sent in by Dude
I was born-again at 10 years of age (asked Jesus into my heart). I have been in many gospel groups. I have been on many praise & worship teams. I have been a choir director, have served on 2 church elder/deacon boards.
I very recently realized that the Biblical foundation on which I have stood has flaws. I very recently realized that the unanswered prayers and random events of prayers answered (coincidences) were just that: randomness. I am numb right now. Most of my life has been involved in religion and serving a non-existent God.
I love Jesus. I love Christianity. Yes, still. I love what it stands for and what it represents. But it is untrue.
My wife is a born-again Pentecostal. Her mother is also.
I'll tell you where I started doubting...
I prayed for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit according to the Book of Acts and my (Pentecostal) Church with evidence in speaking in tongues for about 25 years. It never happened. My prayer was never answered. So I figured that may be speaking in tongues was mis-interpreted by the Pentecostals. OK, so maybe the church had misunderstood about the infilling of the Holy Spirit in Acts...maybe the other denominations were right about the infilling. There were other prayers that were answered and others that weren't throughout the years.
However, it was during my second iteration of serving on a board of directors of a church (I had served before about 11 years ago in another church in another area) that I started having problems with Christians (the problems were the same, I just thought this time it would be different). The problem was that the Christians in leadership and making the decisions and running things were for whatever reason unable to do the things that Jesus said to do. I'm not talking about sins, I'm talking about ethics*, and injustices that were the antithesis of what Jesus' "ethics" were as portrayed in the Bible. You know, the whole "WWJD" thing. What do you think all those "What Would Jesus Do" bracelets were about? They were about reminding us of keeping our eyes on Jesus and doing what he would have us to do ethically. I found it strange that these people in power in the church were least able to do what Jesus said to do ethically.
How could that be? Here were VERY learned people, not only leaders in the community but also in the church, extremely knowledgeable in Bible studies, prayer warriors, etc. Yet they were unable to muster the power of our risen Saviour and ethically execute like Him. How could that be? Here were people who were born-again of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, filled with the very Holy Spirit of God and yet they were utterly helpless in acting according to the simple ethics given to them by our Lord. How could that be? Here were people who were in prayer more than any other people I have seen, who read their Bible more than others, had faith the size of Texas, were rooted and grounded in Christ, yet they were absolutely helpless in abiding by SIMPLE Christian ethics. How could that be?
I had started doubting God by seeing how others (and myself) in leadership, and the most biblically studied, treated the common Christian contrary to Christian ethics put forth by Jesus Himself. We ushered in and praised the Physicians and prominent businessmen with all the honor worthy of a Sadducee or Pharisee. I was in Christian leadership in many facets. In many places, in many denominations. Same non-Christian (and basically evolutionary) ethics** prevailed everywhere in every Christian based system. Don't you imagine there could be one Christian in leadership who could understand the simple Christian ethics from the Sermon on the Mount by mustering the power of the Holy Spirit? One? just one? I never saw it. Never.
Well, of coarse, the first stuff I heard (and had said before myself) was "Get your eyes off man and onto God" just because they cry "Lord!, Lord!" does not necessarily mean they are of Christ. But, all of them?!?! [I later realized that this "Get your eyes off man and onto God" stuff was a blatant attempt to eschew personal responsibility]
This is where the problem started. I could not sit on the Board of Directors again and be a part of the decision making executive process that defied the very teachings of my Lord and Saviour. The level of hypocrisy is unbearable...and it wasn't purposeful, but it was willful. I can understand mistakes. People are human and make mistakes. I can understand that. But calculated injustices were tearing at my heart. Again, this was not an isolated incident. I was in many forms of leadership in many different Churches and even several different denominations over the years. Since I sang and traveled, I have experienced much more than the average Christian even does. This was not an isolated incident but a continuing parade of injustices and ethical inequities perpetrated by Christian leaders everywhere I had ever been close enough to observe them.
Anyway, that is where the crack started. How could people empowered by prayer, salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit willfully be unjust having full knowledge of Christ? Was God not strong enough? I know man is not strong enough but can't man access a tiny bit of Godly power through prayer or something to act Christlike?
I was not stupid. I recognized the fissure as a possible way of Satan getting my eyes off God. My past prayers were answered randomly. Nothing trustworthy. So I prayed more, I read more (bible), I studied more (Christian Apologetics), I focused more on God and I cried out to God saying" Please, Lord, help me! This is hurting me spiritually and I beg and cry out for your help!" I continued to pray and seek the face of God. But nothing happened. Why didn't God help me? Why? I am begging for spiritual help...I am not begging for a car, or food, or anything material...i'm begging for SPIRITUAL help. It did not come.
