This path called Life is a strange one and one I plan on elaborating on but for now suffice to say that although my profile says I'm a Christian - and I am indeed a Christian - I'm a confused one, a questioning one.
This is far from a new thing for me, I was a believer for most of my life, then became an atheist, and then was born again and "properly a Christian", which involved all kinds of new things for me - just things I'd never given much thought before like baptism, church and fellowship.
I'm now at a point where my confusion and questioning has hit somewhat of a wall, and it's not that I want to rebel from my faith, but there are many things that simply don't make sense.
I like to think of myself as an intelligent person, but also a person with a good heart (that statement may also be reversed). That doesn't mean I'm perfect and I made all the correct decisions all the time though.
Naturally I want all the good things in my faith - but I also intelligently can't ignore the bad.
I want it to make sense - all of it - not just some of it and some might say that you can't have full wisdom of God until you reach heaven, and in a way I can understand that, I imagine when one looks back on their life and the bigger picture of things one would understand a whole lot more, heck to a certain degree, I can do that with my childhood now. However I'm not sure I would agree with the fact that we cannot understand God, the bible, etc... we must have been given brains for a reason and I intend to use mine. Just as I intend to use my heart/emotions too.
My questioning nature, is somewhat of a problem for my faith and trying to direct it so that it helps my faith and not hinders it, is no easy feat at all.
I sometimes wonder if my connection with Christianity makes me rebel against complete atheism, but also my connection with atheism makes me rebel against Christianity. Does this make me doomed to be agnostic? Purely agnostic?

Views: 19

Comment by CJoe on October 6, 2009 at 6:48pm
Alison, I feel like I'm reading one of my own journal entries about two years ago. About the time I was 24, I REALLY began questioning things. I never expected or intended to "lose my faith". I definitely wasn't rebelling. All I wanted was to know more about God. Like you, I was sure he wanted me to use my brain. I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I felt (and feel) that I'm a pretty smart person. I just couldn't believe that, of all things, was something God would condemn.

I'm not going to try and guess where you'll end up, but "deconversion" is a slow, painful process. Obviously, you probably want to hang on to your belief as long as possible so I don't wanna push you into doing something you don't want to do. All I want to do is offer my friendship, for what it's worth, as someone who's been where you are... and not very long ago. You're not DOOMED to be anything but what you want to be.

I'm here if you ever wanna talk :)
Comment by Alison Rufus on October 6, 2009 at 6:56pm
Thanks Cara, Atheism isn't new to me. I was a hardcore atheist at one point... so I guess in a way, that's not so scary. But dang! trying to make my faith work, is damn hard work. Something should be I dunno, feeling like people in church look - all happy about God and God's love - I'm sure it should by now!
I might not be doomed to be anything I don't want to be but I do hate pure agnosticism, I can be an agnostic atheist but not pure agnostic, I feel like I don't have an opinion then... and that drives me mad!
Comment by Reggie on October 6, 2009 at 7:49pm
I think the movement you might look into based on your curiosity is that of Skepticism. Critical thinking and empiricism are hallmarks of skeptics and you might find that it engages your questioning nature quite well. But don't just take my word for it.
Comment by Wesley on October 7, 2009 at 12:52am
"What is truth? Truth is something so noble that if God should turn aside from it, I could keep to the truth and let God go. Meister Eckhart, Fragments. (Tomlinson).
Comment by CJoe on October 7, 2009 at 1:35am
Sooo... what made you turn back to Christianity after being atheist? That seems like a pretty unusual flip-flop. And, why did you become atheist to begin with? Was your initial decision to be atheist simply from frustrated attempt to separate yourself from The Church? Or was it just that you were never involved with it to begin with?

All I can say is, I was never so stifled as when I was Christian. I had people, literally, telling me I thought too much. I never got straight answers for my direct questions. I became really sick of the cop-out answers, "The Mind of God is inscrutable" or "God works in mysterious ways" or "Just have faith..." Most of the "answers" I was getting were hollow and unsatisfying. In a way, I was beginning to suspect there was something being hidden. All theologians seemed to have a monopoly on the information that was allowed to be distributed; only the "Great Minds" were allowed to study the Bible in depth and tell us what it all ACTUALLY meant, as if we were all too stupid to figure it out on our own.

Over time, I pretty much decided I could be one of the "Great Minds" like C.S. Lewis or A.W. Pink, to name a couple. I didn't need a buncha old dudes telling me what the Bible meant when I could read it perfectly well myself. I know what a contradiction is; I know the difference between an excuse and a real reason. If the Bible had to be explained to me because I couldn't possibly understand, then what was it's real purpose? God was supposed to have been speaking to EVERYONE, not just a select few. It seemed highly suspicious that only certain people were able to "hear God's voice" and discern his message.

