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oladotun

Christian Having A Crisis Of Faith

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I am going to try and be as brief as I can, but I can often be long winded, so please bear with me. Also please forgive any typos... I am a Christian who is having a major crisis of faith, and don't know what to do. I am attracted to the message of God's grace and His love for humanity through Jesus, but I am not attracted to the legalism and "endless quest for moral perfection" that we often call Christianity..

 

I grew up in a household that was not really religious. When I was about 7 years old (I was an only child at the time), my parents started having lots of trouble in their relationship. My parents fought a lot and my mother started drinking very heavily. When I was 8 years old, she took her own life after overdosing on anti-depressants. My life was turned upside down. She had attempted suicide before, had failed and threatened my dad that she would do it again if things did not improve, and she finally succeeded. It was around this time that we started going to church more often. A few years later, my dad would re-marry and I would later have 3 wonderful brothers.

 

When I was around 16 years old, I got confirmed in the Anglican Church; I did not really understand what I was doing I just knew that I had to go to all these classes and memorize some stuff and a Bishop would lay hands on me at this very elaborate ceremony. I would start “trying to live for Christ”. When I was 16, I accepted Jesus as my Savior, realizing that I was a sinner, who did not measure up to the standards of the Bible. There was one major problem, however, I was a young man who loved pornography, I had started looking at porn right before my mother died, and I did not know how to stop. Porn became my “drug” of choice when things were going bad and I was feeling sad (which was almost always, I never really grieved my mothers death)..I would later learn from some Christians that “real Christians are not supposed to be depressed!” Really?!

 

My first bad experience with religion came when I asked someone at church what happens to people who die by suicide, and they said that suicide was an unforgivable sin and they would go to hell. Even though this theory would later be refuted by a respectable minister and my pastor of the church I go to now, I could not help but wonder. I know that my mother knew Jesus, and if Jesus did indeed pay for all her sins as is preached, how could she go to hell, when her misery that led to her suicide is not something that she wanted? I started to yell at God and get very mad….In the meantime, I was struggling to be this “perfect Christian” when I knew that I would never meet the impossible standards of the Bible.

 

I also started to realize that most of us Christians are very judgmental, why is it for example that the religious right (politics) always acts like if you don’t agree with all the plans of the Republican party and of George W. Bush, you are not a real “child of God’ and a more notorious sinner? They get on Bill Clinton for his moral failings, but ignore the huge failings of men of God in the Bible (like David, who was an adulterer and murderer)..They focus so much on other peoples sexual sins, but ignore the ways in which major corporations (which they are affiliated with) profit from porn and other sexual addictions.. They ignore internal sins (pride, jealousy, greed, unforgiveness, racism..etc) which are highly destructive, while they focus on externals like: how you dress, do you sleep around, what music you listen to, if you go to nightclubs etc…Now, I am not saying that every church is like this, but most are. It is all about how much you can put up this front like your life is free from problems, when it is not. The church I attend is very loving and gracious, but I am still having trouble reconciling the message of God’s grace with the rigid demands of Biblical law, and it is sheer hell. I want to die desperately. It is bad enough that I am constantly depressed and struggle with an addiction to pornography (which cost me my job recently because they did not have porn filters on the computers at work), but it is also bad when “ministers” give pat answers like pray more, stop sinning, go to your Bible and obey it..And why do churches act like paying your tithes (giving 10% of your income to the church) is all that you need to do to solve all your problems? Why do they focus so much on getting money? Could it be because they are just as greedy as corporate executives?

 

I am really confused and have been reading a lot of books about God’s grace that have helped like Divine Nobodies – shedding religion to find God (by Jim Palmer), and “what’s so amazing about grace” by Philip Yancey…I need some relief from this hell that has enslaved my mind….For more you can go to my blog at: http://graceofgod1971.blogspot.com/

 

Stephen A. :scratch:

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I am going to try and be as brief as I can, but I can often be long winded, so please bear with me. Also please forgive any typos... I am a Christian who is having a major crisis of faith, and don't know what to do. I am attracted to the message of God's grace and His love for humanity through Jesus, but I am not attracted to the legalism and "endless quest for moral perfection" that we often call Christianity..