Now, this isn't over a couple of weeks or something...this went on for months and even several years as I weakened yet still cried out to God to help me spiritually. I can accept God not answering physical prayer, but spiritual was another matter. I realized that I did not have it in me spiritually, so I asked for some simple assistance from God. Spiritual assistance. It didn't come. I did not remain idle during these times. I prayed more, read more, sought God more. Yet, nothing. I delved much more deeply into Christian apologetics and Christian Science (as opposed to evolutionary science;not the religion). Some hope but more confusion as to why Jesus, who came to tell simple things to simple people, couldn't answer these new problems simply but with a twisting, spinning, excuse making, apologetics. This is where the simplicity of Christs message starts to fail.
I have always believed that God would not allow Satan to give you more than you can bear. But that is exactly what happened. The spiritual crack widened but I still turned to God and cried out for help. I still do to this day. But nothing has happened...what am I to believe? It was more than I can bear. Why would God allow his servant more than he could bear? I have had trials before. I have even had spiritual "deserts" before. This was raw abandonment.
I have seen God fail other faithfuls also. People who I had known very well. Knew their hearts, their works, etc. As leaders we promoted and talked about the ones who said that they succeeded spiritually. But from the platform, I always saw the utter despair in the eyes of the ones sitting in the pews out there that did NOT have a spiritual movement, yet asked in humble desperation. While the others were celebrating the awesomeness of God and ignoring the ones whom God didn't answer, I did the opposite.
I started looking for Christians who were experiencing what i was for some form of support. I came across something by a Christian who started asking some hard questions to leadership and they ignored him, snubbed him, or treated him as a heathen simply because he had questions. He finally got upset and wrote his questions down on one paper but no Christians would address them without putting a "spin" on things (here is his page http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~slocks/buckner/tough.html)
I understand spiritual deserts. But this was more than i could bear. How could the God I served most of my teenage years and adult life allow this to happen to me? My faith had been rock solid, far larger than a grain of mustard seed. My faith was strong even though God wasn't answering my spiritual prayers. I knew that it took strong faith to continue as a Christian. But eventually, it wears on your faith. Faith only lasts so long. I was a spiritually strong individual but not infinitely strong. For infinite strength, I relied on an infinite God. I served and prayed and did works and did spiritual things...everyting that was asked. I was clean, didn't have ill in my heart...nothing. The only place I ever really needed His help was with this spiritual fissure. It never came, it was more than I could bear as a mere mortal, humble human. I needed a God, and He was not answering.
I still hope and pray and have some faith that there is a God and He will pull through. Until then, I have to face some facts: My past prayers were never answered faithfully...they were random and haphazard at best; there are flaws in the very foundation that I stood on...the Bible. There are verses that are presented by the author of http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com/ that can not be ignored, excused, or spun. I found this site by asking why God wouldn't answer my simple spiritual prayer. I do find flaws in some of the logic used in the amputees site and in some of the items presented...but many are unavoidably strong.
I still pray to the God I have loved and served for over 25 years. I still pray for a change in my spirit. I don't want to be an un-believer. I abhor the crumbling of my every truth. But the real truth doesn't care. It can be ignored and whitewashed but it is still there whether you or I consider it or not. I still pray and have a fading hope that God is using me to fall away and come back for a more powerful message and glorification to his works. But in all honesty, once the magic of finding out that Santa Claus is not a real entity, a innocence has been lost. And it can never really come back.
Strange...as we are young and innocent that we strive and crave to reach the truth of adulthood, yet once we find out the real truth we want that innocence and idealism back.
Even if Christianity is a facade, I want it back. I want to believe again. I want the wonder of God back in my soul. Even if Christianity is whitewash over reality, I want it back again. The truth is you can't go back, and if you do it is never the same and you regret you have gone back.
I am not happy about this phase of my life. I love Christianity. My whole life has been spent as a Christian. I still love Jesus and the God I have served most of my life. But I am afraid that love is just leftover emotions from a lifetime of servitude. I still believe in the Christian ethic. I still love my neighbor. But all God had to do was to strengthen my spiritual weakness and I would not have been here. It was a simple prayer that a God who created the universe and had millions of angels at His call would be more than capable of actuating. He either didn't because he didn't care, was incapable, or was never there to begin with.
*SOME Christian ethics from thread: http://whydoesgodhateamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=280.0
Breaking it down we have:
1) Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
2) Sacrifice yourself for your community.
3) Give yourself, every single day, to making humanity better, and building the bonds of your community.
4) Forgive totally
** For simplification I personally defined two ethical constructs 1 was evolutionary/worldy/survival-of-the-fittest. This you see in everyday life and in business. It is primarily dog-eat-dog style of ethics. Use the weak to profit...climb the ladder by putting others down etc. Complete opposite of my definition of Christian ethics listed above.
How old were you when you became a Christian? 10
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian? 39
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Born again, spirit filled fundamentalist Christian, deacon-elder-church board, and Praise and Worship leader
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Agnostic
Why did you become a Christian? To be closer to Jesus
Why did you de-convert? Christians proving their God impotent.
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)