10/09/2016 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Wouter ~
My journey started at the age of 28, 1995, when I became a 'born again' Christian after living a nominal Christian life. I believed God called me to the ministry and studied to become a pastor in the Pentecostal family of churches.
|1865 engraving by Gustave Doré. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Eventually I left the church.
I questioned Christian practices like Christmas, Easter, and worshiping on Sundays which brought me to the study of Church and Roman history where I found the pagan origins of these Christian practices.
That then led me to question the truthfulness of the Christian Church. I heard the Hebrew name of Jesus and it led me to involvement in the Messianic movement where I studied Hebrew and the Hebrew customs.
In the Messianic movement I came to question the writings of Paul which is on face value against the LAW and teachings of Jesus.
This again led me to investigate the NT translations.
My findings there led me to investigate the role of the expected messiah from a Hebrew perspective which brought me to studying the history of the Bible and saviors in other religions.
I researched Islam but also saw the same fallacy that befell them.
This again led me to question the validity of the New Testament in light of the expectation and message of God's salvation in the OT.
And this then took me to study the use of OT scripture in the NT and this is what led me to become Agnostic with preference to Atheism.
How did it start?
One day, about the year 1999, I was riding home on my motorcycle when the following words seemed to drop into my mind. "God is omniscient". I wasn't contemplating God's character or attributes at the time and was thus quite surprised by the sudden 'Voice in my mind'. "Omniscient? But of course You are, Hallelujah." Happy to have heard from God and having the Spirit speaking to me without me being in prayer or worship, I continued home with a smile on my face.
The following Sunday in service, the pastor was evangelizing and at one point quoted the scripture from Revelation: "...and if your name is found not to be written in the book of life, you will be thrown into the lake of fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." He added, "You'll be separated from God for eternity."
Immediately the words from the other day lit up in my mind! How can we be separated from God if He is omniscient? I was standing at a crossroads on an issue of faith. This calls for a decision, for God cannot be omniscient but at the same time be removed from the people in hell.
How can God be everywhere, but not present in hell? He is either everywhere or He isn't! After all, He is the creator of heaven and hell. He encompasses all and all. All things are made through Him and everything will be returned to Him. The restitution of all things. Needless to say, I have not heard the rest of the sermon, my mind becoming a machine of gears and clutches, turning and clutching, working overtime to resolve the apparent contradiction of scripture and preaching, from all the scripture that I have put to mind during my years of study I could not find resolve.
For months I was afraid to read the literature of known Atheists, hoping that god would somehow rescue me from the nightmare of losing my mind. I was challenged to find a solution. My mind always liked these kind of situations, that's why I probably did so well in the information technology business. I was able to resolve networking or other computer related problems fairly quickly. Now I was up against a much bigger problem. Coming to a point where you are questioning your own faith and that of millions of other people is not a small matter. Well, I did not tackle this in a small way either. I was determined that whatever the outcome, it must be a lasting solution.
In the weeks to follow, I was reading the Bible when I came to the place where it says: "Our God is an all-consuming fire" Deut. 4:24 and Heb.12:29. Again the words light up like a neon sign inside the front lobe of my cranium. I rolled my eyes up, looking at the words "God is omniscient" and "hell separated from God" and again focused on the words on the page in front of me, "A consuming fire". It was as if a bolt of electricity hit me straight out of the page.
God IS the consuming fire in hell! No flesh, which is sinful, can stand before God, 1Cor 1:29. Therefore it makes sense to put God, the all-consuming fire, in hell where He is doing the punishing!
Happy to have found such an easy solution to my seemingly great problem, I set out to find the two or three witnesses that would collaborate my new insight; I was not prepared for what I found...
Unlike other testimonials where the person found literature of renowned Atheists, my search was confined to the literary works of Christians. In stead of finding arguments in popular anti-Christian blogs, I tackled the inconsistencies found in the bible and matched it up to logical thinking, historical evidence and interpretation problems.
That earned me a PhD in Philosophy of religion 10 years later, and a decision to make. Do I further believe this bullshit or do I rollover and let the Christian die.
I rolled over and started to search for people that think like me, have done the research I've done and have experienced what I have. I could not face being alone in the wilderness of intellectual contemplation, going through the devastating experience of having your world, you trusted and believed, shattered into million pieces.
For months I was afraid to read the literature of known Atheists, hoping that god would somehow rescue me from the nightmare of losing my mind. Then I happen across the article of a Professor at a University close to me who also lost his faith. His letter "Died again Christian Syndrome" almost spelled out my story and the accompanying stress.
So for those that had the experience of dying as a Fundamentalist Christian, I link you to his letter. If you are still in the phase of losing your faith and happen to relate to what he wrote, remember, you are not alone, others have gone before you and the eventual relief of being set free FROM the son, is indescribable.
Here are the links:
- From a Christian Bog where some believer comments on it: https://www.discerningtheworld.com/2009/05/09/the-died-again-christian-syndrome-by-the-university-of-pretoria/
- Printed in a Dutch Reformed Magazine: http://ojs.reformedjournals.co.za/index.php/ngtt/article/view/1211/1694
- Uploaded at academia.edu: http://www.academia.edu/1793283/Died-again_Christian_syndrome
Editor's additional links:
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