12/30/2009                                                                                       View Comments

There's no such thing as a former Christian?

by  Charity of Shatter Nicely

ShatteredImage by Cayusa via Flickr
I came across an article, post, whatever, the other day titled, There’s No Such Thing as a Former Christian, by someone named Charles Smith.

Hmm, I thought, that sounds interesting.  And by interesting, I mean, wrongI am a former Christian, am I not?

Needless to say, upon reading the piece, I determined that it needed a good fisking.
If you scour the world-wild-web for any amount of time using atheism as your search term, you will undoubtedly find pages and pages of sites laced with the famous proclamation, “I used to be a Christian.” While this may be intriguing to the seeker, desiring a glimpse at the testimony of a formerly professing believer turned cynic in hopes of discovering reasons to remain religiously repulsed by Christendom, or possibly the opposite – looking to see if their retroversion experience is sensible – one thing is certain…there’s no such thing as a former Christian.

Except for me, and all of those other people who used to be Christians, but are not Christians anymore.
Nowadays, it is in fact chic to listen to Christian-pop music, adorned with cross jewelry, WWJD arm-bands, Messianic message clothing, and attend Gospel rock concerts or church and say, “I am a Christian.”

Yes, yes, especially here in Vermont – the least religious state in the country.  Unless by “chic” you mean “totally looked down upon and ridiculed,” you are beyond wrong on this point.  Dude, the whole world ain’t Texas.  In some places, namely this place, it is the complete opposite of chic to do any of those things.
You may even think that just because you come from a lengthy lineage of liturgy lovers or a millennia of mass members you are a Christian – simply because you, your parents and your progeny participate in these religious rites. Unfortunately, none of this legalistic religiosity makes you a disciple of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
So, is it your annoying affection for alliteration that makes you the sole arbiter of what makes one a “disciple of the Lord, Jesus Christ,” or is that just one of your spiritual gifts?

For the record, mom: not Christian, dad: not Christian, step-dad: not Christian, siblings: not Christians, spouse: not Christian, until I was.  Not to undermine your stereotypes or anything.

For this reason, many youths that practice such pious performances growing up – become too intelligent to be fooled into following such archaic anthropopathy once the public school system serves up the contagious charismatic Kool-Aid of communistic clairvoyance – the evangelical evolutionist educational experience.

Again with the alliteration.  Just a tip, from one writer to another (and I use that term loosely), really that tool ought only be used with extreme moderation.
I must repeat: not raised Christian.  Never set foot in a church until I was in college.  Didn’t accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior until years after my evolutionist educational experience and Kool-Aid, etc.
After “leaving the faith,” these misguided, false-converts then find their voices in the blogosphere, social sites, chat rooms, discussion boards and every other form of digital media outlet known to man – exhaustively expatriating as many “cardboard Christians” as they can sink their flaw-full claws into.

If I didn’t “leave the faith” I’m not sure what I did leave, but whatever.  I actually had a voice on the blogosphere before I “left the faith,” where I actually argued against atheists and testified to my “god experiences” and how awesome my “relationship” with “Jesus” was.  (I can use scare quotes, too.)  At this point, I am not trying to expatriate anyone, but if I keep reading stuff like this, I just might have to start.
Ironically, if they would spend as much time truly investigating and begging with a contrite heart, “God, please show yourself to me!” they would discover that He is absolutely faithful to do so – and the door the Lord has once opened, can be closed by no man.

I did ask god to show himself to me.  For years, I experienced what I thought was god showing himself to me.  And yet, ironically, rational thought somehow got a hold of me again.  The door that was once opened did indeed close.
These poor misinformed “ex-Christians” were never truly reborn of the Holy Spirit of God. They followed the crowd in church, were dunked under water, consumed crackers and gulped grape juice, sang songs, talked the talk, looked the part, memorized verses and so many other religious acts, but never came to a saving faith found in a relationship with the only begotten Son of God.

Well, I am poor, after giving everything to “god” for five years, so I’ll grant you that descriptive term, and I was misinformed, too.  I was misinformed that the Bible is true.  I was misinformed that there was a “living god” who I could have a “personal relationship” with.

You’re right about one thing, though, I was never truly reborn of the Holy Spirit of God, even though I thought I was, because there is no Holy Spirit of God!
[Honestly, I cannot bring myself to deal with the rest of the paragraph.]
Let the reader understand, just as you can’t become unborn once you have evacuated the womb, you also cannot become un-born-again. It is impossible to un-ring a bell, un-cook an egg or un-kill the living. If you are a spiritual seeker, please know that there is no such thing as an ex-Christian and if you want the truth, please look in a good Bible teaching church for assistance. If after reading this you still claim to be a “former believer,” you just do not understand. And if you are a disciple and lover of the risen Christ, pray for them both. We live in an excruciatingly evil generation and the Lord will tarry for only so long.

