Sent in by Confused (Ex?)Believer
My journey into Christianity began in high school when a friend of mine invited me to a Pentecostal church. Since I have been raised as an Orthodox Christian (nominally, our family wasn't really religious), I have accepted the teachings of a protestant church because they seemed to be based on the Bible more than the Orthodox's teachings.
Its been five years now and I am writing this letter with a tormenting feeling, lack of peace, or joy inside. I hate what has happened to me and don't know how to ever go back, at least not yet...
To be fair to Christianity, I have been experiencing some anxiety, OCD, and maybe even depression-like symptoms during my teenage years, and I know that most Christians don't experience what I did, but it is still my story and it is still real to me. So, before my conversion, despite me having some problems, I was still managing to do really well in high school, have a girlfriend, be that popular guy in school, etc. In grade 12 I got serious with my faith, and more so in 1st year university.
What happened few years into my Christianity was beyond anything I've ever been through. My OCD developed into religious scrupulosity and affected me so much I couldn't focus in school and almost failed some courses. In my 4th year of University, my anxiety and OCD was so severe I had to drop 4 courses (keeping one) and move back home. I had suicidal thoughts because I saw no reason to live if Christianity was true. If hell was real then it would mean most of my family and good chunk of my friends was on their way there, and it was my job to preach and pray for them to save them. The responsibility was overwhelming and the thought of this being true was terrifying. I was in a deep depression, and went through literal hell, inside of my mind.
I soon learned about the idea of hell not being known to 1st century believers and how apparently the church changed the definition of hell later on. That gave me some relief, but not to a full extent. Because of this turmoil, I started wishing Christianity was not true, but would feel guilty about it and ask God for mercy. Later on I became more courageous and was thinking these thoughts in full swing. This is when I found this web-site and clearly realized that i wasn't the only one with questions and problems, and there is a way out, and peace can be achieved.
So I read all I could get my hands on, starting from this web-site to books suggested here, or that I could find at a book store. My research and soul searching lead me to clearly rejecting the faith I strongly cringed too and tried advertising to others, and that's when I found true freedom that I had before becoming a Christian. I didn't feel a need to confess my 'sin', and be responsible for people's souls, etc., but my honeymoon wasn't long lived...
I was a part of a Pentecostal movement and you hear and see some unexplainable things there that seem so TRUE and REAL that they are hard to forget, and dismiss as being untrue... I am now unable to fully let go, forget, and move on with my life, and I spend minute after minute trying to figure out if Christianity is still true even though I don't want it to be, or if it is false. All of the arguments presented on this website and in books are pretty convincing for my mind, but my heart is still full of that emotional experience, seeing/hearing about people prophesying, faith healing, demons obeying counselors who used the name of Jesus as their authority, people speaking into my life randomly and out of nowhere as if though God himself was speaking to me, etc.
So I don't even know anymore. I even feel like I am sinning deeply against God by writing this because He might still be real and I am trash talking about him and showing him in a bad light to all the world, and thus being responsible for other people's souls. So once again, most Christians I know never went into depression because of faith, and I had a predisposition to have OCD and depression even before becoming one, but it intensified because I was dealing with unseen and supernatural.
So I don't know if anyone has anything to offer to me, an ex-Pentecostal who wants to leave, but can't because of all the unexplainable that I saw/heard (gifts of the Spirit, demons obeying, etc.). Any advice? Anything at all? As you can see I am pretty desperate here and don't know what to do anymore. All I want is peace and freedom, I really want that...
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)