My Deconversion

9 May

This is a slightly edited version of a post I did for The Wartburg Watch.  You can read the original post and comments here.  I wanted to include my deconversion on  Christianagnostic for those that might have missed it.

Before I tell you about how and why I deconverted from Christianity, let me give you a brief tour of my previous Christian life.  Ready, steady, go………

My Christian Life

I was raised in a Christian home in the Northeast, and attended an Evangelical Presbyterian church from age 7 until my mid teens.  It was at the age of eight that I responded to a Sunday school teacher’s presentation of the gospel and prayed to receive Christ into my heart.  I was involved with the church youth group and Boys Brigade up until High School.

In High School, I was involved with Young Life and became a student leader (Campaigner) and was actively involved with the Young Life club at my school. This also involved  trips to Saranac Lake and Lake Champion.  In college, I continued with Young Life as a volunteer leader.  I led clubs, led campaigner Bible studies, organized trips to Young Life camps, volunteered for work crew, and led worship on leadership retreats.  I also had some involvement with Campus Crusade, including a week at Daytona spring break, Intervarsity, and Chi-Alpha.  Not to mention that I also helped fund and promote a couple of Christian concerts at my school (it was a public University, not a Christian school).

After college, I worked full-time at my local Christian bookstore.  I worked there for 14 years as a store manager, music buyer, gift buyer, and staff trainer (did I mention that I also scrubbed some toilets in my time).  After the bookstore, I was hired by a Christian division of Warner Music.  I served as a sales rep. for the Northeast and then the entire West Coast.  I spent almost every waking hour in Christian bookstores, helping to market and promote the latest Christian music and DVD’s.  I worked in this role for almost 10 years , before changes in the industry forced Warner to lay off almost 90% of our division.

Personally, I had gotten married to a woman I met in college.  We had met at church, got married in a Calvary Chapel and soon began attending an SGM church.  I served in the worship band, was part of a church planting team where I also served in as a worship leader.  After leaving SGM, we helped with a local Vineyard church plant where again, I served on the worship team and became a small group leader.  I attended some pastoral training conferences with Vineyard and was on unpaid staff at another Vineyard church on the West Coast.  This is the brief version of my Christian life and involvement in the church….

I mention all these things in the hopes, that no one will come along and say that I must not have had enough information, or that maybe I had never really been a Christian.  It’s frustrating to have that thrown at me, considering that I was committed to Christ in both a personal and professional way.  I truly believed with all that was in me, and tried to be Christ like in all that I did.  I read the Bible as much as possible, and was reading books about the Bible or Christian life when I wasn’t reading the Bible.  I’m not sure what else I could say to convince someone, that  I had been a Christian.

The Circle Doesn’t Go Unbroken

There’s an old folk gospel song that asks the question, will the circle be unbroken?  For me, it would be broken, and I’ll try to describe some of the key issues that lead me from my faith to an agnostic point of view…

When I was involved with SGM churches, as some may know, there was a huge emphasis on gender roles.  The pastors of SGM preached often on the subject and it was hammered home in the small groups (called care groups) that men should lead their homes and women and children should submit to their husband’s authority.  They also preached that man, woman, and child should be submitted to the local church’s authority, in other words, the pastors.  I won’t repeat all the abuses that were rife in these churches, as they have been well documented….but it did lead me to a scriptural conundrum.  SGM and their teaching on pastoral/ marital authority roles were consistent with what was taught in the New Testament.  They took the face value teaching of Paul and Peter, applied to today, and followed it to its logical conclusions-which led to all sorts of abuse, neglect, and pain to all involved.

I began to wonder why God would have such confusing and hurtful passages in Scripture?   I tried desperately to find alternative views, that would allow me to see some sort of wisdom from those passages, but as much as some of the alternative views were attractive, I could not wipe away the fact that scripture spoke of women as a lower class of human than men.  Men, by accident of birth, were to be the leaders and rulers in home and the church, according to the plain reading of the Scriptures.  This bothered me because of the abuse I had seen up close…

I started to explore the early church, to see how they handled these scriptures.  What I found was even more diverse that I had imagined.  Some early church movements seemed to have women Apostles and deaconesses, even alluded to in the New Testament, while other early church movements saw women as a seed of the devil, only to be saved through childbirth, but not to be trusted in any other way.  Needless to say, the history of the early church provided little relief.

