Saturday, January 21, 2012

My "Testimony" (Condensed Version)

My parents were very keen on their children being followers of Jesus. Dad often told me that he didn’t care what career I held, as long as I was following Jesus. I remember praying the “sinner’s prayer” at an early age. It seemed like the right thing to do.

It’s an interesting thing, growing up in a Christian home. On one hand, there’s the standard held up for all to follow - try to be like Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want you to hit your sister. Jesus wants you to try your best at school. On the other hand, I was a human child, and like every other kid I’ve met, I was pretty self-absorbed. Somehow I retained the Christian label for myself in my mind, while externally I expect I was pretty normal. I did hit my sister. I didn’t try my best at school.

At around 17, I realized my life felt empty and seemed to be going nowhere with myself in control. I also realized that if this Christianity thing was any good, it needed to be my faith in God, not my parents’ faith as a proxy. And so I gave my life over to Jesus, calling him Lord and Savior. I spent the next decade dedicating myself to serving God, and to learning to be more like him. This included 4 years studying the Bible at a Bible college, 2 years studying music at a different Bible college, and then 4 more years teaching at the first Bible college.

I enjoyed this time, for the most part. I don’t feel like I was ever “spiritually abused” like some of the “deconverted” have reported.

A turning point in a faith I considered strong and unshakeable was the friendship with strong Christian friends at the second Bible college who were theistic evolutionists. That this was even possible went against everything I had come to expect in a real Christianity, but I had to admit that they did not fit with my expectations. As far as I could tell, they had a strong faith in God through Jesus Christ, despite their rejection of a literal interpretation of Genesis. I decided to investigate for myself, and read a lot of literature on evolution and creationism, from both sides of the argument.

In the end, I had to admit that evolution was the best explanation for the diversity of life on Earth. Still considering myself an Evangelical Christian, I nonetheless wondered that if I had been so wrong on the subject of Creation, was it possible to be wrong in other areas as well? A host of all the skeptical questions from my past came flooding into memory. They were questions I had rationalized away. Or ignored. Now I wondered if it was time to sincerely address them.

I waffled for quite some time with this question, but finally decided that truth was important to me, and that if I were wrong in my beliefs, I wanted to know. And so I embarked on another quest - one that I hoped would strengthen my faith and make me a better follower of Christ, as well as an example to other Christians struggling with doubt. Once again I read a lot of literature - apologetics, books on atheism, etc. - from both sides of the argument.

At the end of this, I no longer had any faith (around May 2010). My life was shaken in several ways.
The place where I worked was very Evangelical, and I knew I could not continue to teach there in good conscience, so I resigned.

My wife and I had gotten married in part because of a mutual faith (that is, marrying a Christian was on both of our lists of “musts”). This loss of faith was a blow to me, but it was a very big blow to her as well. It felt as if all our dreams for the future had just blown away.

We have three kids. How now to raise them?

Almost every one of my friends is an Evangelical Christian. I had fellowship with these people. We would pray together. We would discuss topics within the Christian system. Now that I was an outsider, there was a shift in friendship. I never felt abandoned by my friends, but the friendships changed a little - through no fault of theirs.

I made several unsuccessful attempts to reclaim my faith (the quote “Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?” comes to mind). It’s been a hard couple years, but I’ve adjusted. My wife has adjusted. My family has adjusted. I guess we’re all still adjusting, here and there.

Change happens. I suppose adjusting is part of what it means to be alive.

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