My Story

In his Poetics, Aristotle says that any good story should have a proper beginning, middle and end. In that tradition, I feel the need to quickly catch up to speed any casual reader. Here is my beginning, the story of my conversion, de-conversion, and life as an atheist among evangelicals.

I was not raised a Christian. Nor was I raised in any other religion. Likewise, I was not raised an atheist. My parents are, for lack of a better word, non-theists. They are religiously apathetic. While they never encouraged any belief in God, nor did they seem to have made any decision against an idea of God. And so until late into my elementary school years, I had no conception of a transcendent God, positive or negative.

By my fifth grade year in elementary school, I had attended church with several friends. As I entered sixth grade, I began attending youth group events such as “Acquire the Fire” with my classmates. But it was not until high school, when I read the story of Rachel Scott, who was murdered for her faith, that I came to have a so-called born-again experience. I was impressed by her dedication and moved by her personal transformation. I found an old family Bible and began to read more earnestly about this Jesus of hers.

Before long, I had undergone a conversion experience. During high school I became a leader in two different youth groups, FCA, and led a bible study with friends. I went through several churches… a social, but religiously monotone United Methodist Church; a well-intentioned, but awkward Freewill Baptist Church; even a stint at an Apostolic Pentecostal Church (who later ex-communicated me) before I ended up in a Nazarene Church. I was drawn to the emphasis on “right living,” of holiness and social action.

Before I knew it, I was a religion major at a Nazarene institution of higher learning. After a few semesters; however, I found myself frustrated by the quality of the religion courses. They didn’t answer the questions that I naturally had as one not raised in the church: why is Scripture reliable? How do we even know there is a God? What separates Christianity from the world’s other religions? How do I know which church is the right church? Under the influence of a good friend, I switched my major to philosophy.

As a philosophy major I became obsessed with apologetics. I poured through the writings of early church fathers (Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, etc.), classical Christian thinkers (Aquinas, Augustine, etc.), Christian philosophers (Paley, Plantiga, Craig, etc.), contemporary Christian popularizers (Ross, McDowell, etc.) and on and on. At the same time, I dabbled in classical, modern and contemporary philosophy. And over time, I came to find that the harder I struggled to rationally justify my faith, the more the answers seemed to slip away.

About a year ago I began to truly grapple with the implications of the “other side.” I began to ask how I would live my life, what would life be without God, etc. And over time, despite a strong psychological desire to remain committed to my Christian faith, I found that my mind was unsatisfied.

Over the summer, away from my Christian community, I came to accept that I really was no longer a Christian. After weeks of turmoil, I decided to make public my de-conversion. And so, in true cowardly way, I published it in a note on ‘facebook,’ every college students favorite waste of time. Of course, the response was rapid. Dozens of comments, private messages, e-mails, phone calls and text messages poured in. Concerned friends, and even some angry peers, expressed their opinions on my de-conversion.

Time passed and the dust settled. Within a few weeks of making public my de-conversion I returned to my Christian university for my final year of schooling.

So here I am, an atheist surrounded by Christians. Some of them want to convert me, some of them are angry with me as if I have betrayed them. Some treat me the same, some are nicer than ever and some are incredibly aloof. Regardless of their attitudes, I think all recognize that I am in a very essential way different from them now. And so, this will serve as my place to vent. This is where I will write about the straw men of atheism presented in my “Apologetics” class and the ad hominem attacks on post-modernists, feminists, homosexuals and atheists in my “Literary Criticism and Theory Class.” This is where I will rant about the Christians who try desperately to corner me with Pascal’s Wager and Lewis’ Trilemma. This is where I will vent about my long-time friends who imply that it would be consistent with my worldview to murder anyone who ticks me off.

The next seven months should prove to be an exciting ride…

9 Responses to “My Story”

  1. you’re a braver man than i.

    how’s it going so far… are you being ‘prayed for’ alot?

  2. I linked over from Confused Christian’s site. I started reading your story and was surprised to find your struggle similar to mine. I married a Nazarene preacher but eventually we left the denomination because of an inability to answer questions. I grew up Nazarene and thought I had all the answers until I started discussing my beliefs with others in high school. I found I couldn’t support my thinking biblically, so after years of frustration with the “second blessing” teaching, and the need to find a place that taught the word (expository vs.exegetical preaching), we moved on. We strongly believe in Christ, that was not the issue for us, we just couldn’t understand the Arminian construct.

  3. I strongly suspect you wouldn’t have had the problems you did if you went to school where I do (Calvin College). What a bummer your religion department let you down!

  4. jeff62109 Says:

    Guess what? You never were a christian, you were misguided by a false doctrine, that had no “works” and had no faith, only false guilts, dont sweat it…..

  5. I often find that when intellectuals look to others for providing adequate and convincing answers to Christianity’s claims, they are rarely satisfied and often “abandon their faith.” There simply is no substitute for Christ revealing Himself to a person in a personal and real way.

  6. I often find that when intellectuals look to others for providing adequate and convincing answers to Islam’s claims, they are rarely satisfied and often “abandon their faith.” There simply is no substitute for Allah revealing Himself to a person in a personal and real way.

  7. You are not alone.

    Enjoy life, and

    be strong.

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