Since I Gave Up Hope ( I Feel a Lot Better)

3 Apr

Recently I spoke with an old friend.  He is a pastor and I am now an ex-christian.  It was the first time we had spoken since I had made it clear on Facebook, that I doubted the Scriptures and no longer considered myself a Christian.

To be honest, I felt bad telling him that I had lost my faith.  It seemed like I would be letting him down.  After all, we had done some ministry stuff together.  We had even helped sponsor some Christian concerts back in the day and I had been a guest on his college radio show that featured Christian rock.  Telling him I no longer believed felt like I was betraying him.

But as we spoke, he genuinely listened and did not try and argue with me… in fact, he agreed with many of my textual criticisms.  He also said it didn’t surprise him that I had lost my faith.  This surprised me and I asked him why he said this about me.  He replied, that given the abusive church situations I had witnessed, and my intimate dealings with the Christian Book and Music industry and the underbelly of much of it’s purveyors, he was surprised I hadn’t lost my faith years before this point.

I understood what he was saying, but I could honestly state that these things had not been the reason I had given up on faith.  I told him that my lack of faith in the scriptures as the word of God, is what drove me away from faith.  He listened and as we neared the end of our conversation, he did say that while he understood where I was at, he did not feel I was in a better place.  Meaning that my loss of faith in God was a bad thing, and something that concerned him.  He wished me well and we ended our conversation.

Some time has passed, and I have to report that since giving up hope in God or the Bible, I feel a lot better (thank you to Steve Taylor for this clever little phrase)…  I know it sounds cheeky, but it really is true.  I feel a lot better about life.  I no longer have this wondering doubt if I am doing the right thing for God, a God that is silent and whose scriptures are flawed.  Trying to figure out God’s will  felt like trying to do a Rubiks Cube with both hands tied and my eyes glued shut.  I no longer play this game.

I am also resolved that I will cease to exist after I die.  Much in the way that I was unable to feel or experience life before I was born…I will eventually fall back to the earth and cease to experience life around me.  I will remember no more, and eventually I will be remembered no more.  It’s not a romantic picture, but I believe it is true, given the evidence all around me.  And it motivates me to enjoy life, enjoy those who are dear to me, and appreciate the gift that every new day gives, while I still have the health and resources to enjoy it.

While I am still concerned for the poor, the downtrodden, the weak….I no longer waste time praying.  If I can act or help, I do.  If I am unable, I do not.  I no longer feel the pressure to be some sort of ambassador for a country I’ve never been to, and can no longer even believe exists.  It was always a heavy burden to believe another persons eternal choices were affected by me.  Again, I model kindness and love when given the chance, but I do not feel obliged to be a doormat for those who are willing to exploit our better nature.

Just my two cents from someone on the other side of faith….

33 Responses to “Since I Gave Up Hope ( I Feel a Lot Better)”

  1. randallslack at 12:52 am #

    CA: What if your wrong?

  2. christianagnostic at 2:12 am #

    It’s a good question…one that deserves a little more attention than I can give at the moment..gotta run out with a kiddo! I’ll get back to you soon…

  3. Debra Baker at 2:56 am #

    Nothing? Ouch, that’s grim.

    • christianagnostic at 6:46 pm #

      I did say it wasn’t a romantic view…..

      And completely unrelated, I just saw that our friend John Immel finally published his book on Spiritual Abuse. Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

      • Freedom at 9:18 pm #

        Interesting… I might have to read it after I finish Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCullogh which is a great read. Extremely long, but an excellent source of church history starting 1000 years before the birth of Christ. It’s presented as historical. While he does add in his thoughts on things, for the most part he is very respectful. For example on The Resurrection, he leaves it up to the reader to decide if the witnesses were lying or telling the truth and lays out what the witnesses reported.

        Not something you will find in your local Evangelical/Fundamental church book store. It’s a book that the cult leaders at SGM would attack from the pulpit and tell their 401k plan, I mean members not to read. I’m sure quite a few other evangelical churches have called it the work of the devil.

        Very easy to read.

