Pastor's Blog

Who is a pastor supposed to talk to when his heart is struggling with weighty things?  When I was wrestling intellectually and emotionally through the 1990’s, I didn’t know where to go. 

Maybe I should have talked to another pastor who understood.  But at my ordination the pastors that I knew and trusted determined that I was “unfit for fellowship”.  And some of them had gone on to say worse about me in the years after that.  I wasn’t sure I trusted any of them.

Maybe I should have talked to someone else in the church – maybe the elders.  Tell the elders that I was struggling with whether I could even believe Christianity anymore?  That sounded to me like a good way to lose my job.  Besides, I wasn’t committed to unbelief.  I was just struggling with hard and reasonable questions.

On occasion I did dip my toe into the water, entrusting someone with one of my smaller doubts, to gauge their response.  But the responses I got weren’t encouraging enough to get me to wade out any further with my friends.  It wasn’t safe.  People were shocked that I would dare entertain radical unchristian thoughts.  And these were my small questions.  I knew I could never raise the larger things that were haunting my soul with the people that I knew.

There was nothing left but to wrestle it out in my own head.

I began exploring in more depth the perspective of secularists, evolutionists, and atheists.  To them, religion was silliness, the incredible stories and superstitions of unscientific ancient men.  These writers dismissed religion as not worthy of consideration.  They dealt with reality, providing reasonable explanations of life in a world of dust and gases;  a world that arose by chance, in which there was no overarching moral story and no absolute standards of right and wrong.  Life just happened to be here and had to be lived as best as we could.

The more I read, the more I learned to look at the world without God. 

And it made perfectly good sense to me.

Christians often exclaim “How can anyone live without God?”.  I think life without God is much easier than life that acknowledges Him.  Without God, you just live within your times, do what feels good, what you enjoy, what makes you happy.  You live your life and others live theirs.  You stop worrying about what it all means, about whether you did it right, about whether you did it wrong; you just live each moment and enjoy it.  You stop worrying about petty consistency in morals or standards because none of that matters.  Live in the moment.  You do what you want today;  if tomorrow is different – so what?  Do what you want and deal with what comes your way.  There’s nothing more -- and nothing else -- to it.  Why add an invisible God and His rules to the mix?  It complicates things unnecessarily.

Once you see things that way, religion in general, and Christianity in particular, seems like only so much complication of a simpler (and more desirable) picture.  Religion and religious people are an annoyance.  Religion is just a splitting of so many fine hairs, creating worries and conflicts and fears – and for what?  Religion makes people more picky, more critical, harder to get along with – and for no good reason.

I hadn’t finally given in to this thinking.  I was exploring my options and weighing them.  Secularism and atheism didn’t seem as nonsensical to me as Christians always seemed to make them.

And then I had a strange little conversation with an atheist that turned my thinking around…

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