Jump to content

Recommended Posts

If you are familiar with my introduction and as mentioned in some of my posts you will know that I was a no doubter who was led away from the faith, nor did I experience any adverse life events or mistreatment at the hands of, or in the name of, christianity.  Instead, I was a rock solid believer who had reached some uncomfortable, but necessary conclusions earlier in life, but in no way did these unusual - for a Southern Baptist - beliefs impair my belief in god or Jesus Christ.

 

My descent into deconversion began in my quest to help my wife believe. She had questions - lots of questions. And when my arsenal of stock answers failed to satisfy her, I realized that I needed to hit the Good Book myself and get to the bottom of this.

 

I was aided in my mission by the fact that when we lived overseas we attended a local foreigner church (only foreigners were allowed per government regulations - seriously, they had to check your ID and if you had only a local ID, were denied entry).  In this church every denomination was represented from all the over the world. The Church of Christ missionary ran the soundboard for the band!  (remember, my experience with CofC was they didn't allow instruments). If all these various denominations from Catholic - Presbyterian - Southern Baptist - to Church of Christ could all worship under the same roof to the same god there must be some kernel of truth - something crystal clear that in the scriptures that I could present to my wife and say "Aha! Babe - this is the TRUTH.

 

I kept notes during my research and the first line - being a comment after the fact:

 

\q I have made a serious error of judgment. I actually endeavored to read the Bible. \q

 

Here was my approach:

 

  • God is omniscient
  • God is omnipresent
  • God is omnipotent
  • God is Perfect
  • None is good, save God

 

Based on my experience with the foreign church this got me thinking, there are so many denominations and each is absolutely convinced their interpretation of the Bible is the correct interpretation, and in some cases, the only permissible interpretation.

 

Growing up Southern Baptist, there are few key, undeniable points about Jesus:

  • He came to save the whole world
  • All who seek Him shall find rest

 

These points imply that anyone who hears the Word will be able to understand the Word. Nothing should be hidden. Nothing should be obscure, all should be plain.

 

Since Jesus = God, and he was the new covenant, then I needed to see what Jesus actually said about any matter.  I intentionally ignored Paul because, well, Paul =/= God.  Paul and the epistles would only be consulted to clarify or expand on a point. Any point of contradiction between the epistles and the Gospels must be judged in favor of the Gospels.

 

But again, the epistles should not need be consulted to be a "true christian" because Jesus made clear in the great commission that he/God wanted ALL to be saved, and he MUST have said what was necessary for salvation in a clear manner.

 

With this foundation in mind, I read the four Gospels back to back to back to back and ultimately:

 

10/24/2017 10:59 PM:

Just finished reading the gospels for the 4th time on this trip. Becoming even more certain that John is of no relation to the synoptic gospels. His account of betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection are dissimilar to the synoptics.

 

After my first read through, several caution flags appeared because, while not necessarily outright contradictions, things were not adding up correctly.  I made copious notes and resolved to look at each point later in detail.  I also began at this point to look closely for answers to reconcile what I was reading from sites such as answersingenesis and apologetics sites.  In addition I wanted to know exactly the history of these books and establish their individual reliability.  This type of query very quickly leads to Bart Erhman.

 

During this time I also was devouring all I could from apologetics debates. And at first I sided with the apologists (such as William Lane Craig) in their debates, but there was something wrong - I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something was off in their presentation.  This made me extremely uncomfortable that I couldn't quite get a grip on the wrongness of the apologists' argument, but at the same time I refused to accept the position the atheists were correct.  As I continued to watch, I found myself siding more and more with the atheists in the debates. I also finished every video I could of Bart Erhman to understand the history of the New Testament.

 

I also stumbled across the four horsemen of the apocalypse, who I found fascinating; especially Daniel Dennett. And from there you can guess the course of research and the ultimate outcome.  It has been a tough road deconverting as the process took a couple of years, but I can say that I've finally made peace with it and now can start truly living and trying to improve the well-being of all my fellow humans, instead of enforcing an ancient and backwards set of "divine" commands.

