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Life After Organized Religion

  1. cam8510 profile image93
    cam8510posted 4 years ago

    Atheists are becoming Christians and Christians, atheists.  New people walk in the front door of the Church while long time attenders leave, for good, by the back door.  Men and women enter the ministry, excited to have a spiritual impact on the lives of others.  Ministers leave their positions out of emotional exhaustion and disilusionment. 

    Now, just a few autobiographical lines.  I knew from about age 16 that I wanted to go into the ministry.  After high school, I traveled with an evangelism team throughout north and central America.  After four years of Bible College, I went to Papua, New Guinea as a summer missionary internship, fully expecting to return there  after coming home to raise the money.  Instead, I visited a congregation in northern Michigan and agreed to become their pastor.  I remained there for seven years.  Then I left the ministry.  That was 1990. 

    In 2008, my wife passed away after ten years fighting cancer.  We asked for God's healing, but that never materialized.   I was never angry with God.  I accept that death is something we all will experience and there is no guarantee of tomorrow. 

    These two experiences of mine are the background out of which my forum question rises.  Following my wife's death, questions that had been stuffed into the dark places in the back of my mind for years began to surface.  The questions were, and are, about the validity of the Bible, the Christian Church and God.  These questions are reflected in many of my hubs.  My attitude is not one of rebellion, but of a desire for truth. 

    My forum questions are not simply about me personally.  I want to know how you feel about the following questions as they relate to Christians in general.

    1.  Does God understand our questions about Him, the Church and the Bible even when we are questioning their very validity. 

    2.  What are the options for those who leave the Christian Faith? 

    3.  What are the emotional repercussions for leaving organized religion and becoming an agnostic or atheist? 

    I can answer for myself, but I would like to hear the experiences of others as well.  Has this kind of thing happened to you?  Do you know someone who has left the ministry?

    1. Cagsil profile image60
      Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Interesting assessment. A little naive and unrealistic as to measuring why they leave.
      My condolences. sad
      No, but the likelihood tomorrow arrives is increased by one's self awareness and actions.
      But learning isn't permitted by the God of the bible, it's obedience- my way or the highway mentality.
      The God of the bible as it is described isn't worthy of the time day, much less worship. The only thing you should take away from the bible is the generalized message which cannot be dismissed by anyone of conscience. Jesus' teachings of love, mercy and compassion are a necessary first step toward harmony and peace on Earth. I have a hub on the Keys of Life, which grants people an understanding of how to obtain peace in the world and peace of mind at the same time.
      The only option is to repent your rebel actions and go back to God, otherwise, you're screwed, according to the bible.
      Okay, this is a question I can definitely take extreme pleasure in answering. I was once a believer. I was baptized Catholic, made my Communion and even made my Confirmation at 17 years old. However, at the age of 22 I decided to drop the belief completely because I found no rational need for it. Why? Because I have come to accept that I don't have long to live, but how and what I do with my time here is of the utmost importance.

      I felt so much better when I dropped the belief. Why? Because, the self realization which came to me about the "needing of the belief" was actually and simply untrue.

      During my time researching World Religions and World History, it became pretty obvious even more so that religion itself is a disease of the mind. The man-made religions weaken a person because it tells them that they cannot have purpose, life or anything else without first coming to a God who claims authority over all of the human species. The highest authority in YOUR life is YOU!

      You control your actions. You control which thoughts you put effort behind. If you are not an authority in your life, then you're not responsible about understanding that life.

      Btw- I'm not Atheist or Agnostic. The only religion I am willing to identify is the only religion not man-made- Life.

      1. cam8510 profile image93
        cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Cagsil, thank you for your words.  I think I was unclear on one point.  I am not agnostic or atheist.  I have let everything go except the bare belief in a being greater than I am.  Having said that, I agree with you that I am responsible for my life.  God will not micro manage my life for me.  I appreciate all you have shared.

