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“What do I know?”

Since: Apr 08

Rings of Saturn Emporium

#1 Jul 3, 2008
Why should you care in the slightest about my religious views?

I cannot possibly imagine.

Several people on topix, though, in the wake of various postings I致e made on religious subjects, have asked me for an explanation of just how I arrived at my present agnosticism, or atheism, or whatever it is. So rather than answering these various people individually I致e elected to start this forum and direct the interested parties here.

What follows is nothing more or less than a summary of my personal experiences as a Christian, related about as honestly as I know how to do it. I知 not hoping for contributions, followers, or enlightenment, and I don稚 claim it to be momentous or universal or significant to anyone but me. But it is genuine.

Dearth of Couth

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“What do I know?”

Since: Apr 08

Rings of Saturn Emporium

#2 Jul 3, 2008
Why I知 no longer a Christian, Part One

I was raised from my infancy by deeply religious people, surrounded by a family full of Baptist preachers, deacons and missionaries. I myself was baptized, as well as I can recall, at about the age of ten.

I can remember being struck by the fact that everyone around me at the time and I do mean everyone kept telling me that what I had just experienced was the most important event of my life, and that everything else I would ever do would shrink to insignificance alongside it. I was receiving the power of the Lord. It was a special time for me.

Well, I enjoyed all the attention, as any kid would, but I remember wondering: Why don稚 I feel any different, myself? I thought about my attitudes, my perceptions, the circumstances of my life, and I couldn稚 think of a single thing that was any different, now that I was one with Jesus. No matter how hard I tried to find something new and meaningful, there was nothing. It was a hollow, empty, and lonely sensation, and surprisingly so. It was not what I had expected at all.

I concluded after a time that I must not be doing something right. Everyone around me seemed so confident and secure in their faith and mine so tenuous in comparison, I felt left out. The shortcoming, I decided, must be mine. I must be missing something.

I resolved to try harder. I devoted myself to Bible study and prayer. I sensed that everyone around me would be horrified if I were to express any of these reservations I was feeling, so I kept them to myself. I suppressed them, and did my best to forget them altogether.

The years went by and I attended services regularly but somehow I never quite shook the uneasy sense, in the back of my mind, that I had never truly felt the presence of a transcendent being Jesus, God, or anyone at all.

I remained outwardly compliant, but inwardly I began to feel isolated and as much as I tried to banish this feeling, it persisted. As I reached adulthood it intensified until I became aware that, despite my best efforts, it was not going to go way. More troubling still was the bulk of doubts I began to feel about matters of doctrine. I began to doubt, among many other things, the true value of grace.

But I tried to put these issues out of my mind. What I was doing, of course, was not avoiding a crisis but merely postponing it When it finally arrived it hit so suddenly, it startled me.

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“What do I know?”

Since: Apr 08

Rings of Saturn Emporium

#3 Jul 3, 2008
Why I知 no longer a Christian, Part Two

I mentioned my doubts about the value of grace. Let me try to explain:

I learned early on that I, as a rather perceptive and articulate kid, wielded the power of language. I was able to wound someone deeply with a well-timed and chosen, derisive remark. I知 ashamed to say that I flung these about, at an early stage of my life, freely and easily. These thoughtless barbs of mine were the cause of a lot of needless pain. I believe they were the greatest sins of my commission, ever.

I was assured that my sins were forgiven me but I became aware after a time that the targets of my derision, once hurt or offended, remained hurt or offended for a very long time. Jesus forgiveness of me, I noted, made no difference at all to the people I had hurt. Things changed for me as I approached adulthood and began to feel genuine empathy for other people. In time I came to feel an element of real remorse for the thoughtlessness of my adolescence, and when I felt these regrets I still feel them today -- I realized that Jesus grace made no real difference to me, either.

Grace was like the presence of God; everyone said it was real. But no matter how I tried, I was not able to feel it myself.

My crisis arrived one day at a church prayer service when the minister asked us all to recall our thoughts and feelings on the day we were saved. Surely we remembered the day vividly. It was the most important day of our lives.

People around me began standing, one at a time, and giving witness. The recurring phrase, as I recall it, was 鍍he weight of mountains off my shoulders. I sat there in my pew and reflected in private silence over the vague, unfulfilled void I had experienced in the wake of my own baptism, by this time some ten years in the past.

The minister went on to inform us that we, as the committed Christians we were, ought still to enjoy that same exultant, liberated feeling today. Didn稚 we?

Again the witnessing from the pews around me, everyone standing in turn to give solemn testimony that they did indeed feel the power of Jesus in their lives, each and every day. It was profound, they said. It was moving. They were touched, one and all, to the very core of their existence and the strength of their inspiration did not dissipate as time elapsed, but rather grew stronger.

