Recently, while doing some research for Tosin’s Bible Blog, I came across an interesting site. It seemed to be filled with all kinds of Christian posts, but there was one particular recent post title that caught my eye: “Why I quit Christianity”. I initially hoped the writer was being ironic or clever with his language in some way, or that he possibly meant that he quit Christianity in a “religious” sense of being a do-gooder in favour of true Biblical faith in Christ. Alas, no, he actually meant that he had left the faith of Christ altogether. It turns out that the writer had been a Christian for a number of years, but had very recently decided to walk away.
I wrote a comment in response to the blog (I believe my comment is the first listed on the page link.) Here once again is my response – you may have to read the blog post first for it to make sense.
Hello Richard,(I’ve taken the liberty of adding to this comment a few thoughts that I had forgotten to add when originally adding the comment, and also correcting some grammar and adding a few Bible references) I maintain a Bible blog at my website, tosinsbibleblog.com where I am translating an open copy of the New Testament and also write on topical issues, especially controversial ones. I stumbled acoss your blog while doing research for this website. I am a born again Christian, and I believe my persuasion is similar to the one you describe that you used to have.
I intend to address the three main points you present for why you quit Christianity, but permit me first if I may to explain why I am happy I came across your site.
In my researching I have come across sites that are very pro-Christianity and some that are very anti-Christian. I have come across sites written by people who used to be Christian but who have now decidedly rejected their faith. However, yours is the first site that I have come across that has crossed the spectrum from faith to rejection of faith within the life of the blog – and I have to admit that that strikes me very deeply. (Other post-Christian blogs were started after the “deconversions”, to use your term.) I hope you will forgive me for using your account of your deconversion to affirm my own faith, but I feel almost as if the Spirit of God in a way led me to this site. Like with many people who work for God in some way or the other, I have been so busy with translating the Bible, supporting myself financially, exploring ambitious projects etc – that I have felt a very obvious cooling in my own intimacy with God that has now ranged for months – or even years. However I am currently trying to take some time out to get deeper with God -and it just so happened that I came across your site. It is as if God is telling me that I SERIOUSLY need to get back into genuine intimacy with Him, and that I can no longer afford to make excuses to myself. So that is why I am happy that I have come across your site.
Now, to address the main reasons why you said you quit the faith: firstly, I will agree with you that while I utterly believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible as the Word of God, there are many things that seem absurd or contradictory. Pragmatically speaking, the way I handle these is that where these things can be attributed to miracles – then I attribute them to miracles; where they concern seeming doctrinal inconsistencies, then I attribute these to contextual requirements, and where they concern seemingly factual contradictions – I tend to shrug my shoulders and ignore the fact that there are inconsistencies, figuring out that at the very worst, the perfect Word of God has been handed down to us imperfectly. That may sound like a cop-out, or it may seem as if it would prove the point of post-Christians and other non-believers. However, to me the Word of God, the truth of God, the teachings of Christ are like a towering sculpture, and these inconsistencies are like a few seemingly scuffed parts on the edges. The truth of the Bible and its teachings is still so overwhelming and resounding that I can overlook a few inconsistencies, and even trust that they will be resolved. (As a Bible translator, I have also found that a few inconsistencies were due to Bible translation – like “It is shameful for women to talk in church” – the actual Greek says “It is shameful for women to *chat* in church” – that kind of speak 1Cor 14v35. Similarly “I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man”.1 Tim 2v12 I believe that a better and more correct translation would be “I do not permit a wife to have authority over her husband” – in Greek the word for woman was the same as the word for wife, and similary the word for husband was the same as the word for man.)
Now onto your 3 specific points. Please note that these are not based on the thinkings or writings of Biblical scholars or theologians past or present, but are mainly due to my own thinkings and considerations. They could very well be wrong, or there could be gaping holes in my reasoning – I will not be at all offended if these are pointed out.
Hell was never intended for humans. Rev. 20.10 tells us that the Lake of Fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. However, when humanity fell at the Garden of Eden, then human beings by default fell under the authority of the devil. The devil had the right to claim us to “enjoy” his punishment with him. God sent Jesus at great expense to redeem us from an inevitable fate, so that this would not happen. This is why John 3.16 states that if anyone believes in Him (Jesus) they might not perish –that is they would not have to perish – because if Jesus had not come then we would not have a choice. So Hell is the default destination, Jesus is the wonderful rescue package. If you reject God’s expensive and lavish declaration of love, then there is absolutely no other way that you could be redeemed from this inevitable fate. What other package could God offer? This is why it had been prefigured so many times for so long throughout the Old Testament. It is magnificent. It is incomparable. It is the only possibility for our rescue. So it is not that God condemns people for failing to believe in Jesus. It is that we are ALL already condemned – but Jesus is the one rescue package that could redeem us from an otherwise inevitable fate.