        1. Cagsil profile image60
          Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          You're welcome. smile
          That's okay, neither am I and I didn't think you were either.
          Being? That's where many people find themselves. No being required to believe about a higher power. wink
          Good for you. smile
          I wouldn't think so either.
          Glad you enjoyed what you read. smile

      2. Disappearinghead profile image89
        Disappearingheadposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Cags, can I respectfully suggest, that what you interpret as the God of the bible is one that has been presented to you by Catholicism and right wing fundamentalist evangelical? I do not recognise this version of God when I read the bible, but I do recognise it in 25 years of church experience. I have abandoned Church, but not God.

        1. Cagsil profile image60
          Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          You can respectfully suggest anything you like. My understanding of the bible isn't based solely on what I learned growing up through the first 20 years of my life. If you think that and got only that out of my post, then please go and re-read my post.
          Good for you. Since there's no need for a God, then I guess you're welcome to the crutch you require.

          1. Bronterae profile image60
            Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            I always wonder though why ex Catholics seem to have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to leaving the church.  Instead of just leaving, they (my observation) seem pissed off at God or the church or both.  No?  I only know ex-catholics in my circle but not one current observer.  Just curious...  By the way when you're on your deathbed the most stubborn atheist becomes, at least, agnostic.  You must be young.  Only they can afford to be atheist.

            "The only option is to repent your rebel actions and go back to God, otherwise, you're screwed, according to the bible."  This sentence proves you didn't really understand it.  Its not you but his gift ONLY that matters. Thats why its called the "good news".

            1. Cagsil profile image60
              Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              No chip here and if that's what you see from my posts, then it's a bad perception.
              No. It's called opening your eyes, understanding self and truly understanding the world around you...this self realization makes the religions of the world which teach bigotry, hate, separation and all other useless.
              Most religious don't observe anything which isn't suited to their beliefs.
              Really? roll
              what in the world does my age have to do with anything? I'm presently 43 and I've lived with the fact that only one man has lived past 50 going back several generations. So, how is your sight about your life? If my life were to go along the lines, then I will be dead in 7 years. Do you like that? Would you like to live with the possibility of never living beyond 50 years old? Probably not. So give it a break.
              I'm not an Atheist.
              Again, it goes to show you're completely misguided by your own religion...good for you. You show more off than you wanted to.

              1. Bronterae profile image60
                Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                I apologize if I gave you the impression that I didn't care about your soul.  Christianity is nothing like other World religions.  You don't have to do anything to get to heaven except believe in the Gift.   We're the same age and I have faced death (bad cancer)  Logic is no longer a tool when you go through that.  Its all about faith.  I'm sorry if you think you will die soon but if its true maybe you're fighting with yourself.  I hope that you find HIM cause when you really do, you will never doubt again.  Just ask HIM, he'll answer you.

                1. Cagsil profile image60
                  Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  What soul? Are you talking about the mystical based "soul" that is derived from mysticism? or Are you attempting to claim something for which you know nothing about?
                  Sure it is, it pushes the HOAX that a G/god exists.
                  And what gift would that be? Life? If so, again you show your lack of understanding of religion. lol Not a surprise.
                  And this matter why exactly?
                  I'm sure you would see it that way.
                  Yeah I know and it's a piss poor way to use your faith.
                  I'm not thinking that I will die before 50 or at 50. I said if my past generations of family continues on it's a possibility.
                  Been there done that... sorry no answer. But, nice try though.
                  Been there, done that, won't do it again. Why? There's NO NEED to.

                  1. Bronterae profile image60
                    Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    Oh geez I thought we were done arguing... sad

                    How do you know I know nothing?  Or that you know more? 

                    The GIFT is that all the sins of the world being forgiven when Christ's blood covered them for all man-kind.  You just have to believe and accept it.  Simple. Hebrew's used animals, remember?

                    Who are you to judge me in how I use my faith?  Please cool the insults.

                    I'm glad you don't think you're going to die...

                    Maybe you weren't sincere when you asked HIM for truth or you didn't wait long enough...  I hope you don't stop looking.

              2. Bronterae profile image60
                Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                my father stopped being an atheist on his deathbed.  thats what...

                1. Cagsil profile image60
                  Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  Good to know.

                  1. Bronterae profile image60
                    Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    just one last question, while you say you believe in the religion of "life", how is that not atheism?  I am honestly curious how that differs...