 

I grew up in a household that was not really religious. When I was about 7 years old (I was an only child at the time), my parents started having lots of trouble in their relationship. My parents fought a lot and my mother started drinking very heavily. When I was 8 years old, she took her own life after overdosing on anti-depressants. My life was turned upside down. She had attempted suicide before, had failed and threatened my dad that she would do it again if things did not improve, and she finally succeeded. It was around this time that we started going to church more often. A few years later, my dad would re-marry and I would later have 3 wonderful brothers.

 

When I was around 16 years old, I got confirmed in the Anglican Church; I did not really understand what I was doing I just knew that I had to go to all these classes and memorize some stuff and a Bishop would lay hands on me at this very elaborate ceremony. I would start “trying to live for Christ”. When I was 16, I accepted Jesus as my Savior, realizing that I was a sinner, who did not measure up to the standards of the Bible. There was one major problem, however, I was a young man who loved pornography, I had started looking at porn right before my mother died, and I did not know how to stop. Porn became my “drug” of choice when things were going bad and I was feeling sad (which was almost always, I never really grieved my mothers death)..I would later learn from some Christians that “real Christians are not supposed to be depressed!” Really?!

 

My first bad experience with religion came when I asked someone at church what happens to people who die by suicide, and they said that suicide was an unforgivable sin and they would go to hell. Even though this theory would later be refuted by a respectable minister and my pastor of the church I go to now, I could not help but wonder. I know that my mother knew Jesus, and if Jesus did indeed pay for all her sins as is preached, how could she go to hell, when her misery that led to her suicide is not something that she wanted? I started to yell at God and get very mad….In the meantime, I was struggling to be this “perfect Christian” when I knew that I would never meet the impossible standards of the Bible.

 

I also started to realize that most of us Christians are very judgmental, why is it for example that the religious right (politics) always acts like if you don’t agree with all the plans of the Republican party and of George W. Bush, you are not a real “child of God’ and a more notorious sinner? They get on Bill Clinton for his moral failings, but ignore the huge failings of men of God in the Bible (like David, who was an adulterer and murderer)..They focus so much on other peoples sexual sins, but ignore the ways in which major corporations (which they are affiliated with) profit from porn and other sexual addictions.. They ignore internal sins (pride, jealousy, greed, unforgiveness, racism..etc) which are highly destructive, while they focus on externals like: how you dress, do you sleep around, what music you listen to, if you go to nightclubs etc…Now, I am not saying that every church is like this, but most are. It is all about how much you can put up this front like your life is free from problems, when it is not. The church I attend is very loving and gracious, but I am still having trouble reconciling the message of God’s grace with the rigid demands of Biblical law, and it is sheer hell. I want to die desperately. It is bad enough that I am constantly depressed and struggle with an addiction to pornography (which cost me my job recently because they did not have porn filters on the computers at work), but it is also bad when “ministers” give pat answers like pray more, stop sinning, go to your Bible and obey it..And why do churches act like paying your tithes (giving 10% of your income to the church) is all that you need to do to solve all your problems? Why do they focus so much on getting money? Could it be because they are just as greedy as corporate executives?

 

I am really confused and have been reading a lot of books about God’s grace that have helped like Divine Nobodies – shedding religion to find God (by Jim Palmer), and “what’s so amazing about grace” by Philip Yancey…I need some relief from this hell that has enslaved my mind….For more you can go to my blog at: http://graceofgod1971.blogspot.com/

 

Stephen A. :scratch:

 

 

Hi oladotun,

 

welcome to the forums! I wish i had time to write you a full reply, I have to leave for work in 2 mins... anyway, if you really study the bible for what it is you will find that the reason you are having trouble reconciling the legalism and the grace parts of the bible is because you are trying to apply rationality to something for which there is no rationality. They are contradicorty Ideas, pastors and preachers, try to make up excuses for these contradictions like "well thats old testament stuff, jesus too away the law and we are now under grace" however the bible also says that god is timeless and un-changing which would mean that the same god that made the leagalistic rules in the Old Testament is the same god that would rule us now.

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I am attracted to the message of God's grace and His love for humanity through Jesus, but I am not attracted to the legalism and "endless quest for moral perfection" that we often call Christianity..

 

Hi Oladotun,

 

I can truly relate to where you are at now. I to loved the idea of grace, but struggled dearly with perfection. I have since realized that even the message of grace is horribly flawed though. Think about it. God creates the problem (original sin) and offers a solution at the end of the barrel of a gun. Choose my "grace" or burn for all eternity. That's not grace, that's spiritual terrorism.

