Why I no longer wish to call myself a christian.
I was a christian for over 20 years, during which time I have spent 12 months in full-time christian work (YWAM), have been a church musician for many years (piano, guitar), have been a popular preacher/teacher and small group leader (Presbyterian, Baptist, Elim, Apostolic). I own a bookcase full of christian books on a wide variety of topics, and can still remember the words to almost every Keith Green song ever written.
During my many years as a Christian, and I held that people that believed the same things as me would go to heaven, and everyone else … well, not looking too good. I took great care not be be adversely influenced by “wrong teachings and false doctrines”, and was incredulous that anyone could be deceived by the strange teachings of other religions, cults and sects. How smug and sure I was, within the 4 walls of my “Christian” church.
Nowadays, having distanced myself far enough away from that mentality I am appalled that I could ever have thought such a thing! How much of what I was so convinced to be “right” may actually have been quite “wrong!
Here is why I no longer wish to call myself a christian:
1) I do not wish to be associated with a religious group that teaches that the majority of the human race will be banished to eternal torment and damnation. The threat of hell simply places christianity as one more fear-based religion – “Do this … or else!” Many christians even go as far as to describe themselves in these terms, as being “saved.” They say God will do this because He is “just”, thinking that God deals with problems the way man does. If God so despised mans “sinful” behaviour, would He not simply not allow it from the start? If God would entertain the entirely unGodly thought of banishing people to everlasting punishment and damnation, would He not simply cause them to cease to exist! What purpose could He possibly achieve in inflicting eternal suffering? Thus the christians preach the most absurd of messages: “Come to God, He loves You, He died for You, It’s your free choice … but if you don’t, He will throw you into hell along with the devil!” This sort of nonsense is not Love, not Free Will, and not the truth! The great irony of their teaching is that they say “God is Love and Life” and that the “devil seeks to kill, steal and destroy”, and then depict a God that resembles the very devil they describe! They describe God as “father”, yet what father would send his own children to “eternal solitary confinement” just because the kid didn’t love him “correctly”? This leads christians to the bizarre position of defending pro-life on tha basis of the sanctity of life and its intrisic worth because we are creations of God, and yet also holding that human life is of so little worth that God will chuck most people onto an eternal bonfire. It is a damming (sic) fact that Christianity has associated God with dammnation to such a point that it has become a part of our language – Goddammed, Goddammit, etc, and in doing so misrepresents the true nature God in the most total contortion of truth immaginable.
2) If the christian message was so essential to our eternal well-being, then why is the church still squabbling amongst itself 2000 years later over the most fundamental question “What must I do to be saved?” If it was that important you would think it would be pretty clear. They can’t even agree on a definition of the term christian!
3) If the christians and the others is so fundamentally different that one group will go to heaven and one group to hell, then I reckon there should be a pretty noticable difference between the two groups down here on earth, right? Well the fact is there just isn’t.I have known hundreds, probably thousands of christians over my 40 years on this earth, and my simple observation is that they are no different from everyone else. They get happy, sad, depressed, divorced, lucky, whatever just like everyone else on the planet. And I am sick and tired of the same answer to this “Well maybe your right Jon, but don’t judge God by the christians, etc, etc, blah, blah” This is just a cop out answer. There is no difference – end of story. By their own admission it just doesn’t work.
4) The religion of christianity is based on the bible, which they have renamed “the Word of God” (even though the bible itself says that Jesus is the Word of God), and they refer everything back to this book. They read it, study it, memorise it, quote it, learn it, repeat it, etc. I don’t want a religion that revolves around a book. They have made of it an idol fashioned from paper, ink and glue. This is no different to any of the other “non-christian” groups (you know, the ones going to hell), who also each have their “scriptures” which they claim to be inspired. I think the creation of the Bible by “closing the canon” of scripture was artificial and designed simply to allow for the creation of “orthodoxy”, a grisly tool by which “heretics” could now be quantified, and the masses contained. But of course the biggest problem is that the Christians are unable to answer the question “How do you know that the Bible is right?” (and other books are wrong).
5) I am unable to reconcile the difference between the god of the old testament and the god of the new testament, and thus am unable to determine what the “christian” god is really like. Richard Dawkins describes the God of the Old Testaments as “a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
6) I do not accept the idea that we are born bad, sinful, and in need of redemption. I do not accept that God the father had his own son murdered to satisfy his own anger against the human condition that he created in the first place. What sort of God is that? You, me, and everyone else – we are made in the image of God and that’s good enough for me!
