The Burdens of Doubt

Many times when discussing the path of doubt with those that have yet to experience or embrace it they come to the conclusion that it is easy, simple, or even that it was an escape from having to live with and face a life of faith. The burdens of doubt, however, cannot and should not be minimized.

Fear

Fear is the most immediate result of doubt. Even mentioning the word “doubt” can send the believer into a panic gripping his or her rational mind and wreaking havoc on their emotions and mental stability. This is because the believer who approaches doubt does so with great risks assuming that all that they believe to be true is indeed true.

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Your Stories – Eric vs. Fundamentalism

Today in Your Stories we have Eric’s story of combating fundamentalism in his own belief system.

Eric is another friend of mine whom started his perpetual journey at around the same time that I did and we’ve talked at length about that journey over the years. Without Eric I’m not sure I would have made it through my own doubts, and he remains a friend that I both respect and admire. Many of the same questions that brought about his doubts were my questions, and I suspect they may be your questions too if you find yourself here.

Eric writes his thoughts at his blog over at SavageSoto and is currently stationed in Cuba with the US Navy.

If you are interested in having your own story published on RagingRev.com – please click the Contact link and submit through the submission form

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Growing up in a Christian family, my first associations with Christianity are as old as my first memories. I “accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior” when I was 7 or 8 but didn’t really become devout in my faith til the age of 12.

I would speculate that I was probably more hardcore about my faith than most the people I knew through my teen years, though I wasn’t that into the specifics of theology. I would share my faith frequently with my friends and countless people online and was actively involved in the church over the course of about 7 years. During this time I had some casual doubts, but they would fade whenever I’d have a powerful spiritual experience or talk with a pastor.

Towards the end of the 7th year, however, I began to encounter questions and thoughts that couldn’t be explained away so easily. Questions such as “if God knew even a single soul would be lost eternally, then why create them to begin with?” . I quickly found the traditional Christian interpretations of things like “Hell” to be unconvincing  and began to study and embrace Christian Universalism (which believes that all people will eventually be saved and reunited with God). It didn’t answer all my questions still, but it helped me deal with many of the bigger ones.

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NakedPastor Strips Down – An interview with David Hayward

Today I’m excited to welcome David Hayward of NakedPastor.com, where he routinely practices the art of writing graffiti on the walls of religion, for an interview. Through his many controversial cartoons, comics, drawings, and blogs David consistently challenges the status quo in the religious world and most directly within Christianity.

I first found David just before he left the church, when he posted the comic strip below. When I saw it it hit me like a ton of bricks and I knew that this was someone not only going down a path that I well knew, but that cared about helping others do it too. This simple picture embodies my own experience, my story, and it was one more needed confirmation among many that I was not alone and that it would get better.

My questions will be in normal text
David’s answers will be bolded

David, for those of my readers whom are unfamiliar with you and your work – tell us a bit about  your time in the ministry.  How long were you a pastor? What things made you decide to leave the ministry?

I have been involved in the church for much of my life. I went to Bible College a year after high school. I met my wife Lisa there. We got married after I graduated. I went to seminary in Boston. From there I went into the Presbyterian Church in Canada. A few years later, in 1987, I was ordained. I served the Presbyterian Church for a while, then Vineyard, then independent, then Vineyard again. I finally left the ministry in the spring of 2010. 

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The Slowest Process of my Life – Your Stories

The slowest process of my life (besides dying).

By Anonymous

Waking up from religion has been a multi-dimensional, multi-experiential process. You know the whole “layers of an onion” metaphor? In the case of extricating myself from religion, it’s more like peeling back layers of a multiverse with that uniquely painful phase involving the Sun (which hurt just as much as you might imagine). And what I’m realizing now is that, when it comes to esoteric thought or metaphysical questions, I don’t know that I’ll ever complete that peeling back. I’m too fascinated by philosophical questions and the idea of metaphysics. And not to sound whiney because I’m not, it’s just fact that these interests, combined with my rejection of religion places me on an island, playing with a ball I’ve named Wilson, knocking my own teeth out with the available ice skate lying around. But I also wonder if, after so much group time and the resultant group think, if this isn’t actually a good thing. I’m fine with the idea that for the rest of my life, 40-50 years if I’m really lucky, I’m supposed to be learning how to think independently and be okay with myself when other people disagree with my premises or conclusions.