 

Welcome to the forum. Hope you find what you need here.

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I am attracted to the message of God's grace and His love for humanity through Jesus, but I am not attracted to the legalism and "endless quest for moral perfection" that we often call Christianity..

 

Hi Oladotun,

 

I can truly relate to where you are at now. I to loved the idea of grace, but struggled dearly with perfection. I have since realized that even the message of grace is horribly flawed though. Think about it. God creates the problem (original sin) and offers a solution at the end of the barrel of a gun. Choose my "grace" or burn for all eternity. That's not grace, that's spiritual terrorism.

 

Welcome to the forum. Hope you find what you need here.

 

Thanks for the response. What about those who may say that the sin problem is one that we caused (dating back to Adam)...by choice...not God, so we can't pin it on Him. Then since he offers a "free" gift of salvation through Jesus, we have the right to choose Him or death (hell)? But my thoughts are that if grace is truly free, then everyone should be accepted as God's child, since grace is supposed to be free. What kills me is the impossible demands of he Christian religion..I don't like them and don't want to be a part of them anymore..

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Thanks for the response. What about those who may say that the sin problem is one that we caused (dating back to Adam)...by choice...not God, so we can't pin it on Him.

 

First, it's silly to think that one little "sin" committed by Adam somehow warped the entire human race. Second, many of the things that are considered sin are perfectly natural. For example, you are normal if you have a solid sex drive. If you have a solid sex drive, it is unhealthy and probably impossible not to act on it. Jesus condemns you if you look upon a woman with lust. What healthy hetero man can avoid such a thing? It's a ridiculous standard and one that is not particularly healthy mentally or physically. Third, why did he allow Adam to be tricked into eating the apple in the first place? I don't think Adam was even told he was eating forbidden fruit, so where was the lapse in morality? And, why tempt Adam in the first place? Finally, if god was perfect, why did he create an imperfect creation? There's more, but these are just off the top of my head.

 

 

Then since he offers a "free" gift of salvation through Jesus, we have the right to choose Him or death (hell)?

 

If god is all knowing, he knew before he created you/me/them if we would accept or reject his "free" gift. I tried my damndest to believe, but in the end, I could no longer. No one tried any harder than I did (many as much as, but no one harder). If I'm going to hell, he knew before he created me that he would send me there. That makes him a monster. Think about it. If you foreknew that your unborn child would one day be tortured for all eternity would you elect to have that child saying "well, it's his choice"?

 

But my thoughts are that if grace is truly free, then everyone should be accepted as God's child, since grace is supposed to be free. What kills me is the impossible demands of he Christian religion..I don't like them and don't want to be a part of them anymore..

 

 

As you point out, salvation is not free. Acceptance is an obligation. Crucifying the flesh is an obligation. Maintaining faith is an obligation. Repentance is an obligation. The word free is spin and it hides the truth.

 

I tell you, I found it so ironic that when I finally realized that the whole gospel story was contrived that I was relieved of such a burden and for the first time in my life felt truly free. The church tells you Jesus sets you free. I found that truth about Christianity was what it took to really set me free.

 

But I'm sure you still have a lot of questions. I hope you stick around. There are a lot of smart people here that will provide you with answers you probably never considered. For sure your faith will be shaken if you decide to stay around for a while.

 

The only advice I can give you is the advice I gave myself when I was in your shoes. I determined that I wanted truth no matter the consequences. I determined to question everything. If it survived the fire of my questions, then it would be stronger for me in the end. If it could not withstand my scrutiny, then it wasn't worth believing in the first place.

 

Best of luck to you

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Thanks for the response. What about those who may say that the sin problem is one that we caused (dating back to Adam)...by choice...not God, so we can't pin it on Him. Then since he offers a "free" gift of salvation through Jesus, we have the right to choose Him or death (hell)? But my thoughts are that if grace is truly free, then everyone should be accepted as God's child, since grace is supposed to be free. What kills me is the impossible demands of he Christian religion..I don't like them and don't want to be a part of them anymore..

 

 

Take a good look at what you just posted. The idea of a god that can choose to do ANYTHING with you after death, the idea of a god that would send people to hell for all of eternity, and the idea of a god that loves you, how well do those ideas reconcile with each other? Not very well, right? If god can do anything, then he can do something other than send people to hell for all eternity, if he chooses to send people to hell for all eternity he sure doesn't love them.

