It's an argument that I'm tempted to believe. When I look back over the last fourteen years of my life, about eleven of them were spent as a born-again, Bible believing Evangelical Christian. Then, a series of unfortunate events began around 2011, including adultery committed by one of the pastors of our church and the discovery of sex crimes committed by my pastor father-in-law.
I can't point to the exact moment when it happened, but my faith packed it's bags and left. Sometimes it all feels like it was a dream. I think back to why I came to believe that homosexuality was a sin, that all people are born destined for hell and need a savior, and that demons prowled the Earth causing trouble, and I can't explain it. The only thing I can say is that they seemed true at the time, and now they don't.
I feel like parts of my personality had been suppressed, and suddenly reasserted themselves. Sure, there were times I had doubts. But I pushed them away. Now doubts are all I have. I'm not an atheist, but I'm not a Christian either.
So what the hell happened?
So far, no one has tried this argument with me. I've had friends say that my de-conversion scared them. The reason is simple: if it can happen to me, it can happen to them. This is why people who leave a religion (or any way of thinking, for that matter), are often told that they must never have been a True Follower of that way of thinking. If the person leaving can be 'othered', the people who stay can avoid thinking that the same thing could happen to them.
The reality is that this argument doesn't 'other' the person at all. You can search online and find examples of dedicated pastors, priests, and missionaries that left the faith. I'm sure that all these people were sure at one point that this would never happen to them. They believed they were True Believers. The reality is that it can happen to anyone.
We all want to believe that we're rational beings that carefully examine all the options and then reach a conclusion, but reality is anything but that. Our brains are meat based computers that can make mistakes. At the time I became a Christian, I interpreted certain events in my life as signs from God. I had no other explanation for them. Yet, now, on the other side of that journey, I find that my loss of faith is just as inexplicable.
There's a variant of the 'Not a True Believer' argument. Some Christians would say instead that I found a False Gospel or a False Jesus. The True Gospel and the True Jesus are still waiting for me to find them.
That's a nice thought, but by this argument I've already found two fake Jesus's. I've tried Catholicism and Evangelicalism and have discarded them both.
If there's a True Jesus out there, why is he so hard to find?
This post is part 3 of a series. The previous post is Is It a Religion Or a Relationship?