sent in by "Now a Freethinker"
Ah, where to begin. Prior to my momentous conversion to the faith, I was just your average high-school grad about to enter university. I supposed I would have classed myself as "Christian" at the time, although I didn't read the bible, go to church or anything. I imagine many people classify themselves in a similar manner.
Then, I went to university. I don't know the cause, exactly. Maybe it was
fear, and loneliness at being away from home? Initially I was drawn to
Roman Catholicism simply because of the pomp and ritual. It gave me a sense
of comfort and belonging.
One night I watching TV...some "Jesus" show was on, and that's all it took.
I "converted" that night, and launched myself into a flurry of study.
I ended up at a Baptist church that had just gotten a new preacher...and
he was a staunch 5-point Calvinist. I got one heck of an education from him.
I was made aware of the whole Arminian vs. Calvinist theology debate, the
traps of Scofieldism, the horrors of the Catholic church.
What was the end result of this deluge of theological effluvium? I became
a rabid fundamentalist of a sort that isn't seen much today...a Calvinistic
fundamentalist. Like you I poured over Spurgeon, Calvin, Luther, Knox...
I spurned "modern Arminian xtianity" with a passion. I became RABIDLY
anti-Catholic (I devoured Hislop's "The Two Babylons" to whet my appetite for
anti-Catholic rhetoric). I hid Calvinistic tracts in the university library,
if you can believe that! I even had tapes of the hatemonger "reverend"
Ian Paisley of Ireland.
One of the darkest, saddest things I did at this time was to severely
browbeat an old friend who was converting to Catholicism (she was planning
on marrying a Catholic at the time). I treated her like SHIT in the name
of my "religion". I lost this friend (and I will forever ache because
Long story short: I became a neurotic fundamentalist asshole. My family
was terrified of what I had become. And I was prepared to walk away from
even them in the name of this "religion."
I didn't find comfort in the "brotherhood" of fellow Christians, either. Most
held me at arm's length...even those that weren't aware of my Calvinistic
beliefs. The ones that were aware of my Calvinistic ways were horrified,
as you can expect.
Still, even in all this there was a method to the madness. Even buried in
Hislop's hate-filled anti-Catholic creeds, there WAS a small grain of truth.
Through that I discovered that Christianity was NOT all that it seemed!
No indeed. I learned about the church's habit of borgifying contemporary
religions...from Mithra to the Saturnalia. I saw the worn coat of
Christian paint covering the old Pagan holidays. I began to learn.
At the time I had signed up for "religion & culture" classes at the
university. Fortunately for me, these classes were NOT dogmatic brain-washing
sessions. See, these classes showed me the literary deconstruction of the
books of the bible. I learned about the "Q" document that the synoptics
were based on. I began to see the 4th gospel as the dogmatic little tract
it is. My "faith" was challenged by hard scientific fact.
The one thing that bothered me most was Paul. I had founded my beliefs on
Paul's teachings, but I couldn't make his doctrines mesh with what the 3
synoptics taught. It bothered me that Paul basically told female believers
to "sit down and shut up", especially since Jesus had been so GOOD to women.
It bothered me that James' sole epistle directly contradicted everything
Paul was preaching (even Luther himself was bothered by this). And it
began to become plain to me that even the original apostles did not like
or trust this Saul of Tarsus. The perceived uniformity of bible
scripture began to unravel before my eyes.
I studied, learned. I realized that if Jesus really existed, he was
a rabbi. And thus, if he was a rabbi, he HAD to be married. I realized that
millennia of censorship and misogyny had excised the rabbi's wife from the
tale, turning her into a whore! I began to see the Mithratic influences
in Saul of Tarsus and his preaching. I began to really "see" for the
first time that whatever Christianity was when it was founded, it had been
co-opted and hijacked so many times it was VERY far from what it was
originally. Right from the get-go, the whole thing was counterfeit.
All in all, as the myth of Christianity was deconstructed one page at a time,
my own inner struggle was getting darker. I was alone, and didn't have much
luck meeting new friends. It began to bother me that I had alienated so
many of my former friends with my rabid fundamentalism. I began the long
process of re-evaluating myself and what I believe.
Another big thing was the whole "prophecy" angle. I began to view prophecy
with extreme suspicion. It bothered me the way the followers of Scofield
borrowed scriptures ad-hoc from all over the bible, especially from the
old testament prophets, simply to support their dogma. The book of
Revelations really got under my skin the most however. I wondered at the
"authority" of the book...who is this "John" guy anyway? Why should we
believe that these incredibly violent pages were written by an apostle?
Anyone could have penned it. And look at the result--so many wars, so
much strife and division, so much bloodshed--all because of this ONE
book. How much better would Christianity be if this book had been left
out of the official canon! I mean look at the lunacy today...I'm revolted
by these "dispensationalist" so-called "Christians" who are slavering and
drooling for the end of the world to come. So much so that they are
looking forward to a bloody war in Israel so they can see that damn
temple "reconstructed" (as Scofield has promised them "must" happen).
It disgusts me that people with such bloodlust in their hearts still
consider themselves to be emissaries of the "prince of peace."
This was the final hurdle: by rejecting prophecy, I rejected the
predestined mindset of Calvinistic thinking. It was over.
Today I consider myself to be happily non-religious. The siren call of
religion--any kind, mind you--does not hold my ear anymore. Perhaps I'm
agnostic, who knows. The one thing I realized is that the world is far
too full of shades of gray for anyone to cling to absolutes and not be
Heck, I wouldn't have even considered sharing this were it not for your
admissions to being a Calvinist at one point...I didn't know any existed outside
my little group so long ago. And perhaps by being a Calvinist, I sowed the
seeds of my own "destruction" (religion-wise). Once you start learning,
you start to see the cracks. If you are honest with yourself, you won't
pretend that those cracks don't exist.
It took me years to admit I had fallen away from the faith. I had learned
too much--the myth had been exposed to me. Perhaps this is why so many
religious folks hate learning--they want to remain comfortable in the
little reality their religion constructs for them.
No I don't have the answers to "life, the universe, and everything." Neither
does Christianity. Once you start asking questions and seeking the answers,
anyone can come to realize that. I'm comfortable with the shades of gray,
for now. But I never stop learning.
Became a Christian: 21, if you can believe it.
Ceased being a Christian: Hard to answer. Drifted away slowly. Finally admitted it about 6 or 7 years ago.
Labels before: Fundamentalist, Calvinist, Baptist
Labels now: Happily NON-religious.
Why I joined: Unknown. Just "happened" watching some Jesus show on TV one night.
Why I left: Like you, I learned too much for my own good. :)
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)