 

Now let's take a look at the demands of Christianity, do they sound like something the god they preach about would say? Would a loving god send someone to hell because they lived a lifestyle that wasn't god-approved?Ask yourself one very important question that the social conservatives do not ever want you to ask: are these demands the demands of God or the demands of man? I came to the conclusion if was the latter.

 

Which leads to this: if the idea of sending someone to hell doesn't sound like something an all loving, all powerful god would do, and if the demands of christianity that are somehow attributed to said god, would it not be logical to conlude that it was not God that created man, but rather man that created God?

 

What's keeping you in the fold, faith or fear? If it's fear then that fear will be gone if you do not believe.

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I am attracted to the message of God's grace and His love for humanity through Jesus, but I am not attracted to the legalism and "endless quest for moral perfection" that we often call Christianity..

 

Hi Oladotun,

 

I can truly relate to where you are at now. I to loved the idea of grace, but struggled dearly with perfection. I have since realized that even the message of grace is horribly flawed though. Think about it. God creates the problem (original sin) and offers a solution at the end of the barrel of a gun. Choose my "grace" or burn for all eternity. That's not grace, that's spiritual terrorism.

 

Welcome to the forum. Hope you find what you need here.

 

Welcome, Oladotun :wave:

 

Like Vigile said, I was also at that place myself, once. Just before I left Xianity, actually. I was going through a very bad time in my life (and no matter how much I prayed and begged God for help, I got nothing) and soon began questioning everything about myself. My Xianity came under fire eventually, and part of the reason was the insane level of perfectionism required of me.

 

Even about things that cannot be demonstrably proven to be wrong, like masturbation. There are starving people in the world, people being abused or murdered, and God somehow cares whether or not I whack off??? You know, things like that. All the inane, pointless things, like church attendance or even belief in Jebus, the almighty, supposedly benevolent creator of the universe cares more about than the problems that exist in the world?

 

I figured I'd rather be considered "evil" than waste one more minute of my life trying to live up to impossible standards set by a god that we only have any "knowledge" of through human writings. It was either Xianity or my sanity, so I chose the latter.

 

I must say, that despite all the other troubles of life, it is SO much more free and peaceful now that I am an Atheist. I am free to choose my own path, study what I wish, come to the conclusions I feel and know are best for me, and defer to scientific truth about the world rather than work double-time to try and re-re-reinterpret Xianity to appear to conform to science. It's just so much more free and peaceful this way.

 

There are problems in the world, yes. But we and we alone are to blame. From the human heart comes all the evils that humans do - as well as all the good that we do. We are capable of good and evil both, and it's high time we stopped deferring to gods or demons to explain what we ourselves do, or explain the nature of the universe. Science does the latter, and good, rational philosophies do the former.

 

Also, Oladotun, consider this. The Xian god is utterly impossible based on his alledged characteristics. He is said to be all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, right? Well, if he's all-good, then why doesn't he do something straightforward about sin and the devil? Why let these things roam loose in his creation and lead souls to Hell? Why not just snap his fingers and be done with it; a loving father wouldn't let rabid dogs remain in the yard with his children, he'd get rid of the dogs somehow. But God supposedly lets this "devil" run loose, and then gets mad at his children for being tempted by a being who is certainly more powerful and crafty than we are!

 

I can go on; why did an "all-loving" god create a universe in which all his created beings must devour or otherwise oppress each other in order to survive? Humans eat animals and vice versa, insects eat plants and vice versa, animals and humans destroy plants and insects if they need to (or sometimes if they don't), and so on. Furthermore, we humans are so very frail in a way - a teeny little virus is all it takes to undo us, or a slip and fall in the wrong way, or just old age. How could an all-loving god let that happen, especially if he's also all-powerful and all-knowing? He would also have all the power at his disposal to change things, and the knowledge that would reveal to him the consequences if he doesn't.

 

In fact, I could go on all day, but I think you may see my point. A god like the god of the Babble is utterly impossible. So my plea to you is - free yourself! Stop wasting your precious life on this imaginary boogeymonster, this sick freak who tortures those he finds "undesirable" for all eternity whilst he does nothing about the world he permitted to turn out the way it did. Open yourself up to the arguments from our side of the bench, and consider that, even if there are any gods at all, they are not anything like the Abrahamic god, and that the Abrahamic god cannot possibly exist.

