How an atheist became a Christian

page: 1
17
<<   2  3  4 >>

log in

join
+1 more 
posted on May, 27 2012 @ 04:08 PM
link   
When I first came on this site, I announced myself as a former atheist who was now a Christian.
A few months ago, someone posted a comment on my Profile, asking if there was a thread explaining what happened to make the difference.
By telling the story now, on the(fortieth) anniversary of the event, I’m responding to that request (and possibly throwing some light on the way God works).

How did I become an atheist in the first place?
I was brought up in the Anglican church, at the “Anglo-Catholic” end of the church. Incense and “sung mass” and the English Hymnal. We learned the teachings of the Christian faith at school, and I simply took them for granted. In my last years at school, though, I was beginning to question how much of them I really believed. I was becoming sceptical about the miraculous element, especially resurrection, and my commitment was gradually getting watered down.

This process came to a climax when we were visiting my grandparents one Christmas Eve. Ironically, the final trigger was the sermon at Midnight Mass. I was listening to the unctuous voice of the preacher telling us about “the little baby in the manger”, and I could see no difference between the way he was addressing the congregation, and the way he would have been talking to an audience of children. Seventeen-year old boys dislike being treated like children. I said to myself “I don’t believe in this stuff”. Before going to sleep that night, I formally abandoned the Christian faith and began calling myself an atheist.

So the key factor in this decision was honesty, recognising that I did not have the faith. I had no feelings of hostility towards the Christian faith, but there was certainly a smug sense of superiority. The phrase “standing on my own two feet in the universe” appears in my diary. I thought of Christianity as a psychological crutch, but I was tolerant enough to recognise that not everybody was strong enough to manage without it.

Then I went to university, which brought me up against the most important question in the universe;
How do I go about meeting girls?
This was a university which was still segregated into male and female colleges.
There was a great imbalance of male to female students; the figure normally quoted was “four-to-one”.
I noticed at an early stage that the three most popular ways of meeting the opposite sex were disco-dancing, left-wing politics, and religion, and they were all barred to me, for different reasons.
I was obliged to try other approaches.

One good way to meet people seemed to be the bread-and-cheese lunches which were organised in different colleges to raise money for War on Want.
Nobody warned me that War-on-Want lunches were a hot-bed of Christian activity.

That was how I found myself, one afternoon, having coffee with a girl who then set about presenting the case for the Christian faith.
She wasn’t the first person to make the attempt, but in this particular case I was interested In following up the argument.
The meetings continued, though she was shrewd enough to guess that we were following different agendas, as my diary records;
“Later, in a period of rest, she asked me why I had sent her a note.
Because, I said, eventually, I had thought she might not be in if I didn’t.
She said that wasn’t answering the question.
We finally agreed that I had been driven by curiosity, which was (she said) the result of the Holy Ghost working in me”.

This may have been more true than I realised at the time.
I had admitted from the start that I regarded myself as an atheist, and I was arguing every step of the way.
The trouble was, I soon found that I was arguing against myself as well.
I would be on the verge of making a telling point, and then the answer that stopped me in my tracks would be coming from the back of my own mind.
For example, could a break in a rain-storm be an answer to prayer?
I was about to observe that rain follows from a sequence of events that goes right back to the beginning of the universe; so God would have to foresee that prayer before the universe began and arrange things accordingly.
Then a little voice at the back of my mind said “Well, why not?”, so that was the end of that line of argument.

A more crucial turning point was the realisation that I had not been forced into unbelief by the lack of evidence for Christianity. If there was a lack of evidence in either direction, that just left things evenly balanced.
The real deciding factor had been personal preference; unbelief was a much more comfortable, less demanding, option, and that was my reason for choosing it.
Once again, this was the moment of honesty.
If my unbelief was a personal preference, it took away the defence that I “could not help” not believing.
If I was held accountable for making the wrong choice, there wasn’t any answer I could give.