If you are a spiritual seeker, I will not try to stop you from finding your own path.  I do not regret the time I spent as a Christian, as there are a lot of things I take away that are good, just as there are in any philosophy or religion.  But, there are also a lot of bad things that caused me a lot of psychological harm and unnecessary suffering.

Then, there are the “well-meaning” Christians, such as Mr. Smith here, who will tell you that you never were a Real Christian™ no matter what you experienced, no matter what you did, no matter what you gave, no matter how much you loved Jesus with all of your heart, mind, and soul, and no matter how real your experience was.

Of all the reactions people have had to my coming out as an atheist, the one that pisses me off to no end is this whole notion that I wasn’t a real Christian.

If I wasn’t a real Christian, then I am thoroughly convinced that there is no such thing.

But I get it.  If someone can have an authentic experience with God and still arrive at the conclusion that it was all in her head, that threatens your belief.  I do get that.  It’s too scary for you to entertain the possibility that your god isn’t real.  I get that, too.  So, it is natural for you to conclude that I must not have experienced god in the way you have and leave it at that, rather than accept that maybe there is such a thing as a former Christian after all.

That’s much easier to swallow, no?  It doesn’t threaten your world view.

Look at it from my point-of-view, though.  I did have what seemed at the time to be authentic experiences with god. Realizing that was all in my head was very hard on me.  I mourned the loss of that god I thought I knew.  I continue to mourn the loss of the friends I thought I knew, too.  I lost my community.  I lost my identity.  I lost everything I knew about life.  I have had to start all over and figure out who I am, if I am not the child of god I thought I was.

It’s been hard.  Very hard.  And here you come along and tell me that the problem is that I didn’t do it right.  I didn’t really experience god.  I wasn’t a real Christian.

It kind of makes me want to punch you.  And by kind of, I mean really.
I loved God.  I knew God.  I heard God.
He changed me from the inside.
He comforted me, gave me strength, forgave my sins, brought me peace.
He provided me with blessings.  He offered me solutions.
He told me to stop blogging.  I bet some of you remember that.
He told me and my husband to give away our fully-paid-for minivan with 45,000 miles on it, leaving me home with three kids and no car for a freaking year.

And by “he told me,” I do not mean “I felt like I had to because someone told me.”  I mean, during hours of prayer and alone time with my main man JC, He put it on my heart to do those things.  (I know, hits close to home, huh?  I sound a bit too much like a Real Christian™ with all this talk of alone time and prayer and God putting things on my heart.)

Ironically, since we all love irony here, it’s people like you, Mr. Smith, and all the other Real Christians™ that pushed me from waffling agnostic to full-blown atheist.  If I was not a real Christian, with all of my experiences with god, then it really was all in my head.  Ergo, I have no reason to believe your experiences are not in your head.  And all of that leaves little reason to believe that any of it is real.

38 comments:

webmdave said...

Byron,
I have had a number of friends who fast for two or three days at a time. They always suffer hallucinations or at least grave confusion.

They do this to eradicate the toxins that are stored in fat as toxin-accumulation occurs. When the body is deprived of food, it starts feeding on fat, and, subsequently, the toxins accumulated therein.
Toxins are then released into the system in a concentrated form, causing an altered state of mind.

It's been known for thousands of years that when religious people fast, they often have "religious experiences." This is simply due to the chemical changes going on inside their bodies.

http://www.pcql.com/?p=11665
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting

webmdave said...

When the body is deprived of food, it starts feeding on fat, and, subsequently, the toxins accumulated therein.
Toxins are then released into the system in a concentrated form, causing an altered state of mind.


That was what I was going to say, but you said it after all the false thinking about fasting. The problem is, it feels pretty good, so it is difficult to convince people who believe they are cleaning out there system that they are actually making toxins. None of the hallucination are real, not even the God ones.

webmdave said...

How long will Jesus tarry? Apparently, he has tarried a lot longer than he originally thought. When speaking of the end times, Jesus said in Mark 13:30, "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."

webmdave said...

Many Jews are Jews because of ethnic identity or tradition. I know many Jews who don't even believe that God exists.

Besides, devout Jews think of themselves as being members of an elite club "God's chosen people" and don't proselytize. In fact, it's very difficult to become a Convert to Judaism.

webmdave said...

"I know many Jews who don't even believe that God exists."

Yeah. My husband has said he is a Jew "in nose only".

webmdave said...

I think that Charles Smith is not beliving what he says. Especially the line "un-kill the living.". .... Everything is possible for god .... Bible says Judas was not able to come back back ... but Peter was able to .... Possible: love for money(in case of Judas). I have fell down more than once and rely on grace of Lord for Salvation. Paul also says about .... Dogs turing to what they have vomited (not able to remember the exact verse). In short the bible says it is possible for to be an ex-christian.

webmdave said...