I’ve been waking up from religion for the past 12-14 years. It’s hard to pinpoint a date because honestly I’ve always questioned the presuppositions and events that I was supposed to take on faith that flew in the face of not only science, but actual, historical human experience. I was never encouraged to take any biblical teaching metaphorically. Everything was literal and the Bible was treated as an historical document. An old high school youth group friend of mine recently asked me if I felt that all the beliefs that I, until recently, had been challenging resulted from our shared 2-3 year experience at X Church. And this is where things get tricky because so much of what I feel I was taught was actually taught very indirectly. So indirectly, I’m surprised to find out, that many of my peers can’t relate to my extrapolation of the teachings we were both taught. And I know these beliefs I no longer hold didn’t come from home because while it was an unspoken expectation that I was a born-again Christian who was anti-abortion and pro-republican, we simply never spoke about it. The Bible wasn’t cracked open at my house for family time. It just wasn’t the way my family operated.

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Chick-Fil-A backs off on gay issue

 

 

After nearly 4 years of boycott from many members of the  atheist and LGBT communities Chick-fil-a has finally softened it’s stance on homosexuality and agreed to stop sending money to anti-gay groups and lessen it’s discourse in the public sphere.

Previously I talked about how much our voice and our response to bigotry mattered, today I’m able to confirm that it does. Today I can tell you that it’s important to stand up for what’s right, even if there are hundreds of thousands of people against you, like we saw on August 1st,  “Chick-fil-a Appreciation day” – the largest show of Christian unity to occur in my lifetime.

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J’s Transition: From Brownsville Revival to Atheist

This is the second edition of “Your Stories” – a bi-weekly feature here on RagingRev.com from my readers featuring your own stories of doubt and leaving the faith. Today you’ll find a reader who wishes to remain anonymous (we’ll call him J), but who I have known for probably 10 years now and how he was converted to Christianity as a young teen at the Brownsville Revival and then was later plagued with doubts and questions.

J and I have known one another as both Christians, and now as unbelievers. We explored many of the questions we had about our faith together along with a few other friends (whom will be sending in their own stories later) together and we’ve seen the transition from men of faith to men of doubt happen.

J’s story is very similar to my own, I remember wishing that I could go down to Brownsville to be  a part of the great Revival happening there. I remember being told by my mentor in the faith that I could be the reason the next great awakening occurred. I wanted it badly enough that I could taste it.

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My childhood was quite chaotic. I moved a lot, living between my parents and my various grandparents. Things were always a bit uncertain but one thing was consistent and that was church. When living with my grandparents I would always go to church, sometimes up to three services a week. I attended Assembly of God churches, Lutheran churches, and everything in between. Pretty much every denomination besides Catholicism. Christianity was engrained in me from a very early age and was the only lens I had to view the world through. During my early childhood I accepted God at face value. As I continued to grow into my teen years I lived with my parents. We would go to church off and on, always during key holidays or visits to my grandparents. My parents were more the “we believe in God” but weren’t overly religious types. Over the years church became a chore, something I found boring. Once I was a teenager I pretty much hated the thought of going to church. My mother had remarried at this point and I was a rather stubborn teen. I hated everyone and everything. I barely got along with any of my family and would constantly fight. Around this time though my father’s side of the family became very religious, much more so than usual. Though this wasn’t your typical “churchy” kind of obsession.

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Letting Go – Sarah’s Story

I’ve decided to start doing a regular segment on RagingRev.com from readers who want to tell their own story about how they came out of their faiths. If you, as a reader, would like to submit your story please use the Contact Me link at the top of the page. This segment will be called Your Stories.

