Goodbye Jesus

By Tim Sledge ~

I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when I stopped believing in the faith that shaped my life. I would compare it to living with a persistent, unrelenting ache, and then one day, suddenly realizing the ache is gone.

The disintegration of my faith often felt more like something that was happening to me than something I was doing, and frequently I was startled when I heard myself expressing some new belief that I could not remember consciously thinking about. It would usually occur when I was involved in a conversation about religion, I would express my view on the issue being discussed, and later I would think, “Did I say that? Yes, I did. Is that what I believe? Yes, that’s what I believe now.”

I was the one ruminating and contemplating, but as I changed one belief, related topics would reshuffle, and sometimes I was surprised when I heard myself making a statement that represented the results of this quickly evolving process. My brain was realigning what I viewed as true and what I viewed as false, occasionally informing me of its progress by letting me hear myself say something that reflected the massive internal belief system reorganization that was taking place.

The driving reason for my rejection of the Christian faith was simple: Christians are not people who have been supernaturally changed and the new birth doesn’t work. After living and leading in the church for decades, I saw no consistent evidence of an ongoing supernatural presence—and I wanted to see that evidence with all that was in me.

The final disconnect came in the months after I stopped attending church. With time and freedom to fully reconsider the tenets of my faith, I decided I no longer believed in the teachings of Christianity and admitted to myself that these teachings defied not only what I had seen and experienced, but my sense of logic as well.

Although I wanted to keep believing, as much as faith had been my bedrock—the steady ground on which I had built my life—I had now traveled to its unexpected edge. I found myself dangling from a precarious cliff as my grip began to loosen, and eventually, I fell—or perhaps it would be better to say—started to fly.

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Christians are not people who have been supernaturally changed and the new birth doesn’t workI felt ashamed of how easy it is to see the truth once you are willing. How could I have been so blind? How could I have gone for so many years convinced of so many things that are so obviously illogical and untrue?

And yet I missed the warmth of Christian fellowship that feels like forever, but vanishes in the wind when you walk away from it. I was profoundly sad in my awareness that I no longer had a tribe.

What if, right now, I could swallow a pill that would bring my old faith back? Would I do it? Would I take the pill? The answer is no, because the Christian faith is not based on truth.

-- Tim Sledge in
Goodbye Jesus: An Evangelical Preacher's Journey Beyond Faith Copyright © 2018 by Tim Sledge. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

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