          2. Disappearinghead profile image89
            Disappearingheadposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            There really is no need to take that tone Cagsil.

            1. Cagsil profile image60
              Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              Learn your place. You're no one in authority to tell me to manage my tone.

            2. Bronterae profile image60
              Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              Not to gang up on you Cagsil, but Disappearinghead is right, your first words are calling him naive and unrealistic and then you offer pity.  sad  Why the chip?

              1. Cagsil profile image60
                Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                Offer pity? No such thing happened. I just told him if he needed a crutch, then it's understood why. If you don't like, that's not my problem.
                No chip, so quit saying it.

                I address the irrationality of the belief in a God when there's actually NO human need for it. People make up the need to suit their inability to understand self and the world around them.

                Life doesn't require any knowledge of any G/god to be understood or lived.

                See, NO God required.

                1. jacharless profile image81
                  jacharlessposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  fish and chips!

                  1. Cagsil profile image60
                    Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    Funny James. tongue

                2. Bronterae profile image60
                  Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  First you say my condolences (that's pity).
                  Second, life doesn't but afterlife does....

                  1. Cagsil profile image60
                    Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    Are you uneducated? I'm just asking because this is the most ridiculous, stupid statement and just one of many uttered on these forums. My condolences was for the loss of a loved one. Get with the program and learn how to read.
                    Life after Life. However ridiculous it may sound...people believe the dumbest things.

                3. Disappearinghead profile image89
                  Disappearingheadposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  Err Cags since when did I need a crutch and since when was believing in the existence of God a crutch? And what gives you the idea I don't understand myself or the world? You assume too much Cags. Maybe you do have a chip.

                  1. Bronterae profile image60
                    Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    thanks for your post, out here by myself, smile

                  2. Cagsil profile image60
                    Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    I wasn't talking to YOU about the crutch. It wasn't said to YOU. Got it? And on second thought...if you need a God to exist, then yes you need a crutch. Accept it like you accept Jesus, and be done with it.
                    Pretty easy, but if I have to explain it to you, it would take too long.
                    I don't have to assume anything about Disappearinghead. I've read your posts.
                    Nope, that would be your skewed perception and lack of understanding me as a person. But, you're doing a good job.

                  3. Bronterae profile image60
                    Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    Dis...your turn!

    2. Dave Mathews profile image59
      Dave Mathewsposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      cam8510: As a devout "Christian" I will do my best to answer your questions as best I am able. Please keep in mind, I have never gotten any formal training or degree in Theology, or Divinity. I am no theologian, I'm not a pastor or a priest.
      What I am is a simple everyday Christian person doing what I can to serve God.

      Q 1)  Indeed God is able to understand our questions, regardless of how incoherent we might be. God being God is able to sift through our ramblings to find out what is actually on our minds, and in our hearts.

      Q 2) If by leaving the "Christian Faith" you are referring to leaving a particular "Denomination" ie. Catholic, or Baptist. So long as one practices the "Golden Rule" of loving God and loving your fellow man. I see no way for God to get angry or upset. Keep in mind though, I cannot and will not speak for God Himself.

      Q 3A.)  As for the emotional Repercussions of leaving an "Organized Religion of any Denomination"; This I believe would depend upon the individual. Some people's consciences bother them more than others.

      Q 3B.) As for becoming an Atheist, or an Agnostic; This would involve disavowing their belief and their faith in God and in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. This could be seen by God as deliberately Blaspheming, or Sinning against the Holy Spirit, a sin for which God has declared there is no forgiveness for. In essence that person if God sees it that way, would be damned for all eternity.  Again I cannot nor will I presume to speak for God but that could be the way God might see it.
      Emotionally I suppose a person doing that might feel fear and worried.

      1. cam8510 profile image93
        cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Dave Matthews, thank you for your heart felt words.  I may have left the impression that I am agnostic or atheist.  I am not.  I hold to a very basic belief in God.  I trust in His goodness, grace and mercy.  The questions I raise in my hubs are a result of my search for truth and reality.  Thank you for responding with the wisdom you have gained.