Another issue that began to creep up, was the history of the Scriptures themselves….some scholars on the Women’s issue (like Gordon Fee) argued that many of the texts about women being silent and submitting, were additions to the text, and that they should not be binding on the church, since they were of dubious origin.  At first I was relieved, and started to see that this indeed might have been a case of cultural bias being written in to the Scriptures.  But the relief was short-lived….

I began to realize that if these texts, had been possibly added, than there might be other texts that had been added or changed as well.   The more I researched the issue (among Evangelical scholars) I realized that the issue of contradicting manuscripts was a major issue.  One fact I came across that blew my inerrant mind, was the fact that over 7,000 copies exist of Paul’s letters, and every single one is different from the other-no two are the same.   The final blow came when I was reading a history of the persecution of women accused of witchcraft.  It was a terrible history of both Catholic and Protestant churches using the Bible to condemn and kill thousands of women on the flimsy charge of witchcraft.  It occurred to me, that so much of this pain, murder, torture and fear mongering could have been avoided except for the Bible’s teaching on women.  Why would God allow this to be so?  The more disturbing thought, if it was a result of someone adding or changing the text, then why didn’t God prevent it?  It’s a question I’ve yet to get an adequate answer…

I have many friends who are seminary trained, full-time clergy/ pastors.  I have summed it up for them this way, “If the Bible is the most important message that God could ever hope to say to mankind, and it is supposed to be reliable and without error in the original form, than why didn’t he bother to make sure it would be preserved without error?” It just seems unbelievable to me that God would not bother to keep the scriptures from being corrupted (or lost, as in the final chapter of Mark).  I’ve had a couple of my friends admit that this bothers them as well.  I’ve had others say they agree with my approach to textual criticism, yet they disagree with my conclusions.  But I can no longer put my faith in a book as the infallible word of God, when it obviously has been changed, let alone has contradictions within the text itself.  Once this house of cards fell, my faith was no more.

My Life, After Christianity

I am one of the lucky ones, when I finally built up the courage to tell my wife that I no longer believed, she listened, asked some questions, and then told me she never thought the Bible made much sense.  She was, in fact, a functional agnostic.  She had always been a Christian, because she had no choice as a child.  As a wife, she supported my faith and chose not to take issue with it.  It was a huge relief, I know of other instances where the believing spouse divorced the unbeliever or made life such a battle that the relationship suffered greatly.

As for my kids, after about a month, my wife and I decided to tell our kids that we were no longer Christians.  We let them ask questions, which were many and also told them that we would not be raising them as Christians.  We didn’t forbid them to have faith, we just let them know it would be their choice, not ours, what they chose to believe or not to believe about God.

The hardest part has been the reaction of friends and family.  For the most part, we are now viewed with suspicion by many in our family.  We recently received a letter from a family member, in which he describes us as deceived and followers of Satan….sigh….My wife couldn’t even read it.  This same rhetoric has been leveled at my children at school.  My one son came home confused, because a friend told him he was a Satanist if he didn’t believe in God.  My daughter had the threat of hell preached to her at a sleep over.  No fun, but that it is what the Bible Teaches, so I am not surprised.  It is still not fun to know that you are regarded as unintelligent, uninformed, deceived, and following the lies of Satan.

One Final Note                     

This is kind of my coming out to the Christian blog community….let me explain.  A few years ago I began blogging over at SGM Survivors under the handle of Musicman.  You can read my story at this link:

http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/2008/07/07/musicman-concludes-his-story/

If you read it, you will see that it is from a Christian point of view.  That’s because, I was still very much a Christian when I began to participate on SGM Survivors and the Refuge.  I have nothing but respect for Kris, Guy, Jim, and Carol and for the price they have paid to allow us Survivors to have a voice on the internet.

As I began having doubts, I also began reading the Wartburg Watch.  When I started to post, I would do so as doubtful.  I began this blog, as my way of beginning to think out loud about many of the issues I dealt with as a Christian.

Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

50 Responses to “My Deconversion”

  1. nimuhs May 9, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Hi there! Thanks for this entry, it was well-written and I’m heartened to read that you don’t sound bitter or resentful towards Christianity (I was bracing myself for a negative/hateful entry criticizing it). I was born in a semi-Christian household (my parents brought me to church during special festivals such as Christmas and Easter and taught us the very rudimentary lessons of Christianity, but that was about it). So for a long time I counted myself as a Christian, although I didn’t really know God. I mean, I prayed to Him all right, to ask Him for stuff and all that. But I could never shake off the nagging feeling that I was just speaking to myself.