 

If you're interested in arguments from my side of the issue, just check out this link to a page of my website. Many people have made the case against the insanity of Xianity far better than I, so I refer you to them. Click here and and behold.

 

I hope you can find peace soon, and that this forum is helpful to you.

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Oladotun said:

 

I am attracted to the message of God's grace and His love for humanity through Jesus, but I am not attracted to the legalism and "endless quest for moral perfection" that we often call Christianity..

 

If anyone responded to this part, then I missed it. You may be interested to know that mid-20th century psychologist Abraham H. Maslow came up with a theory of self-actualization that gives everything--and more--that the grace and love of God does. Maslow studied the happiest people he could find and developed a list of characteristics they had in common. He concluded that the human had a hierarchy of needs that must be met for optimum happiness. This site gives a fairly good overview, complete with charts.

 

I find many people, esp. Christians, fear this overt emphasis on self. They seem to believe that it would lead to very selfish and egocentric living. This is not true. Such living does not lead to true happiness. True happiness leads away from the desire for such a low life. The trick for me was to be true to my self, my own happiness, at all costs. When I became happier, without trying to be a better person (in fact, I gave up trying to be a good person; I just focused on getting my basic needs for love met) people started being nicer to me.

 

Maybe some people need rules and regulations and threats in order to be decent human beings but I am the opposite. I am like the sunflower--I need the sun, the love and respect and honest affirmation to do well in life. Those are some of the things Maslow lists as higher order needs. The lower order needs include basic survival needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Obviously, if basic survival needs are not met, then higher order needs are moot.

 

If you need a value system outside of Christianity as a moral guide, I recommend secular humanism. I am not thoroughly familiar with all the theories but in simple formula, I would say it builds on Maslow's theory. I'm going to recommend a book that may at first glance be slightly off-topic for your questions. However, I see it as a practical guide to implement the humanist value system in everyday life. It is "Healing the Child Within" by Charles L. Whitfield. I refer to it so often that I keep it near my desk.

 

I believe that in his Sermon on the Mount Jesus described the self-actualized life, but that Christianity twisted this description into a prescription for the holy life. That did away with the liberation of being true to oneself. In other words, what I am suggesting here are insights that came to me while I was still a Christian. I think they are qualities that transcend religion and apply to humanity across all boundaries just because humans are all, after all, humans. As humans we respond well to "rules" designed specifically to help us live fully human lives.

 

You will make your own decision. I am merely giving information and resources in case any of it is helpful.

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Welcome, Oladotun.

 

You've started to ask some very germane questions, that most of us here have asked at one point or another.

 

I see that you've done a lot of soul searching and have availed yourself of a variety of sources while working through these questions. I think you'll find ex-c to be an excellent resource with some really good threads addressing just these sorts of things and more. I hope you enjoy reading through the posts and the various ideas people offer. I wish that the Internet and something like this existed when I started questioning.

 

Back then was also before the religious right came into prominence and started terrorizing society by trying to make their rigid mores universal and codified into sometimes very cruel legislation, yet I noticed all the same trends you pointed out within the evangelical community back then, especially holding other people who didn't share the same values/beliefs to THEIR view of morality, all while many were swimming in their own cesspools of judgement and covert vice.

 

I also think we've been left with a legacy of some warped sexuality, both as individuals and as a society. I didn't fully realize it then, but the majority of puritanical christians fornicate as much as everybody else: they just have to hide it and deal with all the guilt that's heaped out. So it comes out in some unhealthy ways. The porn is an example: there's absolutely nothing wrong with porn. It only becomes a problem when it turns into the forbidden outlet for all the perfectly natural sexuality that was repressed under the influence of the church. Take away the guilt and the programming and it can merely be a natural pleasure that need not intrude destructively on other areas of one's life.

 

Nice to have you here: reading, questioning, and thinking is a GOOD thing!

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Thanks for the response. What about those who may say that the sin problem is one that we caused (dating back to Adam)...by choice...not God, so we can't pin it on Him.

 

The story of the Garden of Eden is analogous to a mother knowingly putting her child in a room with an ex-convict holding a poisonous apple. When the ex-con gives the apple to the child, the mother quickly throws the child out on the street to die while saying to the ex-convict, "You're going to be an ex-convict forever, and people will hate you for it."

