by Tim Simmons
One Tuesday night in May of 1988, I heard a knock on my apartment door. I was married at the time and my wife was at work. I opened the door. Two men from the local Baptist church were out witnessing door to door and asked if they could come in for a few minutes. I said sure. I didn’t know at the time, but they were following a gospel presentation outline that they had learned from Evangelism Explosion, a sales tactic devised by James Kennedy, then pastor of the Coral Ridge Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
I invited them in and we all sat down in the living room. After a few minutes of leisurely conversation, they eased their way into the gospel presentation and slowly tried to ascertain my eternal disposition by asking me the two diagnostic questions.
“Tim, have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven?” one of them asked. I wasn’t sure. He then proceeded to ask the second diagnostic question. “Tim, suppose that you were to die tonight and stand before God and he were to say to you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ What would you say?” I didn’t know. I knew there was a right and wrong answer but I also knew that whether I knew the correct answer or not, I would soon be hearing it anyway. I can’t recall exactly what I told them but they deduced by my answers that I was not saved. I, in my present state, was headed straight to hell.
They went into their sales pitch and talked about grace, man’s sinful nature, God’s mercy, God’s justice, Jesus’ death on the cross, faith and provided a Bible verse to back up each claim. I was sweating under the armpits. Emotionally, I was at their mercy. I wanted to do the right thing. Living in the heart of the Bible Belt, the Christian religion was simply assumed to be true and the only question remaining was whether a person was going to do the right thing and believe it. Everything was a given. God, Jesus, it was all assumed to be fact. I was ripe for the picking.
Then they pressed for the close and asked me “Does this make sense to you?” I must have said yes because the next thing I knew was that I was praying the sinner’s prayer in tears. I wanted so much to believe in God and Jesus and the good parts of the Bible. That night, with my head bowed, I embarked upon my Christian voyage by asking Jesus to come into my heart. When the prayer was done, I wiped my eyes and they showed me verses that guaranteed my salvation was set in stone and that I could never lose it. My immediate responsibilities as a member of God’s family were to read my Bible daily, starting in the gospel of John, and go to church each week. With a handshake and smile, they left, knowing that through the power of God’s gospel, another soul had been snatched from the clutches of Satan.
I am embarrassed now to think that I later went door to door with one of those men, peddling the gospel of a Bible I knew little about. I bought the Bible that Tuesday night based on just a handful of verses. Imagine the following scenario. A man goes to a used car dealer, asks to see some cars, the dealer shows him a picture of a one-inch piece of tire tread and says, "Look at that tread, the whole car is in great shape!" and the buyer says, "OK, I'll take it." No one would ever buy a car based on a photograph of a piece of one of the tires, yet, this is being done each and every day by people who buy the whole Bible, give their whole life to one of its characters and base their decision about its truth on just a few select verses while never looking at the other 25,000 plus verses! Peer pressure, sales pressure, guilt trips, lopsided evidence, pervasive regional belief in the Bible, and eternal damnation as an incentive to help make a buying decision are all heaped into the mix and voila! The heathen are suddenly Bible believing members of God’s family.
How Stella Got Her Senses Back
I am no longer a Christian. I would add a “Thank God!” but God had nothing to do with it. Around 1996, I began to have serious doubts about the Bible and consequently, the whole Christian affair. I have since found so many errors, discrepancies, contradictions, failed prophecies, anachronisms, and scientific errors within the pages of God’s infallible word that I am forced to accept the real truth that these writings are not the inspired, revealed word of God but are the inventions and plagiarisms of imaginative men.
There are probably some Christians reading this who are thinking that I was never really saved to begin with and that is why I have fallen away. They will say that I was like the seed that fell among thorns or I was like the seed that fell by the wayside and sprang up quickly, but having no solid foundation, died after only a short time. These Christians could not be further from the truth. I believed. I believed with all my heart, mind and soul. I went to church every week. I read my Bible. I memorized verses. I prayed. I witnessed door to door. I honestly believed all of it and when problem scriptures came up, I asked for answers. When I got the generic ‘We won’t understand until we get to heaven.’ reply, I then did what every Christian must do to keep their sanity and religion intact and swept the problems under the rug, thinking on them no further.
After about two years, I quit going to the local Baptist church due to several reasons, one of which was that I wanted some real study. A thirty minute sermon based upon a New Testament passage that I had heard a hundred times before was simply not giving me the knowledge I sought and I joined a small house church in Memphis, Tennessee. During the next several years I became more familiar with the Bible and with many of its fundamentalist scholars such as R.C. Sproul, Hank Hannagraf, Norman Geisler, Gleason Archer, and others. I also became more confused. The problems surfaced each time I opened the Bible and none of the scholars could adequately answer many of them and I had issues that I had never even heard addressed by anyone. Doubt had become impossible to avoid and my rug had become a small mountain.
I eventually quit going to the house church and began rereading the Bible starting with Genesis, logging my gripes into my computer. Those gripes grew into a document exceeding one hundred pages. The transition from emotional, froth-at-the-mouth Bible-toter to what I am now took about five years. It wasn’t easy and I didn’t take it lightly. It was very difficult to say goodbye to a large part of my life but I felt that if the truth drew me away from the Bible, so be it. After I had officially changed camps in my own mind, I then began to search the Internet for more information and found that I was not alone in my discovery. Many people had long since found out what I had learned and then some. I am now completely and one hundred percent convinced that Christianity is false. I am no longer a doubting Thomas.
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)