    As I grew up these questions and more came up to me and I just stopped believing in the little that I did. After I stopped living with my parents I hardly ever went to church. Yet I always felt as if God was whispering in my ear, calling me back to Him.

    I know you probably don’t want to hear my story, but I recommend you to read Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of Christianity. It answered many questions I had about God and faith.

    I don’t know what else to say except I’m sorry I couldn’t be of any help; I just felt like I should leave a comment upon randomly reading your blog. That’s all. I will pray for you regardless of whether you will ever return to your faith. Thanks and I hope you will have a nice day.

    • christianagnostic May 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      Thanks for reading and for the comment…I take no offense at your sentiments. I probably could’ve posted a similar response a few years back.

      Thanks again for stopping by…..

      • Anthony April 26, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

        Hey christian agnostic…

        Just read your deconversion story. I definitely think we have a lot in common. I am an ex-Evangelical and documented my conversion/deconversion story in a book, The Evangelical Experience. I’d love to connect with you over email. Is there a way I can reach you? My email is theevangelicalexperience@gmail.com. Hope to hear from you…

        Anthony

      • christianagnostic April 27, 2016 at 3:34 am #

        Thanks for reading and the comment.
        I’d love to connect…I’ll send you an email soon.

        Best Regards-Ca

  2. Freedom May 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Nice quick write up of your de-conversion. The one thing I find amazing is how happy the vast majority of ex-Christians and ex-evangelicals are once they got out of those systems.

    FYI – shameless self promotion time! I recently opened a Hub Pages account. If you are not familiar with Hub Pages, it is a site where people post articles (sort of like magazine type articles) as opposed to the blog style web pages. That style seems to fit me better as opposed to running a blog. I have a quick intro posted and my first full length article – check it out if you have time, you can access from the name link.

    • christianagnostic May 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

      Very cool….I’ll be sure to check out some of your hub pages….congrats!

  3. jonnyscaramanga May 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Excellent post. I see that we are from quite similar Christian backgrounds… I hadn’t heard of SGM, but from Wikipedia I see that it is charismatic. Was your youth filled with the same “drunk/ slain in the Holy Spirit”, praying in tongues craziness as mine?

    Did you ever come across the Word of Faith? I’m starting to blog about that too. So far my thoughts have been met with mass indifference!

    • Freedom May 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

      SGM was charismatic-lite, now they are part of the reformed/calvinista crowd with a “contemporary” worship. And they are a cult.

      Word Of Faith – that whole movement is nuts – I could write on and on about it.

    • christianagnostic May 10, 2012 at 6:28 am #

      SGM wasn’t into the “seed of faith teaching”…they did go all out for the drunk in the spirit/ Toronto Blessing thing in the 90’s. But somehow they shifted from all out Charismatic meetings, to the Puritans and today they are know as one of the “New Reformed” church movements…go figure?

      I’ll check out your post.

  4. Lorena May 9, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    Wow! A man with pink blog. And your name has Christian on it. Two things that were throwing me off about you 😀

    Excellent write up. I’ve never written my de-conversion story because it would be too long. Yours is a how-to manual.

    How many years have you been an ex-Christian?

    • christianagnostic May 10, 2012 at 3:16 am #

      Lorena-

      LOL…you’re killing me!

      I’ve been an ExChristian for 2 years…..

    • christianagnostic May 10, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      I have to follow up, that I did not realize that my blog was pink…no seriously. I’m a little color blind and I honestly thought my blog was black and white until you posted your hilarious comment.

      I marched into the house after work, and demanded to know if my wife had seen that my blog was pink….she shrugged and said “Sure I did, I just thought that was the only color scheme you had to choose from, so I didn’t say anything…”

      I then screamed “I have a pink blog….I have a pink blog and you didn’t tell me!” Screaming in good fun, mind you. We both laughed at my color blind ways and I am currently fooling with new, more “manly” color schemes.

      So thanks for the laugh and the tip….this blog will no longer be pink!

      • Lorena May 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

        LOL! Me and my big mouth. I shouldn’t have said anything. I loved it pink. It looked like a silly teenager’s blog 😄

  5. thebiblereader May 10, 2012 at 3:38 am #

    Thanks for your de-conversion story, it was greatly appreciated. I still haven’t told no one, not even my wife or family or friends about my doubts or skepticism. I think will tell her soon, probably after my birthday,…still want to get my birthday gift :0

    • christianagnostic May 10, 2012 at 6:23 am #

      Yes..wait until the birthday present is in hand, for sure.

