Sent in by Brooke T
I'm 21 years old. Up until a few weeks ago, I was what is known as a Born-again Christian. I converted when I was 16 and soon had a couple of the best years of my life. My soul felt sincerely clean, and I wondered how I could go on living in such a filthy world (as I perceived it to be). I had a Bible and a couple of devotial books that I used to read all the time. I went to a sweet little church that I still miss despite not believing in the religion anymore. I thought I would never stop believing in Jesus Christ. It felt like a sheer impossibility. I mean, look at all the proof! Emotional and physical signs during a baptism, spontaneously speaking in tongues, answered prayers (I had those too), and... so many other things.
Nevertheless, during those five years as a Christian I began to discover various facts that contradicted the truth of the Bible and of Jesus Himself. At first I was terrified. The concept of "falling away from the faith" haunted me on a daily basis. I felt faint with fear during those times of doubt. Frequent trips to Christian apologetic forums helped build my faith up again. And there were, after all, those spiritual signs that accompanied the born-again Christian experience. Who could deny those? I relaxed and went on with praying and reading my Bible and devotionals.
But over time something else happened that caused renewed panic in me. I began to lose interest in God. Praying became a drudge, a bore. As far as I was concerned, I was becoming what is known as "lukewarm". I tried telling myself that lukewarmness had to do with sin, not apathy, but a talk with another Christian I knew caused another wave of despair. She said that if a person never prays again, how could he expect God to let him into Heaven? This was when I started clinging to the teaching of "once saved, always saved". This was the only way that I could remain sane, without being constantly weak with fear.
I stopped praying altogether before long, not wanting to present a dishonest image to God of being devoted to Him. I knew of no way to regain any of my past love for Him. In my mind, I was doomed no matter what. I must not have been one of the true Elect after all, is what I thought.
Around this time, I still wished that I could go back to experiencing God as the close, loving Father that I had known once upon a time. But I couldn't. I was too far gone. With weariness, I resigned and gave up the effort completely, thinking with whatever last shred of faith in Him that He would find a way to bring me back to Him sometime in the future.
Before long, I discovered pictures of outer space. I thought with wonder about how unimaginably vast and beautiful the universe was. No longer could I think of the human race as being more than a tiny, tiny part of the whole of creation. My mind began to construct a different personality for God than I originally thought He had. I welcomed it.
In one way or another, this led to my exploration of other realms of faith. I discovered that Christianity doesn't own the market on miracles and spiritual experiences. I realized a greater and more loving way of thinking, far removed from what Christianity taught me. Christianity teaches that we are enemies of God by default, all for the crime of being born with the stain of a single man's sin on our souls. It teaches that the only way we can escape the inevitable punishment for such a heinous crime is to believe in a man without the aid of any helpful proof.
I reject those views, and welcome the one that says we are children born of love with the freedom to see the light of Love in any way that we would like to. I believe that the universe and our very selves have more value than we can imagine, a contrast indeed with the Christian view that we're lower than the nastiest virus in God's eyes. I read near-death experiences that described encounters with an equally loving and welcoming deity. And I still believe in the authenticity of spiritual experiences... only now I no longer think that it's limited to one faith.
And at the very moment that I began to believe these things, I felt such an incredible freedom from everything that had held me in chains before: fear of hell; low self-esteem; an intimidating perception of God. In fact, I'm going through every website I can find that argues against Christianity, trying to convince myself that Christianity isn't true... just so I won't have to go back to believing those things.
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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)