Anyway... so... yeah, not only that, I think all these "happy" God lovers are faking. I think they plaster on their smiles because they feel like they're supposed to. I mean, I was constantly stressed out because I didn't feel the "peace that passes understanding" or the intense joy that's supposed to mark our Christian existence. Whenever I'd express the fact that something the worship team did disturbed me, I was shushed and told I was being negative. It was, apparently, a spiritual problem I was having. But, again, I believe everyone of them has doubts regularly, but they shush their own minds. That's why Bible studies will give their members little quotes to chant at themselves in the mirror before work everyday, "God loves me! I'm not a loser! I'm fearfully and wonderfully made! I'm a winner!" Ironically, you're being told everyday that you're a horrible sinner. It's hard to have a healthy self-esteem while your simultaneously being told you suck. "You're a wretched sinner and don't deserve to live, but Jesus loves you! And he died for you, so you should feel guilty for causing him pain! Guilt is not of The Lord!"

Ummm... you're not going to be able to reconcile your faith with your mind. I think you have to kill your mind to maintain it. That's why all the Christians are smiling at you with blank eyes; there's nothing behind them. No offense...
Comment by Alison Rufus on October 7, 2009 at 5:36am
@Elizabeth: Me choosing to be happy, is what causes problems it seems along with questioning. To a certain degree I can tone down my questioning - after all it isn't half exhausting to be questioning everything all the time. But not to worry, I'm just the questioning type I guess.

@Reggie: I would probably already say I'm a Skeptic on everything else - well perhaps partly on religion to but clearly not completely. But perhaps, Skeptic really is the better word to use rather than agnostic.

@Bryan: I do find some Christians who have a better approach to my questions - either they don't know or they do have a good answer, but the ones who are simply "have faith" are far more in number unfortunately.
I find being a questioning Christian harder - all Christians question things - but me, well I get stuck and I don't seem to be getting anywhere!

@Wesley: Yeah, I do appreciate that. The truth is static in this, and whatever theories people have, the truth will not change, only the theories of people as they find out more (or less as the case maybe!).

@Cara: Yeah, strange way to go I know. I've had people on both sides tell me that it's very unusual. The very basic story goes like this (feel free to ask questions or ask me to elaborate on certain points, I'm just trying to keep this fairly short for now) - I grew up, from birth to about 21/22 years old believing in a Christian God, but I didn't have a great understanding, my family aren't Christians and I didn't go to church or anything like that. After a devastating time in my life, I started to wonder where the heck God was in all of that mess and hurt but I was too emotionally and mentally messed up to think about it too much for a few months - then I started asking a few questions, and became and atheist as clearly it didn't make sense! I'd have long debates and the whole bit. Through asking questions, I met a guy who is now one of my friends who helped me become a Christian after getting some answers. I found even after I did so, thinks we're very difficult I was still questioning and all. So I backslid - then this year my church decided to do a church fast (before easter for lent), so I eventually decided to fast from atheism, as I saw no benefit for my faith from fasting from food or TV. And then I had a bunch of experience with God (some of which I'd had before) which sort of renewed my faith. So fast forward a few months to now - where I'm being told that I'm in the wrong and not following God's plan because I'm in a relationship with a guy who isn't a Christian. (2 Co 6:14 if you're interested). He's a perfectly nice guy and has no problem with my religion or non religion. So yeah you can imagine how this makes me question things. I'll probably write about some of these things at more length at some point.
I've had experiences with God and not everyone around me gives cryptic answers, I guess in a way I'm lucky like that but having said that I still don't have answers on many things. "Having faith" right now is a big part of what I should be doing.
I know all about the wretched sinner stuff too, maybe that's it... I don't feel like a wretched sinner... I mean don't get me wrong, if I do bad things I feel bad as any human being would and I do have morals, many that are in line with Christianity. But the only way I've ever felt so very bad and down about myself is because of depression - but because I thought I was scum of the earth to God.
Comment by Nix Manes on October 7, 2009 at 10:20am
I think for a lot of people, what made a big difference was two things: 1) actually reading the whole bible instead of it being spoon-fed to them with random verses, and 2) looking into a few of the other religions out there. After doing either (or both) of those things, a truly thinking person is going to have a huge amount of doubt (if they didn't before) that can't be filled rationally with an answer that still contains some sort of god.

For me, it was both of those things.

Now that I can look back on it with some years of distance behind me, what probably got it started, though, was a string of unfulfilled promises and faking it when I didn't really "feel" it--it just seemed artificial. The "faking it" thing came from a verse somewhere that got constantly thrown at me that said something along the lines of "if you don't have faith, act like you do and it will be given to you." I tried that--for years, with no results. Not even a few minutes of comfort, or a slight nudge in that direction. The false promises are tied to that claim, too, but also to others I won't bore you with because I'm sure you've had a few of your own to deal with and can understand.

I found that in order to believe (or act like it), I was a huge walking lie. The projection of my 'self' to the world was made up; I wasn't being 'me' and the contradictions were just becoming too much to handle. No religion made any sense (after looking into several) and the entire process of trying to make it work in my life became severely frustrating, futile, and--eventually--silly.

