I’m currently having a conversation about faith with a friend over text. It’s prompting me to re-think through some of my current status as a deconstructed Christian or exvangelical. And while it’s distracting me from a shit-ton of work, it’s also a cathartic exercise. But it charged up my mind as well, and I’m having trouble sleeping already, but this is making it worse.
I love the person I’m talking to, and her views are solidly steeped and concretized. She loves Jesus. She loves the relationship so much and fills her day and life with music, books and media that support that.
I don’t anticipate nor hope for swaying her beliefs. However, she’s asking, which is something people I know never, ever do. Hell, most people I know apart from Tina, really listen. I mean, really listen. And ask questions rather than respond with personal anecdotes or their own version of the same story.
Yesterday, she asked me how my relationship with Jesus was. I stared at the question. We’ve talked about it before, and I thought I was clear then, but I approached it as if we had not discussed it before.
I told her I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus. Not one like hers anyway. I value the character of Jesus. And the disciplines I learned from a Christian-centric upbringing and schooling.
Her response was to damn my college and intellectualism. I told her my college was a conservative Christian. Billy Graham lived a stone’s throw from the campus. .
That seemed to stump her.
I told her that my high school teachers painted non-christian colleges as a threat to my faith. Unwritten, I remembered how I trepidatiously chose Montreat College based on their fear-based teaching techniques.
At one point she wrote:
I’m listening and absorbing your words to me … I’m happier for knowing how / where you stand
I’m kinda speechless
But not in a bad way
Just I don’t want anything to ruin our relationship and I don’t want to say anything “off”
God controls everything including how you and I feel about Him .
Sometimes I get wild w my imagination and think is this all real?!! But I know I see everything in a spiritual way and for that I’m grateful.
My response was:
Awesome. 😊 I truly believe that if God is who He says He is, His grace is much bigger than we can all imagine. I know that can be viewed as sacrilegious in terms of the gospel message (paradise vs separation from God in eternity).
And I agree with the idea that whether I believe or not, His existence can be real with or without my agreement.
I also have grappled and looked, and relooked, and re-re-re-re-re looked and turned like a Rubik’s Cube Pascal’s Wager, which is: reason and intellect cannot decide the question of whether God exists or not; therefore, it makes sense to choose the option that would benefit us most should we be right.
One last note, while it appears as some sort of rebellion, I don’t view disbelief or deconstructed beliefs as rebellion. I can argue it till I’m blue in the face, but I’m sure it may not accomplish much.
My views are not a product of views toward my father. They are not associated with a wish to defy the rule of the Lord. The disciplines from my years of Christian life are fully embedded in my pursuit of excellence everyday.
One can argue that Satan has fully deceived me, and that could be. But I’d need to meet this enemy in plain sight for me to accept that argument. And if one day I do, we’ll have words.
I love who I am. The husband I am to Tina. The artist I am in the world. The thinker. The curiosity. The blessings. I am forever grateful and thankful to the path I’m on and the unknown that lies in the road ahead.
Her one line response was:
I’m rolling around many answers in my head. And I don’t think I have one that will satisfy your curiosity. I’m not, and will not, try to change your view(s) on the devil. I think most answers I can give will be associated with intellectualism. I’m okay with that. I want you to also keep in mind that my degree is in English and required reading in English literature (Dante’s Inferno, for example) throughout time included a lot of what peeked my interest in where I landed.
Yes, I see a figurative hand of evil manipulating, hindering, deceiving, infecting, or heaping moral reprehension and awful into the world. Perhaps I get caught too much in a different form of literalism. I literally have never seen the devil. I know no one who has. I know people exist who say they have. Color me jealous.
Biblically and here comes that intellectualism, but its based on hours upon hours of biblical study while I still held faith), the devil’s presence in all 66 books, especially when a person concentrates on the original manuscripts in their own languages, isn’t as frequent and defined as it became in the middle of the last century [looks up to see the lighting about to strike].
In the timeline of my current status of faith, the subject of the devil and hell was one of the first tenants of Christianity that I stopped believing in while believing. It shoved me fully into the box marked “Liberal Christian,” which is where my brother sits right now. It’s sad really. I think people like me would likely retain a lot of faith if there wasn’t so much in-fighting under the umbrella of Christianity.
I have called leaving the belief in the devil “the easiest” to let go in the past, only because on the grand scale, the rest of it was much much much much much much much harder.
Crazy, right? I know. I’m fully aware of the risk involved of being viewed as demonically inspired. Oh man.
I posted that to our conversation and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I represents merely a soupçon of my views on the devil. Which created an atmosphere in my sleepy state last night of, holy shit, what am I going to say about Jesus?
God, if he existed and “loved me” he could provide me with a Saul to Paul experience. But as it were, He figured I’d be just dandy with a “my parents are Christian thing” and he moved on. How selfish of me to think I am worth the bigger conversion experience.
I inherited Christianity from the environment I grew up in. Once I started the pursuit of seeing if I would choose it, based solely on my own my search, not one handed to me like a golden ticket, I tiptoed away at first very quietly and then I made a bunch of racket here on this blog.
My place isn’t a conclusion but a perpetual search.
But the more I have learned of the tradition I inherited not long after birth, the farther I get from even remotely giving it any more respect than it’s worth. I value that others love God, prayer, Jesus, church, et al. But the version of Christianity that I could even remotely consider as worthy doesn’t so much as resemble the faith that the people around me exhibit in their everyday comportment, so here we are.
If you want even a glimpse of my view of Jesus, one should go google “diabolical mimicry” and/or Dionysus or Bacchus or god’s that preceded Jesus who shared his characteristics and influenced the myth that became a legendary figure who people claim to this day lives in their hearts and is the key to life after death in heaven … forever.
Also, one could answer the following questions:
- “Who threw Adam and Eve out of heaven and separated humanity from God?”
- “Who solved the problem of separation?”
- “Why would anyone write their spiritual love story to answer(s) to 1. and 2.?”