7) Christianity, like so many other religions, has been, and continues to be, the sourse of much division between people both outside the faith (“I am a christian, you are not”), and also within it’s own ranks with not only denominations disagreeing with each other, but even members within a particular denomination! The christians tell us pray to Him (”God and Jesus”) who is “out there somewhere” (the worst dualism of the christian religion – the ultimate Two-Ness! which gives birth to the second worst dualism of the christian religion, that there are “christians” and “non-christians”. Not happy to just tear us apart from God, they are also determined to tear us apart from each other!). Not even a teensy weensy bit close to the prayer of Jesus “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23)
8 ) I am just so sick and tired of churches. Sick of meetings and more meetings with the latest strategies for whatever. Laments of why people have left. Complaints about the worship, the preaching, the carpet, the colour of the walls. Pleas for more money. Gossip about church members. It’s enough to drive anyone away! Worse still I am sick of Christians who glibly dismiss any exploration of “non-Christian” ideas. Despite the fact that they teach humility, as soon as you disagree with them, I have experienced more than a few Christians who are arrogant, dismissive, condescending, patronising and belittling of any idea that does not match up with their Bible-based truth. Their closed-minded zeal leads them to logical absurdities that are obvious to everyone except themselves. For instance, try telling a Christians that, for example, human history is divided into ages that are influenced by the stars. The Christians will immediately scoff at this idea and point out that “there is not a shred of scientific evidence” that such an idea might be true. Yet the same Christian cannot see that “there is not a shred of scientific evidence” for every major Christian doctrine that they presuppose to be true.
9) When I was 16 I converted to christianity with a dramatic experience of joy and freedom. I was then told that masturbation was a sin, and since back then in those days I believed that what christian leaders said was true, I spent the next 8 years (I married at 24) battling and struggling and weeping and confessing and repenting against my own sexuality. Looking back I see now what a misguided and un-necessary waste of my energy and time! I am still angry at the church for having robbed me of so much of the joy of my teenage years because of this simple but stupid lie. The christian religion has done more to twist, contort and generally ruin the beauty of human sexuality than all of “Satan’s demons” put together. It is a sad observation that the most plain and bland of all sexual positions has been forever linked with Christianity – the missionary position.
10) I do not accept the exclusivity claims of Christianity. When Christians state that they are right and everyone else is worn, they simply expose themselves as they really are: petty, small-minded and trivial. Christianity is just another religion, with all the same forms and components of most other religions. Special buildings where they meet, all sit down and listen to the person up front, stand up, sit down, sing songs, repeat words. Special days. Special leaders and speakers. Special prophets and messengers. They believe the next life has reward for those who believe as they do, and punishment for the others. They have a special book that they use to justify their opinions and prejudices (they call them beliefs and convictions). They try and convince others to believe as they do, and view other world-views with arm-length suspicion. They place a separation between themselves and the “others”. Christianity is just another religion.
11) It is a telling fact that, the world over, children will tend to follow the religion of their parents rather than any of the other available religions. This confirms that christianity, like all other religions, is a human phenomena linked to culture.
12) One of the main reasons I finally left christianity is because it always placed me in a position of never being quite enough. Every Sunday, week after week after week, the pulpit would always use the same basic formulation of challenge: “Well everyone, today we are looking at prayer/fasting/tithing/you name it. Now I’m the first to admit I don’t do this enough, but … I just want to challenge you (in Jesus name) that we all really need to try harder at this as we accept to carry the cross” blah. blah. The message was always the same – that I’m no good the way I am, that I have to change, have to do more, and have to become something that is other than what I am now. When I finally quit church, what a relief to be rid of this horrible weight from my shoulders.
13) Our human minds are unable to grasp complex realities directly, so we create models which simplify things to a workable and manageable level. I have come to see that Christianity, like all other religions and ideologies, is simply a model. It is not the reality itself, simply a model of an underlying reality too large and complex for our comprehension. In saying I am no longer a Christian, I am saying that I no longer find the Christian model useful. Furthermore, I am acknowledging that Christianity is just a model, not a real truth. It has been said “all models are wrong, some models are useful.” From my reading so far, I am finding the New Age model far more useful in understanding the underlying reality of God and Man.
14) Other Christians would always go on and on about how “God has a plan for my life.” I came away from this with the impression that it was not up to me to choose what I considered best, but to always “seek God’s will for my life.” But (the problems of actually knowing the specifics of what God’s plan was for me aside) there is a deeper problem here. If God already has a plan for me, then what is the point of me having any free will? And if God doesn’t have a plan for me, then what is the point of having a God who cares what I do? Either way, given the knots I’ve seem poor christians tie themselves into trying to “hear God’s voice” and “do His will”, I’m glad to have nothing more to do with the whole racket. As a responsible adult, husband and father, I decide what is best based on the information at hand, my desires and the desires of those around me. That’s enough.