If you were never a xian, this implies that the omniscient xian god and his acolytes fraudulently extracted monies and other assets during the time of your involvement, knowing that you were not part of the cult.

Being fleeced in this way is a crime and you may be able to start proceedings against them. Personally, I would recommend a class action.

Reason's Greetings,

David

webmdave said...

I'm not sure why it's so surprising that many christians will deny that you were ever a "real" christian. Hell, when I was a christian, I didn't believe 90% of the people in the world who call themselves christian were real christians, let alone those who call themselves "ex" christians. It was just the ones who satisfied my criteria for what a "real" christian is that were the truly saved. At one point, I didn't even think my mom, who was mostly responsible for indoctrinating me, was a real christian, because she just went to church and said all the church things, but hadn't really "taken up her cross" to follow jesus like a real christians do. I wasn't a charismatic though, so I remember getting really pissed when I attended a charismatic church with a friend, only to hear them imply I wasn't a real christian because I hadn't really "received the holy spirit" since I hadn't spoken in tongues or demonstrated "real christianity" some other mumbo jumbo way. Really, this Smith guy is stating rather plainly that a whole bunch of people who still call themselves christians aren't real christians, cause there's still a bunch of them in churches all over the world doing all the stuff he calls fake, and not being "real" like him.

Been there, done that. So when people claim I wasn't ever really a christian, well, i can always find other christians in the world who don't think they are either...

As an aside, you know, its funny, from what I recall, the longest prayer jesus prayed was near the end of the the book of John, where he prayed exhastively that his followers would all be "one". History show's how well that prayer was answered. How is it that so many think their prayers will be answered, when jesus was so blatently ignored? Or perhaps there has only ever been "one" real christian, and that's what he meant...

webmdave said...

I pray and trust that God will reveal Himself in an undeniable way to you very soon.
As for anyone else reading this, especially believers in Jesus, "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

webmdave said...

Dear ministering Christian,

If "God" presumably wants to have a "relationship" with everyone, then why the need to be prodded - or in the case of "prayer" - why the need to be begged to "reveal Himself in an undeniable manner"? Please answer. If the biblegod you (pretend to) worship doesn't want to be denied(as you claim), then why the need for lame apologetics(excuses) for why this "God" can't or won't appear? Remember, according to your "Holy" book, "God" was allegedly appearing all over kingdom come just a few thousand years ago? Well?

Listening.

webmdave said...

"For anyone else reading this, especially believers in Jesus."

Hello, this is exChritian.net. We are not believers in Jesus but we used to be. I, personally, am not the enemy of the cross of Christ. You may believe as you wish. May your god open your eyes to the disclaimer that says no prosyletizing.

It would be nice if you would do some reading while you are here. Maybe find out a little bit about the wide variety of viewpoints that are expressed on this website before you decide that "their mind is on earthly things, their god is their stomach" and such.

I do grow a fantabulous garden and I am eating out of it right now so this may well fit me. But I think you are way outta left field for some of the other people here.

webmdave said...

I am in Texas and we are not all super religious. I don't know why Texas always seems to get crapped on. There are worse states than mine.

While I don't have a problem with the message of so called Christian rock the music itself is horrible. I mean really bad. I guess when there is a buck to be made of crass commercialization then taste goes out the window.

webmdave said...

lol You're welcome, but I don't think I am a hip youngster. I'm like 40 something.

webmdave said...

Why thank you, aureliom. You are a sweetheart. :)

webmdave said...

Ha.

webmdave said...

I like that, I'll have to try that one!

webmdave said...

So if an ex-something becomes a bornagain, does that mean it isn't really possible, because you can never be an ex anything? Your still what you orginally signed up to be?

webmdave said...

In my church, they baptized at birth. No belief in any god's but Mom at that point.

webmdave said...

In my church, they baptized at birth. No belief in any god's but Mom at that point.

webmdave said...

Nope, never.

I love that the site looks like it is from ten years ago.

webmdave said...

Nope, never.

I love that the site looks like it is from ten years ago.

webmdave said...

Aurey,
I still have that Big Bird costume.

webmdave said...

Aurey,
I still have that Big Bird costume.

webmdave said...

You're both babes...wheezes this old fart.

webmdave said...

I wish I had as my personal fortune just one dollar for every former christian that is alive today. I may not give Bill Gates competition, but I'd be a multi-millionaire many times over.With just Catholics, I'd be extremely wealthy.

webmdave said...

Sounds like Islam. All you have to do is a say a few words and hocus-pocus, you are Muslim.

webmdave said...

