I didn’t lose my faith, I consciously walked away from it.
It happened the day I made this post:
“So this is the church that the gates of hell cannot overcome, whining about the loss of their favorite millionaire reality tv star.”
This was the day I said out loud that I was finished with the Church. The body of Christ possessed with the great counselor was incensed that it could no longer watch new reality tv episodes of their favorite bearded duck hunters, who happened to be Christians. When their values clashed with those of the network, the show was briefly cancelled which was apparently an act of persecution against those poor Christian millionaires and against their fans.
It wasn’t just the Christian pop-culture who reacted against this heinous act of persecution, it was church leaders too. Persecution used to be about imprisonment, murder, abuse, things like that. Apparently, I was mistaken. The Biblical Theology that I had studied professionally for a decade made it clear that the Holy Sprit converted and remained within all believers. Jesus went so far as to say that the Gates of Hell could not overcome them…and this is what they had become–a people incensed over a television show. The only organization on the planet gifted with the mysteries of the universe from the Ancient of Days himself, the people who knew the one and only truth, bitching about a 30 minute reality show. As I thought over these things, I released a long sigh and croaked out a single word: “Ichabod.”
This is the church where the Holy Spirit resides. Ichabod.
The power of the one who raises the dead leads them. Ichabod.
Jesus left a counselor to guide us in all truth. Ichabod.
The glory that shone a clear path before me for so many years had gone cold, clammy, dark. How great was that darkness. I knew that I didn’t need another empty revival to help me feign divine passion for the thousandth time, I needed a new path instead. The former was gone. I needed a better one.
As was my habit, I talked to God about it all. But I wasn’t on my knees this time. My hands weren’t clasped. I sat on a chair with one hand on my knee and the other on my head. My face was a scowl.
I kept mumbling the same phrase to myself. “I thought your church was more than this. I thought your church was more than this.”
My face soured when I realized what my heart really wanted to say. I shook my head.
“I thought you were more than this.”
I breathed in deeply a few times. Then my head nodded faintly as that inevitable decision formed in my mind and passed my lips.
My commitment to the church was over. I didn’t hate her and still don’t, but I could not support such trivial pursuits from such an important organization. And God was asleep at the wheel.
“And you don’t give a shit.”
I waited for lightning to strike. It didn’t. There was no divine intervention in my madness. No great revival. There was no movement of the Spirit. In all these complaints from Christians vexed by a prime-time inconvenience, I didn’t see an ounce of supernaturally inspired behavior–no hand of God. Instead, I saw humans being humans. As a trained theologian I had always looked for some shred of the supernatural in the world, but that day I realized that humanity and human nature was the only clear constant, not divine providence.
I’m sure you’re thinking that this is the lamest reason in the world to reject the church. I mean, not all the church freaked out over the Duck Dynasty cancellation. I know it sounds silly, but there were lots of other things I was wrestling with, and this was just the last straw. Besides, didn’t at least a percentage of these devout Christian fans have genuine faith in Christ? And since they are genuine believers, can’t the Holy Spirit sorta slap some people over the head and say “Dude, get a grip. This is a tv show. It’s got nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.” The Holy Spirit is supposed to do stuff like that, to lead believers to noble, Christ-centered decisions.
I guess I expected too much from an omnipotent God.
So along with my decision to say goodbye to the church, I also placed a giant question mark on the God that I had trusted for salvation long ago. To be sure, God’s church has accomplished some great things, but ultimately every one of them have been human accomplishments. If the church was truly imbibed with divine power, where were the recent undeniable supernatural feats? In the church age, the age of the Spirit, shouldn’t miracles be a dime a dozen? I found it hard to believe that God’s power–his Holy Spirit residing in all believers–couldn’t overcome the Gates of Hell in two thousand years. Think about it: the Millennial Kingdom was promised two millenniums ago. That’s absurd. The son of David, the son of God, said he’d be right back after leaving us to our own devices about two thousand years ago. He’s still not here. So as far as I was concerned, we were on our own until–or if–he chose to return.
That was a scary day for me. I didn’t tell a lot of people about my decision back then, but I write about it now for a few reasons. For one, it’s cathartic for me and helps me organize my thoughts. Also, some of you who have taken interest in my theology and ideas in the past have been in the dark about where I am these days, so this will give you some clarity on that. I feel some responsibility to let you know how I got here. And I guess I still want to teach people even though I no longer hold a formal teaching position.
So you can expect more posts to come explaining how I’m renovating my views of life. More than two years after that day, I’m now a secular humanist. I still love the church, the Bible, and Christmas. Yes, I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Maybe I’ll explain that sometime, but some other groundwork needs to be laid first.