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Our journey out of church (mine was Church of Christ)  was similar.  My testimonial is TRUTH:A GRADUAL AWAKENING.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Moderator

I also had a good experience with my church and its leadership. My deconversion began as I started studying the Bible at Moody. My epiphany hit me during a class and I realized it was all just bullshit. Walked away, never looked back, never blamed anyone. Yeah, if you want to remain a believer, for doG's sake don't study the Bible too closely!

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Weezer said:

Our journey out of church (mine was Church of Christ)  was similar.  My testimonial is TRUTH:A GRADUAL AWAKENING.

 

Will you please send over the most recent version? I note in the message thread you mentioned there is one more recent than was posted.  Thank you.

 

@florduh I also think it's an important exercise to read the gospels back to back to back to back.  Too many of my friends use Bible study material that has them skip around or read short segments at a time. This disjointed nature of the writings, coupled with the commentary, clouds the issues. This is obviously done on purpose.

 

I am glad to see this community has people with varying experiences. I was beginning to feel a bit out of place as it appears a majority of the posters had a bad experience or life situation predicated on christianity that drove them away from it. While I am glad they have found peace, that was not the path I had - it took years for me to make peace with it as I simply couldn't fit the square peg in the round hole any longer.

 

It is nice to find like-minded individuals from a similar path. My private school used to play the Moody Bible Institute's science videos as part of our curriculum regularly.  I know exactly where you're coming from. The top of our class argued for evolution in one of our papers - which was a huge no-no at our school.  Funny what sticks with you over the years.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderator
6 hours ago, Krowb said:

Too many of my friends use Bible study material that has them skip around or read short segments at a time. This disjointed nature of the writings, coupled with the commentary, clouds the issues. This is obviously done on purpose.

 

This is what I call “curated Bible study” and yes it’s designed to reinforce a certain version of Christianity and avoid exposing the student to conflicting information.  Each denomination uses its own subset of scripture to reinforce its particular doctrine. 

 

The members of this community have experiences that are as varied as the individuals themselves.  Many of us, like you, did not experience trauma or have bad experiences in the church.  Some, like myself, stayed in the fold for so long because it was rather a comfortable place.  For decades, the benefits of community kept me from asking the questions or listening to the doubts that were just under the surface.  Like you, I listened to debates between apologists and atheists, and started out rooting for the Christians. Slowly but surely, I sensed that the atheists were making more sense.  At that point it was just a matter of time before I became one of them.

 

I hope you’re gaining the sense that you’ve found a home here at Ex-Christian.net.  I’m glad you’re one of us now!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Krowb said:

 

I am glad to see this community has people with varying experiences. I was beginning to feel a bit out of place as it appears a majority of the posters had a bad experience or life situation predicated on christianity that drove them away from it. While I am glad they have found peace, that was not the path I had - it took years for me to make peace with it as I simply couldn't fit the square peg in the round hole any longer.

   I don't think the majority had a problem with the church that made them leave. If you were to read the hundred+ testimonials on this site you will find most like you ran into a question or two that bothered them and caused them to look outside sanctioned sources. Often they are hurt by the reaction of church friends or family who they discover were conditional friends after they confess that they have deconverted. Also if something within the church or congregation caused hurt or suffering that frequently becomes an impitus to look more closely at the foundation of their faith which is found wanting so they don't leave because of hurt but because they don't find the bible believable.

