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My Antitestimonial Expounded


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As of February 2005, I am 40 years of age and have been out of the Christian cult for about 10 years.

 

I was born in 1964 into a very Christian family in Texas. Paternally, my family was staunch Southern Baptists and my Great-Grandfather was the oldest living SBC Home Missionary from the time I was born until he died at 98 in 1985. Maternally, my family is staunch Church of Christ, and my first cousin is currently a major CoC preacher.

 

Like most children born into a seriously Christian family, I began attending church immediately, although in the nursery. For the rest of my childhood, we attended Southern Baptist churches and I committed myself to Jesus and was baptized in 1976, at the age of twelve. Like most kids, I believed in the religion and I had a major admiration for the heroes of the Old Testament. I belonged to the youth groups, was a Boy Scout in Baptist sponsored troop, and attended the obligatory revivals and camps.

 

When I was in my senior year of high school, I met a young lady who I became very interested in and began dating exclusively. Like me, she had been raised as a Southern Baptist and was a member of the Bible Verse Team and the Hand Bell Choir. I began attending church with her and things were just peachy. Flash forward two years and I am standing at the altar and we are getting married. I had just finished my freshman year of college at a Methodist University and she had just finished high school. Things went along pretty normally, I continued in college and she worked and we attended church and were a "good Christian couple". In 1986, the oil market collapsed and Texas about dried up and blew away. Jobs were scarce, with lots of layoffs and business failures. I could no longer afford to pay for college and we had to move back to our home town.

 

I enlisted in the US Air Force and had to wait 8 months on delayed enlistment. Finally, I went in the USAF and completed all the training. We were posted in Indiana and my wife, dog and myself moved up there. After we got settled in, we found a Southern Baptist Church and joined it. It was a bit different from what we were used to, as the church we belonged to in Texas had around 5,000 members and in the little community where we now lived in Indiana, the church was very small and rural. The new church had a distinct fundamentalist bent and was less than progressive, in that it was a KJV 1611 only, "hell fire and brimstone" type of church. Around this time, the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention happened and the "liberty of conscience" aspect of the Baptist philosophy was drowned in the fundamentalist insistence to adhere to specific doctrinal interpretations that were controversial. Examples of these are: female submission, anti(everything worldly), emphasis on women staying at home, etc. We soon left and began attending the military chapel on base, which was a non-denominational protestant service and continued for the length of my assignment.

 

During this time, I attended college part-time to finish my degree from a Baptist University on base and earned my bachelors in 1992, with the delay being caused by my deployment to fight in the First Gulf War. My degree was a major in Information Tech and a minor in ministry. We also brought into the world, our two children at this time.

 

In 1991, our base was closed and we transferred back to Texas. The new base was much larger than our previous base and we also purchased a home in the city. Because of the turmoil in the Southern Baptist Convention and our joint disagreements with some of their new tenets, we decided to not join a Baptist Church. We visited many churches and finally joined a Presbyterian Church that was in general very much service oriented and not "hell and brimstone". I can truthfully say I really like this church and the people, and except for the religion part, I would still associate with them. During this time, I engaged in my Masters degree at a local Baptist University, which had an on-base campus. My degree major was in Christian Counseling with a minor in IT. (I changed it to an MBA in Information Management Systems).

 

As a rational person, I had always had questions with the unanswered questions, the mysteries, of the Bible. Like most believers, I had read the various apologetic books, attended the seminars and revivals and engaged in cognitive dissonance. However, when taking graduate apologetics (a mandatory part of a ministry program degree), I found out things that would put me in a dilemma and force me to make serious choices that would effect my plans, life and my families life. Here is the meat of the matter on why I am an ExChristian.

 

In apologetics, the purpose is to train a minister to be able to defend the faith and to reinforce the faith of believers. In order to do so, a student is exposed to the various arguments used against Christianity, and this includes the very ancient ones from the 2nd century. I learned that many of the arguments used by modern skeptics and enemies of Christianity were not new, but had been formulated and delivered by ancient skeptics and philosophers who were first hand observers of the things that they were criticizing. The church, in various councils and Imperial Edicts, tried to refute these arguments and then tried to destroy any evidence of their existence. Moreover, it is and has been known to Christian Theologians from the beginning, that many of the early church fathers deliberately redacted things into scriptures, secular documents and even forged documents. Moreover, it is known to Christian Theologians that many contrary views of the Christian message were termed heretical and the scripture used and the people believing them were hunted down and destroyed. The surviving documents were only unearthed in the 20th century (Nag Hammidi and Dead Sea Scrolls) and conclusively showed that the beliefs that constitute Orthodox Christianity only gained dominance due to Imperial power supporting a small minority view, and in fact, most of the Orthodox doctrines evolved and were voted on in councils. Furthermore, as the official religion of the Roman Empire, only those texts and doctrines that supported the Imperial polity were accepted, all others were suppressed.

