It’s been nearly four years since I’ve posted anything on this blog. In a manner of speaking, things have kind of broken down with respect to my Christian faith. There’re various reasons for this. But so far as I understand, Christian faith has become rather binary wherein it’s either right or it’s wrong. I can no longer incorporate what I’ve come to understand as diametrically opposed perspectives. This post, I hope, will shed some light as to where I find myself.
Suffice it to say, I’ve come to have utter distain for the Doctrines of Grace – aka Reformed Theology – aka Calvinism. From my perspective, those doctrines eviscerate the nature and character of a holy and loving God. And it has been those doctrines which have been a light illuminating the deconstruction of my Christian faith. For many years I’ve been troubled by discordant conclusions from well-meaning people in books, sermons, Bible studies, etc. with everyone reading the same source material – the Bible. It’s become apparent that my “faith-disconnects” aren’t, per se, with Calvin, Piper, MacArthur, Spurgeon, Sproul et al. Rather, these folks, and countless others over thousands of years, have likely wrestled with many of the same questions and dilemmas I’ve experienced. Many have concluded and coalesced around the notion of Reformed Theology as being best able to explain and provide a framework to understand the nature and character of God and the world we live in. Others have come to different conclusions.
That so many people who study the Bible – particularly those who have studied the languages, customs and history of the Bible come to significantly different conclusions would seem to indicate the Bible can be rather difficult to decipher. Hence, various “camps” – be they different denominations or other Christian entities continually pop up.
The logic of Christian living makes sense, and my life has certainly been more pleasant through Christian living. Afterall, it makes perfectly good sense that the wisdom derived from Proverbs work just as well for non-Christians as Christians. Yet, what difference within an eternal scheme does it make? Through Calvinism’s Unconditional Election, I might be one of those on the ‘reprobate side’ of things and doomed to eternal separation from God because, well, God doesn’t want me, and he didn’t choose me from the foundations of the world.
If within Christian faith there was the ability to accurately interpret the Bible, then does it not stand-to-reason that believers would derive the same (or at least very similar) conclusions regarding beliefs and doctrines. Christian faith, however, is replete with the error of false teaching and prophesy over thousands of years coupled with believers (prophetic or otherwise) claiming personal enlightenment from the Bible which, to me, underscores the varied and significant differences amongst the faithful.
Although initially I resisted walking away from Christian faith, I have found it surprisingly easy to deconstruct from my Christian faith because:
- It became apparent that my questions to clergy and lay people alike were viewed as liabilities. Few wished to ‘engage’ with me in discussion. Fewer still seemed willing to follow the logic.
- Christianity almost felt like some kind of cult – or a country club and I wasn’t sure which was worse.
- It seemed that I was the only one troubled by stories of violence, misogyny and genocide found within the Bible.
- I tired of people telling me not to worry about my struggles because, “God’s ways are not our ways” and “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
- The concept of determinism, as viewed through Calvinism, is for me a focal point into theological upheaval within Christianity.
- Fair-minded people arrive at significantly different conclusions as to the nature and character of God.
- I thought it’d be possible to make sense of varying Christian doctrines i.e. Calvinism, Arminianism and Open Theism in particular through personal study and reflection. What I’ve discovered, though, is that there are multitudes of very smart and good-willed people on both sides putting forth persuasive arguments. And these competing doctrines cannot coexist.
- The variance of Calvinist “theologians” including John Piper, John MacArthur, James White, RC Sproul, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Jerry Bridges is completely at odds with “non-Calvinist” theologians including Dave Hunt, Roger Olson, Jerry Walls, and Greg Boyd. All of these individuals (and many more) have delved deep into the Bible and studied the history, culture and the languages. As I see it, there’s little agreement between the “Calvies” and “Armies.”
- Lacking any linguistic, historical and cultural knowledge, I find it necessary to “trust” what others say. Yet, with such wide opinions from learned people, matters of faith devolve into little more than personal opinion. Facts are too often ill-defined and not at all agreed upon. Perhaps it’s best summed up as theology ain’t math or chemistry.
It took forty years to come to a point of deconstruction. It took another five years of significant wrestling with Christian doctrines and trying to resolve inherent differences, tensions and difficulties. In the end, I more or less just gave up. I got tired of arguing. I’ve felt like an outcast for some time now – lacking in my faith and hypocritical in what I espoused if only because I was no longer sure of what I believed. My deconstruction didn’t happen over a short period of time. Rather, events, personal experiences, my own study, observations and the reading of contrary opinions from different Christian authors led to the crumbling of the foundation of my Christian faith. Where is the truth? John 8:32. And how can one know?
