Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ruins of Faith:Letter From Long Time Christian Giving UP The Faith

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This is from the blog Debunking Christianity
"Here's an email I received from a man named Robert:"
John,

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into your writing. I am a Christian of nearly 30 years; devout, church going, prayerful. I first found infidels.org about 2 years ago and it opened me up to the possibility that the Bible is false.

 I always beware when I see one of these "long time Christian realized faith is buss shit." It really makes me angry and sick because whatever he says, no matter how banal or silly, he claims he's a Christian so he has to be one. This is one of the basic tenets of the New atheist faith, that there is no such thing as a false members of a group, any and all members of groups regardless of their experiences automatically represent that group it it's fullest and most articulate epitome. Otherwise, if anyone claims "we wasn't really a good Chieftain" they will say "that's no true Scotsman fallacy." Or they will say "how can you tell what a real christian is? I can't tell so therefore, no one can tell."

Of course it's always impolitic to try and claim that this guy I don't know is not a good Christian or isn't' one at all just becuase he fell away, that would be like saying "no one can disagree with me, the very act of doing so is proof enough that he's wrong." Mot atheists will admit that it doesn't prove anything that this guy fell away. He would have sat in the cry room for 30 years and done nothing, just went through the motions and did not spiritual growth at all so it is not proof of anything that he fell away. I've been a Christian almost 40 years, why isn't my faith proof that it's true? But that never goes over because just the act of objecting marks one as a fuss budget who can't truck disagreement.

On the other hand, it is common place to find many Christians who have been in the faith for years and are no strong, just go thorough the motions and don't bother to grow, not cultivated their relationships with God. Sleeping in a garage doesn't make you a car, sleeping in Church does not make you a Christian, nor does it bestow the full richness of Christian experience. But To be fair say he was a growth oriented one time strong Christian. There's something more important than being a Christian in terms of testimony of the truth. That something is experience of God in your life. One  must keep growth coming. I don't subscribe to the concept that a "true Christian" can't fall away because I don't believe in eternal secularist or pre destination because I'm not a Calvinist. I do believe that if you want to be kept Christ will keep you. I don't believe that Hebrews six is about nothing. It must, therefore, be possible for even a born again person to fall away. The falling away of such a person does not prove anything in relation to the truth claims of Christianity.

Btw I also believe that atheists are misusing the No true Scotsman thing, see my essay on that.

 The prodigal Christian continues:

I then started listening to you and Ken Pulliam, Luke Muehlhauser and a few others. I've read The Christian Delusion and talked with some of the most scholarly Christians I know about how they would respond to what skeptics are saying.

 Here's his second mistake. It's just as plain as day. He began listening to Loftus! How in the hell can he expect not to be confused? I'm teasing. John is a friend of mine and he is very bright and learned. Seriously, he begins having doubts, why does he go to the people who specialize in widening the cracks and deepening doubt? Did he try to close the cracks by listening to Christians who specialize in plugging them up? He I don't remember him on my website. So one thing we do know is he did not consult the best apologists, right? We do know that, right? Well anyway (I heard that). One clue perhaps is that he said he went along for 28 years and then one day because he stumbles onto the secular web he begins to think maybe it's not true. It just seems likely to me that anyone who spend 28 years going to chruch saying he's a Christian and just begins after that to think it might be true is not much of a thinker. Perhaps such a person hasn't wrestled with faith and thus this would imply that his faith is to deep. Faith is deep when we go through the fire. Faith gets deep when we are tested and doubt. It's a dialectic, faith is an answer to doubt. No doubt means no faith.

 CP (Christian Prodigal)

I think about these issues every day:

 Why? After 28 years, why think about them everyday now? Because he hasn't before. Of couse his thinking now is not being fed by people who have gone through he struggle before and found strength and answers, it's fed by people who have a vested interest in denuding his faith. Don't see answers for the living among the dead. If you are wounded by attackers, do you turn to those attackers to bet help? He was wounded by the secular web, people who are designing to destroy faith and he turns to those very people to learn more. Are those guys going to give him both sides? will they have Christian answers that promote faith and really do the job of answering? In a pigs eye! He spent 28 years not cultivating a deep faith then when he needs one he goes right over to the enemy and starts cultivating the death of what little faith he had. What sense does that make? He never really gave his faith a chance.

 It's also pretty instructive what he finds as "serious questions:"

-- Why does the Bible condone sex-slavery and genocide?

