Saturday, May 06, 2006

Was I a true Christian?

This is a response to a comment left by an anonymous writer (see here).

Anon wrote:

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.


Dar said...

Anon said "...I have never before heard of someone who had a
personal relationship with Christ leaving it later on".

Many members of christian clergy have also documented leaving their religion. Anon can to do some internet reading to familiarize himself/herself with these situations. My suggestion is to start with some Humanist and Unitarian websites.

One may feel their religion deeply in their heart but their mind nags at them otherwise. It's not an easy shift from faith to logic, but it happens even to the best of priests, ministers, reverends, preachers, elders, and average joes.

eddie said...

I get this all the time as well, but I always like to ask the same question of them:
What makes a true Christian?

With more than 30,000 different brands of Christianity, all calling the other heretical and false, each group claiming to be following the "true" Jesus, just who IS the true Christian?

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noell said...

I experienced my major spiritual conversion and relationship with Jesus when I was fourteen. From that time on I decided I would become a missionary and worked toward that until I was able to 7 years later. I loved my one-and-a-half year missionary experience. Afterward, I trained missionaries, served as president of the woman's organization, and then served as president of the children's organization.

Then I had a paradigm shift.

Anon, there are thousands of us ex-Christians who were TRUE Christians. You just don't realize it. It's like when I was in high school and college. During all those years I only had two encounters with people in possession of drugs. Drugs were all around me, I am sure, but because I had my anti-drugs wall up, I never heard about them or saw them. It doesn't mean they weren't there.

noell said...

There is an interesting blog with connected sites of pastors, nuns, ministers and others who have left religion. These people tell their story and it is a community "safe place" for others who are doing or have done the same.

If Anon and others would like to see more examples of "true" Christians losing the faith, if they are curious to know how it can happen, this is the address:

BTW, any Christians planning to go there to leave Christian message will have their comments deleted. As I said, this is a "safe place" for ex-Christians to share.

Jason Hughes said...

Ugh, I can't even begin to count the number of times I was asked, "Are you sure you really were a Christian?" Anon must live in a very small world to never have met any ex-Christians before, or maybe Anon is searching for answers beyond the spoon-feeding of the church...

Either way, I hope Anon's search is fruitful and honest.

And I've been to "Out of Christianity," and Noell is right, it is a great site!

Aaron M. Rossetti said...

Hello, Aaron here.

I started Out of Christianity. I almost didn’t know that I had left Christianity until I could look back on it and tell the story. My journey was, perhaps, more ‘spiritual’ than it was intellectual even though Christianity has even been debunked intellectually as well.

I will never forget the lonely (but satisfying) journey. Most stories of deconversion are dismissed as just those who have ‘backslidden’ and they are not investigated. It's much easier for those in Christian communities to tag the person as a backslider, thus acting as if the 'backsliders' issues are 'personal' ones instead of the issues being with their belief systems.

I wasn’t bitter (and still am not) at any church or church member nor was I living some ‘sinful’ lifestyle that needed to be rationalized. I set out to find the truth at all costs… even if it meant my current beliefs.

I'd like to welcome you guys to share your stories… wherever you’re at. Every story is unique and valid. People need to know that they’re not alone!

I just posted a new Letter to Christians. The tone is abrasive at times, but it’s meant to be a challenge for Christians to examine what they really believe… the bible, tradition, or their heart. My heart for reconciliation cries out for the war to end.



Kevin Parry said...

Thank you all for your wonderful comments, and thank you Aaron for letting us know about Out of Christianity. I will definitely go take a look.

All the best

Kyaroko said...

Hi Kevin!
Thought of you today when I read this:

Anonymous said...

Where are your scriptures from God's word to back up your opinion on Was I a True Christian? Those who read this, I encourage you to check with God's word before you believe this guy and say, OH yes that's me all the way. What does God have to say? Check it out! Your salvation depends on it!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for redirecting us to the Scriptures, Anonymous. It is refreshing to hear such words of wisdom. When we use such subjective truth to try persuade it carries no wieght or real authority. The only objective truth is found in the Word of God and no one has the right nor the authority to take that away from God. Read Romans 1 and see that the truth about God is forever known by all who live, but not many honor Him or give thanks to Him because their foolish hearts are darkened (Romans 1:21).
As far as knowing whether one can be eternally secured, read John 10:28 (it doesn't get much clearer than this, and won't) "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." If you are trying to hold on to God somehow other than God holding you, then of course you will "fall away" or "deny the faith". Your salvation is not for you to decide. God chooses whom He will save and there is no way we are to critique His judgment.
I pray for those who call themselves "ex-Christians" to either meet God for the first time and repent of their ways of divisiveness or to return to the Lord and honor Him as Sovereign and Supreme just as faithless Israel was called to do over and over again.
To whom will you ascribe glory, you "ex-Christians"? Will it be God? Or will you bring it to yourselves? May God and God alone be glorified forever and ever, amen!

Anonymous said...

Attack of the anonymous Christian Borg!