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A Former Missionary's Journey


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Hello all,

 

I came across this site a few days ago and have been reading the forums, finding the honesty and sharing here quite refreshing. Even though I am not a new atheist, after all these years it is still hard to find people with whom I can truly relate, who understand the journey, heartache, alienation, joy, and freedom that comes with leaving your faith.

 

I grew up in a really tremendous Christian home. I never experienced abuse (physical or psychological), nor any of the serious negative aspects of Christianity (i.e. hypocrisy, pharisee-ism, etc). in my household. Although I would run into these things later in life, I had no reason as a youngster to question the warm, loving, vibrant atmosphere I grew up in.

 

My family was part of a lively, growing evangelical/slightly charismatic church. It was a world within the world that I was fascinated in and took an early leadership role in as a teen. I was the model christian kid, part of a cosmic struggle to save the world! Of course I was utterly terrified of the sheer force of my inner raging sexuality as a teen, and pretty much shunned all contact with the opposite sex. Although outwardly pure (never even kissed a girl until I was in my late 20's!), the personal private battle with this issue led me, like Paul, to be convinced that I was called to celibacy for the sake of the gospel. What an idiot that kid was!

 

Anyway...I went on to become a youth minister for a few years, and then decided I wasn't doing enough ( I/God had big plans for me!)! I needed to not only save people, but i needed the biggest challenge there was! I was called to the mission field! And not just any mission field, but to the Middle East to plant churches among Arab Muslims!

 

Besides the fact that I was incredibly delusional and full of myself (in a spiritual way, of course), I truly had a hunger and thirst for truth. I saw it was apparent the church/christendom was NOT what it was supposed to be according to the bible, and I was obsessed with discovering what "authentic" christianity was, and believed if i could find that, it would change the world! I pored over the scriptures, and made the fatal mistake of really getting into early church history, discovering there was a whole lot of stuff/history that is conveniently ignored and never ever ever ever taught at bible college and seminary!!! Like for instance, that pretty much the whole story of Jesus is simply a plagiarism from a myriad of middle eastern mystery religions that existed long before his birth...

 

This led me to look at the bible more critically, without the blinders I had used my whole life...and i found all sorts of problems of consistency with the texts, as well as with the "character" of god himself!

 

I always believed that if I sought the truth with all my heart I would find it. I was willing to follow the truth wherever it led me...even if someplace uncomfortable for my friends and family, like the catholic church. I never dreamed being a seeker of truth would lead me right out of christianity!

 

That was about 8 years ago. I left a life of full-time ministry, and moved abroad to live almost as a hermit and an expat for a few years to sort out what I believed.

 

Leaving my faith was like losing my first love. It was a tragedy that broke me. I had given the best years of my life to Jesus, only to find it was a fantasy. I was bitter, angry, and depressed. I missed having a great "cause" to live for. What was I living for now? It all seemed so empty and meaningless.

 

Time does heal wounds, and years later I've come out the other side. I don't miss the guilt and shame. I don't miss the celibacy, that's for sure! tongue.png I like not having to love assholes or forgive them if they don't deserve it. Other than that, most people don't see me as much different and I still think the golden rule is a pretty good way to live.

 

I've found the most accepting and loving people are often those who don't have any faith and aren't on the watch for people to judge while "loving unconditionally" (sarcasm here). The whole mindframe of christian faith seems so irrational and absurd now, and it still makes me angry at times. Still, i remember the well-intentioned, yet self-righteous young man I was who was so wrapped up in a subculture of utter fantasy he couldn't see the truth if it hit him in the face. The power to believe a delusion is remarkable. Sigh.

 

Anyway, that's a short bio of me. I look forward to meeting all of you!

 

Chad

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Time does heal wounds, and years later I've come out the other side.

 

 

thanks, this is the kind of thing I need to hear. I'm still in the funk.

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Congratulations on your intellectual honesty and courage and strength.

 

Be kind to yourself, you were set upon the path you were on by well intentioned (though completely wrong headed) people, people you trusted. You have plenty of company as a former minister (check out ex-minister.org, if you haven't already).

 

Yes, the Golden Rule is a great way to live and all the world's major religions' major message is some version of it. Indeed, it is part of our human heritage.

 

All the very best to you, and thanks for sharing your story.

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Welcome, Gamecock1973. It always amazes me how many people manage to study their way straight out of Christianity when what they originally intended to do was study their way into God's presence.

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I never dreamed being a seeker of truth would lead me right out of Christianity!

 

I never dreamed that reading the Bible through in a year would eventually lead me out of Christianity, either. Amazing, isn't it? Hope you enjoy your time here. Welcome to Ex-C!

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Well done for connecting with your own honesty! Now you can take responsibility for your words and deeds and take credit for your accomplishments instead of giving away everything to the imaginary Sky Daddy. The Bible was it's own undoing for me too. It successfully deconverted me.

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I never read the whole thing, I got bogged down in Isaiah.

Anyone who can get through all of the preparations for the feasts/sacrifices and the mind-numbing details about how to build the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle is better than human in my book. Chapter after chapter of that crap. I can't believe I ever wasted time on such nonsense, especially since I had no intention of ever being a historian of ancient Jewish culture.

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Welcome to Ex-C!

 

I, too, was in hook, line and sinker. I also believed God had a special "calling on my life", and well, now that is completely shot to hell. Funny how in retrospect we see the stark narcissism of it all! I am glad to hear you finally have some peace and have been able to sort out your worldview.

 

Hope to see more of your thoughts here on Ex-C!

 

Peace.

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