This post is part of a dialogue, In Two Minds: The Anatomy of a Christian Hate Letter, between former minister Brian Worley and psychologist Valerie Tarico . In the series, Brian Worley, an ordained Baptist, describes some of his encounters with Christian friends and family since he deconverted and Valerie Tarico responds.
I have never forgotten that I was once a true believer (Fundamentalists type) for 23 years. I suppose that it was the expressed passion of the Fundamentalist preacher types that initially attracted me into the faith. What I found appealing was: 1) the urgency of the message 2) the earnest defense of the faith 3) denunciation of sin 4) music 5) the assembling together 6) the unquestioned “truth” of Christianity 7) the camaraderie of standing for something. All of these helped to bring me into the fold.
Thinking back, I cannot recall anyone questioning the legitimacy of Christianity prior to my graduation from Bible college. I knew many that didn’t like it, but nobody that was speaking out intellectually against Christianity. Looking back, Christians were always taught to defend their faith, yet no serious challengers ever presented themselves (at least to myself until I was the age of 33).
Most of my post-university years were spent living in California. Californian religious culture was so different than in the Carolina’s, where I was raised. People questioned things in California. I have an article from the San Joaquin Record dated May 24, 1996 in which I picketed the appearance of the National Council of Churches president, Melvin Talbert.
That was then, and that was how strongly I believed in Christianity. I look back and laugh now when I read what I had said to that reporter. When I reflect upon this and other threatening episodes during my years of faith, my mind is drawn to the story of David and the giant Goliath. I felt the urge to stand up to the giant.
Most Christians that I know or have known are usually decent people, until you question their belief system. Valerie, I understand why my brother and family would be defensive. Adding to his burden is my background. He feels that he can’t stand up to me, his exminister brother who changed his faith viewpoint. But what I don’t understand is how a belief in belief system, (Christianity) can:
1) Divide blood relations like a brother or family
2) Cause bloodshed in the battle to promote its supremacy?
In times like these, when Christianity undergoes greater scrutiny and challenges for its survival, the number of polite seasoned responses to challenges seem to dwindle. Here is an excerpt from a Christian’s letter that understands, and responds with a true Christian spirit.
With Christ, his love is not conditional which is why I don't understand why believers cannot love or accept you. All of us must choose faith or not. When Jesus was here on earth, he was accused of being a "friend of the sinners" for he loved people. What I don't understand is how can Christians not do what Jesus would do.
I don't wear my faith on my sleeves, but the only faith I am interested in is what Jesus would do, not what any church or people who call themselves Christians would do.
Valerie, can you speak about the depth and intensity of Christian responses that have been expressed in this letter or elsewhere?
Want to review another letter in this series? Click here for Part I. Click here for Part II