Frigga Asks

In my perpetual  need for inspiration to overcome my bloggers block I asked for some folks to provide with some questions or topics of interest….I’m gonna hit all of the replies as i go along, but this one seems like the easiest one to answer, from Frigga:

I could suggest a few topics and definitely ask a bazillion questions… but I haven’t read your archives, so you’ve probably covered lots of stuff so far.

I’ll ask one anyway. I’d be interested in reading about your journey to becoming a Christian, and then your journey away from Christianity. What was it that made you believe so strongly, and then not believe so strongly?

Do you have any doubts that you could be wrong?

Firstly, anyone can feel free to ask or bring up any topics of interest they want to, rehashed or not, because if it is something i covered more than probably a year ago, it was still with some semblance of Christianity left in me. So really anything is fair game.

My journey INTO Christianity started very early, in 1992 (i was 6, so do with it what you will) I was “saved” at the Chester Church of God- a fairly small COG Pentecostal church. My earliest memories of that church were of me being at the alter and crying a lot and having “chattering teeth”, some Pentecostals equate this with speaking in tongues (like i said, do with it what you will). I also remember being “Slain in the Spirit,”—if you are unfamiliar with these terms just ask…alot of people outside of the pentecostal subculture may not be familiar with the terminology–a lot of it is somewhat extra-biblical. I also remember very clearly going to a pentecostal summer camp ever year for a few years through that church—and there were a lot of the same experiences. If you have seen the movie Jesus Camp—its a lot like that—except I don’t remember praying to George Bush.

My family stopped going to church for one reason or another and i was out of church for many years….i guess i was about 13 or 14 when i started going to a local Southern Baptist church. I got exited about Jesus again, i went to that church for about 3 years, toward the end of that I started studying the Bible a lot, and I got into apologetics. There was a schism in that church due to the pastors “full gospel aka pentecostal” leanings and on the day that the church asked him to leave, myself and the pastor along with many from the church went to another building and founded the new church. It was a non denominational full gospel type deal. During that time I had a mentor and with his encouragement i really delved into the Bible, eschatology, and Word of Faith doctrine—i loved the church and i loved studying. I helped the Praise leader (whom was my mentor), worked with the youth group, prayed for people at the alter a lot, and ran the sound board during services, Monica and I also went to the church and prayed (someone did it every night) about 2 times a week…so that’s a minimum of 4 nights of church most weeks.

My ministry is an area of this that I am still not comfortable addressing So i am omitting anything to do with that—it also took up a lot of time.

So things at that church began to bother me as i read the Bible further, I think i was working through the Bible for the 4th time or so when I had an epiphany moment about the Word of Faith doctrine and how wrong and selfish it was, my pastor at the time was going further and further into that (and I was HUGE into it for a while)…it just hit me that it was wrong….and I didn’t know how to confront my pastor over it so Monica and I made the decision to stop going to that church—I continued studying the Bible on my own and apologetics, and i Kept the ministry running for about a year. (this was around 2005 i think).

Monica and I went to a few churches here and there, but I never really felt like there was anything locally that would really be “God’s church” and fulfilling all the things and roles that it should be, I never was satisfied with church…I mulled over the thought of a new church but that never happened, thankfully.

So Eventually i stopped reading the Bible for the most part, and I had a lot of resentment for the church and the poor examples of Christians in it…so yea if you still sense that in me, its there.  In the end, i think the Bible deconstructed itself, finding the contradictions i was afraid to face during my earlier studies….with the knowledge that the Bible was erroneous so often, i think the paradox between a loving god providing no means for us to KNOW he was true was more or less the final straw. IN apologetics I had faced all the same questions and oppositions I hold today with no trouble—the reason for that is because when you are a Christian, and suddenly what you believe is challenged, your mind nearly shuts down and blocks out that realization—at least that occurred with me and I don’t doubt that it occurs with many Christians today

The more emotional aspects of this change are covered here.   In a nutshell what made me believe so strongly was that i loved god—i felt god—i knew god in a personal way that most people never experience…therefore my belief was incredibly strong. Now I am strongly opposed because of the dramatic way in which all of my belief was turned on its head….the sheer pain of that loss (the death of the Omega if you will) is why I am where I am. I have no doubt that i will lose interest in proving others wrong eventually, but it is a built in part of my personality right now…hopefully i will grow out of it—but debate is fun, and I want to do so in respectful way. I hope this blog can be a forum for that, and for others that are struggling through the same thing.

The second part of this question is about whether I have doubts of being wrong in all this…I think i handle it pretty well in this entry titled: What if I am wrong about all this?

Thank you frigga, did that answer your questions? if not smack me side the head and i will try again.

sorry if that rambled

  • Hey, I thought that was a good answer on your part, and provided info.