   Another significant group are those who believe hook line and sinker. Believing your faith is grounded in absolute truth means there are an incredible number of obstacles everywhere waiting to cause doubt and inquiry and reality.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Moderator

In my case, I would have to acknowledge both question and experience.  There were some relatively bad experiences; but not so bad as to destroy my faith in god.  My faith in people, sure; but not god.  It was ultimately the dilemma of "god's plan" that put my faith put of commission.  The realisation that either god's plan completely sucked, or that god only had a good plan for a select few and a shitty plan for everybody else (by varying degrees), or that god just didn't have any kind of a plan at all led me to the stark reality that the god of my understanding simply did not, could not, exist.  That was the ultimate cause of my apostasy.  There were other contributing factors, however; and I would be remiss if I didn't count bad experiences amongst their number.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

In my case, I would have to acknowledge both question and experience.  There were some relatively bad experiences; but not so bad as to destroy my faith in god.  My faith in people, sure; but not god.  It was ultimately the dilemma of "god's plan" that put my faith put of commission.  The realisation that either god's plan completely sucked, or that god only had a good plan for a select few and a shitty plan for everybody else (by varying degrees), or that god just didn't have any kind of a plan at all led me to the stark reality that the god of my understanding simply did not, could not, exist.  That was the ultimate cause of my apostasy.  There were other contributing factors, however; and I would be remiss if I didn't count bad experiences amongst their number.

   So was it just a compilation of these peripheral issues that was enough for you to deconvert or did you also directly confront whether the bible and christianity were true and find that lacking before you deconverted.

   I believe Krowb is saying that a majority deconvert on the strength of mistreatment or other negative experiences within the church being the primary or even sole reason for deconverting. Was this more or less the case for you?

Link to post
Share on other sites

My deconversion had more to do with the fact I was entirely prepared to throw down with God. I was gonna kick his ass or go to hell trying. Then I realized I was just screaming in my head for a year and started to actually fight the ideology instead.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Moderator
1 hour ago, DanForsman said:

   So was it just a compilation of these peripheral issues that was enough for you to deconvert or did you also directly confront whether the bible and christianity were true and find that lacking before you deconverted.

   I believe Krowb is saying that a majority deconvert on the strength of mistreatment or other negative experiences within the church being the primary or even sole reason for deconverting. Was this more or less the case for you?

I would say confronting the truth came in the aftermath of the initial realisation.  Obviously, though, for me, it wasn't much of a confrontation, given that if the god of my understanding is false, then the scripture and religion associated with him must also be patently untrue.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, DanForsman said:

I don't think the majority had a problem with the church that made them leave. If you were to read the hundred+ testimonials on this site you will find most like you ran into a question or two that bothered them and caused them to look outside sanctioned sources.

 

I should've been more circumspect.  About the time I jointed several of the active threads (not testimonials mind you) were people who were struggling against very real home or family issues that in their telling were also very religious households.  Their newfound or strengthened deconversion appeared to me largely predicated on the harm recently or currently suffered as opposed to independent intellectual curiosity.  I made a broad statement from too small a sample.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Those of us who have been ex-Christians for some time usually run into one or more of these attempts by Christians to explain our deconversion:

failed to understand the Gospel and or/wasn't trained right by parents

hurt by mean people at church

never truly gave heart to the Lord

got involved with wrong lover/friends

mad at God (usually because of unanswered prayer)

trusted in own understanding

 

in a few cases, something like failed to understand St. Thomas Aquinas 😁

 

But they'll say it always boils down in the end to 

 

Just Wanted To Sin

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Krowb said:

 

Will you please send over the most recent version? I note in the message thread you mentioned there is one more recent than was posted.  Thank you.

 

Were you able to download the one that is there?  The later one is basically the same, except for some afterthoughts.  It is on a different old computer that currently will not work.  I use a tablet to post here.

 

5 hours ago, ficino said:

 

Just Wanted To Sin

 

I definitely heard that one.  And my brother blamed the "liberal" christian college I attended.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/14/2020 at 11:19 AM, Krowb said:

During this time I also was devouring all I could from apologetics debates. And at first I sided with the apologists (such as William Lane Craig) in their debates, but there was something wrong - I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something was off in their presentation.  This made me extremely uncomfortable that I couldn't quite get a grip on the wrongness of the apologists' argument, but at the same time I refused to accept the position the atheists were correct.  As I continued to watch, I found myself siding more and more with the atheists in the debates. I also finished every video I could of Bart Erhman to understand the history of the New Testament.

