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Kat34

Recurring fears

Question

I don’t know if anyone can help but I’m in a very confused place at the moment... for a few years now I’ve felt there are intellectual and moral difficulties with Christianity being true and with it being untrue. 

 

I was brought up by a mum who was a born again Christian and a dad who thought being a Christian was about a certain kind of behaviour and when asked if he was one said he “hoped so”. My mum explained the difference to me and I prayed every night he would become a Christian; I was terrified of him going to hell. He did become one a couple of years before he died when I was 12. 

 

I started to lose interest in Christianity until age 15 I suddenly (I can remember the moment) developed an intense fear about the concept of eternity and then about the end times, second coming and hell. I renewed my commitment to Jesus based on these fears and worried constantly about the eternal fate of others. Despite lots of desperate praying at this time and subsequently, I never felt God for myself.

 

Over the next few years I went through phases of being more and less interested in Christianity. I’d manage to forget my fears for months at a time and then they’d return. In my early 20s I read A Severe Mercy, which I found incredibly moving and hoped was the start of a path back to God. A little later I read The Evangelical Universalist and The Inescapable Love of God, which I felt began to address some of the problems I’d always had with the concept of original sin and hell. I had continued to have a huge fear of the second coming and for the eternal destiny of my then partner; these last two books gave me some hope. 

 

In the last few years I began to doubt for the first time the truth of Christianity at all, based on increasing life experience and understanding of other fields and helped by a friend who’d been a Christian firebrand at university but who had lost his faith. The consequences of this new way of thinking were a huge sense of freedom and peace and the ability to look at “controversial” issues (homosexuality, abortion, transgenderism etc.) in a new way. They were also a markedly increased awareness of my own mortality (now that people might not live forever) and of health anxiety and a fear of dying young and a loss of the sense that ultimately all will be put right, of the many atrocities that have taken place over the ages being addressed. I’ve always believed if punishment is to have any purpose it must be rehabilitative rather than vengeful and books like The Inescapable Love of God had fitted in my with feeling that people needed to be brought to an understanding of the impact their wrong actions had on others (rather than being physically or mentally tortured forever). If there was no God, people like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. would never face any kind of accountability for the suffering they had inflicted on millions. The source of morality was also gone - if there was no God, why did I care about such things?

 

While I have continued to lean towards the idea that Christianity isn’t true, those questions remain. However what disturbs me most is the lingering fear that it could still be true after all. I get moments of terror now and again thinking about the second coming happening and hell being real. Having my second baby a week ago has triggered existential questions and fear; after my first baby I only feared what could happen in this world but now I’m constantly worrying that hell is real and if it is my children could end up there. This is the most horrific thought imaginable and I keep fixating on it and feeling fear, rather than being able to enjoy my new baby. 

 

I’ve read through the other threads on fear of hell and I empathise with a comment someone made about it almost being hardwired into our brains in childhood. I just don’t know how to find peace because ultimately, however unjust and awful we think hell sounds, we cannot know for certain what the truth is about what happens when we die. I just want to be free of this fear.

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6 hours ago, Stargazer95 said:

They might even say that God's God so he can take whatever life he chooses to take. Of course, none of these reasons are good enough for the slaughter of innocents, but the Christians will try it anyway. 

 

 

But that's just the thing, this explanation is good enough for some people, (the fundamentalists likely more so than the others) and don't you dare question god's motives, or anything he might do. And as well, anything you do in his name, since you're his chosen people, is fine.

These attitudes I would argue are why humane and compassionate and altruistic ideals dont flourish in fundamentalism.

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49 minutes ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

But that's just the thing, this explanation is good enough for some people, (the fundamentalists likely more so than the others) and don't you dare question god's motives, or anything he might do. And as well, anything you do in his name, since you're his chosen people, is fine.

These attitudes I would argue are why humane and compassionate and altruistic ideals dont flourish in fundamentalism.

 

Good point. What I meant, though, is that they're not good enough in general. They're not good enough for me, or you, or anyone else who can see straight through them. But of course they're good enough for the people citing them. After all, all of the "reasons" I have heard have come from people who no doubt genuinely believed them and believed they were good reasons for defending God's behaviour. If they didn't believe them, they wouldn't use them at all. 

 

And yes, fundamentalism definitely does a good job of squashing people's inner compassion and empathy. It turns otherwise good people into people who believe God can murder children or send billions to hell for eternity, and still think this God is worthy of worship. It makes people completely blindsided to the horrors of their own beliefs. 

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