it took 7 years to find my way

sent in by beanheel

when i was about 12, my family started to move around quite a bit. before then we had always gone to church on sundays, but it wasn't a central theme for us, and i really didn't consider religion a central part of my life. then we moved five hundred miles away, leaving my friends and what i considered my life behind.

we moved in the middle of summer, so i didn't have an opportunity to try to make new friends right away. my mom, trying to help matters, found a church for us to attend, thinking rightly that there would be kids my age there. i became close friends with many of those kids, and since none of them went to my school, i only saw them at church. because of this i started going not only on sunday, but on wednesday, and i joined the bible bowl team (a fierce monthly competition based on exact memorization of a given text, for those who are unfamiliar). i was good at it. church became the only place i felt a sense of comradeship and accomplishment.

when we moved again, it was me, not mom, who sought out a church (of the same denomination, of course) to attend. there again i plugged myself into the youth group scene. i think it was about this time, at the age of 15, that i began to make the shift from seeing church as a social arena to delving into actual discipleship. i read my bible daily, received insults at school because of it. i prayed often and really tried to 'feel' the presence of god. i convinced myself that i had somehow. i became the jewel of my congregation, someone they wanted their children to emulate.

after high school, i immediately matriculated to a very strict bible college in tennessee to train for youth ministry and preaching. even there i was a star. president of my class, near straight-A student. i worked at a church not far away as their youth minister.

during my sophomore year, though, things started to change for me. having to learn greek and read the new testament in older, more reliable forms, had a profound effect on me. i could not believe the unwarranted liberties taken with the texts in translation, most of which were employed to foster certain theological dogmas. also, the text itself (ot as well as nt) began to trouble me philosophically. it started with the story of adam and eve. i couldn't put it right. adam and eve are without the knowledge of good and evil until AFTER they eat the fruit. they could not have understood their action as evil until they had already performed it. they were held accountable, according to the text, for something they could not understand. this implies a god that is either not omnipotent or not good. no one i talked to could give me an answer. all i got when i asked the question was, "we are human and we can't understand the mind of god." but that was my whole point! we can't understand the mind of god, but we're going to be held accountable for adhering to it?

in light of my new skepticism, i finally admitted to myself what i had so long avoided. there was no presence of god that i had ever felt. the idea of god answering prayer according to his will voided the efficacy of prayer in the first place.

i left the bible college and for a while was a little depressed and jaded. finally, i found some of joseph campbell's books on comparative religion and the value of metaphor in myth. things started to make a little more sense.

the most common criticism i get from christians when they learn i've become an apostate is that i must have done so because of something some christians did--that i have to understand that christians aren't perfect and when they do wrong they aren't representing christ. only, i didn't leave because of anything anyone did--except myself. in fact, i still keep in contact with several of the christians i knew from the bible college. they, like most of the christians i've encountered, are kind, sincere people--people i care about and think are wrong. they think i'm wrong. we deal with it civilly.

this turned out way longer than i expected, and there is more that i could say, but i'll leave it at this.

thanks, webmaster, for the forum.

Sex: male
City: knoxville
State: TN
Country: usa
Became a Christian: 13
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: conservative christian
Labels now: secular humanist
Why I joined: i adopted it as an answer to uncertainty
Why I left: i had a philosophical crisis

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