sent in by Rustifer
I'll never forget that night at a Southern Baptist Revival. The preacher, a travelling evangeslist said "Do you want to see your daddy again after you die? Come on down the aisle, find Jesus, and enjoy eternal life away from hell, where there is wheeping, sorrow, and fire." I was 12, just a kid, and from that point on, I was scared of death and the God who created it.
I didn't go down the aisle that night. I was crying too hard. And the next 3 years was spent trying to get up the nerve to walk down the aisle at a revival to get saved from hell. The revivals only came around twice a year so if I missed one or chickened out, I lived in fear of life and death until the next revival. Finally, I went down the aisle and was crying too hard to say any prayer "confessing Jesus as Savior".
Eventually, a preacher helped me settle the question with a prayer. However, what if I lost this salvation? After all, I had better be damn sure I"m not going to hell. Who wants to spend eternity listening to wheeping and gnashing of teeth?
The next few years was spent carrying around a Bible at high school, going to Church, and wondering if I am really saved. Many nights I did go down the aisle to get "re-saved" or to "gain assurance" but those moments were short lived and draining. I did have a very big experience one night and the "love of Christ and my fellow man" enveloped me but it was short lived. I just couldn't shake the fear of hell no matter what I did and I could never measure up to the perfect life I was supposed to live.
Finally, at age 20, right after I lost my virginity, I turned to booze in a big way to keep myself from thinking about hell so much. I thought that by running from the Baptist church, I was running from God. I spent the next 10 years drinking away thoughts of God and hell. I would try to revisit the Baptist church from time to time but the fear of hell and of God and of not being perfect tormented me. I had to stay away and the drinking increased.
It took 2 visits to rehabs, losing 50 pounds from a nasty coke habit, and a ton of 12 step meetings for me to realize the following: If I ever wanted to live a life free and clear of booze and drugs, I would have to find a new view of God because the one I was raised with was not going to work.
I had a friend at the time who made me write down "I am not a Southern Baptist" since deep down, I am unable to believe in a God that sends people to hell. Nor do I believe the Bible is His Word. Nor can I put my faith that the writers of bible 2,000 years ago got everything just letter perfect and told the entire story. And Christ? Well, who's to say *for sure* but I don't think he came to save me from the wrath of a Big Bad Bully known as God.
So, I found a God that I could believe in, a very simple conception that I deep down in myself after much searching. And this God works for me. As long as I keep reminding myself that there is a God and I am not it, life has taken on a whole new meaning.
I mourned my lost childhood a few months ago and now, at age 31, 18 months free and clean, I now am beginning to live for the very first time in my life. And it all started with getting away from those fundamentalist Christian teachings I was exposed to at age 12.
Country: United States
Became a Christian: 12
Ceased being a Christian: 30
Labels before: Southern Baptist
Labels now: Free as a bird.
Why I joined: Fear of hell
Why I left: Alcoholism/drug addiction
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)