Yea that's a good one. Gee, that verse that says "thou shalt have a sex slave and destroy whole races." which commandment? that's the 134th commandment I think. Its' in the third book of Sapient. Of cousre there is no such passage. There is no passage that says to have sex slaves or kill people. Why would this guy, brave mature Christian in the faith 28 years think that this is a fair and valid way to reflect the truth of the Bible? He wouldn't unless he's pretty deeply into falling away already.  Did he even try to read Glen Miller's stuff on Slavery in the Bible? Does even know the history of the abolition movement? Not to mention my stuff on OT and Social oppression.
-- Why would a super-intelligent God seem unable to communicate his will without confusing millions of devout followers?

Of course here one has a huge range of ideas and answers to choose from, from the  vast range of liberal theology to notions of Biblical inspiration and what it means, to the answers brought by conservative evangelicals. In his 28 years of spiritual ferment it never occurred to him to think about the nature of God. Why chuck out the whole concept at once when some other concept of the same idea might not be closer to the truth? For example why give up the idea that there is a God based upon the strident nature of the OT when the idea of process theology God would explain why God's will isnt' obvious? For that matter mystical theology explains. For that matter so does my soeteriolgoical drama.
-- Why are the gospel accounts of Jesus death and resurrection in disagreement about what actually happened?

In 28 years it never dawned on him to read a harmony? They easy to come by. The answers are not difficult. Read my thing above on the nature of Biblical inspiration and then read my Resurrection Harmony.
-- Why did Jesus tell people he would come again "in this generation" if it would be thousands of years later?
He didn't. Do some research. There many possible answers. To understand you need to read the link on Biblical inspiration first. Basically it's a gloss on answers to two different questions, they got them switched becuase the redactors assumed they were the same event. the two questions are

(1) When will the temple be destroyed

(2) When will you come back (assumes he's going away, they don't ask about that)

the answer 1: "in this generation"

the answer 2: "when you see the angels coming in the  clouds.

but becuase they assumed these are the same event, an assumptino necessary for them since they could not imagine Judaism without the temple they reduce the two questions to one then mix up the answers so that the answer to question 1 becomes the answer to Q 2 and vice versa.

But this guy's question about the issue imply that he was in fundie churches. He's one who thinks Bible must be literal and perfect and every single thing is literally truth. This is why i'm not a fundie because the only thing that view is good for is letting people down. Why does he not examine liberal theology before the gives up faith completely? Because he's been brain washed to think liberal = evil!


When I am honest - when I stop making stupid excuses for what the Bible says (and not what I want it to say) - the answers are obvious.

But at this point doesn't he want an excuse to leave the faith? Hasn't it become tiresome and hard to manage he's too lazy to look for answers? He give no indication that he ever did look for answers. What he sees as "obvious" to me seems not great insurmountable problems that Christianity can't answer. No I see simple ho-hum here we go again, easy bull shit that I answer in my sleep.

I might have never known that my Christian beliefs were wrong without people like you. Thank you. I don't know how I'm going to tell most of my friends and family about this, but even if they think I am delusional, I am happy to be free from the laws and mindset of ancient, superstitious people.

Sincerely, Robert

"A man only sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest." He sleeps n his faith for 30 years until he decides it's no longer convent, maybe he's not in need of business contacts anymore, and finds shallow excuses to give it up. This does not mean that I think all people who have changes and move out of their faith are like this. I don't really know that this guy is like this. But I do know there's another kind of person who gives up faith, that's some one who realizes the world view he sees is no longer small enough but has enlarged and the framework for the world faith, religious faith, is no longer big enough to contain the world view. Perhaps this guy is like that, although he doesn't give any evidence of it, but that may be the case. This is what happened to me when I became an atheist and I've seen it in others many times. The thing is this is not outgrowing the truth of God. They need to be enlarging the framework of their faith. Then have been brain washed into thinking that it's evil to do that, the liberals are evil and only the fundies are true Christians. Thus when the framework is no longer able to contain the new understanding, they have to just smash it and give up on God.