      In all seriousness, I hope it goes well…that’s not an easy conversation.

    • Lorena May 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

      Good luck with that. My husband was eased into it. I started going to other churches of a different type, like Presbiterian and such. Then one day I decided to go to a Unity Church, I did that for about a year. It took me about two years to become an atheist, so by the time he found out I no longer believed, it had been about two years.

  6. graceone May 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    It does seem to me that this doctrine of inerrancy has led to a great deal of trouble in the church.

    For me, it all boils down to what informs our hermaneutic. What is our guiding principle in the interpretation and application of the Scripture? If the center of Christian faith is all about the love of God in Christ, than any interpretation/application of the NT which directly and inevitably leads to abuse must be in error.

    There is no question that Jesus elevated the status of women in his time and culture. Paul emphasized that we are all male and female, one in Christ Jesus.

    • christianagnostic May 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      graceone-

      I guess I still don’t understand why God couldn’t have been more clear about the issues surrounding women? The lack of clarity has been the source of immense misery for women that have suffered under Christian misogynists.

      • graceone May 15, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

        Christian agnostic, I’m not certain that the root of the problem with misogynists is a lack of clarity. I think this desire that men have to exert “power over” women is rooted in fallen human nature And, really we all tend to want our way with each other, rather than to

        ” submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

        You can probably guess that I have more of a Biblical view toward mutual, egalitarian submission rather than complementarianism.

        But, any way these Biblical passages are sliced, no man who is abusive toward his wife is truly loving her as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for her. ( Satan can cite the Scripture for his own purpose. )

        Also, I think it’s important to consider the context and culture of the time. If these verses are authentic, because Paul felt it necessary to instruct a particular group of women, for whatever reason, to maintain silence in a congregation, is it likely he even meant this as a binding teaching for all women everywhere through the centuries?

        If so, he certainly contradicted himself when he actually spoke of women praying and prophesying in the churches, for heaven’s sake.

        I want to add that working in the human service field, I’ve known any number of men who were dominating and abusive toward their wives. Not one of them was a follower of Jesus Christ, or quoted the Scripture to me as any justification.

        Of course, God could put a stop to all this today, but only at the cost of human freedom and choice. As always, I could be wrong, Christian Agnostic, but these are my thoughts on the matter, for what it’s worth..

      • Saunya May 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

        Interesting observations you have made. What about the abuses of women throughout history – Christian or Other? Surely you’re not singling out one group. Read “Divorced at Age 10” about a girl from a Muslim family in Yemen.

        There are abusive people everywhere, especially to women. It’s
        disgusting no matter who inflicts it.

  7. christianagnostic May 15, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    I appreciate your thoughts on the issue.

    I do think it’s important to acknowledge that spousal abuse is not limited to Christian marriages. I did not mean to imply it, if I did.

    What is pernicious, is the way that Christian abusers are able to “justify” their actions with a slew of verses that seem to support their high handed and abusive ways.

    I think your response makes my point about the scriptures lacking clarity. You raise the issue as to whether Paul’s silence mandate is for that time only or for all time. The reason verses like this are “difficult” is because it is not clear whether it was a command for all churches at all times or limited to that locale. This lack of clarity has caused church splits, family splits, marital strife, and on and on.

    Why would the God of peace allow his scriptures to cause so much strife? A little clarity would have gone a long way in preventing these strife filled issues. Strife that continues to this very day.

    It’s this lack of clarity that leads me to conclude that the scriptures are merely a human composition.

    • graceone May 15, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

      Very much appreciate hearing your thoughts, also. But, I can’t agree with your conclusion. Will have to agree to disagree for now, AC. (I don’t feel the Scripture is inerrant or always to even be interpreted literally, but can’t agree that it is purely a human composition either.)

  8. Minimalist Christian May 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Interesting to hear your experience. I believe I was fortunate not to have grown up in a Christian household so have never had problems doubting ‘inerrancy’ of the bible. But coming at Christianity from a passive atheist approach I became convinced of the evidence about Jesus, and was happy to go with that and not take on all the church baggage and Old Testament judgmentalism (it doesn’t seem to fit with what Jesus talked about). I fear too many so-called Christians worship the bible rather than Christ, and that causes lots of problems.

