By Bill Jeffreys
As I said in my previous article, it's very difficult to leave the cult of Christianity once you're vested. The shift in thinking that needs to occur is not an off / on switch. It's more like a fluid event driven type of change. Certain things have to fall into place before we are able to look outside the box of Christianity or any other religion.
In my experience, some type of cognitive dissonance needs to occur first. Some type of internal conflict, predicated by an external event, like a child dying or a major conflict at church, or a failed Christian marriage has to happen in the life of the religious person. Some form of "emotion verses belief conflict".
Christianity teaches that with God all things are possible. It makes very clear statements that if you do these things, or ask in Jesus' name it will be done. I could list multiple verses to support this, but why waste my time.
The problem starts when the Christian has to put these "truths" to the test for themselves. They have to have an emotional investment in whatever the issue is. If they don't have an emotional investment in the issue then they will just skim over the problem with more delusional thinking and practices. Usually, the diluted rationalizations that follow, regarding why God didn't answered my prayer, or change my circumstance, don't satisfy the Christian as they probably did in the past.
Once the Christian is in conflict and they can't find peace, then they are usually willing to listen to reason. Until this occurs most Christians or religious people just re-enforce their belief system with more false data (Christian apologetics) to compensate for the conflict.
The ones that can't, or won't see reason, usually alter their beliefs to fit the conflict, or change churches, pastors, doctrines, theology, get filled with the Spirit or whatever. If these methods don't work then they often fall into depression, increase their addiction, start negative self-talk, blame others or blame God. In short, they really blame themselves.
I've worked with people who, after having tried everything, felt or believed that they didn't measure up with what God wants, what the bible teaches or their church SOP (standard operating procedure). They often believe they don't have enough faith, otherwise why wouldn't God heal them, or help them? If they can't let go of the delusion, they keep wallowing in their misery trying to apply some theological formula or Biblical method over and over hoping the results with eventually be different.
Pastors often complicate the process by, drawing out the person's conflict, with Christian platitudes, or well meaning but misplaced Christian counseling. How many times has the pastor or well meaning Christian said, “You are angry at God, have a secret sin, are unforgiving or you are lacking in faith so read the Bible and pray more?” As if these are the reasons your life isn’t getting better or why you have doubts. The truth is, Christian counseling can be beneficial, because it's often based in a secular theory, but when mixed with delusional spiritual beliefs it can prolong the process of leaving the Christian cult.
Of course some people, having never been vested in Christian beliefs, are able to leave when confronted with rational arguments and accurate facts about the Bible's questionable history. These people were never really brainwashed to begin with. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of them; I was the former. I was the one who was vested in his beliefs. At 12 years of age, I had an emotional salvation experience and gave my life to Christ. After high school I went to Bible College, was ordained and licensed as a pastor and then continued my education at a seminary in Portland Oregon. I completed a counseling degree, which was heavily influenced with Christian Theology and Doctrine. It took me about 7-8 years, after my seminary experience, to completely disavow my Christian believes and de-convert for good.
As a side note, the nominal Christian, like many of the Catholics I’ve known or moderate/liberal Christians, don’t really look to deeply into their religion hence they don’t care to question the Bible, the church, or their theological beliefs. They are often happy with the false comfort they derive from believing in a god, heaven after life, and hell for bad people like Hitler. They usually have learned to compartmentalize or adapt their religious thinking so as not to interfere with their daily life.
Since leaving Christianity, I have had to relearn to view the world, relationships, life, work, etc, in a different, and sometimes completely new way. It’s a far more rewarding journey then my latter experience. I wish all those Christian’s, who feel it is necessary to tell me God loves me, or that they are sorry that I had a bad experience with Church or other Christians, well. I mean you no harm other than the destruction of your delusional religious thinking.
P.S. I am opening up a new counseling practice here in Portland, Oregon with the goal of assisting people who want to leave their religious dogmas and practice a rational approach to life.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)