    Did you ever think though that it was the teachings that were twisted, and that turned you off? How does one go from fully believing to something just hitting them in the head and making them think there is something wrong with all of it? Especially when there are MANY different ways to interpret the Bible, all you have to do is take your pick.

    It could have been the way you were exposed to it, a bad first experience, a horrible way to go about it. Some people lead rich and fulfilling lives as Christians — true Christians in SPIRIT and not just in KNOWLEDGE — as in HELPING people and being kind and humble. Not the selfishness you alluded to that you felt in this post.

    What if your “Christianity” was simply just the WRONG Christianity? Like Mormonism, or Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    And how does Monica feel about all of this? Does she miss her faith at all?

  • Also I do not remember “Slain In The Spirit” being Biblical at all. But you know how I feel about Pentecostal Hocus Pocus, and will debate that till the end of time. 🙂

  • Hey, Matt!
    My turn to visit you:-D

    I so enjoyed your candid writing above. I am sincerely touched by the gentleness in the tone of your response and deeply moved that you went through such a horror. It was a horror no matter whatever way you look at it and still might be to some degree or other?

    All I can say and for what it is worth to you, if anything at all, is that the Lord has laid you on my heart and I am praying for you.

    In Jesus, Jessie
    p.s You are kinda growing on me 🙂

  • Matt

    @cetta: The twisted teachings are all pretty well relative…the whole belief system is twisted IMHO when you think about where the scriptures come from—something MOST christians have no clue about. It just begs to be twisted—which is part of the reason why i reject the idea of god—either he provides us with enough information to believe in him, and therefore he loves us, or he just doesnt exist—any other scenarios for gods existence just wont work with me.(except maybe deism, but thats just honesty based on unanswered questions and such).

    The christianity i experienced through my ministry was entirely unselfish—it was my love of christ and the love of the people i was helping that gave me the desire to do it—there was no other reward so no selfishness was really possible—so i got to experience the faith on both levels i guess.

    @Jessie: Yes, sometimes i think back on my faith and i miss it terribly-i think it will take time to grow out of that though, this is all still new to me—just like being reborn but in a difference sense.

    and i do tend to grow on people—but so do parasites and cancer lol.jk jk

  • Hey – just make sure you know which one, I need to know if I’ll need a doctor or a lotion – BIG price difference!
    🙂

  • LOL @ Jessie

  • I love your respectful stance – long may it last.

    I was 24 in 1992… you depress me.

    The thing about the difficulties, and there are lots of them, is that there are fairly decent explanations for most if not all of them, e.g. christian-thinktank.com. Its whether the explanations satisfy you enough or not when weighed against things very positive things like the Way of Jesus. Personally I think in general we choose a world view first, then seek to justify it most of the time. I think this applies equally to Faith types and Atheists alikem, despite what people may claim. All this talk about objective scientific approach is a load of guff in my most humble opinion. Starting from a point of a materialist agenda is no way to find Truth.

    Now I’m rambling, sorry.

    Thanks for your post. I am strangely drawn to your blog like a moth to the flame. Let’s hope I don’t snuff it. Hey, that’s not a bad double-entendre. I might use that!

  • Wow, Jesus camps and all eh? That was a great answer… but of course it just raises more questions. You said you don’t know why your parents stopped going to church, but do you have any guesses as to why? Did you talk about religion with your parents growing up? Do you talk about it with them now? If they hadn’t stopped attending church, do you think you’d feel differently about things now? Do you have to go to church to be a true “Christian?”

    Putting the Bible aside, as we both agreed that is a man made work and highly flawed – is there another type of higher power out there?

    And, finally, WOW you are much younger than I thought you’d be!

    Thanks for the opportunity to ask you about all this, I really do find it all fascinating 🙂

  • Matt

    actually my dad didnt go to church, he was usually too drunk, my mother stopped going and i havent the slightest clue as to why—i was 6 so…i kept going with a neighbor that lived down the road, she would take me–i kept that up for some time.

    when i had my religious resurgence i would only speak to my mother about religion on occasion…she didn’t understand religion very well and trying to explain to her the more confusing part of christianity (gifts of the spirit, deity of christ, hypostatic union etc etc) is very difficult.

    I never thought church was what made one a christian, it just enhances that in SOME cases…i feel like i was “closer to god” right after i left my last church. My parents have had very little to do with the shaping of my religious views and understandings—I am not a follower.