Do you mean define 'exXian' ? Impossible to the quoted fundie...once wedded to X, u can't ever divorce him.
We who define ourselves as exXians are deluded closet-Xians who are carrying all that dead weight around forever. Or so the fundie says.

webmdave said...

I'm not sure why it's so surprising that many christians will deny that you were ever a "real" christian. Hell, when I was a christian, I didn't believe 90% of the people in the world who call themselves christian were real christians, let alone those who call themselves "ex" christians. It was just the ones who satisfied my criteria for what a "real" christian is that were the truly saved. At one point, I didn't even think my mom, who was mostly responsible for indoctrinating me, was a real christian, because she just went to church and said all the church things, but hadn't "taken up her cross" to follow jesus like real christians do. I wasn't a charismatic though, so I remember getting quite pissed when I attended a charismatic church with a friend, only to hear them imply I wasn't a real christian because I hadn't really "received the holy spirit" since I hadn't spoken in tongues or demonstrated "real christianity" some other mumbo jumbo way. Really, this Smith guy is stating rather plainly that a whole bunch of people who still call themselves christians aren't real christians, cause there's still a bunch of them in churches all over the world doing all the stuff he calls fake, and not being "real" like him.

Been there, done that. So when people claim I wasn't ever really a christian, well, i can always find other christians in the world who don't think they are either...

As an aside, you know, its funny, from what I recall, the longest prayer jesus prayed was near the end of the the book of John, where he prayed exhastively that his followers would all be "one". History show's how well that prayer was answered. How is it that so many think their prayers will be answered, when jesus was so blatently ignored? Or perhaps there has only ever been "one" real christian, and that's what he meant...

webmdave said...

Shatter Nicely -- those who deny that there are former Christians are just like that the sentence say -- in denial. On this day if somebody "received Jesus" and become a Christian those people will "praise God" and welcome the person as "saved", as "bothers/sisters in Christ", but a Christian dumping the faith is too direct a challenge to their ideology -- so the only way they can deal with this is denial.

webmdave said...

It's funny because it is so easy to become a christian, all you have to do is repeat a few words with your eyes closed and ta-daa.

webmdave said...

The crux of the problem here is the matter of definition of terms. We need to define terms first.

webmdave said...

The crux of the problem here is the matter of definition of terms. We need to define terms first.

webmdave said...

The sad thing for those still caught up in the delusion, they do not even know about the many different dogmas like OSAS and the inverse OSHS (hardly)

Most by default think in the OSAS mindset till one of us heathen challenge them, explain all we did and then all of a sudden the do a switcheroo to OSHS, The bible is so well composed that it even makes excuses for the exceptions like us so that the faithfools can ignore us and continue in their own delusion - so much for jeebus and that one lost sheep eh? I mean we are just dogs returning to our own vomit in their eyes.

Yup the mass hysteria and indoctrination is a strong force to break free of but oh what a freedom to be free of the guilt and lack of self esteem which of course are the governing principles of the church and how they mess with your mind to keep the sheeple in submission.

Do you all recall those sermons on submitting to authority?

Nuff said.

webmdave said...

It is hard to read the quotations you list - I know that for thirty years I was a "true believer", but after a two year journey of being "true to myself" and my not ignoring my intellect I had to walk away from the smoke and mirror show called xtianity.

A few extra comments

First, If you understand the new testament grace message - it states that "the moment you confess Jesus, your salvation is sealed until the end". That means that even if you go your own way (thinking evil rational thoughts), Jesus has still got your back.

Secondly, did you know that WWJD arm bands are the most stolen item from xtian book shops.

Thirdly, nothing to do with the post, a quote I came across this week from Napoleon Bonaparte "Religion is a good thing, it stops the poor people killing the rich".

To All - Have a great New Years and an outstanding expectation for 2010.

webmdave said...

Seems to me that the author of the article you read doesn't have a clue or doesn't want to get a clue. He is blinded by his own delusion. Sadly, I doubt he will ever see your blog post in order to get a clue he's not interested in reading such things.

webmdave said...

That was a well written response to the most infuriatingly delusional type of Christian. The ones who claim there are no ex-Christians.

webmdave said...

Nice post Charity.

A couple of points:

1. If there is no such thing as an ex-xian, then there is no such thing as a xian;

2. there is no such thing as a xian because god, in the unlikely event that he/she/it exists, doesn't give a sufficiently large shit about his creation to intervene.

"Kill one man and you are a murderer. Kill millions and you are a conqueror. Kill all and you are a god." Jean Bostand.

webmdave said...

Knowing that "it is all in your head", that it is all from your unconscious, does not necessarily spoil the experiences. Keep up the spiritual side of your nature but give it an occasional reality check, the "god instinct" works very much the same as intuition - good ideas "out of the blue" that are sometimes very valuable.