Oh, wow! I always wondered whether debates had an impact on audience members. I guess it does! I'm glad you came to your own conclusions and saw it for what it was! It takes a ton of courage to shift your worldview like that. Cudos!

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

@DestinyTurtle thank you for the kind words. Debates certainly affect the audience, if they're paying attention and not hacks.  I am grateful that so many debates are freely available on Youtube. There seems to be a very limited set of arguments an apologist can make, but the most successful technique is the Gish gallop - just overwhelming the audience with a stream of self made requirements. You quickly discover the apologists don't actually answer the questions posed but simply redirect, overwhelm, and obfuscate the issue.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/14/2020 at 11:00 PM, Krowb said:

 

 

@florduh I also think it's an important exercise to read the gospels back to back to back to back.  Too many of my friends use Bible study material that has them skip around or read short segments at a time. This disjointed nature of the writings, coupled with the commentary, clouds the issues. This is obviously done on purpose.

 

Ah, yes, the "Harmony of the Gospels" study, where you skip around ostensibly to get the stories in the right order, but really you're skipping over the contradictions.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/15/2020 at 3:02 PM, ficino said:

Those of us who have been ex-Christians for some time usually run into one or more of these attempts by Christians to explain our deconversion:

failed to understand the Gospel and or/wasn't trained right by parents

hurt by mean people at church

never truly gave heart to the Lord

got involved with wrong lover/friends

mad at God (usually because of unanswered prayer)

trusted in own understanding

 

in a few cases, something like failed to understand St. Thomas Aquinas 😁

 

But they'll say it always boils down in the end to 

 

Just Wanted To Sin

 

 

 

Mine would have been "never truly gave heart to the Lord" -- I had my doubts from day one! For quite some time, I mostly just kept 'em to myself, but eventually, I just wanted out completely!  Of course, "just wanted to sin" is a good one, too. Always cracks me up!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

jillette.thumb.jpg.bf0b5d8813f3641d72c218a89a35a05a.jpg

Your story made my think of Penn's quote from above.  Reading the bible is be fastest way to create atheists.

 

Even today, my mother will admit that I know the bible much better than her.  I've read it cover to cover more times than I care to admit, mostly because it was one of the few books I was allowed to read as a child and I read all the time. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I had bad experiences, but for me those were not the main thing. After all Jesus was sacrificed by his own people and he warned that our enemies shall be among those from our household. Also many stories of martyrs and saints persecuted by the official Church. So, while painful, I do not think they were the real culprit. 

      For me , the beggining and end were unanswered questions and contradictions in the official teaching. I realised it was and is impossible to be a christian the way they asked me. 

      1. Unclear terms in official dogmas. God is a trinity, but not like a trinity. God has a Son that he gives birth to, but not like a birth. God is love, but not like human love. So basically those words mean whatever. 

      2. God controls and knows everything, but we are free to choose. 

       3. Jesus is man and God , but the essence of God is that he IS NOT creation.

      4. The need for two judgements, personal and collective, end of life and end of world.

      5. For Orthodox and Catholics, the Eucharist IS blood and body, altough it looks, tastes, feels, smells exactly like wine and bread.

      6. Human lack of ability for absolute knowledge, but asked for certainty.

      7. God wants everyone to be saved, gives his message to a tiny people in the middle east with little ability for transportation and record keeping. The message has to wait 1500 years to reach the Americas from what I know .

     Etc.

 

I heard answers to all, none satisfying. Still waiting. I do not exclude they could come, but I am not fervently searching as before  I actually trust that an all loving all knowing all powerful being will let me know in due time what is necessary for my ultimate wellbeing. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.