Friday, March 17, 2006

My final testimony

The other evening I shared my testimony of unbelief to a group of Christians.

As a Christian, I was taught that the personal testimony was a powerful thing. Sharing your own story of salvation with others had power that could persuade the unbeliever or provide hope for the struggling convert.

I must have shared my testimony many times as a Christian. After high school, I was accepted to join a Baptist drama and music team, called the WOW team. I spent 1995 travelling around the country with 18 other Christians, spreading the gospel. I must have shared my testimony many times during that year – in old age homes, schools, prisons, and to people in the street. To be honest, I don’t think anyone was saved as a direct result of my personal testimony; it was pretty standard, after all.

My wife is a Christian, and I sometimes support her by going with her to Bible study or church. The local Baptist church is running a new members course, and Cori (my wife) was really keen to get involved. I went along the other evening, and the moderator asked us to share our testimonies. When it was my turn, I said that I was a born and bred Baptist, but due to a major faith struggle a few years before, I did not – philosophically – consider myself a Christian anymore. However, I also added that I was there to learn as a humble observer.

I’ve gotten to know the group over the last year. Although they’ve guessed my position with regards to religion, this is this first time that I’ve openly shared my unbelief. How did they react? Well, the group totally accepted what I said. There was no evangelising, no threats of hell. Maybe some curiosity, a lot of acceptance, but nothing confrontational. It confirmed for me the fact that, as unbelievers, we can’t pigeonhole all Christians as frothing-at-the-mouth fundamentalists. There are a lot of good Christians out there, and I’m privileged to know some of them.

Why did I share my testimony of unbelief? I did not share it to evangelise – I’m strongly against proselytising, in whatever form. But I've come to realise that a testimony can be a communal declaration of belief that you share with other believers. By sharing my unbelief with this group, I was symbolically sharing with all the Christians I had known the following, simple message:

“Hi all. It’s Kevin here. Remember me? Well, I just want to share the fact that I’m no longer a Christian. I’m leaving the flock, and I’m off on the long road to self discovery. . . ”

10 comments:

Jewish Atheist said...

Hey Kevin,

Looks like a fascinating blog. :-) I'll be reading for sure.

John W. Loftus said...

Are you against reasoning with Christians that they are wrong and your are right? Then you're trying to convince them to leave their faith.

Are you against ignorance? Then you should inform Christians of what you consider to be the truth.

Do you think wrong beliefs cause harm to the people who hold to those false beliefs? Then you need to help them with knowledge.

Do you think wrong beliefs cause people to do wrong in varying degrees? Then you need to help save the rest of us from people who hold wrong beliefs.


You said, I’m strongly against proselytising, in whatever form.

You must have a different definition in mind here than I do of what is considered proselytising. You must merely say you're against harrassing and/or intimidating people to leave their faith. But of course, if so, then most all people would agree with you.

However, you really are doing the work of proselytising when you make your case against Christianity.

Keep proselytising then.....

Nacho said...

Kevin, I think you did right. You were in their place of study, and what you in effect did was enact with your presence and politeness the fact that whatever we may call "religion" or "belief" or any dogma thrown between us, we can cut through it and recognize the other in us. Sometimes it is important to listen, to show with your life, attitude, disposition, rather than to come out and start to blast at folks. If you continue going, and perhaps sharing your own insights, you might have an opportunity to influence those others. But don't hold your breath. It is an interesting situation in which you find yourself with your spouse seeking in a different place, and studying the Bible for truth.

My wife is not a devout nor practicing Christian, although if pressed she'd probably say she is still a Christian. She is unclear as to what she ultimately believes although she is quite certain of those things she disagrees with in Organized religion.

Thanks again Kevin

R10B said...

Kevin,

Let me second JA's comment.

Mike said...

Kevin,
You sound like an interesting person. I hope you keep working through your issues/struggles with Christianity. Keep on blogging and keep on reading Stand To Reason.
Mike

Kevin Parry said...

Thank you for your comment, John. After thinking a little about what you said, I think that you are absolutely right. Why do I discuss these issues with Christians? Why do I have a blog where I post my thoughts and issues regarding my beliefs? Why do I sometimes have friendly debates with a friend of mine who believes in creationism? Partly, I do all these things to learn, and to find weaknesses in my own position. But I also do these things – and I will be honest here – in order to persuade. I don’t expect to change people’s minds, but I want to at least give them something to think about. And you are correct: this is proselytising.

I think my mistake was due to my initial misunderstanding of the words ‘evangelism’ and ‘proselytising’. These two words have much baggage linking them to intimidation and obnoxious door-to-door evangelists. It is the militaristic kind of proselytising that I don’t agree with.

I will make sure I clarify this in future posts. Thank you for pointing this out.

Kevin

Kevin Parry said...

Hi Nacho

I appreciate your comments. As I pointed out in the comment before this one, I’m strongly against ‘blasting folks’, as you put it. I have many Christian friends who I respect (and who know and respect my position), and I make it a point that I only debate or share my beliefs with them if they make the first move in discussing such topics with me. And one way to initiate such a discussion is for them to ask what I believe or to share my testimony (this is what happened on that specific evening).

Thank you for taking the time to post.

Kevin

marc said...

Hi Kevin

Interesting blog. I consider myself a 'normal' person but also a Christian. I seem to have met people who were completely unreal when it comes to Christianity.

I run the emergetn uk media art blog - pop along if you fancy a look.

It'll be interesting to read your thoughts.

billwalker said...

I( give up, what is emergetn uk media art blog ?

bergkampdude said...

Hi Kevin,

I was researching on this subject and came across your blog.

I was of another religion that I was born into but at the age of 40, received Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

In the first few years, the faith was an exploratory journey. The point about Jesus' death on the Cross really hit home only some years later when I came to have a strong conviction that I am a sinner and have wronged my loved ones, others around me and especially God.

Knowing that a Savior had unconditionally took my place of punishment that I alone deserve, knowing the worthless scum that I was that everyone who knew my past would gleefully condemn as deserving of eternal fire, that is the love I have for the Lamb that was sacrificed. And I was certain that it was not a guilt trip or anything of that sort that lead me to be moved by what Jesus did.

Just thought I share my journey.

Keep searching ...

Any further conversation at isaactan777@gmail.com

Shalom