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Guest natafanofkathy
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Guest natafanofkathy

Hi all,

 

I am a new member and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all these posts. I am a recent "deconverted" Christian. It wasn't an impulsive or quick decision but a slow process that has taken about 6 years. I know intellectually that Christianity has little to no proof or any validity in my life and I can argue those points fairly well in a conversation. The problem I'm having is shedding the old feelings of going to hell and being wrong. I even catch myself praying sometimes. I guess old habits die hard. Does anyone else experience this?

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Not anymore, but at first - yeah. I think it's a phase just about everybody goes through, and it seems to pass naturally given a little time.

 

In the meantime, though, welcome to the board! I hope you enjoy it.

 

Also, re: your name - what Kathy are you a fan of?

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I've never been really bothered by hell, although I distinctly recall worrying about breaking commandments. But it was so fun...

 

Like the fear that we will not have heaven to enjoy, the fear that there could be hell is a gnawing irritation, but just like fear of the dark, it goes away with experience and knowledge.

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It takes time and a lot of work to get free of all of that stuff. A great way to start is to focus on one particular question:

 

Where did your fear of hell come from? Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and outline the chronology. You will be amazed at the answer, and it will accelerate your liberation.

 

 

Rob

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I've been deconverted for 2 years. At first, I worried about hell a lot and I still had the prayed reflex. Over time, my fear has gone away. If I'm really sick, I pray to all known and unknown gods to feel better, but it's more of a "just in case" thing. I don't take well to being sick. :)

 

Also, think about where the idea of hell came from. Judaism didn't really have a defined concept of the afterlife. At least not one that I've heard of. Then Jesus comes along and suddenly there's a heaven and a hell? Sounds suspicious. Mormons don't believe in hell and nether does the group my friend belongs to called Saturday Sabbath, which is a mixture of Christianity with Jewish traditions. So, it's comforting to know that not all Christians believe in hell. Some Christians believe that everyone goes to heaven. I think the term is Universalists. I read a book co-authored by Philip Gulley called "If Grace is True: Why God will save every person" that explains this in detail. My Philosophy professor was of that belief. It really helped me to start feeling better about the whole thing.

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The problem I'm having is shedding the old feelings of going to hell and being wrong. I even catch myself praying sometimes. I guess old habits die hard. Does anyone else experience this?

 

For a short while I did wonder if I may be wrong, and for an even longer time I would occasionally say a quick prayer just in case I was wrong.

 

I didn't really fear hell, though. I figured that IF my doubting was wrong, then God would understand that I was honest and sincere in my doubts and that he would eventually guide me back to himself.

 

Of course, now I realize that hell is totally mythological. It was a product of religious evolution, appearing relatively late in the scheme of the Bible, so there's no point in fearing it.

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I found it very difficult to stop praying, for months after I lost faith.

 

Whilst my reasons for believing in God had been pretty easy to topple, and I'd admitted some time ago that I had no good evidence and so shouldn't believe, it was much harder to break the emotional tie I had to Christianity. I had made myself NEED God. I had been taught that we're all dependent on God, and that it's the best way to live; that I should pray about pretty much everything I do. And whilst I soon stopped praying as regularly as I had before (because I no longer felt like it was a duty), I still prayed quite a lot. I prayed out of desperation for myself, asking God to reveal Himself to me in some way, to restore my faith, to not forsake me. And I prayed a lot for my friends, because things weren't always great - one was struggling to deal with a friend's suicide, another had an eating disorder, another is probably going to jail - and prayer was the only way I could think of to help. When things went wrong, my automatic response was still to turn to God and say "How could you allow this to happen?" and ask Him to help in some way.

 

These days, I don't pray at all, but I have been tempted occasionally, like when a friend was rushed into hospital for a brain scan. It's at times like that - when you're afraid - that the emotional need to be able to do something, to reassure yourself that everything will be alright, can override what you know - that the existence of the Christian God is pretty damned unlikely. The thing is, it can't actually be disproved. And that's the annoying bit. It means that when we're feeling vulnerable, it's easy to start asking ourselves if God might actually be real, and if we're making a terrible mistake and condemning ourselves. But I remind myself that I have no reason to believe, and that if God does exist He can show up and tell me so Himself!

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I have nothing against religion, actually - as long as it isn't used as a club or a whip. But I do think it's a very personal thing, and should be kept internal and personal. If it brings comfort when all other remedies fail, and things seem hopeless, it may be all you have at the time to get you through. We humans are a strange mixture of strength and weakness, wisdom and foolishness, knowledge and ignorance, and if we want to, we can grow until the day we die. Anywhere along the way, we might - in a moment of weakness, fear or ignorance - need to grab onto familiar branches to keep from going under, but to me, these beliefs are just security blankets - useful when you hear noises coming from the closet in the dead of night - but not any more real than that, and not worth dragging into the light of day.

 

Rob

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The thing I fear is NOT going to hell. If hell exists, it must be a place where people can be refined through suffering. As in this life, Hells are Purgatories if you are willing to be rehabilitated. As Plato wrote: "I pray that the being who always was of old will impose upon me a just retribution, and the just retribution of him who errs is that he should be set right."

 

 

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