Are you SURE you are saved?...because if you doubt you are not truly saved and will go to hell.  How many times did I hear this growing up.  Of course I had everybody did/does.  The church frowns upon anyone questioning anything, and demands blind faith (gullibility).  I come from a very religious family.  I spent a considerable amount of time in my teen years fearful of a possible hell in my future because I had doubts.  Even after I was "saved" constant interrogation type sermons by the pastor "are you SURE you are saved?"  Walking tearfully down the aisle, doubters admitted they truly weren't saved, socialized to believe something must be wrong with them.  I can't believe I was ever complicit in such nonsense.  Can I get a witness?????

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Here here!

I was "saved" when I was six, but then suddenly started having doubts when I was 12. I had visions of Hell and demons dancing in my head, but I tried to ignore my fears because I was too embarrassed to admit I hadn't been "saved" all that time. I reasoned I might get used to the flames if I were there for eternity! Finally, though, there was a guest pastor at our church preaching on the End Times and asked us if we were sure we'd get taken up with Jesus when he came to get us before the Tribulation. For some reason, I was alone during this sermon, so I sat and grappled with my fear of eternal damnation and my social anxiety. But, that wily pastor convinced me to say the prayer... then he got me to timidly raise my hand... then he got me to hesitantly stand... then he got me to bolt to the front of the church and pray with whomever was up there.

For a week after, I was on an emotional high! I felt "changed"; I felt I was a "new creature". But, then I nose-dived into paralyzing fear that it wasn't really real. Because you have to "know that you know that you know!" and I didn't. If you think I was embarrassed before, now I would be completely mortified to go to the front of the church AGAIN. I had nightmares; I worried I was a homosexual (for no reason other than the paranoia they instill in young children) and begged God to save me. It was a terrible experience. As the years passed, the anxiety slightly lessened, but I got stabs of doubt enough to really worry me.

When I was 21, I moved to Nashville and a group of people tried to convince me I wasn't "saved" if I couldn't speak in "tongues". That caused me a slight amount of worry, but not much; my grandfather didn't speak in tongues and he was the most Godly man I'd ever known.

Bottom line: constant fear and worry! I never stopped doubting, and now here I am... full-on atheist and no more doubts. Since I don't doubt, does that mean I get into Heaven now?!
I love it "Since I don't doubt, does that mean I get into Heaven now?!" Well said! Religion permeates our culture. I think a lot of people just don't even think about it or go along because it is the easy thing to do. Remember Madeline Murray O'Hare and how hated she was? I always felt sorry for her even though I do think she was obnoxious, and she alienated a lot of other atheist groups. I think a lot of people simply are scared of the "atheist" title because of their childhoods and the associations it has.
Your experience with the more charismatic/pentecostal - "baptized in the holy spirit/speaking in tongues" - scenario is familiar. As someone who attended many Baptist denominations I remember learning (being indoctrinated) early on that speaking in tongues was not necessarily evidence of the Holy Spirit - that speaking in tongues was a GIFT, not a requirement, especially in modern times when the need to spread the Word throughout the world was less important than in the early christian church. Also - all baptists seemed to agree that speaking in tongues was something that should be done in private - as a means of private or small group worship - and wasn't meant to be used in public as a means to show off one's holiness. On top of it - I was taught that one shouldn't be too willy-nilly with the spiritual world and that many of those who spoke in tongues, went into seizures were, 1 - faking it - 2 - showing off - 3 - as likely possessed by a devil as by the Holy Spirit. One had to test the spirits - and one couldn't really do that if one was constantly falling into a gibbering trance during public worship.

I always got a kick out of the speaking in tongues debate. I liked that Baptists saw it as a Gift and not a requirement for salvation. Eventually I had some personal close calls with the speaking in tongues - but that's another story.
Ha! I guess I am Baptist after all. I was raised Baptist, and definitely thought of speaking in tongues the way you described it: as a gift and as something private. It even says so, very clearly, in the Bible. Somehow, I just ended up in a more Charismatic circle... and totally rejected their assertion I had to speak in tongues, especially when they definitely sounded like they were faking/speaking gibberish. Why repeat the same syllable over and over even if it means something? How many times do you have to say the same thing to God before he finally tells you to stfu?!
hell yeah. I went forward (crying, excited, scared, relieved) and was baptized in the Southern Baptist church. The church was so small (northern MN mission church) that it got to be either funny or uncomfortable when Every Single Sermon, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night - ended with an invitation to come forward and be saved - especially after everyone of reasonable age had gone forward and become a member of the church. My parents withdrew their membership after about 4/5 years at that church (politics/doctrine). Within that time I never doubted my salvation but did begin to question the point of the invitation in a very small church full of members who were as saved as they ever could be. Probably a good thing - for my faith at the time - that we left the SB church - and moved onto other Baptist churches that weren't as obsessed with the invitation - though all Baptists sure like to get people to the front of the church and on their knees.

