Like many of you, I chafe at the assertion that I was never a true Christian. I challenge any one to find one tenet of the faith that I failed to act on, one requirement unmet, one indicator that was not present. The fact is, by any measure I was a saved believer. But if one were to insist that my leaving the faith is, by itself, proof that I could not have been saved, then all believers should fear for their eternal soul, because I am then proof that one can not have any assurance of salvation!
Of course, the reason that there is any confusion about this to begin with is the jumble of doctrines that is the Bible. On any given topic, ten different viewpoints can be justified. The one you happen to agree with is generally the one you feel most comfortable with — not because it has a better scriptural justification, but because it matches more closely your overall view of life and morality and your view of God.
My wife and I both left our last church due to issues with the leadership, plus we were burned out. But we fully intended to become involved with another church again, eventually. But after many visits we began to give up as our ideas about what a church *should* be seemed to be non-existent. Eventually we began to cherish our two-day weekends. For once, the Sabbath truly *was* a ‘day of rest.’ It was nice.
During this time we began looking more critically at charismatic ministers and theology. As we backed away from that end of the spectrum, we also explored other theologies. For a time I was very interested in Preterism. For once I could read apocalyptic scriptures and make sense of them! But there was a dangerous emphasis on symbolism included there. In other words, it took the symbolism in Revelation as just that, symbols! Preterism attempts to compare symbolic language in one part of the Bible with other parts in order to determine whether or not to interpret something literally. This is an excellent way to approach scripture, especially the parts purporting to be prophecy.
And that is where my world turned upside down. I don’t remember the exact reference, but I ended up looking at the use of the words “whole earth” in Revelation as compared to Genesis. The net result was that to accept Preterism’s tenets, and to apply them to Genesis, I would have to give up the concept of a global flood! So I researched this some more. In the process I ran across the actual amount of water that would be required to cover the earth, including the mountain tops. Try 4.5 BILLION cubic kilometres! And yet the total available water currently on the earth, including moisture in the air, the oceans and rivers, and anything subterranean is estimated at around 820 Million cubic kilometres. That is one huge discrepancy! So the local or partial flood started to sound much more plausible.
And yet — a local flood made no sense to my fundamentalist mind! Why would animals in a local region just sit there watching the water slowly rise until they died? Why wouldn’t they walk over a mountain pass to the other side? And how the heck could the birds die? And after the flood, how did the Koalas find enough bamboo to eat until they walked and swam back to Australia? And can Koalas even swim?
The flood that now occurred was a flood of questions, and I was quickly overwhelmed until I had to face a fact that was staring me in the face…
The flood story was a myth! It never happened! Wow. Once I dared to accept that possibility, all the rest of the Bible began to seem like a big myth as well. Over a period of weeks I voraciously read any and every thing I could find on these topics. Exodus. Israel. Creation. Solomon. The stories all crumbled under scrutiny.
Within a couple of years, I finally accepted the fact that the only tenable position left was one of atheism. That was about eight years ago.
I am still finding areas where I have to rethink things, because my default position on some topic is still based on my previous religious assumptions. And I am learning to undo the psychological pathways laid down long ago by my fundamentalist upbringing.
Thanks for reading!