This is discussed by Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus talks about putting new wine in old wine skins(Gospel of Matthew 9:17, Gospel of Mark 2:22 and Gospel of Luke 5:37-39. ). He's referring to the Holy Spirit and the Baptism thereof, but it also applies a larger world view as well. You need to oil the wine skins so they don't burst and you do with the oil of the Spirit, that is with spiritual growth which comes through experience of God's presence. If you are in a position where you feel yourself outgrowing your faith, this is not a sing that your faith is not real or true, it's a sign that you need to grow in it more. This is a call to revive your relationship with God and grow into a deeper understanding not to give up and above all not seek help among the enemies of God!???

why would anyone go to the atheist camp to look for answers to their problems of faith? That in itself says "I want out of the faith." that's like going to the people who beat you up and robbed you for medical help.

28 comments:

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

If one is struggling with belief it makes perfect sense that they would find others who are or were struggling. Yes, like most of the people who read John's site, they are escaping from fundamentalist Christianity and to many of them switching to liberal theology is a bit like an alcoholic switching from whiskey to beer.

Was he a True Christian™? Well, everyone has their own litmus tests based on their own theology, you are a total heretic based on the theology of many Christians I know. Are you a True Christian™?

Unless they are lying, most of the ex-Christians I have met were very devout and had vibrant faith during their time as Christians.

Because I'm not a militant ex-Christian atheist you tell me (half joking, I know) that I'm not really an atheist, but that I am still a Christian. Why do you do this? Because you like the way I think, you like me, and you like that I don't encourage Christians to leave their faith.

Metacrock said...

If one is struggling with belief it makes perfect sense that they would find others who are or were struggling. Yes, like most of the people who read John's site, they are escaping from fundamentalist Christianity and to many of them switching to liberal theology is a bit like an alcoholic switching from whiskey to beer.

Yea that's a good point. I'm actually not as down on this guy as I sound. Still i think I can answer most rational objections I would like the chance to try. I think that by the time you turn to atheists you are already decided to give up.

Was he a True Christian™? Well, everyone has their own litmus tests based on their own theology, you are a total heretic based on the theology of many Christians I know. Are you a True Christian™?


If you think I was saying he was not then you didn't' get it, or of cousre I guess I field to make myself clear. I don't think it's a relevant question. It doesn't matter. He would have been, but he was not a strong a Christian.

Unless they are lying, most of the ex-Christians I have met were very devout and had vibrant faith during their time as Christians.

devout and strong are not the same. devout means you don't miss chruch, you pray over your food every time. To be strong means you struggled with doubt.


Because I'm not a militant ex-Christian atheist you tell me (half joking, I know) that I'm not really an atheist, but that I am still a Christian. Why do you do this? Because you like the way I think, you like me, and you like that I don't encourage Christians to leave their faith.


becasue I sense the Holy Spirit in you. I think you have an aura of God's peace about you. you strike me as being like the second type of faller away that I described. You outgrew the framework in which you had your faith secured, you need to enlarge your concept of what Christianity is about.

rather than give up belief you should seek to redefine Christianity.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I know you didn't say he wasn't a true Christian, but you said it was possible, which is valid, but it also casts unwarranted doubt on his story.

When you say you used to be an atheist I don't imply that you may not have been a true atheist, though I'm sure some atheists might make that claim.

Metacrock said...

I said true Christians can fall away, so that makes the issue of weather he is one or not irrelevant.

He wasn't' a strong or mature one, that's obvious.

jagga nathan простй said...

is a bit like an alcoholic switching from whiskey to beer

Metacrock said...

is a bit like an alcoholic switching from whiskey to beer

what is?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"switching to liberal theology is" It's from my first comment.

Metacrock said...

So in other words, little atheist types can't think in terms of intelligent well read article versions of ideas, they have to have to blunt black or white all or nothing.

I see, yes, very cleaver. So the atheist answer to the spill in the gulf is go back stone age and not use electricity?

We could use ocean thermal conversion but that would be like going from whiskey to beer, it's just a weaker version of caused th problem so we have sit in the dark with no warmth of any kind so we wont have another oil spill. yes, brilliant.

Loren said...

Metacrock, you are VERY quick to dismiss deconverters as not True Christians. Could that also be true of many people you celebrate as True Christians? Could many of them be equally fake?

Like many people in the antislavery movement, for instance.

You have claimed that Christian defenders of slavery are not True Christians. Likewise, could that also be true of many anti-slavery activists?

As to the Bible and slavery, one has to be a cherry-picker about the Bible to reject slavery -- the whole book takes slavery for granted, as its defenders recognized. Or else one has to argue that several parts of the Bible don't mean what they say.

Loren said...