There was no 'ah-ha' moment for me, though. It was just something that eventually happened as I moved through life. I do wish I had that moment. Maybe I could celebrate it like a birthday or anniversary. That would be nice.

I certainly hope you settle into something where you can find some peace and satisfaction in your life. When you do, I also hope that your family and friends continue to accept and cherish you. It'll be tough if they don't (if you decide that you are an atheist), as all of us here probably know. But, an inner comfort with yourself needs to be the first goal, I think. That comfort is more stable and 'real' when it comes through reason provided by an inquisitive atheistic approach, IMO. There are always going to be moments of frustration and lots and lots of questions that will be presented. But, that's how we find truth, which is the ultimate comfort.
Comment by Alison Rufus on October 7, 2009 at 12:49pm
@Bryan: Of course. Just last night I was having a discussion with some Christian friends about whether or not God still punishes people. I started the topic after a sermon of forgiveness, etc in church last Sunday. I got mixed responses, as you would expect, some like "Jesus came so that we no longer to need to be punished (in life)" and "have faith/trust". Others pointed out some bible references (NT) that either said he did or didn't. I didn't quite get a straight answer, I'm not quite sure if that's because they're unwilling to give one - or that one of my friends kind of took over the discussion bringing up my personal life and how I'm wondering off the path that God has set out for me for a good 40 minutes. Not everyone gives me brush under the carpet type answers thankfully.

@Nix: Spoon fed never works for me - well it kinda does... until you read around that bit. Once in church we had a sermon about... I think it was Elijah, read right up to him gathering the false prophets, etc on the mountain... but missed the last bit about him killing them all. That's not to say the entire bible is bad of course.
As for other religions - I have looked at some, perhaps now my knowledge maybe a bit lacking as my main focus has obviously changed but I do find them interesting, even ones that are very far from Christianity.
The faking it I understand - well more the not feeling it than faking it, I refuse to fake that a feel God's love for example. Nudges in that general direction I've had yes, but... I'm sure it must be easier than this! lol.
I've already been through the non-accepting friends bit - believe it or not with an atheist friend when I became a Christian, for a while he stopped talking to me and effectively "defriended" me. So I know the dangers... unfortunately.
Comment by CJoe on October 8, 2009 at 3:02am
@Alison... I had my fair share of experiences with God, too. Most felt very real. I even had experiences with people who were supposedly possessed. When I was a little girl, I discovered a cyst on my index finger. We went to the doc and had it X-rayed; he said they'd have to do surgery to get it off. With my mother, I prayed God would heal it. Well, it went away. After just reading Medicinenet, it's not uncommon for the type I'm sure I had to go away. But, at the time, I took it as a sign.

Ya know, my issue with God was actually that I felt he was playing tricks on me. I mean, I didn't always think that, but after a while I was just like, "Wtf, God? WTF?!" I felt like a big, cosmic joke. I couldn't blame it on Satan anymore. Besides, it seemed like Satan was more concerned about my fate than God; he seemed to want my soul more. God just let me wander off the path while I was screaming at him to guide me. I begged him to show me something that would restore my faith. I can't imagine a person wanting it more than I did; I can't imagine all my friends being more honest in their search than I was. What was I supposed to do?

Ever heard of Freedom in Christ? It's like a 12-step program to, like, restore you to God or something; something that helps you deal with your issues. Well, I have some past issues, let me tell you. I tried to go through this program twice, and both times I was setup with a "mentor" whom I did not respect. The first time, I felt the chick was intellectually inferior. How was I supposed to learn from her when she admitted she had had trouble understanding some basic stuff about God? The second time seemed more promising but, again, the answers fell flat. It was always "just have faith". And then I finally got in contact with a guy named Dr. Brian Miller who was an apologist; I flooded him with questions while he listened. I was desperate at this point, because I knew I was on the edge of losing faith. All he said was that I was on the right track and to keep doing what I was doing; keep asking and digging. I couldn't believe it! This was the best life raft God could throw me? Didn't he know I was almost done?

God, if he's there, has given me the silent treatment for a while now. It all stopped when I started intellectually pursuing him. I believed science, intellect and questions would align me with him... um, yeah... not so much. Maybe he's mad at me for this; maybe it is because we can't understand with our minds. Maybe blind faith is really what it takes.

If so, I'm fucked. I can't convince myself to believe. I'm just hoping that if any of it's true, maybe this was all a big test I passed with flying colors! After all, what credit to a person is belief if they didn't have the guts to test it; if they didn't trust God enough to put their eternal souls on the line to find out? I mean, at least the Muslims are willing to test God's motive... no Christian I know would ever have that much confidence.
Comment by Alison Rufus on October 8, 2009 at 9:02am
I understand how some things seem like God at the time and looking back they can be explained, I have some like that, others that I can't explain.
Never heard of that 12 step Jesus thing, what are the 12 steps out of interest?


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