It went on this way. I turned this way and that to listen as the faithful on all sides of me rose and gave vivid testimony. The passion of Jesus, apparently, was with everyone in the assembly. Except me.

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“What do I know?”

Since: Apr 08

Rings of Saturn Emporium

#4 Jul 3, 2008
Why I知 no longer a Christian, Part Three

Then it hit me: We were moving around the congregation as if someone were taking role, and we were not leaving anyone out. More and more of them had begun to turn their attention toward me, wide-eyed and expectant. Any minute now it was going to be my turn and I would be expected to offer my personal testimony. What was I going to say?

My options, it seemed to me, were as follows:

1. Come clean with everyone and confess my innermost doubts, to admit that I had searched diligently but in vain over the years for some evidence of an impact that Jesus had had upon my life. Or
2. Make something up. I could, I was certain, blather something about a luminous presence, something affecting every aspect of my life and making it better. In short, I could lie.
Lying seemed the easiest solution, and it tempted me. But it occurred to me to whom would I be lying? Jesus? Am I honestly contemplating an attempt to con Jesus?

Then I thought, Who is it that I致e been deceiving for the last ten years with this elaborate pretense, sitting here in this church? Who am I fooling? Jesus? God? My family? The congregation?

Myself?

The witnessing continued and the population of remaining, un-testified Christians was dwindling by the minute. I was going to have to reach a decision and very soon. I sensed that the choice I was about to make was going to influence the rest of my life, and I was at once relieved and energized to have reached a culmination and resentful that I was being compelled to reach it hurriedly, in a public forum.

My time was running out. What was I going to do?

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“What do I know?”

Since: Apr 08

Rings of Saturn Emporium

#5 Jul 3, 2008
Why I知 no longer a Christian, Part Four

Finally, struggling with my private predicament in that pew during prayer service, I knew what it was that I had to do. I came to the realization that there was only one possible course of action that seemed to offer me any degree of self-respect, and there was no other course to take, so at long last I took it. I stood and walked out.

I did not look anyone in the eye as I passed and I have no idea whether anyone registered surprise, hostility, concern, or anything at all. For all I know they all faced forward and ignored me as I turned left at the end of the aisle and made my final exit from the building. The moment I reached the open air outside I was astonished to find that I was finally, after all this time, experiencing something that was vivid and genuine and undeniable. In fact it was nearly overpowering. It crested over me like a breaker:

Relief.

From now on, I resolved that day, I will not stop and examine my innermost thoughts and evaluate, whether they are appropriately reverent and sanctimonious. I will admit my doubts and reservations and when people ask me for my thoughts I will express them respectfully but openly, as I am doing now.

If everyone around me seems confident and secure where I am irresolute and sceptical then I decline to acknowledge this as a problem, for me or for anyone else. That痴 just the way it is.

Leaving the prayer meeting that day was a liberating, exhilarating, and truly life-changing experience for me. It was my 澱aptism and I will never forget it.

I知 free.

If I have to account someday for the decisions I致e made and the actions I致e taken, then I will. But I won稚 again lie to anyone that I知 feeling something or sensing something when I知 not. I won稚 try to deceive anyone around me but most importantly I won稚 lie to myself. Life is too short to waste it that way.

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Breaveheart

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the

#6 Jul 3, 2008
Because Jesus Christ cares....because He cared about me and I now know the life and hope he brought me I share my faith...

It is our first commision as christians to reconcile man to God...

We do this because we value love and being loved...

To love is noble and to touch lives is a quest to the end!!

I love you although you might not love me back!!

Jesus loved us first so that we can go and love others...

This has nothing to do with education, wealth, status, race what ever it has all to do with being loved...

The Father your Creator wants your heart through His Son Jesus Christ....

And whats wrong with that!! He loves you my brother of another mother!!

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Breaveheart

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the

#7 Jul 3, 2008
Relationship with Jesus Christ is on a personal level and that is how you seek Him.... first personal before Church Jesus Christ to the Father...

Love you brother dont care how tacky it sounds!!!

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Breaveheart

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the

#8 Jul 3, 2008
Repent and return to your first love.