    I hope you haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater though. In my investigations I feel that the balance of evidence is that there is a creator, and that Jesus was special – ‘if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the father’ seems a good starting point. I wonder if Minimalist Christianity might suit you?

    • christianagnostic May 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      Thanks for the comment and for taking the time to read my story.

      “I wonder if Minimalist Christianity might suit you?”

      Not sure what that would entail, but I do acknowledge that much of my moral landscape has to do with my Christian upbringing. I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or not….

      • Minimalist Christian May 30, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

        I’m slowly working through what I think it is on my blog – would be interested what you think…

      • christianagnostic May 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

        I will check it out. Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Grace June 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    Hi christianagnostic, acme passed on your blog to me – I was work-in-progress when I was still commenting at Survivors. Glad to see your blog and looking forward to reading more 🙂

    • christianagnostic June 5, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

      I remember you! Thanks to acme for sending you my way…I’m on break at work, but I’ll check your blog out when I’m home tonight.

      • Grace June 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

        Thanks! It’s a bit of a mishmash right now, but most of the church related stuff is under the “abuse culture,” “complementarianism,” “personal,” SGM, and/or Mars Hill tags 🙂

        I’m glad to hear you and your wife were on the same page. It was the same for my husband and I, and that made things a lot easier. How old are your kids? I imagine it was a big change for them…

  10. christianagnostic June 6, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    Glad to hear that your husband and you were together on this…would be so tough otherwise. My kids were in the early teen and elementarry aged… the kids were pretty accepting of the whole change. They had lots of questions and we had a lot of really honest conversations.

    The older 2 were relieved and agreed with our decision. The younger was not so sure….the youngest couldn’t have cared less, but still wanted to watch Veggie Tales and pray over meals. More out of habit than conviction….we didn’t shame him or argue, we just let him know we didn’t pray anymore. Sometimes he still would, other times he’d just say ok. That’s it in a nutshell.

    • Grace June 6, 2012 at 2:52 am #

      That sounds manageable! Glad to hear it. Interesting that the older two were relieved…I wonder how I would have reacted if my parents told me they didn’t believe any more at the same age. It’s interesting to think back now and wonder how much I suppressed and how much I really believed, you know?

      • christianagnostic June 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

        “It’s interesting to think back now and wonder how much I suppressed and how much I really believed, you know?”

        Yes….my deciding to blog has been my way of asking out loud, all the things I kept inside or tried to faith away my doubts.

  11. unklee December 12, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Hi CA, I have finally found my way to here. Let me say as a christian that I don’t wish to question the genuineness of your belief. And having read other parts of your story, I can see that you went through heaps, and felt some of it deeply. I’m sorry.

    But I also just wanted to share (without arguing or going into detail) how I can agree with much of what you say, but still see many things differently.

    ” One fact I came across that blew my inerrant mind, was the fact that over 7,000 copies exist of Paul’s letters, and every single one is different from the other-no two are the same. “ I think this is actually a misleading statistic, because all but a handful of differences in the entire NT are trivial copying errors that don’t affect the meaning at all – see here. Further, the NT never claims to be “inerrant”, “infallible” etc, and if the evidence points to it not being, then we had best go with the evidence. I think that would save a lot of people a lot of trouble.

    ““If the Bible is the most important message that God could ever hope to say to mankind, and it is supposed to be reliable and without error in the original form, than why didn’t he bother to make sure it would be preserved without error?”” I don’t proferss to understand God, but it does seem as if he works in a different way than we would sometimes expect. But I think most modern evangelical christians miss that the Bible isn’t the most important message, Jesus is. And now the truth of God is communicated by the Holy Spirit. Anything, including interpreting the Bible, that is done without the Holy Spirit will probably suck.

    “Once this house of cards fell, my faith was no more.” I have met many ex-christians who say this. But hen I discovered that the Bible couldn’t be inerrant, I just accepted that, found out what it could be, found that was enough to sustain truth, and just kept on going. I often wonder what leads people to different responses. It seems that the more “fundamentalist” a person’s faith, the more this is the key issue. I was not brought up in a christian family, so that may have had something to do with it.

    “They took the face value teaching of Paul and Peter, applied to today, and followed it to its logical conclusions-which led to all sorts of abuse, neglect, and pain to all involved.” This is really sad, and the end result is an indication that someone’s got something wrong somewhere. Some christians hold the same teachings here in Australia, but I’m not aware of it having such harmful effects as you describe. It si worth noting that the historians tell us that early christianity was known for its far better treatment of women and children than was current at the time.