 

What was I to do, as both a believer and a basically honest person? What I found out was that the faith I had believed in for 29 years was based upon fraud and no basis in reality. Like Jefferson, one of my personal heroes, I began to discard that parts of the Bible and doctrines that I felt were mythical or absurd and tried to find and cling to the hidden truth that Jesus seemed to teach. I will be honest, the threat of hell had an enormous influence on me and kept me from being able to toss it all away, but that was why the concept of hell was invented anyway. I continued to attend our Presbyterian church and was the leader of the Cub Scout Pack, (son was a Cub), but I resigned as an Associate Youth Minister. We remained members of the church until I was discharged from the USAF and we moved. (As an aside, I remained a member because this church actually did good things, such as helping poor people, assisting the sick and dying and did not force Christianity on others).

 

In 1996, we moved to Austin, TX (where we still reside) and I had a "come to myself epiphany". I just could no longer attend and play like I was a believer. I refused to attend a church or join one. I finally admitted that I no longer believed in Christianity and walked away. At time, the fear of hell would overwhelm me, my mother would cry and preach to me, and I still doubted. My wife's and my extended families are still serious Christians and at times I had to and still have to play the part. I told my family that I no longer believed and was not a Christian. My wife asked me to not reveal my lack of beliefs to hers, and I agreed. However, in the last couple of years they figured it out when trying to get my kids to believe and my son argued with them and refuted their claims like Thomas Paine.

 

My children have been raised to be skeptical and to think for themselves. When I walked away from my life plans and the faith that had been core to my life, I felt very lost. As most ExChristians know, there are very few resources or support groups for former Christians. We are treated like lepers in our predominantly Christian society.

 

Christianity is still a major player in my life, but as something to be countered. It is my personal belief that evangelical Christianity is a bane upon civilization, particularly the fundamentalist strains. I believe that the "Religious Right" is seeking to destroy the very freedoms that have made America what it is. I will fight with words, with reason and if I have to, sacrifice my life to prevent their totalitarian tyranny from being implemented.

 

 

I will close with my favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson, "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear".

 

 

//Bruce//

 

If I wanted to play follow the leader, I would be a Christian....

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Great post, what you pointed out about apologetics is what I had to learn on my own! Incidentally, thanks for the "title" - Heimdall :wicked:

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I now consider myself to be a Deist. I have made a subjective, perceptual decision that I believe that something greater exists, that some call God. I do not know if God does exist, but if it does, I doubt it would exhibit the same prejudices and shortcomings of humans, as does the Abrahamic deity. As a Deist, I believe in the application of logic, science and reason to discover the grandeur of the universe. If there is a revelation, it is the reality of nature; not contradictory, ambiguous, prejudicial and absurd texts (New Testament, Tanakh, Qu'ran, etc.).

 

Only problem with that is.... who designed the designer. 'Universe in a nutshell'.... Stephen Hawkins will offer you another interesting perspective. Look at the KOBE mapping of the known universe... Singularity, parallel universes, string theories should be enough to flip your switch

 

These matters are very personal and evolve with time, transcending reality and diving into unknown territory with theological absolutes in the dawn of the history of man is horrifyingly pretentious and has resulted in the worst abominations. I can only offer a God the benefit of a doubt no more :Wendywhatever:

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  • 8 months later...

Enjoyed your Extianmony!

I had read this about how Apologists reasoning is and I thought it was good.

 

You see an Apologist with a dog you ask him,

"Does your dog bite?'

 

Apologist: "No my dog does not bite."

 

You pet the dog and it tears your arm off

 

"Hey, I thought you said your dog doesn't bite?!?!"

 

Apologist: "That's not my dog."