        AC – I would recommend it to you, it gives an excellent picture of how The Bible was written (a historical view point, not what Pastor Disaster tells you on Sunday morning) and edited down to its current form and how prevailing thoughts and teaching of time can be seen in the writings of the authors. I haven’t finished it yet, only in the 300-400CE part of the book and the history ends in the present, so a ways to go. Already read about a lot of things I didn’t know that were part of the though process of the writers.

        Here’s a link:

  4. randallslack at 11:15 am #

    If I am wrong, what have I lost? If you are wrong, what have you lost? Not trying to pick a fight, just trying to begin a line of dialog.

    You know I respect your right to disagree. And, I honestly am not trying to “convert” you. I respect your honesty and straightforwardness in sharing your position.

    Hope you have a great day…

    • christianagnostic at 6:28 pm #

      Thanks Randall….

      I’ll start with your question, because it’s the things I’ve lost to faith that I still grieve at times….

      If you are wrong…

      You will have lost precious time, in the only life you will live….
      Time praying, for answers, healing, and deliverance that will never come…

      Time studying a book that offered some wisdom, sprinkled with a lot of cultural baggage and myths from another age…

      Money….all that money given to causes that promised to change the world, only to find out that so many churches, ministries, mission agencies and the like are riddled with some of the worst oversight and rampant abuse of money…for myself, I literally impoverished myself and my family to pursue what I thought was God’s will in church planting and worship leading. I gave my best years of talent and opportunity (career wise) to pursue what were dead ends with true hypocrites. I live every day with the financial struggles that were a direct result of Christian advice on money. I have seen more than my share of this type of abuse…

      I have more thoughts on the topic….and I haven’t tackled what I lose if I am wrong….but I’ll get there later today, got to take care of some household stuff first….peace to you guys!

      Thanks for the conversation…

  5. christianagnostic at 10:08 pm #


    Love the book, read it last year….he also did a documentary for the BBC based on this book. Really well done and worth the time..

    • Freedom at 12:53 am #

      Hmmm… I’ll have to hunt down the doc…..

  6. randallslack at 1:04 am #

    CA: I too am enjoying the conversation. I am very careful about what I give and who I give it to. To me it is easy to spot a “crook” in the ministry; he talks about money all the time. He begs for money; he tries to obligate people to give, in direct contradiction to Scripture (II Corinthians 7:9).

    It is true that answers sometimes do not come. To me, God doesn’t owe me an answer. His ways and thoughts are higher than mine and I’m not so sure I would always understand. Any God I could figure out wouldn’t be much of a God anyway.

    Looking forward to you address what you would lose. Peace to you, too! (And to Freedom also!) 🙂

    • christianagnostic at 3:05 am #


      To get back to your excellent question….

      I guess I would say it’s not clear to me what I would lose if I am wrong…

      The clear teaching of scripture, is that I am under a curse and that my denial of Christ means I have chosen to be condemned to hell forever. So, if I am wrong, and the clear teaching of scripture is true, then I have lost any chance to claim salvation, having once tasted it and still denied Christ.

      But here’s the rub, why should I believe that the Christian scriptures are true? I have tried to believe they are true. I have tried reading as much as possible to confirm my initial belief that they were true and contained vital information about this age and the age to come…but all of that study has brought me to a point of unbelief.

      I can not find any compelling evidence to beleive that the Bible is nothing more than a man made book that attempts to describe God. And that it is one of many man made books that claims divine authority, but lacks the evidence to prove such a claim.

      Muslims claim Christians are wrong to believe Christ is the son of God and that Christians are heretics doomed to hell.
      Universalists say that Christ died for all sin so that all will be reconciled.
      I could go on with the thousands of different claims concerning God and the afterlife, but what each of them seems to have is no proof. Each would claim proof based on faith. But that’s circular reasoning at it’s worst.

      Not sure if I’m being clear, so let me state it another way. What if I told you that Invisible Martians were hovering over your home last night and they sent me (their prophet) to warn you that they will destroy you unless you pledge allegiance to their cause in the Universe? How would you respond to such a claim?

