Recently I left Christianity.
While I have had some amazingly positive experiences in my twenty some years in Christianity, including moments where I truly experienced the love of God, shared true heart-warming fellowship with other Christians, and even times where I saw the Kingdom of God and believed it was worth everything I am and have, these experiences have been the rare exception.
Most of my experiences with Christianity have been negative and have led me to this simple conclusion…
Christianity is a highly segregated (internally and externally, doctrinally, racially and socio-economically), hypocritical, biblically illiterate, highly secular, abusive religious system.
Many people have recognized this and have promptly discarded their faith along with their involvement with Christianity. If you google “why I left Christianity” you will see what I am talking about.
I am a bit of an oddity in that while I have left Christianity, I continue to be a theist. I did not condemn spirituality and theism categorically because of their alleged ties to Christianity. I am an oddity among oddities because I do not adhere to some nebulous spirituality. I believe in a God that exists in three persons, in the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. It was following this God that led me out of Christianity and I hope to continue following where He leads me.
I know people who have been deeply hurt by Christianity will be tempted to think that my statement that I have left Christianity is a semantics game, that I am going to end my post with an invitation to church, or that I am covertly defending Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I know people who have deeply invested in the Christian religious system will be tempted to think that my statement that I have left Christianity is a semantics game, that I am really still a Christian, or conversely that I am covertly attacking faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many months ago I began beating around the bush with my “Why do we (Christians) believe…” series. In these posts I have questioned long-held tenants of Christianity as well as some of common and widespread practices of Christians.
(Sidenote: The topics I have covered and are available on this blog are:
Why do we believe…
- … that the Holy Spirit is something to be feared or suspicious of?
- …such wonky things about Satan?
- …that God is not a threat?
- …church attendance is about getting our needs met?
- ….that the church should be run like any other secular organization?
- …that women cannot lead in the church?
- …that Christians are not sinners?
- …dating is only appropriate if we are considering marriage…and in the concept of “The One?”
- …that banning homosexual marriages strengthens or protects Christian marriages?
- …such problematic things about Christian discipline?
- …that the U.S.A. is a “Christian” nation?
The topics I am may cover in the future are….
Why do we believe…
- …local missions trips are effective?
- …that shallow positive responses are what God calls for in all circumstances?
- …that co-dependency is a Christian virtue?
- …that youth ministry will sufficiently disciple Christian youth?
- …that the local church exists to benefit Christians?
- …that there is no ethical dilemma with Christians serving in the military?
- …in complementarianism?
- …such horrible things about immigration?
- …that burnout in ministry is to be expected and that is okay?
Please send me a message if you want me to write on one of these, or something else, and I’ll try to make it more of a priority.)
However, these posts are more like addressing the symptoms rather than treating the disease. While these posts may have pointed to the existence of a problem; these posts have not addressed the root issues.
In a number of future posts I want to start calling out the disease and address the root issues in Christianity. I want to discuss several core aspects of Christianity that are fundamentally wrong:
- I want to discuss how Christians have misused and abused scripture, why this is wrong, why we have done so and suggest an alternative approach.
- I want to discuss how Christianity is highly secular, and suggest how this might be rectified.
- I want to discuss how, where actually present, Christian spirituality is often dysfunctional, self-destructive and/or abusive and suggest an alternative paradigm for understanding a relationship with Jesus Christ.
- I want to discuss how Christian communities are often so preoccupied with excluding and vilifying other people, including both non-Christians and other Christians, that they cannot bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ or be the family God always intended.
These issues have been cancerous tumors poisoning the Body of Christ, at times for centuries.
I will outright say what Francis Chan alludes to and Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris disagree with: Christianity, at least in the West, is beyond hope. Tweaking Christianity more is not the answer and I do not believe the solution can be found in reform or revival.
People who honestly desire to follow Jesus Christ need to start anew and dramatically re-think what it means to follow Jesus, what it means for us to gather together, and what we should and should not be doing in light of what we believe.
This is more than a semantics game for me.
In these posts, I realize that I am using terminology that means many things to many people.
I know some Christians who are content in your faith and your faith communities will disagree with my estimation of Christianity. Please understand that if your experience of Christianity is very different from mine (for the better), I want you to do two things. First, praise God. You are one of the lucky few. Second, please read the rest of these posts with the understanding that when I say “Christianity,” I am signaling back to my definition of Christianity, not your experience.
However, if you identify with my experience a lot or you cannot reasonably resolve some of the fundamental tensions I am going to bring up in regards to Christianity, I invite you to consider re-examining your faith and how you understand Christianity. You may need to leave Christianity as well. If, at the end of the day, my definition of Christianity rings true for you, why wouldn’t you leave?
For those of you who have had a similar experience of Christianity and have left faith or faith in Jesus behind, I would ask that you read these posts as well. Feel free to share your experiences in comments or in an email.
However, if you identify with my experience a lot or you cannot explain some of the experiences of I have had of the love and power of Jesus Christ, I invite you to consider re-examining your stance on God and Jesus. It is possible to known, be loved by and follow Jesus and not have anything to do with Christianity.
My first post will begin with the Bible…