they weren't perfect/infallible, but they had more than enough good points against the 2 topics and much/most of it is what I found in my studies before ever reading the skeptics and Jewish material.
Without the foundations of Christianity being sound, I could not follow what I used to. It was very hard, but that was the only intellectually honest thing I could do. I didn't want to, but now I am so glad I no longer believe in the Bible. I wouldn't want to limit myself unnecessarily, think that all are damned from conception because of what 2 people did thousands of years ago because 'God' decided to damn all of humanity for what only 2 people did and now we deserve the eternal torment chamber called hell/ the lake of fire, and have to submit to this 'god's' suppossed love for us by converting to the Only True Faith or be thrown into hell fire from this deity-concept (Matt. 13, 25, Rev. 21, 22, etc.).
I would return if I found that the Christian Bible is truly from a perfect, Christain, deity.
I didn't leave because of emotions, wanting to 'sin', hurt feelings, and so forth.
I left because the essential foundations to believe the crucial doctrines of CHRISTianity are unreliable/ untrustworthy. I tried to find reasons to keep trusting the Bible, and have a real 'reasons for faith', but if those essential areas fall-only one has to go-then there is real reason to admit it and leave bornagainism.
There is no reason to believe in the NT doctrines if the basis of them are shown to be "on sinking sand" ( to use the words of a hymn )-or sunk. The 'messiahship' of the collective NT Jesus ( and the belief that the collective NT Jesus is identical as a historical Jesus), and he being crucified for our 'sins', resurrected "for our justification" and raised to heaven are those foundations. We can believe in the divine without a book of about 1,000 - 1,500 pages of doctrines, taboos, damnation, unneeded guilt (induced through many ways), and other things. That does not mean there is nothing good in it, but I discovered that there are too many problems with it that shows that it is human in origin to make it the basis of my actions, "every thought" and everything about me and my life (2 Cor. 10:5, a NT verse- "Jesus, who IS our LIFE", etc.). That is only one topic of many to consider on what the NT wants us to submit and conform to. Another is that all non-converted are blinded by a Christian 'Satan' (2 Cor. 4:4), spiritually "dead in tresspasses and sin" and "children of wrath" "by nature" until we convert and conform (Eph. 2:1-9), "without Christ" which they equate with having "no hope..without God in the world..strangers and foriegners" before becoming converts/"saints" and part of the exclusive "household of God" (Eph. 2:12-19).
Is the case really worthy of converting to and believing such things and so much more?!
To briefly summarize the problems I have with the Christian Bible and defenses of it:
The case for Christianity with the crucial issues I left over and other topics show that it really doesn't contain a supernatural case origin for the Christian 'New Testament'/Christian Testament- passages are confused and confusing, taken out of its textual context, a human without any supernatural aid could use the Jewish Bible/'Old Testament' as some Christian NT authors use it so why believe it is divine in origin?
There are also:
- issues of translation, interpretation, application and even punctuation
- stretching and straining the texts,
- not enough historical substantiation to support underlying events, sometimes or many times no historical substantiation for claims in the area
- 'how-it-could-have-been scenarios
- 'opinion apologetics/defenses'
- using speculation as evidence when the texts themselves really don't
support the Christian Bible as a perfect collection of documents coming from a perfect deity.
There are more than enough weak arguments and rationalizations.
If there is real evidence to believe that the collection of the Christian Bible was not inspired from a perfect, Christian deity, and/or visa versa, then the texts fail, and 'Bible-based' Christianity falls and is human in origin. It also can then be maintained that there is no reason to believe that the deity that they beleive in exists.
So, I have been an open agnostic since the early 1990s. I am an open, but very cautious, agnostic. Once I thought I may have been wrong by leaving the BCOC,
but upon research, I knew I had made the right choice. Ditto for Mormonism. I truly believe that if people honestly investigated a belief system before they joined, not just the pro-side, but the other side, and had the right questions and information, there would be far fewer people going into error. Most (all?) conversions are not based on evidence, but are emotional/psychological in nature.