      If it were me, I would need more evidence before making a decision one way or the other. If no other evidence was provided, than I would have to assume it to be false or unproven at best.

      I feel like I’m starting to ramble….so I’ll stop here. Looking forward to your thoughts….

  7. randallslack at 11:36 am #

    CA: One thought would be that of fulfilled prophecy. Consider that Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies regarding the Messiah in His lifetime. The study of fulfilled prophecy, to me, is compelling.

    Also, the study of manuscript evidence. We have over 2,500 copies of the NT with essentially no difference in the text. We even have a partial copy of 1 John dated back to the first century.

    And there is the evidence for the Resurrection, written about by Roman and Jewish Historians as well.

    I know that you have studied these subjects (but I don’t know who you have studied) and came to the conclusion that none of this is true.

    However, men like Frank Morrison (an atheist lawyer) who decided to investigate the Resurrection and wrote the book, “Who moved the Stone?” convinced, after his investigation, that the Resurrection was true and became a believer.

    F.F. Bruce, who wrote, “Christian Origins outside the NT” documenting the evidence of unbelievers who witnessed the things the Bible speaks of.

    Paul Little, who wrote, “Know Why You Believe,” Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” Lee Strobel, “The Case for Christ.” Both Morrison, McDowell and Strobel were avid atheists who set out to destroy Christianity by proving it a fable. Yet, after carefully considering the evidence for the Bible and the Resurrection, became Christians.

    To me, they present a compelling case. But I believe because I have experienced the truth for myself. I have read and studied the Bible for almost 40 years and found it to be true (even though there are many things I don’t understand). I believe God to be faithful and trustworthy, so I take Him at His Word.

    Again, I am not trying to convert you. You have the right to believe what you believe. And, I find your comments to be thoughtful and articulate (so I don’t think that you’re some kind of a “nut job”). 😉

    Peace to you. I hope you have a great day.

  8. christianagnostic at 12:37 pm #

    Glad you don’t think I’m a nut job. 🙂

    On a break so I’ll be brief for now. I have a little personal experience with McDowell, and I find his research to be mostly cheery picked, and I find many of his personal stories seem to veer into exaggeration.

    I don’t know Srtobel personally, but again, his book is presented as a journalistic search, yet he interviews very few people outside of the faith and lobs softballs on the hard questions…even a close relative of mine (who is a strong believer) felt that the Case for Christ was contrived.

    I’ll have to get back to you on the manuscript evidence and prophecy, as to why that does not engender faith for me.

  9. Freedom at 1:42 pm #

    Great conversation!

    Randall – a couple things, the early surviving manuscripts are after the the cannon of the NT was developed and pretty much closed. The copies are not word for word transcriptions. Additional, it appears that some of the fulfillment of the OT prophecy was later added in (prior to the generalized acceptance of the NT, aside from a few books here and there). For example, the genealogy of Jesus. The accounts in the Gospels are different and not the same. One traces David to Mary, the other to Joseph. Which one would be correct? If the one that traces to Joseph is correct, then Jesus as we believe today would not technical be a son of David as Joseph was step-dad. There’s not a lot of evidence that Jesus was born in Bethlehem – it appears to be an add-on later when the Gospels were written as the historical accounts list Jesus as from Galilee, not Bethlehem. Does that take away from what Jesus did? Not to me, but then again I don’t buy into the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

    As far as the Resurrection, yes, it is true that history records that the Marys (or just one Mary, depending on which version you read) were the first group to witness. That comes to down to whether or not you believe their account. Personally, I believe their account.

    We know for a fact the Jesus lived, taught and was executed. The Gospels does its best to pull together the oral and written accounts of Jesus’ life and death. They were also written by later generations of Christians, not his direct followers. The Epistles are probably fairly accurate transcriptions of what the original authors wrote, with changes to word here an there. Paul’s letters paint a different picture of Paul than acts, which brings up the problem of how to get an accurate picture of Paul. What we do know is that Paul had a vision and converted from Judaism to the Christian sect of Judaism – which is what Christianity was right after Jesus. Paul’s letters are full of his own views defined by his life experiences as a Jew and as a Roman Citizen. He contradicts himself in his letters – i.e. wives submit to husbands, yet he also says to mutually submit. We know the males at the time wanted to be like the rest of western culture and have the women submit to them, which influenced much of the writings. And that was different than the way Jesus treated women.