    The only higher power that i think we can say we KNOW is there is nature, something each of us have inside us (instinct) and something that greatly affects how the world works. Proteins as a matter of nature, when it is at is molecular level and well broken down self constructs itself into ribosomes and further into dna—i think that because things like that happen, and are how life came about and we can barely comprehend it, we automatically assume a creator had to do it, but is there any being causing all this? doubtful—either way, the burden is on god to prove himself.

    about my age—its always been an issue…in the ministry especially. My religious history was compressed and compacted—i think i have gone through about 60 years worth of experience and study in the faith in less than 10 years. When i believe in something or love something–it becomes my life

  • He kinda did prove Himself by popping up in history. This is well documented, and don’t go quoting any author bias nonsense too me – they had too much to lose to be lying about what they witnessed.

  • Matt

    define “popping up in history” for me.

    and who witnessed what?

  • Jesus, man of history, aka God. Witnessed by enough people to start one of the more significant movements in our history. I don’t see anyone questioning the existence of Mohammed, so why is Jesus any less historical?

  • Mike

    Hi Matt,

    Good stuff. Have you considered that the holes that you found may have been opportunities to explore and try and find better explanations for rather than simply accepting that there were too many of them?

    The church (general term, universal concept) could probably use a few good men to point out its ‘holes’ – in ancient times they were referred to as ‘prophets’… 😉

    In Jesus’ time, all the scribes, pharisees, etc. – the religious order of the day (and those who had the power base sewed up) were the only ones that Jesus himself seemed to get really ticked off about. Maybe its just the religious order that you are targeting..? Gee, you could be on to something, lets start a revolution man… 😉 MM

  • Matt, if you start a church along these lines I’ll even move to the States!

    Mike, have you got a blog? SezWho is not helping me out.

  • Matt

    @ Mike: Welcome back dude, i lost your website…email it to me again or start putting it on your name.

    I dont think that I just decided one day not to believe any more…it was more of an epiphany that occurred over a long period of time. Its not just a decision, its a loss of the knowledge of god—i dont think i just decided to do this…what i decided to do was make it known and say it outloud….

    IM all for revolution against the religious order…im fine with independent christians—which is essentially what I was—but the religious order holds so much power over these poor people its insane. Its worse than just the emotional bonds of christianity—

    and

    @Robert

    If i ever turn this around (yea right) we will do that.

    Do you see and empathize with me a little now? I just want a Christian to admit that I was indeed a REAL TRUE Christian before…and not just some wishy washy kid.

  • Mike

    Matt, if no one else has admitted it, I will officially do it right here and now – “You were (and maybe still are… 😉 ) a REAL CHRISTIAN” !!!

    Thanks for the welcome back – my blog is at http://churchblogm.blogspot.com/ – I’m not as popular as you folks – my topics are directed right at the church and believe it or not, I still am holding out hope.

    I agree, the religious order holds incredible power over people’s minds – it scares even me and I don’t scare too easily 🙂 – if people in general could realize how wonderfully made they are and tap into even a small amount of the potential that they have, wow, what a world we would witness – ok, I’m back from dreaming again…

    Matt, you rock dude… MM

  • There is indeed a lot of contradictory stuff in the Bible. For instance, why don’t Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 gibe with each other? In Protestantism, there is no certainty over the given explanations for the parts of the Bible that are hard to understand. Ultimately you trust your pastor, but who does your pastor trust?

    I have studied a lot of science; in fact, my blog is about science and faith. I know more about evolution than most people ever will. I have not lost my faith in God because part of my faith is that he does give us a way to be certain about the uncertain. I believe in the authority of the Catholic Church.

    I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it must have been to lose your relationship with God. It makes sense to conclude he must not exist. Yet does that really gibe with your past experience?

    Best of luck to you. I think it’s refreshing to read an atheist’s blog that is not arrogant or rude. Keep it up!

  • Nothing wishy-washy about you, my friend.

  • Hey Matt,

    As many others have said, I appreciate your relatively humble attitude on this blog.

    I’m curious…when you say you were a “real Christian” just how do you define that? I have no doubt by your story that you were fully dedicated to your religious beliefs, but just what do you mean by being a real Christian? That is to say, when you were a Christian – what was your reason for hope? At the end of the day, what was the one thing about Christianity you would hang your hat on? I’ll be happy to list my thoughts, but I’m interested to hear yours first.

    Thanks for having a willing spirit to carry on open dialogue here.

  • Matt

    @ Ginko100-thanks for the comment-It gibes with my former beliefs just fine if you realize just how powerful the mind is.

    @ Robert-thanks man–i knew i liked you

    @ Russ—about time you commented on my blog—Dont you think that it is rather difficult to be humble, however relative, when you are as awesome as I am? I mean really

    as far as being a real Christian, I am more or less reffering to the poor but often used argument that i "Couldnt have been a christian, if i was i wouldnt have lost my faith"…i keep hearing this from very smallminded people…my argument is that it is such a bad excuse for an argument that it cant even be refuted—the different interpretations of what makes one a Christian aside, i cant possibly PROVE that my belief was real and so was my faith—that I qualified as a christian. My one hope? that Christ was real and had a plan for me—does that answer your ?

    thanks for the comment

  • Matt, I know…I've been reading your blog and just too lazy to post, so I'm finally taking the time because I've appreciated your comments on my blog and I've enjoyed our discussions in cyberspace. It helps me stay sharp and gives me an opportunity to talk with those who don't necessarily agree with everything I believe.