I left Bible belief because of conclusive evidence *and* by the *weight of* the evidence. I did not see a divine case that the Christian 'New' Testament is divine. I saw from what I discovered within the Christian Bible itself, that the Bible is human, rather than divine in origin. I haven't seen a case that I could see that I was wrong about this.
U.S. president Abraham Lincoln is quoted as stating:
"My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing age and I have no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."
- American Rationalist. March/April 2002, pp. 13-14
I am now a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Association of Congregations/UUA. It is a very open association, and draws from Christianity, non-faith, humanism, and other religions and spiritualities.
The UUA (headquarters) site:
One of the UU churches that has a web site is:
That is my story.
That is my deconversion testimony.
I plan to have a full web site up about my testimony, and findings, as well as links to other web sites, and more. Let me know if you want to be notified when it is up, and I will try to keep the list of email addresses in my Web Site folder up to date and use it when things are up and running.
I am open to discuss the topics from the Christian Bible that I studied and found that the Christian Bible didn't hold up as the word of deity, as time permits.
I Became a Christian at age 11
I Ceased being a Chrisitan at about 19
I am a guy from Massachusetts
My past labels were Born again Christian, evangelical American Baptist, Southern Baptist, Mormon/Latter-day Saint, International Churches of Christ/Boston Church of Christ movement.
My labels now are open, but skeptical Agnostic & Unitarian-Universalist.
Why I Joined Christianity? I believed the basic message of bornagainism and converted with both my heart and mind.
Why I Left? My study of essential areas of bornagainism (NT accounts of its Jesus' trials to ascension) and 'messianic prophecy' claims of the NT & Followers Failed. Defenses also failed.
TERMS USED in the narrative:
-BCOC/BCC/ICOC- The International Churches of Christ./Boston Church of Christ movement, started with Chuck Lucas and the 'mainstream Churches of Christ/'Campbellites' in Campus Advance, and the mainstream Churches of Christ, but becoming the ICOC/BCOC after Kip McKean took the leadership of the Church of Christ in Lexington, MA., and changing it into the authoritarian, controlling movement it is today. Lucas converted McKean, and since then Lucas has left the 'ministry', or was removed from it, because of "reoccurring sin" (unspecified).
Most, maybe all, of the mainstream Churches of Christ/'Campbellites' reject the BCOC/ICOC, BTW.
The church he had in Florida has since changed and has dropped the Lucas and McKean style-authoritarianism, control, and the other abuses that the movement is guilty of.
I also like to call it: The Boston Church/Intern'l Churches of Kip, the Boston/Intern'l Churches of Crap, and I like to call Kip McKean Pope Kip I/the First, Mien Kip.
-MORMON CHURCH/MORMONISM/LDS CHURCH- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the Mormon Church. I think the former official nickname was the LDS Church. It was used a lot by many, anyway. The present public relations outreach of the LDS Church is not to use either the Mormon Church, or the LDS Church.
-LDS: Latter-day Saint(s), or Mormons.
- NT: The New Testament/Christian Testament portion of the Christian Bible.
-JWs- Jehovah's Witnesses. Organizational name is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Nicknamed by non-JWs as the Watchtower Society).
A Few Quotes:
"Let us read the Bible without the ill-fitting colored spectacles of theology, just as we read other books, .......... Most of us possess discriminating reasoning powers. Can we use them or must we be fed by others like babes?"
Without a divine case of a supernatural origin for the Christian Bible from a *perfect* Christian deity- the unconverted are safe in staying unconvinced and therefore unconverted.
- Harry/Biblebelievernomore 2/8/2002
" For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that .......he who does not believe is condemned already .....and the wrath of God abides on him."
John 3:16,19,36 NKJV The dark side of Christmas
"...if the Biblical record can be proved fallible in areas of fact that can be verified, then it is hardly to be trusted in areas where it cannot be tested."
-Evangelical Christian defender, Gleason L. Archer, Enclyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, p.23
"Question unquestioned answers."
"Don't be fooled by those who would argue against the axioms of logic. Trying to do so with logical arguments is inherently self defeating; and doing so without logical arguments is meaningless."
"Emotions don't negate facts."
- Harry/Biblebelievernomore. 7/30/2001
"I prefer unanswered questions over unquestioned answers."
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)