2. MORAL “ABOMINATIONS” COMMITTED BY GOD
Errors, contradictions, logical absurdities – as discussed above. Moral abominations committed by God: I have written a blog post on my website dealing with the fact that God ordered mass killings in some parts of the Old Testament. This blog post is called “The Love of God and Genocide” I will summarise the main points here:
God loves us, yes. However, to Him we are comparatively less significant than flies, or rats are to human beings. How many of us have killed even “innocent” flies, or small animals such as rats without the slightest qualms whatsoever? None of us has ever created as much as a single cell of life. And yet God created all of us. If we can kill living creatures that we did not create, that we could never hope to create, then how much more can God act just how He wishes towards His own creation? How many of us have “destroyed” our own blog posts – deleted our own creation – even the innocent ones? If there is a difference between human beings as divine creations and blog posts as human creations, it is actually because of God Himself – because HE made us in His own image, HE endowed us with feelings, HE created us to have worth; it is precisely because of what HE has given us that it causes a sense of outrage that humans could be wilfully killed – even at the command of the God who created them. Please note that this reasoning cannot be used to justify any kind of genocide or murder committed by people against one another (as an atheist response on my blog tried to twist it for) – these killings were ordered by God. Only God has the authority to kill humanity in this way. He has specifically commanded that we are not to kill one another because people are made in His image:
Genesis 9v6: If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image.
Moreover the death and resurrection of Christ have ushered in the era of grace for ALL people – and the canon of the Bible is closed. Where God in part ordered the killings of these people to satisfy His own requirements for justice, these requirements for justice have now been abundantly and fully met in the death of Jesus – so now God can pour out His love on all people. This is why the worst of human people can be accepted into God’s kingdom – because the death of Jesus is all-sufficient. This is why the Old Testament (pre Jesus’ death) seems to be all about justice, and God’s exacting laws of purity which can sometimes seem arbitrary, and the New Testament seems to be all about love. As it says in Psalms 85v10 “mercy and truth have met, righteousness and peace have kissed”, or in James 2v13: “Mercy triumphs over judgement and the sacrificial death of Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of these.
(I do on my post describe the reason why I believe God ordered these killings. On reading the Old Testament passages, I now see that it is overly simplistic to say that it is because of the sin committed by the civilisations which He ordered to be destroyed. I intend to update this post with more Biblically accurate reasoning. In the meantime, the paragraph above still stands, and so do other points made on the post. )
I have personally received countless answers to prayers. However, I have also experienced many devastating times when my prayers were emphatically not answered, at least not in the ways that I asked for. By the grace of God I have persevered in God and in prayer, and over time I have come to understand that : prayer is not primarily about asking for “things” and seeing them granted. There is absolutely wrong with this kind of prayer; it is totally biblical and endorsed by Jesus Himself in Luke 18v1-8, the parable of the persistent widow. However, I have come to understand that prayer in its most essential form is about intimacy with God, spending time with our minds and hearts submitted to His word, His truth, His presence, and, crucially, crying out for the mind of Christ and the character of Christ. In my experience this kind of prayer is always answered. But that does not mean that I instantly become like Jesus. It is a gradual process of being shaped day by day; learning lessons, making mistakes – sometimes making the same mistakes over and over; sometimes stubbornly holding on to certain attitudes; learning to want the heart of Christ etc. As it is with this kind of prayer, so I have also discovered that in making requests of God prayers can be “cumulative”, and bigger things require more prayer! Once again, just like in Luke 18 Jesus tells us to pray over and over until our requests get answered – it is not always that we pray once, and then the answer arrives. In fact, in my experience it is almost never like that -except for when I’m looking for my keys, and I shoot up a quick prayer – and then the next instant my eyes alight on said keys in a highly improbable location – these kind of prayers account for probably 50% of my prayers, and while they don’t get answered all the time either, I can confidently state that in at least 50% of cases, they do get answered, and usually within a minute of making the prayers, if not a matter of seconds.
We have to remember that God answers things in accordance with His will and His character, which is love and world salvation. Also, some prayers are necessarily timebound – so if we do not offer up “enough” prayer within the necessary time frame, then it seems as if the prayer goes unanswered. How much prayer is “enough”? Well it depends on what the request is, on our relationship with God, on the confidence with which we make the prayers – ultimately we just have to keep praying until it gets answered. Another thing with prayer is that while I am just trying to spend time with God, the Spirit of God will reveal aspects of my own life to me, drop ideas, grant me some mindblowing understanding – just like today (yesterday!) when I read your blog post. It is not that I know all the answers – I assuredly do not. However by the grace of God I am learning more and more about God, and getting more and more excited about prayer (just got to actually do some!) If you are curious about prayer but wary about investing lots of time, or feeling stupid -why don’t you start off with some quick-shot prayers, next time you can’t find your keys? “God, if You’re real like that girl says and You’re listening could You please just let me know where they are…?!”
In conclusion, to everyone reading this I can assure you; prayer works, Jesus is real, and God is good. The end 😉