Another thing, Metacrock. If you are looking for some big moment of enlightenment in a deconversion, prepare to be disappointed. Many deconversions are gradual, taking a lot of thinking over a long time.

I've never heard of one that involves some super moment of enlightenment where one recognizes the Great Truth that the Universe is fundamentally impersonal.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Many people coming out of rigid religion are like addicts, they need to be free of it or they will spiral back down into it, hence my "whiskey to beer" analogy. Unlike an alcoholic they may be able to pick up religion again without falling back into fundamentalism, and this happens to a lot of people, but for so many their vision of God is so wrapped up in their former beliefs that they can't let go.

Metacrock said...

Many people coming out of rigid religion are like addicts, they need to be free of it or they will spiral back down into it, hence my "whiskey to beer" analogy. Unlike an alcoholic they may be able to pick up religion again without falling back into fundamentalism, and this happens to a lot of people, but for so many their vision of God is so wrapped up in their former beliefs that they can't let go

Meta: Utter nonsense. religion is not alcoholism. Some forms of religion can be abusive, what people need from abuse is healing not more hate. Going into atheist circles they learn nothing but getting revenge on religious by taking it out on those who were not the one's who hurt them but innocent proxies.

they need to go into liberal churches where will be healed and loved and will learn the good things religion offered. The studies show religion is far better for you than non belief, but in the abusive forms of religion it can be quite hurtful.

truth makes the best weapon.

Metacrock said...

Loren:Another thing, Metacrock. If you are looking for some big moment of enlightenment in a deconversion, prepare to be disappointed. Many deconversions are gradual, taking a lot of thinking over a long time.

Meta: conversions tend to be a big light bulb moment, they don't have to be to be valid, but usually they are. So isn't that interesting? that's' because so called "deconversion" is nothing more than giving up what you know to the true, being suckered out of the thing that meant the most to you usually a for a stupid reason that easily be avoided just went to the right source or help.

LorenI've never heard of one that involves some super moment of enlightenment where one recognizes the Great Truth that the Universe is fundamentally impersonal.

Meta: and yet that's so common in conversion. almost as though conversion is a revelation and de conversion is just giving up what you know it right and true.

Metacrock said...

Deconversion so called is usually a matter of socialization. Counter socialization. One is counter socialized by the marginal hate group to move away form the norm (religion) and into liminal space as a means of seeking resolution to some alienating experience.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Utter nonsense, something you are familiar with. ;-)

Where did I say religion was alcoholism? I equated fundamentalism with alcoholism and positive religion with responsible drinking.

"de conversion is just giving up what you know it right and true."

Are you claiming that atheists know God exists, but choose to reject him?

Metacrock said...

Loren: Metacrock, you are VERY quick to dismiss deconverters as not True Christians. Could that also be true of many people you celebrate as True Christians? Could many of them be equally fake?


Meta:My goodness, atheists do have problems with reading don't they? what is the deal with atheists that they all seem to have problems reading? Could it be that they are so arrogant they would rather assume what I say than read it? Here Loren say "You are so qutick to dismiss" in the OP, in every answer I made to Mike I said several times "the issue of being a true Christian is irrelevant to me if they are real or not!"


My first answer to Mike:


"If you think I was saying he was not then you didn't' get it, or of cousre I guess I field to make myself clear. I don't think it's a relevant question. It doesn't matter. He would have been, but he was not a strong a Christian."

My second answer to mike:

"I said true Christians can fall away, so that makes the issue of weather he is one or not irrelevant."

It's also in the OP

or do you think that Ocean Thermal conversion is a religious conversion?

Metacrock said...

Loren:Like many people in the antislavery movement, for instance.

You have claimed that Christian defenders of slavery are not True Christians. Likewise, could that also be true of many anti-slavery activists?


Meta: This is the person who missed the same answer three times telling what I said; read it again. I said they had impure motives I did not say that they weren't true Christians.

Loren: As to the Bible and slavery, one has to be a cherry-picker about the Bible to reject slavery -- the whole book takes slavery for granted, as its defenders recognized.

Meta: Ok sorry I've tired to be kind bout this a hundred you keep saying the things over and over. YOU DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT HERMENEUTICS TO INTERMITTENT THE BIBLE TO ME. I DO! I know the language you don't.

(prove to me you read this post please, repeat this number, 432 at the end of your replay ok?)