    “I began to wonder why God would have such confusing and hurtful passages in Scripture?” I suspect it wouldn’t matter what was there, people would find a way to distort it or disobey it.

    “Some early church movements seemed to have women Apostles and deaconesses, even alluded to in the New Testament,” This is another indication that the “popular” interpretation is wrong somewhere.

    So there’s just a few comparison thoughts. Thanks for sharing your story. From my point of view, it is obviously regrettable and disturbing. But I honestly believe that so many churches are so bad that it is best people get out of them. Then there may be more hope that they will find the true God and a thoughtful belief. I realise you don’t agree with the truth of this, just saying how I see it as a christian.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share a different perspective on some important issues. Best wishes.

  12. realthinkblog December 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    I feel better after reading this post! I agree, it is very frustrating when people tell you that you weren’t christian in the first place or was raised wrong or whatever reason they have for us agnostics to think this way. Unfortunately they think beliefs are a one size fits all. Meh. Anyways u have a new follower!

    • christianagnostic December 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

      Thanks for reading….I’m glad it made you feel better!

      you said

      Unfortunately they think beliefs are a one size fits all.

      I’ve encountered this many times. It is really frustrating, but I’m not sure how to help someone who only has one tool in the toolbox for dealing with different worldviews.

      Let me know if you figure this one out.

  13. Kerri Hurman January 8, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    Thank you for sharing what’s led you to this point. I was enrolled in a Catholic school as a child because my father wanted me to have faith and “be a good person”. It is amusing that he wasn’t even Catholic but I guess it was a case of “better the devil you know….” so to speak lol.
    I can remember in Grade 6 when I finally realised that I wanted no part of the Christian “faith. Our Father was doing a catechism class and he asked us to draw a picture of God. The only two black boys in the school (hell in the whole town) drew a black God and Father Rabie went off his nut in that they were disgraceful and terrible people and that God made man in the image of Him. I remember innocently asking “but why do people have different colour skin then and maybe God is black?”. We were all ushered out of class and our parents called to “discuss” our transgressions”. I remember the two boys crying and thinking that I didn’t want to be part of something that could make people cry just for asking a question and getting into trouble for having an opinion. As an adult I realise that it was the priest’s bias, but it certainly made a negative impression on me that has lasted all my life. I have no problem with those that have “faith” as it can be a comfort, guide and solace… but so much wrong is done in the name of faith thatthat you can only be a good person if you have a religion.

    • christianagnostic January 9, 2013 at 1:32 am #

      wow…that is horrible.

      In one sense, I envy your ability to think critically about what you were being taught. But to have an adult belittle you and your classmates because he thought God could not be black is just awful.

      you said

      I have no problem with those that have “faith” as it can be a comfort, guide and solace… but so much wrong is done in the name of faith that you can only be a good person if you have a religion.

      I agree…

      Thanks again for reading and for the comment!

  14. BillSan March 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Brother,

    You’ve got to figure out how to disassociate God from religion. Religion, though a tool to be utilized when considering God, is of man. We made it, thus it is riddled with inaccuracy, sin and brokenness. I fear that the religion that was so entangled in your relationship with your Creator seemingly from your formative years has given you a distorted image of who God is and what He desires for us as His children.

    To comment on something specific, I too have had issue with claims by specific arms of Christianity discrediting woman and giving them “second class” status in the home or church body. That said, it is undeniable that we have been hard wired with gender roles as men and women. My wife is incredibly warm and inviting and gifted in hospitality. I am better at doing the dishes and taking out the trash after guests leave. We are equally yoked. Certainly different, but complimentary and equivalent. If we weren’t acting as such, my wife would be sure to let me know. That said, while it is worth noting our differences, both roles should be celebrated and appreciated equally. It is the sin of mankind and religion that gives one priority over the other.

    I believe a verse often cited to give the argument of gender inequality strength is Ephesians 5:22-26…wives submit to husbands, husbands love wives, etc. Two quick thoughts. First, While the Greek Paul uses is different from verse to verse, he is essentially saying wives submit to your husbands, husbands submit to your wives as he also calls husbands to make the ultimate submission by sacrificing their lives as Christ did for their wives. Second, these verses should not be read as a rule book or used as a weapon, the nature of their context in Ephesians is about unity and how to serve others, it is not about dissension. So, viewing the text through that lens, Paul’s tone would more likely translate. Hey wives, you know how you can best love your husbands? By respecting them. Husbands, you know how you can best love your wives? By serve them, laying down your lives for them, by tenderly loving them, which is essentially what he reiterates in verse 33 of the same chapter. Doesn’t it resonate better with who we are when in its context? Enough on that. My point being, there is meaning in Bible that has been lost or polluted through translation. Plus, in our sin, we as man are privy to taint what we affirm and proclaim with our own worldy agenda at times.

