When you were a Christian, did you ever personally accept Christ as the lord of your life and savior from sin, or did you merely belong to the group known as "Christianity?" That is, did you really believe in your heart that your sins had been forgiven and that you were saved, or did you simply go to church with your family on sundays. I ask because I have never before heard of someone who had a personal relationship with Christ leaving it later on.
The simple answer to this question is yes. I did personally accept Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I did believe, with all my heart, that my sins had been forgiven and that I had a relationship with the creator of the universe. I took my faith quite seriously: I worked on the committee of our church’s youth group, building youth ministry in our area, as well as spending an entire year travelling around South Africa, with a Christian drama and music team, spreading the Gospel in schools, prisons and old age homes. I even led a few people to Jesus. Yes, I was a ‘true’ Christian – just like Anon. And yes, I did leave Christianity.
I’ve heard the argument from some Christians – and I must point out that Anon was not necessarily using this argument – that ex-Christians, before they left the faith, were not really Christians to begin with. There are two things I would like to say in response to this claim:
Firstly, when one clings with all their strength to a specific ideology or belief, which they view as absolute truth, they cannot accept the possibility that they could be wrong. When some fundamentalist Christians see others leaving Christianity, they naturally place the fault on the person leaving the faith (i.e., “she was never really a Christian”), instead of considering the possibility that the belief being rejected could be at fault (i.e., “maybe Christianity is false”). In other words, in the mind of a Christian making such an argument, Christianity is absolutely true and perfect; therefore, the fault of unbelief has to lie with the ex-Christian. Is it not possible that Christianity itself is the cause of believers leaving the faith?
Secondly, I believe this argument acts as a type of protection mechanism in the mind of the believer. Inherent in the argument is the fear: “If Mrs X can loose her faith, then it’s possible that it can also happen to me!” In an attempt to rid oneself of this fear, all that one has to do is believe that they are a true believer, who can never possibly backslide into unbelief, and that ex-Christians were not really Christians to begin with. In this way, one fashions the false belief that they will be immune to ever reaching the point of rejecting God.
Anon set out very clear criteria of what defines a true Christian. When I was a Christian I passed these criteria with flying colours. I lost my faith. No one is immune to paradigm shifts.