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“my paradise”

Since: May 08

Location hidden

#9 Jul 3, 2008
That was a very well thought out testimony. I understand how you feel. I too was baptised, first as an infant in the Catholic church, then being dunked under water in my young adulthood in a Baptist church and finally in an Evangelical church. I too never felt any different or special. I never felt comfortable in any church or gathering among Christians and decided that if I would communicate with my Creator, it would be in my back yard or in the woods or beach where I could enjoy the wonders of nature. I've always tried to believe in the promise of Jesus because the words attributed to Him are very wise. I just never felt any power of the Holy Spirit in the way that most Christians proclaimed they did. Maybe because I'm a skeptic at heart. My older sister is a bible thumping born-again Christian and we butt heads all the time. Her faith is blind and accepting of all. I question everything, maybe too much.

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“What do I know?”

Since: Apr 08

Rings of Saturn Emporium

#10 Jul 3, 2008
NatureLover wrote:
That was a very well thought out testimony. I understand how you feel. I too was baptised, first as an infant in the Catholic church, then being dunked under water in my young adulthood in a Baptist church and finally in an Evangelical church. I too never felt any different or special. I never felt comfortable in any church or gathering among Christians and decided that if I would communicate with my Creator, it would be in my back yard or in the woods or beach where I could enjoy the wonders of nature. I've always tried to believe in the promise of Jesus because the words attributed to Him are very wise. I just never felt any power of the Holy Spirit in the way that most Christians proclaimed they did. Maybe because I'm a skeptic at heart. My older sister is a bible thumping born-again Christian and we butt heads all the time. Her faith is blind and accepting of all. I question everything, maybe too much.
Thanks, NatureLover.

I can't tell you why, but it means something to me that someone took the trouble to read that whole thing.

I suspect it's something that we'll never know for sure -- whether we're missing something or "they" are missing something.

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Breaveheart

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the

#11 Jul 3, 2008
NatureLover wrote:
That was a very well thought out testimony. I understand how you feel. I too was baptised, first as an infant in the Catholic church, then being dunked under water in my young adulthood in a Baptist church and finally in an Evangelical church. I too never felt any different or special. I never felt comfortable in any church or gathering among Christians and decided that if I would communicate with my Creator, it would be in my back yard or in the woods or beach where I could enjoy the wonders of nature. I've always tried to believe in the promise of Jesus because the words attributed to Him are very wise. I just never felt any power of the Holy Spirit in the way that most Christians proclaimed they did. Maybe because I'm a skeptic at heart. My older sister is a bible thumping born-again Christian and we butt heads all the time. Her faith is blind and accepting of all. I question everything, maybe too much.
I love people and I live in a diverce society with many differnt people groups... the thing is to touch to give to love... you know that when you reject your wife she is going to let you know...if we do not give of ourselfes through JesuS Christ we are like a dam thats water only rot... we have to give then you will discover how wonderful life can be.

I also stood still for a long time always waiting for something to happen...we are different and that is beautiful because we were made different...
Dont get discouraged with faith it is a beautiful jurney filled with life
What changes do you need to make ask the Lord perhaps you where stuck in a rut for to long... Call out for help He says seek Him and you will find Him.

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“Text OR drive...can't do both!”

Since: Oct 07

Location hidden

#12 Jul 3, 2008
I agree with NatureLover. Very well thought out. Posts like that come from the heart. I think I understand how you feel as well. I was baptized Catholic. I believe my parents did this for no other reason than to keep their parents happy and because it was "the thing to do." We didn't attend church regularly, and when we did I was counting the minutes until it was over. I can honestly say I've never been comfortable in church, ever. It's not that I don't believe in some higher power...I do. But I can't (and won't) be a part of something I'm not comfortable with.

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Hector

United States

#13 Jul 3, 2008
Breaveheart wrote:
Because Jesus Christ cares....
Well, that may be in fact true, but if you die in a car accident or some sort of brugadung in an armored personnel carrier, you're on your own because the lord is powerless against iron chariots. You'll be ok in plane crash however, because aircraft are made out of aluminum.

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Breaveheart

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the

#14 Jul 3, 2008
I started out without any influance from the church... my parents did not care wether we went or not no traditions what so ever. I chose Jesus Christ in my twenties and do not look back... most of my brothers and sisters also has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
We are not religious but enjoy the liberty to love and be loved...

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“What do I know?”

Since: Apr 08

Rings of Saturn Emporium

#15 Jul 3, 2008
Moncie wrote:
I agree with NatureLover. Very well thought out. Posts like that come from the heart. I think I understand how you feel as well. I was baptized Catholic. I believe my parents did this for no other reason than to keep their parents happy and because it was "the thing to do." We didn't attend church regularly, and when we did I was counting the minutes until it was over. I can honestly say I've never been comfortable in church, ever. It's not that I don't believe in some higher power...I do. But I can't (and won't) be a part of something I'm not comfortable with.
My thanks, Moncie.