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Thanks for the response. What about those who may say that the sin problem is one that we caused (dating back to Adam)...by choice...not God, so we can't pin it on Him.

 

The story of the Garden of Eden is analogous to a mother knowingly putting her child in a room with an ex-convict holding a poisonous apple. When the ex-con gives the apple to the child, the mother quickly throws the child out on the street to die while saying to the ex-convict, "You're going to be an ex-convict forever, and people will hate you for it."

 

I agree with you, it is these sorts of catch 22s' in the Bible that drive me crazy..Sometimes I think I will lose my mind, btu I can't get myself "not to believe in God"..Maybe it is because of fear of going to hell....that is the irony of my dilemma!!

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Do you have a solid understanding of science? Learning about evolution, physics, chemistry, biopsychology, and geology helped me to see how it is entirely possible and fathomable that there isn't a god. I know, it's not comforting at first, but the more my worldview has expanded, the more naturalistic it has become. Keep reading, and make sure you have people around you who will support you no matter what conclusions you come to. One of the greatest mistakes I made during my deconversion was isolating myself, and it's not healthy.

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As far as the fear of going to hell... A lot of people on this website have stated that, given the choice between worshiping a god as described in the bible and going to hell, they'd choose hell. Just a thought.

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If it's any consolation, there are quite a number of flavors of christianity (not to mention other religions, islam, et. al.) that are mutually exclusive. Do members of these other, mutually exclusive sects fear hell, or otherwise missing out on some reward or some similar promise if they abandon their beliefs? You can bank on it! ...and every bit as much as you and everyone else who became an apostate or questioned a religion that features something like a heaven or hell resting on your picking the right religion. Looking at the competition, they all seem to have the same problems. Generally speaking, the xian based religions stake their claim that some who call themselves xians will go to heaven while others will go to hell either on some difference in their interpretation of a book that claims inerrancy but it subject to a wide range of interpretations (not to mention the contradictions and nasty little atrocities from--mostly--the OT), or on some new twist that someone claims is something new from god, such as the book or morman. Similar story for the non-xian competition, religious texts drawn from a hat and marketed as the ultimate truth. The born agains, the seventh day adventists, the mormans, the jehova's witnesses, certain other flavors of protestants, smaller break-away protestant groups, catholics... Nevermind that the specifics of most modern belief variants are no more than a few centuries old, often quite younger. Most believe their edition of god is the truth and many believe that all the others will burn. One version doesn't seem to particularly have more merit than its competition. That's one of the problems with Pascal's Wager. Good luck picking the right one, and avoiding a possibly worse fate than you were already in store for by picking the wrong one. We all have a huge bias that the doctrine that happened to be fed to us is the one that's the ultimate truth. I have no fear of hell. Logic and reason have discredited what I used to believe.

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HEre..let me help you to become an exchristian..

 

Our mothers have forbids us to do things in which we feel obligated that we should do because the world revolves arounds us while we are growing up.

 

Being Christian, one is living in a world where we try to do more good than bad but that is not the reality of the world that we are living in. Sinful stuff are everywhere if only we take the time to see it or to realize it and to let it soak on in.

 

Now what if your mother gives you all the authority to do whatever you do just as long as you take responsibility of your action?

 

No one is stopping you when you have cross over to the other side for there is no law of god for you to worry about. You eat, sleep, see things not as in good because of the teaching of Christianity but as in moral judgement in which you are God yourself and you dictates what is right and wrong for yourself.

 

There is a saying in Shamanism that might be a universal saying and that is...."It is easier to be bad than it is being good".....When you give up Christianity, your mind will be free to think for yourself and air will smell more crispier for now, it isn't God who create such air but that it's the air around you that serves you.

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I agree with you, it is these sorts of catch 22s' in the Bible that drive me crazy..Sometimes I think I will lose my mind, btu I can't get myself "not to believe in God"..Maybe it is because of fear of going to hell....that is the irony of my dilemma!!

 

You know, you don't necessarily have to go straight to being an atheist to give up christianity. You could throw the xtian dogma out of your head and live as an agnostic. If you want out of the binds of religion this is a good way to go while you look for more answers.

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I agree with you, it is these sorts of catch 22s' in the Bible that drive me crazy..Sometimes I think I will lose my mind, btu I can't get myself "not to believe in God"..Maybe it is because of fear of going to hell....that is the irony of my dilemma!!