I agree - the Southern Baptist Church is cult-like - maybe more so than other denominations - the begging for money, the mind control, the excessive importance placed on Membership, the constant questioning of loyalty... and we were complicit - because we were brainwashed - which is not something to be ashamed of. But as an adult, I LOVE to publicly call into question the methods, the madness of the SBC - the largest protestant denomination in the US - and you speaking up against them is one step in the right direction. Thanks for starting this discussion!
Eh, I don't think Southern Baptists are any worse than other denominations (I had my fair share of several other denominations, including NON denominational lol). My grandfather was a SB preacher, though, so I definitely witnessed the never-failing invitation at the end of every service. I've also witnessed the Pentecostal obsession with getting everyone in the room into a frenzy of gibberish and aimless wandering (eyes closed) through the sanctuary. "Do ya FEEEEL the Holy Spirit in ya?! Do ya FEEEEEL him moving in this place nah?!! Make a joyful noise nah! Raise your hands high!!! PRAISE JESUS!!!"

I always just stood and watching, wondering if these people were for real.
The thing is I AM a little ashamed....because I feel that it took me so long get past all the BS. I feel like my intellect is called into question. And as for for the invitational...the music they choose like "Just how I am?" I swear there is something hypnotically emotional about's like it makes you feel bad about yourself! I'm literally laughing my arse off this very moment thinking about it...the music is all part of the "scene" they create. I can't think of any other invitational song right this sec but they are a special breed of song designed draw out some kind of emotional response.
There are LOTS of Hymns and worship songs that still get to me even though I don't believe any of it; I don't believe I'm a wretch (as sung in Amazing Grace), but I still love belting it out. I get goosebumps to this day! I think it's the same reaction people get from hearing Whitney Houston belt out I Will Always Love You or we hear someone sing The Star Spangled Banner before a baseball game. Music is moving and the mistake people make is they think they're being moved by the message of the song. Music is a mysterious thing to me, and I don't think you should be ashamed that you were moved by it :)
Thanks Cara,
You're right. Music is moving, and the one can easily be confused to believe one is being "called."
Ahhh, if I had a nickel for every time I walked into an empty house and thought the Rapture had happened, I'd be rich. My older brother shared that experience, but neither of us told the other how often we were scared shitless we'd been LEFT BEHIND!!! And yeah, my mom bought that entire series, too, and I read at least three of them.

I think it's cool you had trouble believing. I only had trouble believing I was saved, yes, because I doubted... but I wasn't doubting the Bible/Jesus. It's all so effed up, isn't it?!
The god virus is truly a masterpiece if you really think about it. And this tactic of making the faithful constantly doubt their faith is genius! What better way to keep them coming back for more? What better way to perpetuate the religion, to feed the belief, could there possibly be?

I also experienced this throughout the entire twelve or thirteen years I spent as a Christian. I was baptised twice, I rededicated my life to Christ numerous times, and I walked that aisle damn near every time I attended church as an adult.

I did get some relief from my grandmother when I opened up to her and spoke of this doubt. She told me that everyone doubts like this, that I truly am saved, and that "you must trust that Jesus saved you; you didn't save yourself, only He could do that....which He has promised to you that He has." Now, if I could open up to her and speak of my nonbelief, we'd be in good shape.

I am a former SBC associate pastor, and when I say former, I mean as recent as last Wednesday.  I resigned my post after a conflict arose between me and a prominent family in the church (meaning they had money and power) that involved the safety of my children.  In response, I withdrew my children from the program since they were not comfortable in the family's presence.  As a result, this brought me into conflict with the senior pastor, who was more concerned about the children's program's image that my children's concerns.  He tried to pressure me into putting my kids into a poor environment, whereas I wanted to change the program for the better.  He responded by intellectually assenting to my point, but his inaction on the matter of reforming policies/procedures with me showed me otherwise.  My response to him was simply that if the church got in the way of my family, then the church would lose; my family was not a sacrifice for the sake of trying to create a positive image for the church.  I guess the point to all of this is one thing:  I learned that the institutional church is an absolute failure to the principles and practices of Jesus.  The pastor was more concerned with money, power, influence, and image, then he was in protecting children from harm.


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