 

Taph

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In apologetics, the purpose is to train a minister to be able to defend the faith and to reinforce the faith of believers. In order to do so, a student is exposed to the various arguments used against Christianity, and this includes the very ancient ones from the 2nd century. I learned that many of the arguments used by modern skeptics and enemies of Christianity were not new, but had been formulated and delivered by ancient skeptics and philosophers who were first hand observers of the things that they were criticizing.

 

One of the first opponents of Christianity was the Philosopher Celsus, who wrote the True Word or Alethes Logos. Few have demolished Christianity so thoroughly. Origen spent almost a third of his life trying to refute Celsus and failed miserably.

 

Contra Celsum

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Enjoyed your Extianmony!

I had read this about how Apologists reasoning is and I thought it was good.

 

You see an Apologist with a dog you ask him,

"Does your dog bite?'

 

Apologist: "No my dog does not bite."

 

You pet the dog and it tears your arm off

 

"Hey, I thought you said your dog doesn't bite?!?!"

 

Apologist: "That's not my dog."

 

Taph

Very good illustration..

 

A- "Is your God evil?"

 

X- "No, God is good."

 

A- "WTF! He let thousands of people die in the ... catastrophe!"

 

X- "That wasn't my God."

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Bruce - thanks for sharing your story! The female submission and male leadership was a huge issue for me and was one of the largest cracks in my old faith.

 

I really don't know much about apologetics, but I would be interested in reading more and understanding the elaborate foundation of lies all of this is based on. Do you have links to any additional information? I've been reading some atheist websites, but I'd definitely like to get a list together of some xian resources that have researched this and other helpful xian information. Is there a section on this site for this kind of information? If not, I'd be happy to help compile a list and set something up for other n00b's like myself. :) (sorry for posting this in your testimony) :-\

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great antimony...its good to know there are few of us who havent made our minds up on whether or not there is a god...that we dont have to just throw the baby out with the bathwater as some seem to do...and i definitely agree with gliph..if there are any links as foar as the history of apologetics from the view point you alluded to, i would love to read that...it seems to be one of the strongest arguments against the christian faith...thanks for writing!

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Wow, Southern Baptist, that's rough. I was raised in a Baptist church, and I never enjoyed it. I am proud to say that I managed to not ever get baptised, which is pretty rare especially since everyone else in my family, including my sister that is 5 years yonger than me, all have been.

As for REBOOT's question of who designed the designer, God's God did of course ;)

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  • 8 months later...

Bruce - thanks for sharing your story! The female submission and male leadership was a huge issue for me and was one of the largest cracks in my old faith.

 

I really don't know much about apologetics, but I would be interested in reading more and understanding the elaborate foundation of lies all of this is based on. Do you have links to any additional information? I've been reading some atheist websites, but I'd definitely like to get a list together of some xian resources that have researched this and other helpful xian information. Is there a section on this site for this kind of information? If not, I'd be happy to help compile a list and set something up for other n00b's like myself. :) (sorry for posting this in your testimony) :-\

 

Are you still interested? On this site you'll find people who have major collections of errors in the Bible.

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  • 2 years later...
I will close with my favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson, "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear".

 

Damn fine quote, sir!

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  • 5 months later...

Like most children born into a seriously Christian family, I began attending church immediately, although in the nursery.... I committed myself to Jesus and was baptized.... Like most kids, I believed in the religion and I had a major admiration for the heroes of the Old Testament. I belonged to the youth groups... and attended the obligatory revivals....

 

Like most believers, I had read the various apologetic books, attended the seminars and revivals and engaged in cognitive dissonance....

 

What was I to do, as both a believer and a basically honest person? What I found out was that the faith I had believed in for 29 years was based upon fraud and no basis in reality....

 

My wife's and my extended families are still serious Christians and at times I had to and still have to play the part....

 

Christianity is still a major player in my life, but as something to be countered. It is my personal belief that evangelical Christianity is a bane upon civilization, particularly the fundamentalist strains. I believe that the "Religious Right" is seeking to destroy the very freedoms that have made America what it is.

 

These parts sound a lot like me. I was even 29 when I started questioning my faith, after having been studying the Bible and apologetics materials for quite a while.

 

I will close with my favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson, "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear".

 

Damn fine quote, sir!

 

Indeed it is.

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  • 1 month later...
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