This process came to a climax when I took back to my room, and began reading, the book she had lent me (“My God is real”, by David C.K, Watson). The book set in motion a number of thought processes. I began to recognise how much of my character was governed by pride (“ the acknowledgement of sin”). In fact the real remaining barrier between myself and Christianity, I realised, was that wanting to stay free of any emotional dependence on religious support; in effect, I was proud of my self-sufficiency. Another train of thought was set off by the page which described how Jesus was separated from his Father in the moments before death, a concept which had a great impact on me (“recognition of the Cross”).

There was one brief distraction; I went down to the student bar to get chocolate from the machine there. I caught sight of my previous girl-friend with my successor, and this was enough to disrupt any train of thought for the next half-hour. Incidentally, there’s an incident in Pilgrim’s Progress when the porter at the Wicket Gate pulls Christian inside, because, he says, Satan likes to take a last pot-shot at people he’s about to lose.

I finally came to the point of making a decision. Giving up the attempt to work things out on my own, I decided to put my trust in an action of faith, and I made the suggested prayer. I was expecting some kind of tangible spiritual change, but nothing seemed to be happening, so I went to bed.

Nevertheless, the point had been settled. I had made a commitment which I was taking for granted from the next morning onwards. So whether Christianity could be “proved” was beside the point, in the end; it was a commitment of trust, based on the event of the Cross, and a greater understanding of what the faith entailed was built up from there.
Yes, I had given up the “taught” religion, only to begin replacing it with a much more conscious and voluntary faith.




posted on May, 27 2012 @ 04:19 PM
link   
You should convert to islam in a few months, then Scientology, then Hinduism, then Buddhist, then Confucius, and every other religion out there.

You got to try them all to find the right fit



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 04:23 PM
link   
reply to post by RealSpoke
 

My life isn't going to be long enough.
Anyway, that would make me "like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind"- James ch1 v7
Now that I've put my hand to the ploughshare, I'm not going to change horses in mid-stream.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 04:32 PM
link   
reply to post by DISRAELI
 



Anyway, that would make me "like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind"- James ch1 v7
Now that I've put my hand to the ploughshare, I'm not going to change horses in mid-stream.



Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.

~ Bruce Lee


Stay rigid and static your whole life and you will never get anywhere...



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 04:35 PM
link   

Originally posted by ChaoticOrder
Stay rigid and static your whole life and you will never get anywhere...

However, ploughshares that are not rigid and static are not fit for purpose.
You try ploughing with a rubber ploughshare and see what happens.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 04:52 PM
link   
reply to post by DISRAELI
 


I am saying you've always got to be willing to learn new things. If you are unable to challenge your own beliefs you will never advance your understanding of reality. A mind which refuses to accept new knowledge will quickly get left behind. This is a philosophical debate concerning informational perspectives, your analogy doesn't hold when it comes to consciousness. If you aren't willing to have a flexible mind you'll never get anywhere.

The worse thing about debating with religious people is that they often don't even consider opposing points of view when they are presented with them. They sustain an absolutely rigid stance and refuse to even comprehend the concepts being presented to them. Such rigidness will never be productive. When I read a religious text like the bible I absorb many of the intelligent philosophical concepts and learn from the lessons taught in the bible.

What I don't do is say "this book is so clever it must hold the true meaning of life and I must dedicate my life to believing every single word written in this book and worshiping the entities talked about in this book". In my opinion the Christian bible doesn't even teach as many important lessons about life as other religions teach, such as Buddhism for example. I simply see religious texts as philosophical guides, they can be studied without needing to submit your life to those texts.

All of them hold important information about life, but you can never really know which of them might hold the most truth and which are the least truthful. Especially when it comes to deciding which of them is worthy of signing away your soul. Your choice is based on the single religion you've had time to study, and the single religion which you were brought up to believe in, and the most widely spread religion in your general area and your country. You're just following the crowd.
edit on 27-5-2012 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 04:52 PM
link   
reply to post by DISRAELI
 


So why would you waste the remainder of your life in one mindset without trying others?