I have to wonder; was I ever a Christian? Was I ‘elected’ from the foundations of the world? I’ve been told that the Doctrines of Grace are the center-point of the gospel and that my antipathy therein is indicative of a lack of salvation. Yes, I accepted Christ and understood salvation as a high school sophomore. But have I ever really known God? Throughout my life, I’m hard-pressed to have ever realized a personal or relatable God with any interest in me or, frankly, anyone on this earth. I can only conclude, therefore, that the beliefs espoused by well-meaning Christians are in actuality little more than personal opinion at best or simply a myth at worst.
There is much more to say, of course. But for right now, it’s not clear what this blog is to be or should be. I welcome thoughts, opinions, discussion … even from the ardent Calvinist determined to “prove” the veracity of the tenants of their faith. I rather like the ‘thinking process’, the cobbling of thoughts onto paper and the refinement of those thoughts into a ‘this is what I believe … or at least understand.’ I appreciate your having made it through this little tome and will hopefully be writing more soon.
Regards // Bob
3 thoughts on “Christian Faith … Going … Going … Gone￼”
The age old questions of
1. Who am I?
2. Why am I here.
Even if you left Christianity, you’d still have those questions swirling in your head.
Remember the family of Abraham, how they believed in multiple gods, and formed idols? And how Abraham thought that to be insane? He already had a belief that there could be only one God.
Now, whether these people believed in multiple gods, or just one God…the very nature of that suggests an afterlife.
Who was the first atheist? On that note, who was the first monkey to declare he was a man?
Why do we beleive in a hell? Where is hell located? Why are we on the same planet that hell was created on, in which Satan can temp us?
Free will requires evil, in order for us to make a choice, to do evil, or to shy away from evil, and do good.
So, why did God put us on the same abode as Satan? Why didn’t he banish Satan to Jupiter, or Mars? Why Earth, with us?
God could have very well formed us in heaven where he resides, which is the believers ultimate destiny anyway. But why didn’t he?
So many questions.
If you get back to the Bible as I think you might…I’d like for you to concentrate on Abraham…a lot.
Then concentrate on The Law of Moses…but not as much.
Then ask yourself as to why Abraham was never given the law of Moses.
Why wait another 4 generations before God sat anyone down to give them the law?
What exactly is RIGHTEOUSNESS? In the reform world it’s the righteousness of Jesus which is the topic. But wait…we are told that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
What is “it”? What righteousness had Jesus done at this point?
Is faith really a gift? Is it a work? What is work? Or is grace the gift THRU YOUR OWN FAITH?
Do you see all those question marks above? Continually ask the questions, and seek the answers in the Bible.
We know that Abraham was not under the law. Guess what? Gentiles have also never been under the law, either. Why is that? Why are Jews under the law of Moses?
What TWO promises were given to Abraham?
Is that seed Isaac, or Jesus? Or Both? What is the Promised Land?
Christianity is so simple. Theologians make Christianity as bondage.
Your simple belief that Jesus died on the cross…well, 1 Cor 15. Then, as James states…live what you believe (works).
Let me end this by saying that Christianity is right (meaning that Judaism is also right). Christianity is an extensiion of Judaism, not a replacement of. Freedom from bondage is found in Jesus…but what is the bondage? The law of Moses!
The New Testament is a contract between you and God. God keeps his promises to those who don’t break the contract. You are free to leave, in other words, which also means that Calvinist doctrine of the “P” in TULIP is whacked, because they don’t see the word TESTAMENT as a CONTRACT, or COVENANT. To them, it’s just a one way street, that God will not let you leave.
Don’t give up! You are already a step ahead already!
Again, I appreciate your kind and insightful comments. I especially like your thought as to Christianity being so simple and how theologians make matters of faith into a ‘bondage’. Variance and dichotomy of expressed faith is, to me, troubling. And it has been for years. But somehow, it’s more problematic now and harder to, well, agree to disagree with someone. And too, I like your thought that the NT is a contract. Perhaps if I were to read through the Bible 5x as you’d previously suggested something like that might become more intuitively obvious. Be well. // Bob
Hebrews 11:1. Using a dictionary, break down that verse to the lowest. When you do, “Faith is knowing that you will get what you are waiting for.” The reason you know is because God promised. But what did God promise? Inheritance. Promised land. Eternal life. It’s your faith… not a God infused faith. We are not depraved, or rotten to the core. David did not say that he’s a sinner from the womb. He said he was conceived in iniquity. His mother was sinning against his father. There is a Jewish story behind this. The father was going to sleep with his concubine, but instead his mother spoke with her to change places. There is a reason that he didn’t want to sleep with her, but I can’t remember off hand. But his mother was in the wrong. David was the black sheep of the family. Hated by his brothers, an outcast. Anyway, reformers have twisted what David said, regarding conceived in iniquity, equating that with him being the sinner from the womb. Then, they think we all have a sin NATURE. No, we are care free before we know what sin is. That’s innocence. Not guilty. Ignorant. Spiritually alive. Once we have knowledge of good and evil… all that goes away. Then Jesus comes along…believe…boom…saved. end of story. Very simple stuff. Easy to understand. Take care and God Bless!