    In my mind, that doesn’t take away from what Paul did – he spread Christianity to the non-Jewish population of the time and made it a faith for all, not just Judaism. He was human trying to help come up with a sustainable structure until Christ returned.

    CA – I know exactly where you are coming, especially considering how you were taught to view The Bible since birth. I don’t see faith teaching that if you don’t believe you are going to hell, Especially since hell wasn’t even invented until long after Jesus died. Any references to hell in the scripture are all figurative and doesn’t refer to Jonathan Edwards described place of eternal torment. Jesus’ three days in hell refers to the Jewish view of death at the time – either just dead or eternal sleep. Not an eternal pit of fire. The idea of Jesus spending three days in Satan’s lair wasn’t a theological thought when the books of the bible were written. As humans, we like to put everything in a nice, neat system so we can understand God and The Bible. Hence, such systems as Calvinism. As you can probably guess, I am not a fan of Calvinism at all. If Calvinism is correct, there is absolutely no way that God can hold you responsible for your own actions.

    Time to get some work done so I can cut out for the week and celebrate Easter, but I am enjoying the conversation! CA – thanks for sharing your thoughts and creating this blog! Love that we can share our thoughts and beliefs!

    Randall – I appreciate that you are sharing your thoughts and beliefs with out being judgmental or turning it into a lecture about why someone is wrong and needs to repent or face the eternal fires of hell. It’s rare that I have seen someone able to do that from an evangelical perspective!

  10. Freedom at 1:44 pm #

    CA – curious as to your thoughts on the manuscript evidence and prophecy, looking forward to your thoughts!

  11. christianagnostic at 9:03 pm #


    I am familiar with the authors and evidence you cite. As for prophecy, it seems to me that many of the prophecies that Jesus fulfills are cut and pastes from passages of the OT. Matthew seems to be the worst of trying to find prophecies for Jesus, even though the original context in the OT has little to do with the Messiah.

    Richard Carrier does an excellent job handling the “Virgin Birth” prophecy here:

    That is just one example, but there are more I can cite if you wish.

    The manuscript evidence is pretty much THE issue that put the nail in the coffin of my faith. The fact that the early church actually viewed many of the books of the current NT as suspect has to make you wonder. Even as late as the 4th century, the church historian Esebius writes that 2nd Peter, Jude, Revelation and other current NT writings were seen as spurious in many quarters of the church. So for almost 400 years the church was still unable to reach consensus on what were true scriptures. Again, this sounds like a human endeavor to me. It took the force of law through a Roman Emperor to enforce unity within Christianity that never existed before.

    On top of that, the manuscript evidence for these writings is so varied, that we can not know for sure that what we read today is even close to the original writings. Over 7,000 copies of Paul’s writings and no 2 are the same. Acts has a manuscript history that has over 15% differences between the 2 families of manuscript evidence….and on it goes. There are so many known changes to the scriptures, but how can we know what the originals said? We can’t, as far as I can tell….

    So why would God commit the most important message to mankind, and then not even bother to ensure that it was preserved without corruption?

  12. randallslack at 12:00 am #

    Freedom: ” It’s rare that I have seen someone able to do that from an evangelical perspective!” Sad, but true. Most (IMHO) lack the grace to do so.

    I, personally, reject Calvinism as it makes God out to be a murderer, rapist, child killer and so on. Man has personal responsibility and the freedom to disagree with God. he has granted that to us. If He wanted robots, He could of created man a “Chatty Cathy doll;” but He gave us free will to chose or not. The legalism and the demands to submit to authority is frightening. I want no part of it.