 

You know, you don't necessarily have to go straight to being an atheist to give up christianity. You could throw the xtian dogma out of your head and live as an agnostic. If you want out of the binds of religion this is a good way to go while you look for more answers.

 

Right, most people take baby steps. I went from Christianity to a brief stint in Neopaganism to Agnosticism.

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Thanks for the response. What about those who may say that the sin problem is one that we caused (dating back to Adam)...by choice...not God, so we can't pin it on Him.

 

The story of the Garden of Eden is analogous to a mother knowingly putting her child in a room with an ex-convict holding a poisonous apple. When the ex-con gives the apple to the child, the mother quickly throws the child out on the street to die while saying to the ex-convict, "You're going to be an ex-convict forever, and people will hate you for it."

 

I agree with you, it is these sorts of catch 22s' in the Bible that drive me crazy..Sometimes I think I will lose my mind, btu I can't get myself "not to believe in God"..Maybe it is because of fear of going to hell....that is the irony of my dilemma!!

 

I agree with the others who said to allow yourself time to grow into a new mindset. It took me the better part of a year to get comfortable with the idea of there being no god. That was AFTER I had dealt with the hell issue. The hell issue took many years. I don't think things are the same for everybody. But one thing that is the same for many people is to move slowly from belief to unbelief. Many atheists who used to be Christians talk about moving from believer to agnostic to atheist.

 

Be patient with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself time to grow the way that works best for you. I don't know your personal life situation, but I assume there is nothing of major consequence attached to arrive at a state of unbelief, so there's no hurry. It's not like if you died tomorrow you'd end up in hell like with the christian doctrine. And if the christian life is best for you, that is fine, too, so long as nobody is getting hurt. All the best.

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...... Do you think god really wants some welfare mom struggling to feed her kids to tithe their food money so the church can carpet their new rec room?

 

I laughed out loud when I read that quote, because it is so true!! Every time I hear a teaching on tithing, I am made to believe that the reason why people have finaincial problems is because they do not tithe. And I know this is simply not true, some are having a hard time because they don't have a good job, some suffer because they are addicts and don't know how to manage their money, others simply suffer because we live ina greedy world where the rich often exploit the poor... but to hear most of these maga-church pastors tell it, "you have no money because you don't tithe". Is their god that gullible that he would fall for some money in a collection plate? I remember when I lost a job that I had a few years ago because of a downsizing of the company I worked for. I was pissed off at God because I was like, "okay God, what gives here, I have been tithing, plus I have been giving you an extra 2 to 3% for good measure, and yet I am one of the first to be let go from this company". I once wrote a popular mega church in my area for some financial help during a tough trial in my life, and I got a letter back from the church saying that I should sow a financial seed into the church because my blessing (the financial fruit) would be predicated on the amount (seed) that I sowed (gave them). At least a pimp on the street is honest about what he does for a living, most of these churches are nothing but high class business ventures that pimp their members (prostitutes) for money....And I have disputed the tithing issue before saying that no where does it mandatae tithing in the NT. When Jesus mentioned tithing in Matthew 23:23, He said "...Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (emphasis added). I can't recollect when I heard a preacher emphasize what Jesus was saying...

 

So I agree with you. The problem I am having is that in questioning the teachings that I have held on to for along time, some have labelled me a heretic or think that I am simply not submitting myself to Biblical authority..If I can't question my beliefs, then what is the point of holding on to dogmatic teachings that seem to be causing me more harm than good?!!!!

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Do you have a solid understanding of science? Learning about evolution, physics, chemistry, biopsychology, and geology helped me to see how it is entirely possible and fathomable that there isn't a god. I know, it's not comforting at first, but the more my worldview has expanded, the more naturalistic it has become. Keep reading, and make sure you have people around you who will support you no matter what conclusions you come to. One of the greatest mistakes I made during my deconversion was isolating myself, and it's not healthy.

 

I have really started to get into authors who look at things from a scientific or atheist point of view: Authors like Sam Harris (who wrote, "Letter to a Christian Nation"..a book that I would recommend as required reading for every Christian) and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and they are really opening my eyes to things that I had not really thought of before...

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Ask yourself one very important question that the social conservatives do not ever want you to ask: are these demands the demands of God or the demands of man? I came to the conclusion if was the latter.

