sent in by Sarah
I have been on a journey leaving Christianity for the last two years. It started when we joined a controlling charasmatic church four years ago. Before that we attended a Lutheran church that was pretty normal for the most part. I think if I would have stayed in the Lutheran church, I would still be a Christian today because for the most part Lutherans are pretty liberal and laid-back.
But despite being in the Lutheran Church, things were not normal and peaceful in our lives:(my husband and I) we alway felt like we had to do MORE, get closer to God MORE, pray MORE, read our bibles MORE and then maybe then we would attain some character transformation or inner peace, but the real result, more guilt and more anxiety and fear..(And the whole guilt-ridden Christian culture that promotes waiting till marriage to have sex!!! I could go on for an hour about how damaging that is, but I won't. Most of you know already and the topic is rather strange to talk about on a public forum.)
So, after we left the Lutheran Church due to the fact that our favorite Pastor left, we started attended a Charasmatic Christian Church.
The new church we joined compounded and accerlerated our problems: This church claimed to have annointed pastors and healing and all the miracles and works. The people were so dedicated to the bible and church they would stay at church worshipping for hours and pray hours and hours. Most women took the bible so literally, they lived oppressed lives, homeschooling all their kids, not using birth control, and submiting to their dominating husbands.
My husband and I got swept away with all the powerful worship and music, which was really no different than drugs or any other addiction. So we went to church to get high on Jesus and adopting the crazy absurd lifestyle without much question. (I mean we had these great spiritual experiences, so it HAD to be real, right??)
But the reality was we fell farther and farther away from reality, our friends and family watched us almost disappear into this Christian charasmatic cult. There were many last straws. One was, the leaders expected us to submit to them and let them give us Godly advice to follow. Next, we were told by the church leaders we could not fellowship with ex-members who left the church for various reasons.
And then on top of that was the elitism. The church members thought they were going to a high place in heaven and above other believers because they were the lost army of God (or some strange crap I can't believe we sat and listened to)
So one night, I read a book about prophesy given to me as a Christmas present from the pastor. The prophet talked about witnessing a healing at a conference center he was at for a Christian conference. He described a women getting some type of healing from a healing facilitator. At first, he said, he thought it was a REAL healing from God, but then he saw a sign next to the healer that stated something about a New Ager Conference. So the prophet immediately dismissed the healing as satanic. (Because only healings that occur in the Christian religion are from the Christian God.) I remember reading that and thinking,"how absurd!" How could the prophet dismiss a healing just because it wasn't done by a Christian? If there is a higher power, it only heals Christians? How do we explain healings from other religions, the devil??
That is when I started to believe that hell and the devil didn't exist....
So shortly after that, I prayed a long sincere prayer, that God would strip me of any conditioning, or brainwashing, or anything biased I learned about him/her from church and other people. I prayed that God would reveal who he/she really was, instead of who the church claimed he was.
Shortly after the prayer, during the weeks following, I seemed to find resources and books where ever I went about unconventional thought and universalist thinking. I found a healing facilitator on-line who left Christianity as well and offered a lot of resources about New Thought and Eastern Thought. During this time, I also read an interesting book on universalism, "If Grace is really true, then God will save everyone." I can not remember the authors' names of that book, but I highly recommend it to any Christian in transition out of Christianity because it was written by universalist Christians.
Suddenly, the whole Jesus died for my sins, didn't make sense. Why would God have to kill himself for me?? Sin is an illusion in my mind created for social control.
And the believe it or burn theology just didn't work for me either anymore. I found some healing and some truth from agnostic, new age, buddhist, and universalists/unitarian thought. My life has never been the same. I leave in peace, guilt-free! I no longer have to DO MORE, or PRAY MORE, or convert people who didn't think like me. And the issues I used to pine over and wrestle with character wise, don't seem to cause much struggle anymore.
Everything seems to make sense in life. I still don't know exactly what I believe and can not label myself --that is too restrictive and confining.
I do know and believe in a higher power, a source, but one that doesn't confine itself to the bible. One that loves and lives in everyone and everything regardless or religion, sexual orientation, and belief or unbelief. But the amazing thing about that higher power is that I believe it is a part of all of us and all of us are bits and pieces of God/Source/Goddess.
But the greatest part of what I now believe is that I don't have to try to force others to think that way. I have friends in every religion possible and as well agnositc friends and athiest friends. And I don't think I am absolutely right any more!!
Finally, I think I have achieved inner peace... I no longer worry about what God thinks or says, because that God I once believed in doesn't exist in my mind. He was just created by the early church for the purpose of social control.
And the higher power/God/Source that I believe in lives in everyone ! The best part: we get to decide our life path. (not some separate eternally damning being up in heaven)
Became a Christian: 8
Ceased being a Christian: 26
Labels before: Charasmatic Christian, fundamentalist Christian
Labels now: Universalist/Buddhist/New Age/Eccletic
Why I joined: Fear of going to hell, relationship with Jesus
Why I left: Asked God to reveal to me the truth about who he/she is and he/she did: Christianity is a guilt-ridden cult that controls people. The real God lives within everyone (in my opinion)