    That being said, I also resonate with your concerns around source and historical criticism of Bible. This was a great concern of mine for many years and prompted much research. Though I appreciate statistics, I must note that the “7,000 variants in Pauline scripture” you cited is tragically misleading. Bible Scholars have deducted that over 99 percent of variations found in manuscripts are a result of copying errors where a word is left out or a Greek letter is forgotten by its scribe. No copies that bear deviations present a message or significant idea counter to that of Christian doctrine. Source criticism reveals that Pauline scripture is remarkably precise given the lack of technology, blend of ethnicities and political and religious suppression of that era. And surpassing the Epistles, scholars also affirm that the New Testament as a whole is 99.5 percent accurate to its original sources.

    Not good enough? Well than neither is ANY other ancient history that we accept and perpetuate today. The majority of what we know about ancient history in other parts of the world and in other civilizations can be found on a handful of manuscripts per history, which was typically copied thousands of years after their source was transcribed. Archaeologists have found tens of thousands of copies of the New Testament with hundreds of them being less than 100 years removed from the time Jesus walked the earth and Paul wrote his letters. To throw out the New Testament, would be to throw out EVERY ancient history we have!

    But, how do we reconcile the errors that do exist with the fact that this is God’s inerrant word!? We don’t. We call them for what they are. Man’s small dirty fingerprint on a massive Sacred text. Of course we are going to taint the “Word of God”. We tainted the world He gave us. That being said, does the .5 percent in question, make the accurate 99.5 percent less true? No it does not.

    Keep digging CA. Rid yourself of bitterness, predisposition and cynicism and run after truth. If you do this, you will find Jesus all over again waiting for you like an old friend. I know I did.

    • christianagnostic March 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      Bill-

      Thanks for taking the time to read about my deconversion.

      you said

      No copies that bear deviations present a message or significant idea counter to that of Christian doctrine.

      That is simply not true. The whole Gospel of John has variations that have major significance for the doctrine of the Trinity and other important doctrines.

      Did Jesus say he wasn’t going up to the festival (a deception, since he then attended in secret) or did he merely state that he wasn’t yet going up.

      I would implore you to seek out the truth on this matter.

      you said

      Not good enough? Well than neither is ANY other ancient history that we accept and perpetuate today. The majority of what we know about ancient history in other parts of the world and in other civilizations can be found on a handful of manuscripts per history, which was typically copied thousands of years after their source was transcribed

      This is true, but in general, no one is saying my eternal destiny is riding on my understanding of these ancient histories. The Christian faith does claim eternal significance as well as historical truth.

      you said

      And surpassing the Epistles, scholars also affirm that the New Testament as a whole is 99.5 percent accurate to its original sources.

      How can you or any scholar possibly know this, since we don’t have even one verse from an original source. What you’ve stated is untrue.

  15. BillSan March 6, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    Thanks for the quick response…a few clarifications as I became sloppy with my longwinded comment earlier.

    The Gospel of John is obviously unique next to the Synoptics. The author of John wrote with his own perspective on what he witnessed, no crime there. You are probably aware that each gospel account comes with its own unique focus and lens. At the end of the day they are all portraits of the same Jesus. John’s author was just painting with dense theology.

    I’d love to know where you found such contradictions in John, not saying they aren’t there, there are obvious ones, 1 year mission vs. 3 year mission, Galilee vs. Judah, etc, I just do better with specific scripture. Until then this is a great article harmonizing the doctrine of the Trinity with John and the Synoptics. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/what-is-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity

    Thoughts on the festival…When the context is examined typically the answer becomes clear. John 7 starts off with Jesus walking in Galilee. His brothers were pressuring Him to go up to the festival, but Jesus knew the Jewish leaders were itching for an opportunity to kill Him. Naturally, Jesus would have avoided such a public entry. Verses 8-9 are important when deciphering what truly happened. It says,” 8 You go to the festival. I am not[b] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.” So Jesus essentially says, brothers go on ahead, I am not going to the festival, YET. He wasn’t skipping out all together, he was waiting for the appropriate time, the safe time, God’s time. So he did. He stayed in Galilee, then halfway through the festival, he snuck in, past the Jewish leaders and teachers of the law and publicly revealed himself to the crowds in verse 14. Was it strategic? Yes. Deceptive? No, he openly told his brothers that moment was not his time.

