From Evangelical Christianity to Humanism
*this post was created for a new friend who asked to share their conversion story with me, and I asked if I could share my own story in return.
I was born into an evangelical christian home. I was taught the importance of reading God’s word, spending time in prayer, tithing, fasting, seeking, giving, having a servants heart, walking in the fruit of the spirit, learning to tame the tongue, learning to ask that my will become only His, and to be a vessel, empty and poured out that He might fill me and use me.
By the age of five, I was convinced of my sinfulness, my wickedness, and that I had fallen short and was in need of a savior. I had been read the Romans road, and taught of the merciful father of a god, that had sacrificed his one and only son that I, lowlife that i was, might live. After learning of this great sacrifice made on my behalf, I knew, that my life was his. I asked Jesus into my heart, I confessed my sins, repented of them, asked his forgiveness, and then gave him my all to use however he would choose.
I was baptized at the age of ten, with a full public confession, and looked for every opportunity to share his great love, his path, his light with others.
I was a bit of a fireball. But how could anyone who had heard the gospel, not be? Probably the biggest puzzle to me at a young age, was how people could come to church, and go home and act like Jesus wasn’t around. He had give his very life for us, how could someone not want to live for him? And his call, his teachings weren’t ever casual, no they were radical, a demand for a changed and new life, “behold old things had passed away and all things were new”, Dead to sin, alive in Christ, there were signs of a believer, and why didn’t people care if they had them?
I have always been full of questions about everything. Something my father encouraged, except for questions about god. Then there was the matter of trust, and faith. No room for questions. At least not out of bounds questions.
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way”
The problems came when I fervently read the scriptures and ran into things that appeared to be conflicting, or contradictions. I became a fervent hunter for the truth, but at first, I sought answers with the baseline that the bible was the holy, and perfect word of god, and if something appeared to be a contradiction, it was just because I didn’t understand it. I was only a human with a finite and limited mind after all.
Most of the conflict that I could not resolve I put in a box, sealed up for later, for I also knew that “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
However, upon entering college, I was exposed to teachings of other religions, history of religions that also seemed to conflict what I had been taught. This happened in science and other things as well. My conflict box became overflowing. I was now struggling with doubts that seemed like looming mountains, but I also knew that with the faith of a tiny mustard seed, a mountain could be moved. I clung to this.
Time and again I ran into conflict between the reality I know , (or learned about) and doctrine that I had been taught, and or the bible itself.
I first moved slowly into a more liberal christian outlook, then as I began thoroughly studying other religions i ended up moving towards a universalist /or at least many paths lead to Jesus , position. From there I was forced further down the path into a fuller universalist position, then into agnosticism.
A death of a child near and dear to our hearts caused the shelf to unhinge and finally crash down around me. The questions all refusing to be boxed up again without attention.
My world had come undone, and I was carefully trying to find footing again.
I cannot say exactly what was the fatal blow to my theism. It was a combination of things. The problem of evil, the problems with the “free will solution” to evil, The fact that the world as I knew it fit the naturalist world view so much cleaner and neater than any brand of theism I had been exposed to. The understanding that in reality, I see no evidence of the supernatural, or a supernatural being that interferes and interacts with humans. The fact that the “fruit of the spirit” could be seen manifest in those who did not even believe in the spirit, and the lack there of could be seen in some who did.
I know of some who lament, and feel remorse. And there are some things I miss, I was very active in church, piano/organ/singing and I enjoyed very much worshiping and praising. In fact, I found that I could count the number of nongod songs I knew on my two hands. Music has been a whole new field for me. I do miss playing/singing in a band with others. I know I could find other opportunities that are non christian , but well it would take more effort.
I miss feeling as if I was really helping people by praying, and ministering to them in music. But I don’t miss not actually helping people. Now I find it more important than ever to be hands and feet.
My purpose has shifted, but it has not actually changed or altered my morals or behavior surprisingly much.
My final stage was moving to secular humanism, as atheism did not really offer purpose or meaning to life, a path etc. It is only a label explaining what one doesn’t believe in. Secular humanism, was kindred to me and a perfect fit.
“Humanism, in all its simplicity, is the only genuine spirituality”. • ALBERT SCHWEITZER –
I have no regrets, or laments except that I know it makes my family sad. I am very sorry that my change in outlook in life has caused them such pain. (how could it not….hell fire and all )
I have learned a lot about my former binary thinking,( trying to force everything into good /or evil, right /or wrong, ) and finding that in reality things do not box so easily. I am now at a greater peace , and maintain a healthier outlook than I have ever been before.
Happy to answer any further questions,