Since my deconversion, I occasionally still visit Christian blogs. I’m especially interested when the topic of unbelief or atheism is raised. I have often commented at Samuel Kee’s blog (Hope Stands). Sam is a fundamentalist pastor and author who resides in Illinois. I’ve complimented Sam on his writing style, even though I routinely disagree with him and even though his posts are not particularly deep. They tend to be “Christian lite” — feel good posts for the faithful.
Earlier this week he posted a piece called “Unbelief” which I am pasting below because he took it down later the same day. It was no doubt written for his Christian audience and before I comment further, I’ll share his post below:
|Some say that they have converted to unbelief. They say it’s because the Christian God is awful. He’s full of wrath. He’s temperamental. He’s egotistical. And Christianity itself is too intolerant. It’s childish, for those without a brain. It’s for those who still need fairytales. So they turn to unbelief.
It’s a bold move, a courageous step. “Look at me, mom!” “I’m finally leaving home!” “I’m growing up and going out on my own!” “I don’t need your Jesus anymore!” Even though they say they’re rejecting Christianity for its tenets, they’re pulling the wool over your eyes. They want you to think that they’ve drunken deeply from the well of Christianity and found it lacking. They claim they did the religious math and discovered their calculations were better. But the truth is that they are not rejecting Christianity for its beliefs, but for theirs.
They believe they are growing up, maturing more than those childish Christians. They turn to unbelief, not because of Christian belief, but because of the desire to grow-up and believe in themselves. But there’s more. The thing they turned from wasn’t true Christianity in the first place. It was a simplistic view of God. It wasn’t rich or deep. In an effort to escape childish religion—and no wonder—they made up the story of their coming of age. They can face the cold, cruel universe alone, without the help of a Sunday school God. They trust themselves to sort out this world.
Did they really convert to unbelief? Or did they just subtract out simplistic religion? No one ever becomes an unbeliever by getting annoyed at God for his irritating qualities. To become an unbeliever you must reject the goodness of God. You must reject the offer of peace he gives to you because of the death of his Son on the cross. You must reject love and hope, themselves. You must reject your very soul. And no grown-up person would do that.
Perhaps it is not fair of me to re-post something that Sam later took down, and I’m not trying to be mean here. But the sentiments that appear in Sam’s post are common among Christian leaders, and they deserve rebuttal.
For those of us who were former Christians, Sam’s post is quite offensive because he questions the authenticity of what were once dearly-held beliefs. He questions our motives and integrity, and then concludes that we’re not even adults (i.e., lack maturity). He also draws on the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, which is to say that since we left the faith, we were obviously not genuine to begin with. This sort of reasoning among Christians is popular because otherwise, acknowledging that someone could have once been a true Christian and then left — such a thought rips at the heart of the gospel message and its supposed permanence. It’s very uncomfortable to believers. I remember that discomfort in my earlier years when I learned of former Christians who left the faith. The immediate Christian reaction is to dismiss them as never having been genuine.
I know my own journey. My devotion and passion in following Christ and the Bible was absolutely sincere. While attending Christian college, I laid my life and heart at the throne and seriously considered full time ministry and/or missionary work. I was willing and open to the Lord’s call but like everyone who is willing to admit it, the only voice I ever heard was my own. My prayers for guidance and direction were met with silence.
My experience certainly wasn’t unique. I’ve now read hundreds of testimonies of former believers and I’ve met and talked directly with many others. So many of us went through profound pain in our honest pursuit of truth. We weren’t trying to kill our faith but cognitive dissonance had to go. Truth mattered more.
There’s a reddit user named geowonder who commented to Sam’s blog post, and after which, Sam’s post disappeared shortly thereafter. I’m grateful to have geowonder’s permission to re-share it with you here:
|My journey to unbelief flows out of a VERY robust faith and understanding of the Bible. Just to give you an idea: over my 24 years of believing, I spent thousands of dollars on Christian conferences, books, tapes/DVD, bible studies, and training. I read as much as I possibly could of what many consider the classic theologians. I consumed systematic theologies. Bible study was my hobby. My devotional life was quite strong as well. I have memorized entire books of the NT. I was dedicated to serving my church and my community. This desire to understand scripture led me to studying the times when it was written. I began studying Ancient History. This study of history led to my questioning of the existence of God for the commandments, iconography, rituals, and tabernacle design described in the Old Testament can be found in Ancient Mesopotamian civilizations and Ancient Egyptian civilizations — which predate the assumed dates of the OT events. The antediluvian creator Earth-origin mythologies are so similar. The Christian rationalizations for why God would give Moses instructions to copy another people group’s stories and vessels for worship did not hold water for me; they do not make sense in reality. These qualms with the OT gave me permission to question so many other things that I refused to question before, things like the age of the earth. As far as the New Testament goes, the fact that Saul/Paul is just another man who had a vision in the desert only made it that much easier for me to reject Christianity. Furthermore, if someone today claimed to come alive again after being dead for three days, I wouldn’t dedicate my life to him/her. I would doubt everything about that person. So why believe an unverified 2,000 year old story? The only reason I think I ever believed is because that is what is acceptable and expected in my corner of the globe. If I had been born anywhere else, I may have believed something completely different.
So, no, I didn’t subtract a simplistic religion. I didn’t follow some “easy-believism,” as it is so called. It has been a very difficult road to walk; my entire worldview paradigm has experienced a major shift. Rejecting God’s existence has completely changed my life. Don’t assume you understand what is going on in a person’s mind…”no grown up person would do that.”
Sam, like so many Christian pastors do, often say or put into print one of the most offensive things that someone can say about another’s spiritual journey, which is:
– That we didn’t really believe enough.
– That we didn’t understand Christianity enough.
– That we didn’t love God enough.
We were devoted to the cause of Christ. So do not tell us we were not real Christians. Do not insult us about our lack of understanding the message of the cross. We did understand it.
“Did they really convert to unbelief?”, Sam asks… Yes, we did. Yes we did.