 

Which leads to this: if the idea of sending someone to hell doesn't sound like something an all loving, all powerful god would do, and if the demands of christianity that are somehow attributed to said god, would it not be logical to conlude that it was not God that created man, but rather man that created God?

 

What's keeping you in the fold, faith or fear? If it's fear then that fear will be gone if you do not believe.

 

I have to agree with you that most of these "demands" that social conservatives put as the marks of a true Christian are all man-made...Plus, they help to divert our attention from the real issues like poverty and suffering (which - if you ask most conservative Christians - are always a result of sin in a person's life). One of the best quotes I ever read is "God made man in his own image, and then man returned the favor!" What we call "God" is nothing but a man made idol that has been used to manipulate people for ages. And if we claim that based on Biblical teaching that no one is perfect, and that sinless perfection is impossible, then why do we criticize people for "sinning", when we all know it will come naturally anyway?

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I have really started to get into authors who look at things from a scientific or atheist point of view: Authors like Sam Harris (who wrote, "Letter to a Christian Nation"..a book that I would recommend as required reading for every Christian) and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and they are really opening my eyes to things that I had not really thought of before...

 

Good for you! I saw both of those books at Borders last time I was there, but I was with a Christian friend so I refrained.

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Oladotun, welcome. I have come to see Christianity as a spiritual kindergarten. The difference between this and other kindergartens is that they don't want you to graduate to first class and beyond. Perhaps they are like the church Paul describes in 1 Cor 3:1,2ff, feeding themselves only on milk, not meat, like you seem to be ready for and craving.

 

You are travelling a well worn path. Your doubts, questions and issues are very similar to my own and I'm sure many others.

 

For example: Pornography. Since getting to know many non-Christians I have discovered that everyone looks at pornography, even women, not just “weak” Christians being tempted by the devil like they want you to believe. Well adjusted, easy going, hard working normal, married and single folk look at porn, without the guilt and with out it disturbing their lives. We even look at it at work. The key is to look at it only in situations where you're sure you won't get caught. But an even bigger key is this: everything in moderation. I'll bet that even the pastors and mentors who are counselling you have a secret stash of porn hidden away somewhere, which is why they can only give you the empty, pat answers.

 

The confusion you feel is normal, so if you can, try not to worry about it. It's also a tool used by Christianity to “keep you in the fold” and to try to dissuade you from asking these important questions, because being confused is uncomfortable, according to them. But as you'll discover if you keep on this worthy path, the answers in the real world aren't as black and white as the Christians would like you to believe. The answers are in fact much more interesting and complete, and you;ll probably start to enjoy and embrace the grey areas too.

 

I've read some Yancey (Disappointment with God, Jesus I Never Knew), but I found that he didn't go “far enough” with his thoughts, arguments, etc. Perhaps he didn't want to alienate his target market. I found better answers in the writings of Spong (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism), Jack Miles (God: A Biography, Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God) and, of course Dawkins (The Blind Watchmaker) and Darwin himself, among others.

 

Apologies for the long post, but your original post has made for some fascinating discussion. I hope you stick around.

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Well, it's a complicated situation you're in. I don't really know what advice to give you, that will add to what has already been posted. But if you do end up deconverting, this will be a great forum to help you through that process. Hope you feel better sometime soon anyway whatever decisions you make :-)

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I don't know if you read my deconversion story, but around the time we lost our baby, I was attending a women's prayer and study group led by the pastor's wife. I remember I asked some innocent questions and got really silent shocked looks. Later, one of the longer standing members, who got angry and left, told me that none of the women were allowed to ask questions during the group discussion that in any way challenged the beliefs being taught by the pastor's wife. LOL! She said the reason everyone tolerated it was because they didn't want to upset me, having lost a baby and all. LOL! Most chrisitan ministers will not tolerate an in depth dialogue on faith matters that goes more than two questions deep. They feel that after they give their answer, you can ask for minor clarification but are then supposed to end the discussion with, "thank you so much, I understand now, I will just give the rest up to god."

 

I know you are still at a crossroads, and I don't want to deliberately push you one way or the other. Ultimately, whether you remain a christian, leave the faith but not god, or become an atheist... I think you at least deserve to question the faith that demands so much from you.

 

I totally agree, most fundamentlists don't allow you to question their faith. Most Christians just tell you to take everything literally from the Bible as if doing so alleviates all world problems. When you ask the tough questions, you are either deemed a heretic or one who is simply too stubborn to have enough faith.

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