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Fundalmentalist Christian Leaves The Faith


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I was a fundamentalist Christian for 27 years. I became "born again" after joining the Air Force in 1979. I remember reading a bible I had bought and for the first time read what the New Testament said about salvation. I realized that I was a great sinner and needed help. I was upset with the way my life was going and saw no way out. I was in my barracks by myself reading the bible when I came across the passage "If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved". I bowed my head and repeated this to God and put my trust in him. I felt great release and love flowed into my heart. I started to go to church, go out with Christian friends, sing and witness in the park and of course read my bible day and night. For a year I was on cloud nine but then I was sent to an Air Force base in England. At RAF Lakenheath (a nuclear bomber base) I was charged with guarding the various weapons we had and prepare for nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It was an exciting time for me since I truly believed that the Rapture would happen anyday and was not worried at all about the world situation. In fact the worse it got, the better I felt. Remember, this was the time of President Reagan who was dancing toe to toe with the Russians. But during this time began to notice that my spiritual life was leveling out. I found it harder and harder to keep my body from sinning. I struggled with thoughts of sin and battled everyday with unclean thoughts. I was going to a Full Gospel Charismatic Church that believed in all the fruits of the Spirit. I remember being asked which of the spiritual gifts God had given me, and I answered that I didn't know. That got me to thinking as to why I didn't have this gift. It was probably because of my sins. But while realizing my worthlessness I also started to notice things going on in the church which started me thinking. I remember watching the healing services and seeing the same people go up week after week with the same complaints. Never did I see someone healed of a major illness, it was always a back problems or cold. We had a guy who was completely paralyzed and in a wheelchair and even though he was prayed over week after week he never did get up. When Kenneth Copeland (the TV preacher) came to England. he even prayed over this man but he still wasn't healed. How could this be? I read in books how this Kenneth Copeland had healed people with cancer and many major illnesses. So why couldn't he heal this man? Oh yes, I remember now, the standard answer given to sick Christians. "You were not healed because of some hidden sin".

I also began began to see what power does to people. The pastor was only part time but he wanted to be full time and bullied the members of the church to pay him a full time salary. Anyone who opposed him was belittled in front of others until they changed their minds. He then took a firm hand in the church and began to attempt to control the lives of his flock. I was finally forced to leave. I was shaken by my experience but my faith in God was still strong.

I returned to the United States, still in the Air Force and went to another Full Gospel Church. I was beginning to see problems with the bible. I saw that there were some very real contradictions that couldn't be explained but I just let it go, believing that God had a reason for everything in the bible. One thing that really bothered me was the violence that God used in the Old Testament against various nations. I just couldn't understand how God could order Israel to kill entire cities, including women and small children. I imagined them being lined up for execution, the woman holding onto their children who were crying and then getting a sword run through both of them. It didn't make sense to me at all and I was very upset at this. I imagined myself an Israelite soldier being ordered to kill children. "Would I do it?" I thought. If I didn't I would be disobeying God and would be killed and sent to hell. That thought put terror in my mind and I quickly thought of different things.

The idea of the end times also bothered me. How come Christ hadn't come back yet after 2000 years? I read many books on the subject and was told not to worry, that Christ would come back when it was time. But then I saw how the prophecies being uttered in church were wrong. They were all saying that Christ would be coming very soon. This was supposed to be God Himself telling the church members that the end was soon. But it never came.

I also questioned the idea of an eternal hell. Again I thought how could God send someone to a lake of fire for ever and ever? How about all these people in the world who never heard of Jesus? Were they doomed? The Church was telling me that they were and that God was justified in sending them to hell and in fact one day we would all rejoice at the justice of God for sending those people there. That also made me think that God was being cruel to wait so long for the end of the world. How many people had been born the past 2000 years? Billions probably, and most were going to have to go to hell and be tormented forever. Wouldn't it be more merciful for God to have returned after 10 or 20 years after the death of Christ? But by waiting so long He has condemned these billions.

Another big problem was Church history. The problem was that it was very bloody. From almost the very outset the Church was set with problems that I figured wouldn't have happened if God was truly leading. Then as time went on when the Church took over the Roman Empire and turned it into an Empire of horror. It's hard to imagine a loving God in charge of such a mess. The death and destruction caused by the Church was mind boggling. The entire 2000 years since Christ was filled with violence, hatred, greed and powerful Christians doing bad things to others. People with different opinions were called heretics and hounded out of the cities. When the Empire finally fell and the Church was the only law, things really got out of hand. I don't know how many people were killed in the name of Christ, but it was not a few.