    I totally relate to your difficulty in remaining humble. I too suffer from extreme awesomeness…some people just don't get it, so I'm glad at least you understand 🙂 (and I'm glad to know you've got a good sense of humor too)

    On a more serious note, I'm not sure why I qualified my statement with "relatively." I suppose in part it just comes from the notion that anyone who believes strongly in whatever they believe in will naturally have a difficult time being humble when they are passionate. Of course, I guess that's not necessarily a lack of humility, just a strong conviction. But I digress…

    As for the real Christian question, thanks for your insight. I realize it could have seemed like a loaded question. The reason I asked comes somewhat from what you alluded to…people's definitions of what makes a Christian a Christian. For many, it seems they still define Christianity primarily by one's works, be it "gifts of the Spirit" or just plain ol' good works. Certainly we are called to do good works as Christians, but that is not primarily what makes us Christian. This leads to my question about hope. If we focus our hope on how much we're doing/not doing, we're always going to be disappointed. However, if we focus on Christ and his perfect life, death, and resurrection for our sake – for the forgiveness of sins and guarantee of eternal life – that to me is hope. I've often wondered with a view of Christianity that says it's all about Jesus and what he's done for me, what do I really have to lose? It's a free gift – no strings attached. Again, it doesn't mean we just go off willy nilly doing whatever we want, but still our salvation is not dependent on how much we do/don't do because our works will NEVER be enough. Rather, our good works come as a result of what God has done for us in Christ (of course, that's not saying a person can only be good if he/she is a Christian – but that's a whole separate discussion). So again, in a nutshell, for me it's comforting to know that though as a Christian I try to live a better life, in the end it's not dependent on me but on Christ who died and rose again for me. And as I said, with that view in mind, I have a difficulty in understanding what there is to lose.

    As for the concept of "you couldn't have ever been a Christian because if you were, you never would have lost faith." In a pathetic attempt to pretend I'm British, I too believe that's absolute rubbish. I actually had this discussion with one of our members the other day who claimed "once a Christian, always a Christian." There are plenty of Scripture passages that warn about not falling away from the faith (1 Cor. 10:12, 2 Pet 3:17, Heb 2:1-3, etc.). The point being, just because you're not a Christian now doesn't mean you weren't one before.

    Thanks again for your response!

  • Jon

    Like all other "ianities" amd "isms" Christianity is a thing in this world. To directly and exclusively associate a thing in this world with God is a form of idolatry. God exists but God is beyond all of our intellectual formations about Him Her or It. Or as someone once said, "if you see the Buddha on the road, kill him." I could say "true" Christianity is this way but then i would, again, be directly and exclusively attaching a thing in this world to God. Get away from all names and words and concepts and you will begin to see the truth. In this sense atheists are the ultimate believers. They see the "nothing there" as the starting point. I suggest you do some reading on the concept of via negativa.

  • Constantine

    I never understand why people "delve into the bible" and its the "word of god". The New testaments are a paraphrased version of Christianity compiled by Constantine in 300, in like a week. There were 100s of gospels and they are all very different. Its not the word of god- its the abridged version of a small cult by some roman emperor trying to save his empire. Doesn't it bother anyone else bible thumpers can't make this connection?

  • biophiliac

    Perhaps people delve into the Bible because they've been dictated to for so long, and discouraged from accessing information on their own. In many fundamentalist religions members are overtly and covertly influenced to rely on a church leader to interpret scripture. Dissenters are excommunicated, and god forbid anyone who encourages people to think for themselves. I was raised in a cultish church; took me years to shed the oppressive doctrines. Spiritual abuse can have such a long-term effect – they're messing with your God-spark – that would have to be the "unpardonable sin".

  • Jon

    Or as Carl Jung said…

    "The world will ask you who you are, and if you do not know, the world will tell you."

    Contrary to popular belief, the church is a thing in this world. Just another player in the dance of Maya. Any thing in this world, even ourselves, can deceive us unless we possess proper understanding. But when the Church proclaims itself to be the sole possessor of spiritual truth, when it discourages individuals from seeking the Kingdom within, when the Church tempts us to disregard intuition, the source of creativity, and instead follow a superimposed moral prerogative the Church becomes the greatest deceiver of all.

    "What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!
    Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
    Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments! …. Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!

    They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!"

    — Allen Ginsberg, "Howl"