Your ignorance of Hermeneutics is betrayed by the fact that you use the ignorant man's BS definition of critical reading: "cherry picking." That's what people who don't understand how to interpret a text properly and don't do any textual criticism and think interpretation is a simplistic matter of just taking everything literally, use to degrade and deride scientific methods that are over their heads.

If you want to make yourself look stupid by using that phrase you couldn't do a better job if you said "what's the point of these squiggles in those funny paper things people put their faces in?"

are you going to actually read this?

Metacrock said...

Utter nonsense, something you are familiar with. ;-)

yea, since I know you ;-)

Where did I say religion was alcoholism? I equated fundamentalism with alcoholism and positive religion with responsible drinking.

speaking of the orignial person's use of the whisky metaphor. not you, Lagga Nathem somebody.


"de conversion is just giving up what you know it right and true."

Are you claiming that atheists know God exists, but choose to reject him?

A Hermit said...

"getting revenge on religious by taking it out on those who were not the one's who hurt them but innocent proxies."

Funny; that's exactly what I see you doing with all this "atheists are Nazis" nonsense...;-)

"they need to go into liberal churches where will be healed and loved and will learn the good things religion offered. The studies show religion is far better for you than non belief, but in the abusive forms of religion it can be quite hurtful."

I grew up in a liberal church, I'm still better off without it.

Metacrock said...

It was jagga nathan простй who used the whisky metaphor, that's who I was speaking of, his idea.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Read my first comment, I used the whiskey/beer metaphor, and he quoted it.

Metacrock said...

"getting revenge on religious by taking it out on those who were not the one's who hurt them but innocent proxies."

Funny; that's exactly what I see you doing with all this "atheists are Nazis" nonsense...;-)

Meta: Hermit says: You are hurting my precious bullies, what's wrong with you? who wants to stick up for a bunch of whiny victims but you leave my wonderful bullies alone!

Meta said:"they need to go into liberal churches where will be healed and loved and will learn the good things religion offered. The studies show religion is far better for you than non belief, but in the abusive forms of religion it can be quite hurtful."

the defender of busslies says:

I grew up in a liberal church, I'm still better off without it.

Meta: yea, but it was In CANADA!

Metacrock said...

you just stay up there "eh," in your frozen land of the north, with your maple leaves, Billy Red Lions, 3 down foot ball (eeeeeeech!) and soggy corn bread. ;-)

Metacrock said...

Hermits answer to totally missing the boat on which blog we are talking about is "be a man!"

In other words even though he totally misread my post or forgot what blog he was on, he still wants me to take resposniblty for his error.

maybe that's the way they do things in mount land, but we Americans believe in responsibility for our own mistake. i didn't get the blog wrong he did.

in effect his accusation about this bog was a lie and slander. we don't do that down here in the warm part of the world.

I guess our ethical senses are thawed out down here. ;-)

Metacrock said...

you were just explaining what it meant. you weren't making it your own at that time. I knew that. I was not saying you did.

A Hermit said...

"Hermit says: You are hurting my precious bullies, what's wrong with you?"

You're missing the point; I'm asking you, politely(I am Canadian after all...) to stop making generalizations in which compare atheism to Nazism because I take that as a personal attack on me.

I am not here to defend anyone else's behaviour I am asking you to be courteous to me and others like me.

I'm also trying to explain to you to that you defeat yourself when you behave this way.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"I'm also trying to explain to you to that you defeat yourself when you behave this way."

Ditto.

Kristen said...

I know what Metacrock's talking about. I have struggled with doubt. I have listened to atheist arguments and struggled with answers. I am surprised that the "Ruins of Raith" guy says he listened to the responses of real Christian scholars and still didn't find answers to the questions he raises. Who were these scholars? What did they tell him?

As Metacrock says, none of the issues he raises are new ones. No Christian scholar that I have ever read would find himself flabberghasted by any of them. When I encountered these questions, I listened to what the atheists were saying-- but I also listened to what Christians were saying who had struggled against these issues before me. I found Metacrock's website, among other things-- which widened and deepened the way I looked at God and the Bible. The questions are not that difficult-- if you don't insist on a form of hyper-literalism about Christianity and the Bible that kills, rather than giving life.

Many ex-Christians are ex-Christians because they have left this kind of fundamentalist, hyper-literalist view. I agree with Monolith that sometimes religion can be toxic-- and those escaping from it may need to take a long break from even thinking about the God who appeared so oppressive to them. The "Ruins of Faith" guy may be one of these; I don't know. Who knows where he may end up in the future?