    CA: I respect your view, but disagree. Many of the second and third century “fathers” quickly departed from the truth in their writings. We could compare views till the cows come home and get nowhere. I am grateful that we can disagree “agreeably.” And I am glad you don’t think I am some kind of a nut job! 🙂

    May you both have a great weekend!

  13. randallslack at 12:03 am #

    Freedom: Someone once said, “The loudest voice has the weakest argument.” I agree with that. Too many who claim to be Christians end up yelling and arguing because they have no basis for their faith, but, “Well, that’s what Pastor Bob believes, so that’s good enough for me.” My response is, “what if Pastor Bob is wrong?” Usually, I don’t get an answer, just the minimum wage stare…

    • christianagnostic at 12:54 am #

      You said

      “Usually, I don’t get an answer, just the minimum wage stare…”

      Now that is golden…love it!

  14. Freedom at 3:47 am #

    Minimum wage stare – LOL!!!!! Love it!!!!!

    Was just thinking, since CA gave up hope, he feels a lot better. In my case, giving up evangelicalism is what it took for me to feel better… and free too, like the chains have been removed and free to figure out my faith without the confines of any pre-existing system, hence the name (Freedom).

    CA – BTW, I Predict 1990 is the best Steve Taylor album. His stuff is usually not my style (too mellow, not enough loud, distorted guitars, riffs or guitar based melody) but I do like that album. I always wondered if he went though his own crisis of faith at the the time.

  15. Debra Baker at 7:39 pm #

    Just got to this thread again. I’m falling asleep sitting up because I’m so whooped but this is an amazing discussion of the issues at hand.

  16. Debra Baker at 7:43 pm #

    Oh, man, I thought you were talking about the lead for Aerosmith. Laughing at myself.

  17. Freedom at 9:58 pm #

    The Chagall Guevara is a very good early 90’s alt rock record, I pull it out every now and then.

    Debra – You mean Steven Tyler? LOL!!!!!! Saw them years ago (co-headlining tour with KISS). They sounds great live.

    • christianagnostic at 8:23 pm #

      Steven Taylor, Steven Tyler….yeah, pretty easy to see the confusion.

  18. Freedom at 9:58 pm #

    Just read a good article that fits into the discussion:

  19. randallslack at 2:22 pm #

    “Christianity has been destroyed by politics, priests, and get-rich evangelists. Ignore them, writes Andrew Sullivan, and embrace Him.”

    Truer words never spoken. This is the problem I have with “organized religion.” What was once beautiful and pure, has become corrupted by power and money. To me, there are two “Churches”:

    1. The “Established Religious System.”
    2. The “True Church.”

    Unfortunately, the only one that is depicted in the media is the former. And it is full of greed and corruption.

    Yet there are honest men and women out there that quietly serve God and others, seeking no finical gain, not publicity, no power. They are the true church. The problem is, their numbers are declining everyday. Most want the show – the lights, the spectacle, the “new thing.” Very few want to truly serve. And so, when people look at what is passed off as Christianity, they want no part of it. Frankly, I can’t blame them. But my encouragement is to keep looking. Amongest the weeds, the flowers grow.

  20. Joe at 5:00 pm #

    Love your site! Great posts!!! Been there, done that whole church involvement/leadership stuff. Seen all the hypocrites, both inside the church (pastors, staff, etc) and outside the church (members/parishioners). Totally relate to how you feel about giving up the faith: Freedom from guilt!!!!

    Reminds me of the country song: You ain’t much fun since I’ve stopped drinking. Yet in my case it is: Life is much more fun since I stopped believing!

    Keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!!

    • christianagnostic at 9:51 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time to read and for the comment!

      Freedom from guilt…..yeah, that’s a burden I didn’t realize I carried until after I stopped believing.

      Not like I go around kicking cats and smashing mailboxes….because I think I would feel guilty for those things.

  21. M at 2:05 am #

    I was looking up the Steve Taylor song when I stumbled upon your site. I can relate to your blog, and although I feel at times like giving up my faith, I haven’t yet. I hope you don’t mind, I would like to share a few thoughts or impressions about the song’s lyrics.

