sent in by Sam
Since I was already so far into my college major at the time of my de-conversion, I had to remain with it; partly because it would take an additional two years to graduate (which I couldn’t afford), and partly because I didn’t have the heart to tell my parents I’d left the faith. I have a double major in biblical studies and theology, and a minor in Hebrew. By the time I graduate I will have completed every single biblical studies and theology class offered on campus, have 18 hours of Hebrew, and 12 hours of New Testament Greek.
I was not just an average “application” Christian of the modern western church, but a student instructed in textual/literary/form criticism, Christian Philosophy, Christian Ethics, advanced homiletics, and advanced exegesis by some of the most renowned names in the evangelical community today. I can accurately lay out Heilsgeschichte (salvation history) with a plethora of biblical and extra-biblical sources from the Ancient Near East up to modern day. In all honesty, I don’t have many problems with academic Christianity. It’s a very coherent and harmonious theory within the evangelical circle. Where I do have a problem, however, is with the “personal” encounters I was supposed to be having with “my savior.” My Christian friends attributed finding their lost car keys to the “help of Jesus,” and when my uncle sobered up he said, “I couldn’t have done it with out the help of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” But don’t the unsaved sober up too? Do they not also become trophy fathers and get their life back on track without the “help of Jesus”?
It’s interesting, but I met an atheist around the time I was leaving Christianity. As I was discussing it with another friend I said, “Isn’t it amazing that God brought an atheist into my life right as I was leaving the faith?” I hadn’t even realized what I’d said. You see, I spoke Christian. It was a language and a thought process to be, my inherent nature! I learned to attribute every good thing in life to a blessing from Christ, and every bad thing as his merely teaching me to grow more dependent on him. I would often quote Tozer to myself, “It isn’t likely God can bless a man greatly whom he hasn’t hurt deeply.” For a long time I thought it was that I was a victim of “spiritual abuse” by the church, and that I was becoming so “anti-Christian” because I correlated the church with Christ, which sadly, was simply something I would not be able to do.
Upon further examination though, I realized my problems extended farther than just the church. I have no problem with the Historical Christ, I think he existed and taught a wonderful message of peace. He was a humanitarian! (Something many Christians are not). I think historical and archeological evidence gives conclusive evidence to the fact there was a Jesus, though not that he was in any way super-human or a Messiah. The problem I have is with the virgin birth, the “blameless life,” and the literal physical resurrection. I had always accepted these things on “faith.” But I really sat back and started thinking… “Wait a minute… IT’S NOT POSSIBLE!” “But this is where faith comes in, Sam!” they would say. That only added to my problem, though. I started to view Christianity as a “sphere” with many roads leading to it, a philosophical road, the historical road, etc. But no road led directly there. At some point a “bridge of faith” would have to be crossed in order to get you there, and some “bridges of faith” required longer bridges depending on which road you were taking. I realized that I would no longer be able to cross any bridge.
I have only been de-converted for a little over six months now. It is very difficult. In all honesty, I never thought I’d stick it out. Ever since middle school, I would always “leave the faith” but I would always come back; primarily out of fear, or because I was having trouble sleeping at night. But this time I’ve stayed the course. I’m not closed minded toward the faith either. I’m actually open to Christianity as I am to many other religions and possibilities, science included. So technically if there is a God, then I will find him. But so far I have not.
It’s becoming clear to me now that I will never be a Christian again. Honestly, it’s a little sad. Almost all of my friends are Christian. They don’t do it on purpose, but it seems now that I can’t be part of their “inner circle,” because our similar “bond” has been broken. Whenever difficulty arises in my life I still find myself instinctually nodding my head to pray about it and then I realize… oh wait, I don’t travel that road any more. I walked in it, and found it wanting.
It’s amazing, but the “freedom” that most people report after joining the faith has materialized in my departure of it.
I now see how western Christianity has really held back the peace process; I see now the blatant racism and hatred that exists in its circles, something the historical Jesus would roll over in his grave over! The journey ahead is no doubt a long one, but I know that it will eventually lead me to gardens unmolested by shame. I now have to actually do something with my life other than “the furtherance of his kingdom.”
Became a Christian: six
Ceased being a Christian: twenty
Labels before: Baptist and Episcopal
Why I joined: It meshed with my surrounding culture at the time
Why I left: I found the faith to be "wanting" in regards to the supposed "personal experience" i was supposed to be having
Email Address: cas38469 at obu dot edu
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)