Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A question from Susan

A question asked in a newsgroup.

Hi! I had a pretty good day yesterday and sat through two sermons
without too much trouble. On Easter Sunday I stayed home from the
evening service because I just didn't think I could sit through the
communion service. I have good days and bad days. Anyway, I've
been thinking over a few things that I'm curious about. This is
more directed at those who are or have been in a Christian
fundamentalist group and accepted Christ as Savior and were saved.
One thing that sticks in my mind from a sermon yesterday was about
how if someone who is "saved" goes astray and leaves the church and
gets into sin (I'm assuming this would be an obvious thing) will be
miserable because the Holy Spirit will convict them of it, and your
life will go downhill. And if this doesn't happen and you can
actually enjoy yourself, then you just probably were never saved in
the first place. Also, that the only way to financial success and a
life of success in general is doing it God's way, through faithful
church attendance, giving, praying, Bible reading, etc. I'm just
curious as to how it has gone for those of you who did leave the
church and the aforestated things behind. I've wanted to ask
someone that for a long time, because it seems to me that people in
church can be very miserable (put me at the top of the list) even
when one is doing all you can to do right as preached. I've left
after church services feeling so down because it seems impossible to
do all the things the pastor was preaching about, so why keep
trying. We aren't prospering financially in spite of generous giving
and that seems to be another contradiction. I suppose I'm to be
happy with the prospect of having riches in heaven and stop being so
materialistic.
This next topic is somewhat related, but it has to do with people
who had already made a profession of faith in Christ and were active
in the church, showed signs of growth as a Christian, etc. and all
of a sudden during a revival meeting or church service they realize
they actually weren't saved after all. Then they admit that it was
just pride holding them back from truly trusting Christ and
repenting, with repentance being the key thing here. That happened
with a few people in the church I grew up in after we had moved on,
and we heard about it from someone (amazing considering that we were
blackballed, that we even heard about it). Last spring a friend of
mine really got saved, where before she just thought she was. Then
last fall I was going through a tough time, the cause of which I
don't remember, and one Sunday morning she sat down and talked with
me about whether I was really saved and how she had been concerned
about me for weeks and just not sure how to approach the subject. I
ended up praying to make sure I was saved. Another woman in the
church had gotten saved (again?) just a few weeks before. That
evening when I stood up in front, a bit reluctantly, to say I'd
gotten assurance of my salvation, a few people called me "sis" and
so on, and it seemed strange. Now I'm on the list to be baptized
(this would be the fourth time, since I was sprinkled as an infant
and baptized in a Baptist church twice because I reassured myself of
my salvation around age 10), but I don't really want to do it
again. I'm a little afraid of the reaction if I don't do it. I'll
also mention that we're told that if you only pray a prayer for
salvation because you're afraid of hell, then you probably aren't
saved, because you have to repent. It makes me feel uneasy whenever
someone gets saved "again" like there's something a little off about
it, but hey, who am I to say what's going on in someone's heart and
mind.
Oh, I just remembered that the pastor said that if a spouse goes
astray then the family is surely doomed to destruction no matter how
hard the still faithful spouse tries to keep it together. Also,
that the backsliding spouse is bringing God's judgement on the
house, and also on the church probably. That would include having
doubts that the KJV is the only Word of God.
I heard that they've also noticed that I'm wearing pants more than I
used to and that's a bit of a concern apparently. I don't wear them
to services, just in my daily life, anyway. I feel like a rebel
because I want to dress as I like, within reasonable boundaries.
Well, I'd like to discuss one more point, but this is getting very
long.
Susan






There are many things I could say Susan to your questions. I stopped all inovolvement with church after Christmas. I have moved through all the phases of belief from conservative reformed through liberal to non-realist and finally to athiest.

As moved through all these stages one thing I have noticed is my sense of self worth has improved through each step. The first thing that changed for me was to realise that original sin is a horrible doctrine that puts those who follow it in a perpetual state of inferiority. Are we ever "good" enough 'holy' enough before God.

Was I ever saved? Of course I was fully and completely. I prayed studied the scriptures. I produced many spiritual fruits and brought many to Christ. Now I realise I was self decieved reading all sorts of "spiritual" meanings into perfectly normal human responses. The thing is those responses are still part of my life. Things that i used to call the 'spirits leadings' are my own best judgements and ideas, the 'presence of God' is my own feeling of belonging in this world. Non of the things I felt as a Christian have changed I still feel the same things.

Not feeling saved is part of the negative side of fundamentalist Christianity. You are meant to always doubt but say that you are certain you are saved. It is a psycological trick nothing more. If you realise that there is nothing to be saved from, you will see the faith very differently. It is worth pointing out that this salvation focus is fairly recent in the history of the church and far from the only way to view the faith.

In the end it has taken me a long time to step free of all that I grew up with and deeply believed. It has been difficult and painful. At the end however there is a sense of freedom and empowerment. Now that I can see the tricks and con games played on me over the years I have no guilt or negative feelings about leaving only a sense of beinging closer to the truth

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