    I could be mistaken, but I believe there is some irony here in that one of the points Steve Taylor is making in his song “Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel A Lot Better” is similar to ignorance may be bliss, but that doesn’t mean it is good. From the writer’s perspective, “giving up hope” is a negative condition that the people are in or transitioning into.

    Again, I could be wrong, but I think that the last part of the song repeats and this may have been intentional on the part of Mr. Taylor. He may be contrasting two different objects of hope with each other as well as those who hope. There are those who hope for a perfect world (peace, harmony, rainbows, unicorns, etc.), perfect marriage, perfect family, perfect house, or a perfect church. Their idealism and hope are inseparable. At some point, they (in the song this would be Ernest) lose that hope and become hard. They come to realize that their ideal state or object of their hope is unattainable or does not exist. That person does feel better because they no longer care. Caring is harder, it takes more out of you than ignoring problems and it leaves you vulnerable for pain. Putting other’s needs ahead of our own desires is harder than doing nothing. Contrast that with the person whose hope for peace, happiness, etc., is not in this world or life, but in God’s kingdom to come. This person has given up the unrealistic hope of a perfect world here and now but rests in the truth that God is in control, that he will make things right, bring peace, etc. I guess the bottom line is that Steve Taylor was not singing about giving up hope in God. After listening to many of his songs, I would bet big bucks that if he had the opportunity he would encourage you not to throw away “the cloak that you should have mended.”

    I know that you said that it has been the alleged errors, contradictions, etc. in the bible and not experiences that have caused you to give up your faith. However, you got me thinking and since it is relevant although not necessarily directly on point, I felt like throwing in my two cents.

    Life is hard. We get hurt. When we are hurt, whether physically, mentally, emotionally etc., we can ignore it, we can medicate it (including self-medication or becoming hard hearted), or we can deal with it. I think that in the song, giving up hope is akin to saying, from now on I’m looking out for number one.

    When I was reading your blog or article, I couldn’t help thinking about how bitter I have become after being the most hurt in life by the people who are supposed to be the most loving.

    Thank you for posting your blog. I appreciate it because it really made me think. Can I return the favor by suggesting that you take a few minutes to listen to another song from the same album by Steve Taylor? I believe it is track number 10 or the last song on his album I Predict 1990.

    • christianagnostic at 6:21 am #

      Thanks for the comment and taking the time to read!

      As for my borrowing of Steve Taylor’s song…I’m sure he meant it to be a ribbing towards unbelievers. So don’t read too much into to my use of the song. I just thought it was a clever turn of phrase that I could borrow to describe my emotional state after giving up the “hope” of reconciling the scant evidence that the Bible is actually the word of God.

      You said
      “Life is hard. We get hurt. When we are hurt, whether physically, mentally, emotionally etc., we can ignore it, we can medicate it (including self-medication or becoming hard hearted), or we can deal with it. I think that in the song, giving up hope is akin to saying, from now on I’m looking out for number one.”

      I agree, life is hard. I also agree that being honest and dealing with life is much better than ignoring it or by trying to medicate it. But here’s a thought for you…I think religion and Christianity are a form of mental self-medication. It’s an attempt to make sense of the pain of life by trying to wallpaper it with a future hope and a grand plan by a benevolent Heavenly Parent who is all powerful, loving, and unseen.

      I still don’t find any good reason to try and mend the coat of faith. I’d be happy to describe more-but I still find myself greatly relieved to not have to try and make the multiple contradictions and false hopes of the scriptures seem true. I find the burden of faith to be unfruitful and some times, a destructive force in the lives of ones that I love.

      Thanks again for the thoughts…I hope you and your loved ones are well.

      • M at 6:54 pm #

        Thanks again for taking the time to post your blog and for the fast reply. I feel like you have been able to articulate what I have been feeling and thinking but unable to put into words myself. I think that somebody mentioned that it is refreshing to discuss these things without the closed harshness that tends to dominate.

        I think I will sign up to follow your blog by email.

      • christianagnostic at 3:22 am #

        No problem…but I’m not always known for replying quickly. 🙂

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