    On the original sources, YOU GOT ME. No autographs have been recovered of the NT at this point. I should have clarified this differently. When speaking of the accuracy of original sources, I was referring to the way we read the Bible today in relation to the manuscripts that have been discovered, alongside the consistencies within those manuscripts used for translation. A better and more accurate way to rephrase my statement would be the New Testament is 99.5 percent consistent. My apologies.

    Peace and blessings to you. Good luck on your journey.

    • BillSan March 6, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      Sorry, this is BillSan above. I posted as someone else somehow!

      • christianagnostic March 6, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

        No worries…fixed it and deleted the link!

    • christianagnostic March 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

      I’d love to know where you found such contradictions in John,

      From my NIV New Testament. Most NIV Bibles footnote when there are contradictory manuscripts that are not clear errors (such as spelling or accidental omissions).

      To be clear, I was talking about manuscript differences and not internal contradictions within the texts themselves.

      Other examples of manuscript contradictions would be the final chapter of Mark’s Gospel (3 different ancient endings within manuscripts) and John 8, which has no evidence of existing before the tenth century (if my memory serves right?)

      Lastly, I would just comment, that while we have many manuscripts of the NT, numbering in the thousands, we have no complete copies of the New Testament dating before the 5th century. And even those contain books no longer considered to be Scripture. Before these copies, many of the manuscripts are as small as a verse or two from the New Testament.

      Please keep this in mind when you assert that we have thousands of copies of NT Scripture, because almost none of them are complete books of the New Testament, let alone the complete collection of books

      Thanks-CA.

  16. AmRestorative April 27, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Good for you, and well done. I enjoyed the read. It’s great that your wife shared your thoughts and that you’re united. It makes choices, like how to raise the kids, so much easier. It’s always sad when family responds negatively–I’ve been fortunate in that department–but considering what they believe, as you say, it’s no surprise that they do react like that. If they did not, then their belief is a bit suspect to start with.

    It’s tough to escape religion if you grow up with it. I went through the same. I divorced Jesus in my mid-twenties, but it took 6 years after that, for me to consolidate what I believe and what I don’t. I’m now an agnostic atheist. I write of my journey to and away from God on my blog, if you’re interested.

  17. Chip January 1, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Ah, I did a study on SGM and some other churches in that movement a few years back, made me very sad and angry. I myself am a Christian but I would best describe myself as a Christ follower and still very much believe in His Teachings and the validity of the Bible. I can say however from my study on SGM and the Charismatic Movement that I understand how you came to be where you are, I get it and I fully expected it. All I can say, from the bottom of my heart is I’m sorry that happened to you and your family. I’m not going to hurl condemnation or judgement at you, it’s not my place. I believe the scripture that simply says, “they will know we are Christians by our love.” So know this, I love you and I will continue to pray for you and the other SGM/charismatic refugees as you continue on your life’s path.

  18. nitrams0 January 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Very interesting article. I would like to say more but need to think on this a bit. Consider this comment a placeholder for more later.

  19. Anonymous April 2, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    We have a lot in common. I was also in the Christian music and publishing world for many years, and was a sales rep on the West Coast. I lived within driving distance of “Big” Calvary and the Wimber’s church.

    Thanks for your explanation on why you deconverted. I get it. Christianity can be wonderfully loving and incredibly shallow, all at one time. It’s full of propaganda and demagoguery–and sometimes it goes completely evil. A lot of what is taught to us by Evangelical youth pastors had to be un-learned.

    The comment by Minimalist Christian was interesting, and I think that’s where I am — definitely Christian, maybe even still Evangelical — but on the far liberal side. I’m grateful for Facebook groups like the Christian Left and a lot of the progressive Christian authors.

    I suspect the reason I identify as Christian is that my mother escaped from her fundamentalist childhood and gave me permission (by her example) to question pastors and other leaders. So I don’t put up with spiritual authoritarianism from anyone. There’s no need to accept any pastor’s interpretation of Scripture as true.

    Finally, I don’t feel compelled to defend my faith anymore. I figure God is big enough to defend himself, and Jesus can take care of himself too.

    Best wishes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: