sent in by Dan
I became a Christian as a result of a burnout on drugs (hash,opium) that I had at the ripe old age of 16 while living in Europe. After experiencing a great deal of paranoia and instability, I encountered a pastor of a newly developing church called International Christian Fellowship. Basically this was a spin-off of the Assemblies of God, made for the European market.
Their claims of charismatic encounters with a "real God" intrigued me as did their assertions that the miracles and all of the things the bible said were true. Because of a great need to believe in something and get my life back together I swallowed everything they said and became a devoted follower of Christ. I was convinced that because of my "sins" of drug use and listening to Heavy Metal music I had opened the door to the Devil and this was why I had so many doubts, was so messed up, etc...
Being so young and impressionable I believed all this, burned my albums (ouch!) cut my hair (Oh no Delilah!) and basically became a completely brainwashed Evangelical.
We would preach to people of all nations, creeds and backgrounds through our church and I became what others considered to be the best at Christian Apologetics. It seemed as if I had an answer for every argument against Christianity at the time. When the church began to indoctrinate us further and require classes for all assistant pastors I complied and became fully immersed in it.
I stopped sleeping with my girlfriend who also became a Christian (what was I thinking?), I stopped smoking (not bad I admit), and became the perfect "soldier for Christ" The church used "before and after" photos of me to show the transforming power of Jesus. Heavy rocker to Christian. Whoopee!
But all was not well in paradise. As I became more and more involved in learning about the religion and being a defender of it I became aware of the entire history of the church , its evolution, it's inconsistencies etc.. i also had my suspicions that a lot of the prophecies , speaking in tongues etc.. might not be really happening and I started having doubts about them. Still I was fairly convinced of some of the "miracles" I was seeing and certainly had bought into the whole religion. In fact I had become what I would now call deeply indoctrinated. Nevertheless I continued my investigations with the reasoning that the more I studied the more I could backup my religious beliefs.
When the church eventually kicked me out for continuing to live with my girlfriend, when they labeled me a backslider and said I was listening to "doctrines of demons" my attachment to them and my brainwashing was so complete that I literally had what can only be described as a nervous breakdown.
I prayed incessantly for the "peace that would pass all understanding" but it never came. I woke up in the middle of the night fearing hell, shaking in cold sweats, terrified that if I died I would certainly be judged for having these doubts and blasphemous ideas. I lost my girlfriend after she she left the church, I left the college I was studying theology in , and then joined a fairly dark heavy rock band. I became very angry at God and at Christians in general but unfortunately I held onto the belief that the bible was still essentially true and was unable to fully shake the hold that the whole paradigm had on me.
My fears followed me for years and I must say I became an extremely dark person because of it. I became the monster so the monster wouldn't break me so to speak, I ran headlong into the fear and anger instead of exposing it for what it was; a lie to control peoples thinking and keep them in bondage to fear.
In retrospect I still bought into the whole thing at that time, only I was acting the part of the damned instead of the saved! Not good for ones mental health I assure you.
The whole thing came crashing down eventually and I had to face all of these problems and the fear I had sought to drive away through the various masks I wore. I had to confront this God and this belief head on and stop acting out this temper tantrum. With the same tenacity used to defend Christianity previously I decided to listen to all the arguments against it and for it and compare everything equally without bias. I even prayed to God to let the truth be known! What I discovered was this. Christianity is a man made religion created by a Roman emperor to facilitate an orderly society. The history of the church since then has been one of increasing control, repeated tragedies and an inability to admit it's own ignorance.
The end result was that I discovered two tendencies. One is what I call mans inherent tendency to reach for the "divine" or transcendent and try to explain it. The second is mans inherent tendency to put his findings in a book, label them all and call it "absolute truth". While I can't accept the atheists stand I definitely think that organized religion is more often than not counterproductive to the development of any kind of spirituality.
As the bible itself says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1John 4:18). Interesting statement from a book that preaches hell fire and a religion that uses fear to gain adherents. Fear leads to anger and hatred and has never been a basis for developing any sound social or spiritual harmony.
I left the fold after that realization and I am now what I call a truth seeker I suppose. I'm always up for any idea or spiritual,religious discussion ,but I now realize that it is all conjecture. The real enemy to social/spiritual progress is the "true believer" for me. The true believer will not take no for an answer and he is on the march everywhere spreading fear trying to convert the world. Its time to move out of this darkness and truly into the light. The light of reason.
Joined at 16
Left at 37
Was: Born Again, Evangelical, Charismatic
Now: Truth Seeker, Spiritualist,
Converted because: As a result of burning out on drugs
De-converted because: Intolerant ideas, inconsistencies, broken promises of peace