The other part about the Church which ties in with Church history is what Christians act like now. I saw very little love in the Church. I saw greed and people seeking power and money. I saw various churches that didn't care one lick about their members except how they could continue to contribute money to the Church. I was amazed that I never found a man or woman that I could say truly lived the life I envisioned a Christian should live. It seemed that the Church as a whole was even worse than the general public. Divorce was rampant, various sexual sins were all the rage and money was the new god. I saw pastor after pastor fall in various sins.

The straw that broke the camels back for me was Rev Ted Haggard. I didn't know much about him except that he was very big in the Church. When he fell like he did I finally said to myself "THAT IS ENOUGH!" I didn't know what to do or what alternatives I had. I was tired of all this, so I then did the unthinkable. I began to read articles critical of the bible and saw that my past concerns were also the concerns of others. I started reading books about how the bible was written and the various problems with the resurrection accounts. My eyes seemed to be open for the first time. I saw the problems with creation science and began reading books on evolution for the first time with fresh eyes. I felt like I had been in prison for many years and that my learning was very far behind. I loaded up with science books and read many articles questioning the bible. I read testimonies of former Christians who believed exactly like I did and saw that they truly believed the bible at the time but had the same questions that I did. I also found a great web site run by Merle Hertzler and read every article of his and at that point I began to feel a great relief in my very essence.

I then promised myself that I would examine the evidence fully and then decide if the bible is truly the Word of God or not. If it is, then it must be fully followed without question. If not then I cast it away.

 

On December 31, 2006 made the following declaration to myself

 

I have studied the evidence and have come to the conclusion that

 

1. The bible is not the Word of God. It was written by man at various periods.

 

2. Jesus is not God, or Christ or anything. If he existed he was just a man.

 

3. The God that I knew and loved does not exist.

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Welcome to the site, South.

 

You're among friends.

 

Ditto that - always good to see another person leave that sick-ass cult.

 

Welcome again :wave:

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Thanks for the encouraging replies. I never in a million years would have thought that I would have given up my faith. I was so entrenched in it and so saturated that I don't see how I ever did. I am still not on solid ground and at this time am not strong enough to withstand an attack from a Christian trying to get me back into the flock. I am thankful that there are rules in place that prevent that on this board.

I am learning as fast as I can now with open eyes and hope to get stronger in my new position as time goes on. It's really hard to say in words how deeply I was involved in the Christian Church. I believed that Christ was my Lord and I believed with my whole heart that God raised him from the dead. I believed that there was no other way but through Christ and Him crucified. I was in deep depression for many years because I couldn't stop sinning and couldn't get over the fact that all my dead relatives were in hell.

I feel so free now but I am still saturated with the Christian mindset. That will take a long time to get over. This board is probably the only place that I can feel safe while I learn to get over my previous life.

Thanks again for this board.

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I also wanted to add this for anyone that was in the faith movement, they will understand:

 

Kenneth Copeland was my god. Or better yet, he was just below Jesus in spiritual things. I also believed in Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, Jerry Sevel, and many others in the faith movement. I believed everythign they said, even if it disagrred with the bible. I believed in speaking in tongues, in healing, in raising people from the dead. I used to go to work early so I could pray over the chairs of my work mates and touch each chair so the annointing of God would flow threw each of them during the day. I read the bible 4 times all the way through and the New Testament about 20 times through. I prayed as much as I could. I prayed when I went to bed and as soon as I got up. I had no doubts about God and His Christ who was crusified for us that we may live.

That's why I want people to know who committed I was to Christ and Him crusified. That's why I want people to know that it was a big thing for me to leave the faith. My head is still spinning but I have searched my heart and have no disire to return back to the faith. Some have written me email telling me that I am doomed and will spend all eternity in hell being tortured. It scares me but I have to stand firm and realize that this isnt't true.

Just my thoughts.

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Thanks for the encouraging replies. I never in a million years would have thought that I would have given up my faith. I was so entrenched in it and so saturated that I don't see how I ever did. I am still not on solid ground and at this time am not strong enough to withstand an attack from a Christian trying to get me back into the flock. I am thankful that there are rules in place that prevent that on this board.

 

Hey, join the crowd, I, for one, never thought I would leave the faith ever either....