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 04:55 PM
link   
reply to post by RealSpoke
 

Because I'm satisfied that the mind-set I've already found is the most appropriate one, in which case the rest of my life isn't going to be wasted.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 05:00 PM
link   

Originally posted by ChaoticOrder
Your choice is based on the single religion you've had time to study, and the single religion which you were brought up to believe in, and the most widely spread religion in your general area and your country. You're just following the crowd.

You have not read the first half of my post.
I deliberately and consciously abandoned the religion I was brought up to believe in, which was the most widely-spread religion in the community.
So that way of dismissing my choice does not work..
This story was about a fresh start.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 05:07 PM
link   
reply to post by DISRAELI
 



You have not read the first half of my post.
I deliberately and consciously abandoned the religion I was brought up to believe in, which was the most widely-spread religion in the community.

Yes I did read all of your post actually... and I was going to say this thread should be labeled "How a Christian became an atheist and then went back to being a Christian".

But that is irrelevant, because I was talking about your refusal to learn about any other religion, I was referring to your self-proclaimed rigidness.

Being an atheist requires you to learn nothing. Being an atheist is to simply denounce a belief in any religion. It is not a religion, it's a dismissal of religion.

But the only religion you have ever studied is Christianity, and that is because you were mostly exposed to the Christian religion and thus haven't explored other areas of religious knowledge.
edit on 27-5-2012 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 05:17 PM
link   

Originally posted by ChaoticOrder
... and I was going to say this thread should be labeled "How a Christian became an atheist and then went back to being a Christian".

What an over-long title that would have been. Anyway, I wasn't really a Christian in the first instance; it was all superficial.


Being an atheist is to simply denounce a belief in any religion. It is not a religion, it's a dismissal of religion.

I've never claimed that atheism is a form of religion. I still remember what it felt like, and I accept that definition.


...your self-proclaimed rigidness

Think of it in terms of loyalty to a person, and you will find it more comprehensible.
It is a case of someone practising the old-fashioned virtue of fidelity, instead of running around "playing the field".
I am not the kind of person to be a serial adulterer.
.




edit on 27-5-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 05:27 PM
link   
I like your conversion story, because there isn't the usual emotional/spiritual confirmation that so many people seek. And you've made it 40 years. Star and flag.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 05:29 PM
link   
Good for you Disraeli. If it works for you, I think that's great. We each follow our own path, and you have made a commitment to the path you have chosen.

I was raised in a house with the awareness of the Christian God, but rejected it until I was in my early 20's. Then I spent nearly 30 years as a devout fundamentalist Christian. Now I am kind of an agnostic/atheist. Mostly atheist.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 05:30 PM
link   
reply to post by cloudyday
 

Thank you for that comment.
I'm celebrating the day by eating another bar of chocolate.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 05:33 PM
link   
reply to post by Klassified
 

Well, you can only be honest with yourself.
I hope you end up in the place that is right for you.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 05:59 PM
link   

Originally posted by RealSpoke
You should convert to islam in a few months, then Scientology, then Hinduism, then Buddhist, then Confucius, and every other religion out there.

You got to try them all to find the right fit


Already tried different religions. Ancient greek, ancient norse, witchcraft, agnosticism etc. Nothing could fill the hole in my soul.

Was raised as Pentecostal but never really believed, i couldn't even stay awake in church or read the bible, i thought "this stuff is boring" and would always fall asleep. A bad sequence of events happened and thats when i tried the other stuff. Finally settled on christianity 14 years later. None of that other sh*t promises redemption, but it promises a good deal of hopelessness. I had experiences that confirmed my faith in Yeshua as God, when i prayed directly to him in his name my prayers would get answered and i started seeing his hand in everything, i even began finding him in the old testament which was the real shocker.

