PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Anselan
 
Comments: 226
Article views: 2904
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all Anselan's badges.
 

Ex-Christians: we do exist

05 December 2012, 13:45
There are lots of articles about “Atheism vs Christianity” on News24, and they are consistently some of the most-commented articles on the entire site. Lengthy articles of dubious quality have been posted - and I mean from both “sides” of this so-called debate - so why add more?

I hope to contribute some unique perspectives to the discussion.


I am an Ex-Christian

Firstly, I am an “Ex-Christian”, and I feel this title is important to claim, not least because there are many Christians who feel that no such person exists. “You could never have been a real Christian in the first place, or you would still be one” - an assertion that is factually and intellectually bankrupt, but also reveals a lot about the psychology of belief.

I was a Christian. A “real one”, by any reasonable definition. I grew up in a Christian home, attended Sunday School, Youth Group, read my Bible, prayed, “gave my heart to Jesus”, went to church once a week (or more) almost without interruption for close on 30 years, etc. Want more? I did tertiary-level biblical studies (Old and New Testament) through correspondence. I played in (and occasionally led) worship teams, taught Sunday School classes, led home groups. I have worked in full-time ministry not once but twice in my life, once in a more than 100 year old church in a “mainline” Protestant denomination and once in a pentecostal megachurch. I have counted myself as anything from traditionalist to pentecostal to radical progressive Christian, and everything in between, at various points in my journey.

I know Christianity far better than most Christians.



I am anti-Christianity, but not anti-Christians

Having been a “committed” Christian for so long, and having left all of that behind, I’ve got some scars. I’ve got some bones to pick, too. But I don’t hate Christians. I don’t think they are “stupid”, either. How could I? I was a Christian till the age of 29, and I don’t consider myself a fool (I’ll let you be the judge of that over the course of my writings).

I hope to introduce some compassion from the atheist, ex-Christian side of this “fence” we’re fighting over.

I was a Christian for too long to be arrogant about finally seeing “through” it. Make no mistake, Christianity is bullshit, but I mean that in the philosophical sense, not a derogatory sense. A bullshitter differs from a liar in that they are being taken in by their own bullshit. They are a victim of their own psychological and intellectual trap - and the faulty truth-filtering system they have internalised - as much as anyone who listens to them.

I think ex-Christians, as opposed to people raised atheist/secular (lucky kids!), have a unique perspective to add. We have real stories to tell about the damage Christianity can do to ordinary lives and relationships. We also have unique stories about how we got free, and that can help people. Christians have “testimonies”; ex-Christians have “ex-timonies”, and these are more powerful tools than a bunch of name-calling and arrogant intellectual posturing.


I am a Buddhist

I firmly lay claim to the label “atheist”, which simply means that I see no good reason to believe in a God or gods. However, I don’t think being an atheist means having to jettison all interest in what is usually referred to as “spirituality”. On the contrary, in my experience, relinquishing the belief in “God” has allowed my spiritual life to deepen dramatically. The path I have chosen (actually I think it kind of chose me) is Buddhism.

People have a lot of ideas about what Buddhists “believe”. I personally reject a lot of what many Buddhists “believe”. But it is vitally important to point out that for most Buddhists, “belief” is not really the point, anyway. What matters is what Buddists “do”. Even Richard Dawkins was careful to point out in The God Delusion that he considers Buddhism less of a religion and more of a philosophical system. For me, what is attractive about Buddhism is that it is concerned with the human condition; it provides insights and, more importantly, techniques to reduce human suffering. And that makes it fascinating and extremely worthwhile in my opinion.

This does not mean that I want to “convert” people to Buddhism. I have learned a lot from Buddhism, but people learn a lot from many other areas of life, and even from other spiritual traditions (including Christianity!). That doesn’t mean we can’t disagree about what is more useful, plausible, or backed up by evidence.

I have a strong opinion that Christians are wrong to attempt to claim a monopoly on the “spiritual”. I also have little time for New Age spirituality insofar as it makes dubious claims about all things “supernatural”. I am not interested in supernatural religions.


Where to from here?

I will be following up this initial article with a number of others, covering aspects of my own “ex-timony” journey as well as some musings on issues relating to Christianity, atheism and Buddhism. Feel free to say hi in the comments, or ask any questions you may have.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
226 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Jotta Malvern Booysen
Open letter to Premier Helen Zill...

After kidney failure people need a new kidney or dialysis to live. If you do not get dialysis, toxins will build up in your blood and water will fill your lungs and you will die. Read more...

22 comments 1700 views
Submitted by
Freddie Jones
What am I missing?

The legal acrobatics that are currently happening because SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala has been asked to produce evidence that she hold the qualifications that she claimed to hold are quite mystifying. Read more...

1 comments 443 views
Step into their shoes

Many times in life there are things which because of us being used to, we end up thinking they are just meant to be there or to be part of our life.  Read more...

4 comments 328 views
Submitted by
StormyWeather
Fireworks and Animals

Our little suburb in Johannesburg, that has a FB page with 987 members, has already posted more than 6 cases of lost/found doggies due to fireworks. Read more...

21 comments 791 views
Submitted by
Thomas Freeman
What can wash away my sins?

The notion of God is as old as humanity and when you have a God, as world history tells us, he needs to be appeased and pacified by constant ritual sacrifice.  Read more...

163 comments 1501 views
Submitted by
Todd T Kgosidialwa
Botswana Elections 2014

Batswana have turned up in large numbers at the different polling stations. Read more...

0 comments 164 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

One day only! – 40% off Appliances!

Get 40% off 100’s of appliances at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.