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“What do you do when you are having doubts about God? “ I asked.

“You pray about it.” She replied.

This is the short conversation that took place in my 11th grade Sunday school classroom. I had attended the First Baptist Church in my hometown for as long as I could remember. I was there every Sunday, every Wednesday evening and for most any other church sponsored event every week. When I was eight years old, I made my way up the aisle to tell the preacher that I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart and I was baptized the following week. I never really felt like God was speaking to me the way other people described hearing him speak to them. I only decided to speak to the preacher because I felt obligated to. It seemed like everyone expected it, especially considering that everyone was so happy and proud of my little brother for doing it the week before.

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The problem with certainty

I recall being certain that God existed, that he loved me, and that he was embodied in a set of books we call the Bible. I was so certain of this that I would have said, without any question whatsoever, that I even knew these things. Certainty, according to many Christian presuppositional apologists, is the cornerstone of the Christian worldview because it and only it provides any way in which to ascertain truth.

I remember the first time I became uncertain about my faith like it was yesterday. It started with the first in a series of questions about some doctrine that I’d now say is insignificant. It was the first time since I had given all of my life to my god that I considered the notion that perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I had been worshiping him incorrectly, perhaps something I believed about him was out of line with the Truth, perhaps the elders in my life were not as wise as I thought, perhaps even god’s very character was in question.

I know of no fear more all encompassing than that which came with my first experience with uncertainty.

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The Role of the Ex-Christian in the Church

Despite my moniker to the contrary I actually try to be the voice of calm reason when I talk to believers; and trust me when I say it, I talk to a lot of believers. Many of these conversations happen with what one might call “infant Christians” or new converts to the Christian faith – I find myself drawn to them because I know that they’ve likely just experienced an incredible emotional high that led to their “salvation” and I want to try to guide them into a faith that is more than just a culmination of feelings that occurred one Sunday morning at church. I’m an Ex-christian now, an atheist even.

When I was a Christian in my early and mid teens I had a mentor that felt it was important to train me up in the doctrines of my faith. He put me under a rigorous method of study, gave me books to read, and introduced me to collegiate level concepts when I was still a teenager. Despite the many flaws of this man he did one thing that so many are failing to do in the church today: he ensured that I knew how to study and think. He knew that this study would generate a thirst for more knowledge in me, and he was absolutely right – it did. Without this mentor in my life I doubt I could have ever studied to the point at which I was able to question the concept of god, much less the basic tenets of my faith. Why is that? and why is this seemingly missing from so many churches today?

I don’t believe an individual can truly question the fundamentals of any concept without having a working grasp of that concept.

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Why Chick-Fil-A’s stance against GLBT equality, and our response to it matters

It may seem as if I’m coming into this discussion a bit late, in fact – I’m not –  I’ve been participating in the  boycott against Chick-fil-A for nearly 3 years now and in those 3 years I’ve probably been 5 times when other people were driving. I’m not sure why Dan Cathy had to make it official that he and the company had a stance that was specifically geared against GLBTQ equality, perhaps the media simply didn’t pick up on the millions in donations made every year to Focus on the Family and similar organizations – or their attempts to blackball PFLAG groups from making grounds in private colleges the WinShape Foundation makes sizable donations to. (These are old news stories that are almost impossible to find because of the torrent of hype surrounding the recent statements by Dan Cathy – once this dies down it should be easier to find them and I’ll update the post with links.)

Contrary to what many conservative Christians might have you think, this is not a witch hunt all about taking away a single man or even a companies’ rights of freedom of speech away;  though you may have a few people taking advantage of the emotions of the moment willing to ban privately owned franchises (likely because it will benefit them politically, and yes I’m looking at you Mayor’s Menino, Lee, and Emmanuel) Dan Cathy and Chick-Fil-A are perfectly within their rights to talk about how sinful they believe same sex marriage is – and they can even give money to whatever causes they deem appropriate. Obviously I believe that, as a boycott participant if I didn’t believe that I’d be a hypocrite.

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