By David J.
I accepted Christ at the age of five and since that time I have taken my journey very seriously. I read the Bible and prayed regularly. I graduated from a Christian school, then a Christian university and also from a Bible School. An underlying theme for the last 30 years of my life since my conversion was the concept of hell. Most Christians read a verse or two of Romans, say a prayer, and never worry about it again. I would have done the same if we were talking about getting a prize at the end. As it was explained to me we were actually dealing with whether I would be tortured around the clock for millions of years. With that at stake there could be absolutely nothing more important than making certain you will never incur that fate. I read, studied and asked questions to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything. I read that blasphemy guaranteed I would be tortured (Matthew 12:31) so I spent years agonizing in my thoughts to never think anything that could be considered blasphemous (If you ever take a minute to try not to think about something you will have a taste of the 30 years of agony I went through.) I also read that there is a narrow gate that “few” find (Matthew 7:14). If there are 2 billion Christians, is that a “few”? How do I make it in the few? I also read that if I sin intentionally it is all over for me (Hebrews 10:26). I’ve only done that a thousand times so what hope is there? I also read that God created some people for the purpose of destruction (Romans 9).
I spent every day wishing I had never been born because that is the cursed day I became eligible for hell. If my parents had not had me, I would not have to face even the possibility of the most horrible, terrifying thing that could ever happen to anyone. I never had children and still do not understand how selfish someone would have to be to have a child if they believe in hell. If hell is what I was told it is, a one in a million chance was too great a risk. Unfortunately, it is closer to two out of three since most people aren’t believers. My existence was a tortured one believing all of these horrible things, but I held firm to my faith and kept searching for answers from God and the Bible. I stayed in church, tithed, repented frequently and tried to live a “normal” life. Inside I felt hopeless and depressed, and the only thing that helped was alcohol. It took my mind completely off of my frightening reality. I only drank when I was depressed which was all the time. I became a severe alcoholic and turned to the Bible for the answer to that. My problem got worse not better as the Bible’s answers were the reason for my struggle to begin with.
A year ago today (6/4/07) I had my last drink. When thoughts of hell came up I said to myself that I would put that on the shelf for now and think about other things. During the past year, I stumbled on a website that said that the “Greek New Testament is a complete mess”. It challenged the readers to research it for themselves. I did, and he was right. I began reading the Skeptics Annotated Bible and could not believe I ever thought the Bible was infallible. I started to read about contextual criticism and read “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman. When I believed the Bible was infallible, it felt hopeless, and I drank to drown that out. Now that I see it has mistakes and has been severely altered by men, the constant fear and depression is gone. It is ironic to think back a few years to me quoting scripture to try and stay sober. Now that my beliefs have changed, I have absolutely no desire to drink. I still believe in God and don’t know what to believe about Christianity. I will continue to read about both as I did about the Bible and see where the evidence takes me. I’ve been reading this site for some time and my anniversary seemed like the perfect day to share my story.