This is the context of my state of sincerity during my struggle with faith and eventual “falling away”. Since sincerity is not a measure of truth, you might safely listen to this personal part without a defensive guard.
What went wrong with me when my mind changed? When you hear the arguments I make, some will seem ridiculous to you. At some point in your perspective, my logic breaks down. You may become frustrated and think something like “Satan lied to him” or “He chose to believe in man’s wisdom over God’s.” Statements like that are frequent and natural but serve merely as excuses not to examine my rational progression. If you actually want to understand me, look at that which seems ludicrous. Focus on why those things seem so backward to you and try to imagine what I might have honestly gone through to come to those strange conclusions. How would an otherwise intelligent person fall into these obviously incorrect assumptions?
If I take this same advice and take on a Christian perspective, I am transported back to when I was living the Christian life, thoroughly familiar with the apologetics. I had the same zealous faith that Christians have within the modern Pentecostal branch of the church tree. I was a student of the Bible. I felt the warmth sweep over me at the altar so many times. I prayed in earnest to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and after some experimentation and a relinquishment of ego, I began to speak in tongues. Attaining glossolalia was a valued confirmation of my Christian advancement. While on the Christian path, I desperately wished to progress to a level of faith and submission to God that I imagined might look something like a robed monk, who had little attachment to this physical world and could get by without excess in food, lust or possessions. My projected future-self was very much Christ-like, with a gentle humility mixed with a deep rage for the evil of this world. In wondering how I might become this ideal, I knew I had to first earn a profound understanding of the fundamentals of my belief. The resolution of those basic questions that came to mind as a young believer were so important that I just could not put them aside with the intention to fill in the blanks later on in my journey. “How are we so sure about all this?”
“If I was born into the standard local religion of a foreign culture and immersed into a similarly relevant system of apologetics, could I really be damned due to poor placement?”
“Why would an omniscient God need to set up humanity for failure?”
“How did the people before Jesus achieve salvation?”
“How can God be jealous?”
“Does the corrupt physical mind really get to choose the eternal fate of the soul?”
“Shouldn’t the answers to these questions be simple?”
My honest doubts were not unique, I knew. Others around me in praise services appeared to me convincing in their complete rapture, but I knew they were at least part-acting. I tried some of the time to put on the character of confidence during collective worship. It felt grossly dishonest, and I was turned off by the stylistic expression of the extreme charisma I observed in the Assemblies of God and similar churches. Why was this outward expression so important when we weren’t focusing our energy on the foundation of theology? In order to concentrate on the tenets of faith apart from the distasteful, impassioned acting, I occasionally visited more somber services that exhibited respectful reflection.
Whether I was attending one of those “dead churches” or the rock and roll services of my youth, I stayed critically aware of the beliefs that pivot a soul to or from damnation. Those are the things that matter. How can one simply choose to believe in his heart that Jesus is God? How can I really decide to believe something so important without a very good reason? Belief in the promises of God would have to wait until I could first believe in the authority from which I heard them. The big promise of gaining eternal life was only a layer in the background that I could hope to uncover once I had worked out the oddly blurry puzzle in front of me. If this truth we share is so readily apparent, freely given, why can’t I make clear sense of the first step? If everyone on earth is given at least one chance to hear and accept The Good News, does my hearing it retold several times a week throughout my life make me even more damned for not really getting it? Isn’t it true that I am one of the luckiest of souls since I have been graciously dropped right into the family of a pastor who actually teaches others this truth that happens to be the one and only universal truth in a sea of lies? What are the odds? Did I dare to test God and ask him to show Himself to me to clarify my doubt? With a fervent determination, I sought that my personal relationship with the Creator would be thorough. I faced my questions bravely. There would be no accepting half-answers to this – the ultimate decision – like “It is probably right” or “Just to be safe” or “People whom I trust have accepted it”.
I really wanted Christianity to work, and I gave it my heart. How many more years would I be required to wait for decent responses to my inquiries? If my faith was not strengthened by Christian fellowship or the teachings of great preachers or reading and re-reading the Bible or late nights of earnest prayer, should I look to outside perspectives? Could something in the secular world satisfy my need for understanding? Since I already knew The Gospel, would God appear to me more clearly through His creation?
It is the observation of the natural world without the bias assumed by religion which resulted in my conscious letting go of faith. Skepticism is my new virtue. I found answers. I haven’t found all of them, but my rational method satisfies me. Now that I look back, I think I would have stayed a Christian if my circumstances had not forced me to consider the weight of the choice. If it were not stressed with such eternal importance, I might have casually considered it a nice social club.
Mirrored from notetoself.net.