 

Funny the memories that stick with you, but I remember back when I was in college I went to this fundy summer project called Kaleo, I remember a meeting one night where the speaker said that something like half the people in the room would abandon their faith or not endure to the end. I remember thinking to myself "that'll NEVER happen to me" :shrug:

 

Now, I can honestly say, that of all the major life choices I've made, I do not regret the choice to leave Christianity. No doubt giving it up has cost me things, but the peace of mind and intellectual integrity was worth it.

 

You'll be just fine, you just have to give yourself a bit of time to adjust

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SD, you are not only among friends but among those who were just as strong and passionate about God/Jesus as you once were. There are ex-pastors, ex-praise and worship team members (raises hand), ex-life group facilitators (raises hand), ex-childrens church teachers (raises hand again), etc. etc. Not only that but the thousands of dollars wasted in tithes and thousands of hours of time wasted praying to and worshipping the air. :-)

 

We're here to support you, glad that you found ExC!

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Welcome to Ex-C South and thank you for sharing your Anti-T. I too came from a fundy sect. I think the departure is all that more emotional because that particular group is based upon mainly emotional manipulation, the emotion of fear is the most dominate and also the hardest to overcome. It's an extremely hard process but you'll get there. Again Welcome to the site!!!

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.... That's why I want people to know that it was a big thing for me to leave the faith. My head is still spinning but I have searched my heart and have no disire to return back to the faith. Some have written me email telling me that I am doomed and will spend all eternity in hell being tortured. It scares me but I have to stand firm and realize that this isnt't true.

Just my thoughts.

 

South, man this is what happens when you leave a brainwashing cult. We were ALL there. I had friends get really heavy w/ me when I left the church. This was back in 1984 and sometimes I can feel the stabs. The accusations of eternal torment. The accusations that you are being unfaithful to the Good Shepherd. They are absolutely heartfelt by them. You know they believe that you are going down the way of apostacy (or are already there).

 

Our repudiation of their cult goes against everything they believe:

 

God will hold onto you: ask all the True Believers whose prayers have been unanswered.

God will not allow you to endure anything you cannot stand: why did God make homosexuals the way they are but leave them No Way Out of their desires? How sadistic.

God is faithful: But faithful to what? Making sure that the human race gets a straight shot to hell just because they don't believe exactly like James Dobson or Pat Robertston? Ooh, feel the love.

The blood of christ has made you a regenerated soul: then why the command by Christ to be perfect? Why are all of the True Believers still assholes just like the rest of humanity?

The Word of God can give you the armour of God: then why the constant fall back into sin?

 

The reason, of course, is that none of these assertions are based in reality. They are made up by an evolving religion (just like all religions) to satisfy the needs of a group at any given moment. People do not like the idea that there is no sure thing after they die. But no one can really say!

 

People need a group identity to hold them together, even if that group identity is a total and complete fabrication.

 

You and my apostacy flies in the face of all the brainwashing, man.

 

And part of that brainwashing is that knawing voice inside of you that says you cannot possibly know what is right. What is ethical. And what is the best damned thing for you.

 

But that, my friend, is one of the great sins against organized "True" Religion - we MUST think for ourselves and somehow resolve this painful, contradictory but in the end beautiful thing called being alive.

 

Just my thoughts today. Geez, I'm on a roll...

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Thanks for the encouraging replies. I never in a million years would have thought that I would have given up my faith.

Neither did I. I was a Christian since birth for thirty years. But more and more people are waking up to the immoral teachings of the Christian religion.

I was so entrenched in it and so saturated that I don't see how I ever did. I am still not on solid ground and at this time am not strong enough to withstand an attack from a Christian trying to get me back into the flock. I am thankful that there are rules in place that prevent that on this board.

I went through the same thing when I first deconverted. You just have to figure out for yourself what it is that you actually believe and not let anyone else tell you what to believe. This can take a long time. In the meantime, you might want to read some of the arguments against Christianity. You can read my Five Questions That Christians Can't Answer from the Lion's Den. The Christian who tried to answer them ended up showing his insecurities with his faith.

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I'm not a great Master giving advice to a Grasshopper, but let me give you this metaphor from my own life: After knowing for a long time that I was not a believer, I finally one day realized that it was OK. I shed the Christian religion completely and all at once, after years of doubt and non action concerning my doubt. When I made the final declaration and was completely shed of this religion, it felt as though an actual heavy weight was suddenly lifted from my shoulders. I felt free and confident in my new and genuine freedom.

 

This will happen to you, too. Can't say when, but it's in your future for sure.

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