I started writing a summary of my shift from belief to disbelief a while back ago and adding to it as I went along. This is the first post since then and I hope to catch everyone up with it. I have not shared this before and I think it’s time. I have included affiliate links to the works I read/listened to along the way. If you feel like checking these out, please consider using the links provided as it will help continue this blog. It won’t cost you a penny more than just visiting Amazon yourself. Now to continue…
When I originally wrote this summary, I thought that it was going to be a standard “deconversion story” of how a Christian music minister lost faith. However, the last post was all I had left on my unfinished story from a few years back. Getting up to the present will be a bit quicker as I would like to get to the next steps in my journey. And now, let’s finish the past and get to today.
A few left out details
There are some details I left out of the previous two posts. I have received some messages that have helped me see that I need to add to my backstory.
I was raised in a Christian home most of my childhood, at least to my memory. Unlike most lower middle class I went to a private Christian school that is still standing, albeit at a newer campus, called Trinity Christian Academy. I attended in every year from K-12 with the exceptions of 1-2 and the first half of 8th grade. Those two stories will have their place one day, but for now I will only say that it was family related. Anyways, I also spent many years attending children’s and youth programs at Liberty Grove Baptist Church under Pastor Glenn Ellis, who passed away a few years ago. I was lead to Christ by Brother Glenn and baptized by full immersion at the age of 9. As most teenagers do, I had a crisis of faith and a crisis about the meaning of life. I remember bawling my eyes out and praying in my room at 14 years old for God to “take away my life or take my life for His good.” To teenaged me, it was all or nothing.
Some friends of mine created a Christian rock band that lasted for about 5 years with too many names to recall. During that time, I joined the worship team in 9th grade and became the worship leader at Trinity Christian Academy from 10th to 12th grade. I also joined the worship bands at church and played most Sundays with the main band and on Wednesday evenings with the youth band. After graduation in 2005, I went on to help build the contemporary worship service at Englewood Baptist Church, where music is now led by composer Mark Willard (Facing the Giants, Courageous, Fireproof). I was the last worship leader for the youth group at the old warehouse and the first in the huge youth complex now known as The Warehouse.
When I moved to North Carolina in 2008, I started meeting other Christian musicians and playing at Eagle Rock Café before meeting my wife. Then we started going to Community Baptist Church where I helped start a contemporary worship service and youth band. In fact, that band is the one that helped me record the only demo I have online. (It’s under The Vintage Virtue on Amazon, Apple Music, and Spotify.) After that, I took on my final worship minister post at Central Baptist Church for nearly a decade.
It Started with Prayer
The final stages of my change took place while I was a worship leader at Central. First, I stopped praying. Here’s why:
- If God predetermined what was going to happen, why would prayer change that?
- If God was immutable, then His mind was made up before time began and my efforts could not change His nature.
- If God knew what was best, why should I beg Him to do less than what is best?
- God was silent.
- If I didn’t pray for something and others did, would that prove God was listening to them more than me? That seemed unfair.
- If one person prayed for one result and another person prayed for the opposite, who would God choose? Also unfair.
I’m not saying that these are legitimate arguments against God’s existence. I wanted to hear God’s voice and to know that He was there.
I found the weight of God’s silence crushing.
I hope the above is not the last sentence I write on the subject, but that is where I am at today.
The next thing to fall was my trust in morality. As I studied evolutionary theories of morality, it occurred to me that it was possible for them to arise without God. In other words, this means there are no moral absolutes. This is because morals rely on the relationships of humans between themselves. Without absolutes, sure anything is ultimately permitted, but within groups of human beings, morals are necessarily limited. Agreements are made or implied out of a sense of fairness. Sure, someone could choose to kill his neighbor, but no one would trust that person anymore and ultimately the group would choose to remove the villain for their own safety.
Well, that would be what I did come to believe for a time. But I’m not so sure now. For one thing, this doesn’t account for the guilt that develops in secret acts. If one believes something to be wrong and yet does that thing, guilt ensues. Why? People have this desperate need to be honest and cannot seem to shut their mouths. Why? I don’t think that the evolutionary theory holds the answer to this, not yet.
But the change in me was more than mere beliefs about morality, I no longer felt guilty for a number of things, trivial or not. I did feel guilty for leading worship while not believing a word I said in prayers or sang in songs, at least for a time. I actually became quite annoyed with it near the end. But over the years of losing faith, I remember thinking, “well, maybe I’m not one of the elect” and “at least I can help others be saved even if I can’t believe myself.” Ignore the theological overtones in the thoughts, just know I meant well.
The End of My Public Christianity
The end of my public Christianity was mostly unnoticed because not only did I finish school and everyone thought I would be on to better things, COVID was raging and music at churches had come to a screeching halt in 2020. Add to that my own moral stupidity as a result of depression and self-loathing for still working at a church as an unbeliever – worse, a de-converted Christian atheist. A lot of bad decisions were made during that time and leaving the church was the only good thing I did so I could focus on my marriage, my family, and my beliefs.
Part of the healing process was rebuilding my marriage with honesty. Not just about my beliefs, but everywhere else I had been going astray. We learned to talk to each other and become best friends again. Along the way, she challenged me to look at the evidence again. I had come so far in one direction, maybe I should give it all a chance again and be willing to be honest with myself.
The end result was that I could not rationally believe the universe was eternal or the product of natural processes. This is where I end this post and I deal with the question of Is Christianity Reasonable? which I have already started writing about.
Thank you all for stopping by and I look forward to discussing my theological journey morning forward with all of you. I’m open to comments and book suggestions from any side of the debate on Christianity. Feel free to join in the discussion and I’ll be sure to give your blog a shout out as well, like my new internet friend, @thetruthnotdoctrine at https://isthefathercallingyoutohisson.wordpress.com/. Thanks for the comments and resources!