"From the heart" is exactly what it is.
Abbey Yoyo

Oak Park, MI

#16 Jul 3, 2008
I was brought up a Catholic too. I was sent to catechism classes and even attended Catholic school for three and one-half years. Some of the most adamantly anti-Church former Catholics I have met went to Catholic school through high school so maybe I was saved from an obsessing all-abiding hatred of the church by going to public school.
Anyway, I joined the local Newman Society at college, but the new liturgy, especially the new hymns, had a negative effect on me. One day as I was singing, "Eat his body, drink his blood" I was suddenly revolted by the meaning of those words. I was married in the church but as I began to read about the history of the Bible I became more and more skeptical about the existence of gods. I thought of myself as an agnostic for a long time while I spent a lot of my time just working without further study. With the internet I have had the opportunity to learn more details about Bible history and science which has made me even more skeptical about the existence of the supernatural. The hardest part for me was letting go of the idea of an afterlife. Many protestants may have deep fears that they will end up in hell, but as a Catholic, heaven seemed a sure thing as long as I confessed my sins with a firm desire for atonement. But I have come to the conclusion that nature doesn't deal in the supernatural, at least not the sort of thing that religion preaches about. Heaven is a nice childish fantasy, and if you need it to make you a good person, please continue to believe.I don't feel the need for it. I was taught by the church to be selfless and humble and concerned for others and a lot of that is still with me even though my comments may not always seem that way.

The description of the public testifying required of some church-goers sounds a lot like the public confessions that were/are required of people in nations like the old USSR and China. I feel fortunate that I never had to do anything like that. The church I grew up in was pretty quiet and introspective with everyone just reading their missals at Mass.

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Breaveheart

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the

#17 Jul 3, 2008
Religion is confusing and contradicts everything God is about...

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Redbird

Glasgow, KY

#18 Jul 3, 2008
"DearthOfcouth"You say in your first post you were "BAPTIZED"at age ten.My questions are this,did your SOUL get saved at age ten?Were you under "CONVICTION" or just did what you were told or what was expected of you by(well meaning) loved ones?In my opinion,you have to be ready to be saved before you can be.Did you feel any different "before" you were baptized.When you were ten did you know what the word"SIN"really meant?The bible says you MUST BE born again!If you didn't feel anything different BEFORE (if the LORD wasn't dealing with your heart)and no different AFTER you were "BAPTIZED".Maybe you need to go to Church NOW!When the LORD starts knocking at your heart(and you WILL know when this happens).You can and will be saved and you WILL feel different!!

I'm not trying to be smart or a know it all.but I just think given your background of going to Church as a child,if you will go back now you WILL REALLY find REAL Salvation!!It's never to late to be saved.In My Honest Opinion!!MAY GOD BLESS YOU!!

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Breaveheart

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the

#19 Jul 3, 2008
Hector wrote:
<quoted text>Well, that may be in fact true, but if you die in a car accident or some sort of brugadung in an armored personnel carrier, you're on your own because the lord is powerless against iron chariots. You'll be ok in plane crash however, because aircraft are made out of aluminum.
Death has no sting... life is not about the life we have now but only getting to the place we choose to live eternaly... Eternal life is in Jesus Christ...
Death has no sting... Why shouldent there be a plan for you and me... you dont sound happy and free... There is liberty in seeking this Truth
If you seek Him you will find Him...
I live everyday not just some days I enjoy ABBA FATHER and I go before Him boldly and He touches me...

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“Saw 'em April 15th 1977”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#20 Jul 3, 2008
DearthOfCouth wrote:
Why should you care in the slightest about my religious views?
I cannot possibly imagine.
Several people on topix, though, in the wake of various postings I致e made on religious subjects, have asked me for an explanation of just how I arrived at my present agnosticism, or atheism, or whatever it is. So rather than answering these various people individually I致e elected to start this forum and direct the interested parties here.
What follows is nothing more or less than a summary of my personal experiences as a Christian, related about as honestly as I know how to do it. I知 not hoping for contributions, followers, or enlightenment, and I don稚 claim it to be momentous or universal or significant to anyone but me. But it is genuine.
Dearth of Couth
Hi Couth.

I want to tell you that I have enjoyed each and every post of yours where I've seen them. I appreciated this one of yours probably more than any other, for several reasons - you've taken the time to really explain how you got where you are is one of them, and I thank you for doing so.

I was raised Catholic like Moncie, and now consider myself a "secular humanist". Several things happened to lead me this way which I probably will explain at some point on this thread. I'll come back here this weekend and post some more but thank you very much for this thread and your thoughts in general. They're always appreciated by me.

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