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Leaving Christianity – Outro

The “Leaving Christianity” series was a way for me to personally process, then publicly share, my experience of deconstructing my fundamentalist Christian beliefs and finally walking away from them altogether. Even in this series, I feel like I have barely begun to explain the many questions, answers, and ideas that led to me leaving Christianity, and the many new experiences that came as a result.

I’m glad that, over time, I have been able to return to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus with a fresh perspective. Since I grew up surrounded by these messages, they hold a deep value for me. Now I am able to look at the stories of the Bible metaphorically and glean a deeper meaning from them. I am able to look at the teachings of Jesus metaphysically and apply them to my life even now.

No matter your religious beliefs or background, if there’s one thing I hope you will take away from this series, it’s this: It’s okay to question and even change your beliefs. In fact, it’s healthy to do so. God is something too infinite to be captured in a belief system. As your understanding of him grows, your beliefs should grow, too.

There is a Zen Buddhist saying which goes, “Don’t mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.” Religious beliefs, teachings and doctrines – no matter which spiritual tradition they are derived from – are all like fingers pointing at the moon. But they are not the moon itself. Don’t focus too much on the fingers; instead, look to what they’re pointing towards.

A similar idea is shared by one of my favorite authors, Richard Rohr, who wrote, “Every viewpoint is a view from a point.” Every spiritual tradition, every religion, is a view from a point; each one is looking at the same thing, but from a different point of view.

My goal is not to talk anyone out of their beliefs, but instead, to encourage people to have a healthy relationship to their beliefs. Keep an open mind, welcome questions with curiosity, and don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and viewpoints.

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2 responses to “Leaving Christianity – Outro”

  1. I’m not sure if you remember me (it has been a while). Truthfully, anyone leaving the faith grieves me, and I know writing all of this probably comes with its own kind of grief.

    But I think what you’ve identified here is pretty important: a Christianity that is primarily a belief system is not of Christ. Belief systems can be challenged reasonably, toyed with, accepted partially, and halfheartedly held to (some of your other posts demonstrated these problems within the church).

    I am a Christian. I love and believe in the doctrine of the Church, but all of that can only exist *after* Christ. Too many Christians see Christianity as a series of beliefs to be assented to or disagreed with, rather than existing primarily in the answer to the question “Is Jesus God?” There is no halfhearted way to answer that question.

    I am not sure if you’ve read much of Kierkegaard, but he wrote something fantastic about this with Christianity in his work “Concluding Unscientific Postscript.” This might be too much to post, but here is an except from that book that I find particularly compelling when it comes to Christianity as a Belief System vs. Faith

    “A true believer is infinitely interested in what is real. For faith this is decisive, and this interestedness does not just involve a little curiosity but an absolute dependence on the object of faith.

    “The object of faith, understood Christianly, is not a doctrine, for then the relation is merely intellectual. Neither is the object of faith a teacher who has a doctrine, for when a teacher has a doctrine, then the doctrine is more important than the teacher. The object of faith is the actuality and authority of the teacher; that the teacher actually is. Therefore faith’s answer is absolutely either yes or no. Faith’s posture is not in relation to a teaching, whether it is true or not, but is the answer to the question about a fact: Do you accept as fact that he, the Teacher, actually exists? Please note that the answer to this is a matter of infinite concern. Of course, if the object of faith is only a human being, then the whole thing is a sham. But this is not the case for Christians. The object of Christian faith is God’s historical existence, that is, that God at a certain point in time existed as an individual human being.

    “Christianity, therefore, is not a doctrine about the unity of the divine and the human, not to mention the rest of the logical paraphrases of typical religious thought. Christianity is not a doctrine but a fact: God came into existence through a particular human being at a particular point in history.

    “Christianity is not to be confused with objective or truth. When Christ came into the world it was difficult to become a Christian, and for this reason one did not become preoccupied with trying to understand it. Now we have almost reached the parody that to become a Christian is nothing at all, but it is a difficult and very involved task to understand it. Everything is reversed. Christianity is transformed into a kind of worldview, a way of thinking about life, and the task of faith consists in understanding and articulating it. But faith essentially relates itself to existence, and becoming a Christian is what is important. Believing in Christ and wanting to “understand” his way by articulating it and elaborating on it is actually a cowardly evasion that wants to shirk the task. To become a Christian is the ultimate, to want to “understand” Christianity, as if it were some doctrine, is open to suspicion. scientific

    “That one can know what Christianity is without being a Christian is one thing. But whether one can know what it is to be a Christian without being one is something else entirely. And this is the problem of faith. One can find no greater dubiousness than when, by the help of “Christianity,” it is possible to find Christians who have not yet become Christians.

    “Faith, therefore, and the object of faith is not a lesson for slow learners in the sphere of knowledge, an asylum for the ignorant. Faith exists in a sphere of its own. The immediate identifying mark of every misunderstanding of Christianity is that faith is changed into a belief and drawn into the range of intellectuality-a matter of understanding, of knowledge. Infinite interestedness in the actuality and authority of the Teacher, absolute commitment, becoming Christian – that is the sole passion and object of faith.”

    Sorry for the length of this, but as you engage in this process of rethinking and reexamining your faith positions, I would heartily recommend engaging with Kierkegaard on this issue.

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    1. hey Luke, of course I remember you 😀

      In response to your question, “Is Jesus God?” I would say yes – Jesus is God, but in the same sense that we all are God. If you read the earlier article about heaven, you read how Jesus actually spoke about being “a” son of God – and pointed to the fact that we all are sons of God as he is. The Christianity that results from an answer like mine is what could be called Christian mysticism, which is based on the belief that God and I are one (John 10:30, John 17:20-23, 1 Corinthians 6:17), or, there is no separation between “I” and “God.” So I feel that this question is not so black and white, because there is an answer which exists in between the extreme “yes” of Christian fundamentalism (“yes, Jesus alone is God”) and “no” of, say, atheism (“no, God doesn’t even exist”).

      The excerpt that you gave here draws an important distinction between faith and belief, but for me, I see nothing in which to base a Christian faith. There is very little evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus even existed as a historical person. There is nothing to confirm the accuracy of the Bible except for the Bible itself. So to answer this question – “Do you accept as fact that he, the Teacher, actually exists?” I used to say yes, but I’m no longer able to do so after examining everything more closely. I cannot possibly accept Christ’s existence as a fact because there’s nothing to base that acceptance in for me; it would be just a belief.

      Anyway, I hope that makes some sense 🙂 Thanks for your comment, I will definitely read some more from Kierkegaard.

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