A couple month ago i performed my first miracle healing and it actually worked. My wife was in intense pain, we went to the doctor and they discovered she had bleeding kidneys caused by kidney stones. Then a few days later she started puking really bad and couldn't keep any food down and the smell of food would make her yak. We found out then that her gall bladder had also gone bad and the docs were thinking about doing surgery but she didn't want to. A few days later on the following sunday my pastor, a deacon and i took her to his office and closed the door and all three of us laid hands on her and prayed, the 3 of us taking turns in a triangle. i could feel my body grow warm and started to tingle and i felt Yeshua's strength flow into me and then down my arm to where i was grabbing her shoulder.

The next day we ended up in the ER and ran a battery of tests, her kidneys were healed and no blood in her urine anymore, her gallbladder was also healed and the docs couldn't explain it. Her doc was ready to do emergency surgery on her the previous friday to remove her gallbladder, and by monday not a thing was wrong. She stopped puking and started eating food again and was able to hold it down. Her doc still is baffled as to how she was "spontaneously" healed.

Only been a christian a little over a year and i have seen things that science cannot explain. When i went to college i took on a great deal of hubris and thought "ah, i know everything, no one can tell me anything i got it all figured out". Except i didn't, that was in 1999. Took me 13 years later to figure out i didn't know as much as i thought i did.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 06:06 PM
link   
reply to post by lonewolf19792000
 

Thank you for that testimony.
There wasn't space to mention all the details in the orginal story, but I can add that that the young lady's accounts of her own faith experiences were a very important part of the impact her first conversations had on me. I felt unable to dismiss them as either falsehood or delusion, which seemed to leave only one logical possibility.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 06:38 PM
link   
This is a question I'm seriously interested in, but I just don't see why you made the decision to return to Christianity. I read your post twice, and to me, it lacks a reason. You just started believing (again.) On the one hand, you were steeped in the religion as a child. At seven you decided to disbelieve it, but the fact is, during your first seven years, you received "the programming" in Christianity. Even if you no longer believed, you didn't forget what you were taught, intellectually or emotionally. You say:


I finally came to the point of making a decision. Giving up the attempt to work things out on my own, I decided to put my trust in an action of faith, and I made the suggested prayer. I was expecting some kind of tangible spiritual change, but nothing seemed to be happening, so I went to bed.


That's it?!? I mean no disrespect, but those words have such little content that I have a hard time believing this was a turning point for you. It sounds like it was just easier to revert to your programming, which had been running in the background all the time anyway. It's like you spent some time running outside the church for awhile, basically got bored, and came back inside where it was more comfortable.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 06:46 PM
link   

Originally posted by DISRAELI

Originally posted by ChaoticOrder
Your choice is based on the single religion you've had time to study, and the single religion which you were brought up to believe in, and the most widely spread religion in your general area and your country. You're just following the crowd.

You have not read the first half of my post.
I deliberately and consciously abandoned the religion I was brought up to believe in, which was the most widely-spread religion in the community.
So that way of dismissing my choice does not work..
This story was about a fresh start.


Interesting story---but sounds a good bit like trying to impress a gal or needing fellowship. It sounds like you are doing it just in case sort of thinking.

Just cause all the limings run in the same direction, it is often good to hear a different drummer.



posted on May, 27 2012 @ 06:55 PM
link   
reply to post by schuyler
 

The real driving-force was coming from what was being described two paragraphs before the one you quoted, ie the effect of reading the book. On the one hand, the self-criticism. On the other hand, the section describing the experience of Jesus on the cross, which was for me what the road-to-Damascus experience was for Paul, The paragraph you quote was the end-result of that driving-force, a matter of throwing over trust in myself and putting my trust in someone else.

Before that was happening, what you call the "programming" had to effect on me at all.. In fact, a couple of weeks earlier I had been induced to hear a well-known evangelistic preacher (Arthur Blessit), and had remained completely unmoved and detached.



new topics
top topics
 
17
<<   2  3  4 >>

log in

join