    3. profile image0
      Emile Rposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      I'm agnostic. I was raised in the Christian faith. Stepping away from Christianity was the best thing I've ever done. I personally believe there is some form of higher consciousness, but I honestly believe our understanding is too limited to define it and it either can't, or won't, take steps to increase our knowledge.

      So, does it understand our musings? I think yes. Is it aware when we question the validity of a particular faith? I think yes. Does it care what you believe? I think obviously not.

      Leaving any faith should be a joyous decision made in search of truth. If you leave in frustration, anger or despair you have to overcome all of that before you can move on. Some conversations I've had with those who adamantly profess non belief seem to be riddled with the emotional scars of leaving. Some, I think, would benefit from going back to their roots and finding closure. 

      But, leaving is not turning your back on God or Jesus. It isn't blasphemy as has been suggested.

      They say the truth will set you free. I've found that being openly honest that there is no truth to be claimed is an incredibly liberating experience.

      1. cam8510 profile image93
        cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Emile R, Good words.  Thank you.  I think you are right about finding closure about walking away from organized religion.  If anger or bitterness are the result, then I think going back and resolving passed hurts would be good.  I also agree that leaving was the best thing I could do.  It has helped my relationship with God immensely.

    4. Disappearinghead profile image89
      Disappearingheadposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Cam, a very good OP. I left the church 3 years ago after 25 years, and it has been a liberating, joyful experience outside. I believe that over the last 1600 years, the church has departed so far from Jesus teachings so as to become an also-ran sensationalist works based strings attached gospel religion that's riddled with superstition. As well as the manmade doctrines unknown to the disciples, in recent generations it has transformed into a commercial enterprise where worldly wealth, success, and pursuance of the American Dream have taken priority. At the risk of being branded as a blasphemer of the Holy spirit, I do not believe that the bulk of the so-called Holy Spirit anointings, 'new Wine' revivals, or touchy feely adrenaline fuelled raising hands in tearful worship and falling over, are anything to do with God. Neither do I believe that 90% of "The Holy Spirit has shown me...."s are from the Holy Spirit at all.

      To answer your questions though:

      1) I believe God invites and expects us to question the validity of everything, as only if we do can we ever grow in any understanding. By questioning God we will come to dispel all the misrepresentations of his nature. Jesus said that the Father himself would teach those that believed. We must question the Church: 1600 years of oppression, corruption, manmade doctrines, hiding the truth, and downright lies, makes organised christianity's position untenable. We can freely question the bible's validity too, especially the blind assumption that the Church has a good handle on its interpretation. A study of the formation of the NT cannon reveals that it was borne out of politics and the pushing of approved doctrines. I'm sure Paul would have considered it blasphemy that his sermons are now called scripture. The only scripture accepted by Jesus was the OT.

      2) Before leaving the Christian faith, I would recommend one first leaves the Church and sees how they get on as a Christian outside for a period of time first. It provides an opportunity to learn free from dogma, and the peeling away the onion skins of the false doctrines that obscure Jesus' Christianity. It is sad when someone leaves Christianity based upon experiences of Church and Christians. As Ghandi said, he might have become a Christian if it wasn't for the Christians.

      3a) For me leaving organised religion was liberating and joyful, but another may be plagued with negative emotions derived a loss of security, lost relationships, or from misplaced ideas of being disloyal.

      3b) I'm not an agnostic or atheist, so I cannot comment. I considered agnosticism for a while, but I have a philosophical argument that says that no God makes no sense. However, I'm convinced that God thinks no less of the person who walks away from Christianity; his salvation is extended to all, believer and unbeliever, as it is a done deal finished on the cross. As in Adam ALL died, so in Christ ALL shall be made alive. Salvation that is dependant upon the atheist/agnostic believing a sufficiently brilliant intellectual argument from a Christian, is a ludicrous concept.

      1. cam8510 profile image93
        cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Disappearinghead, Thanks for taking time to respond so fully.  I think I am someplace between leaving the Church and leaving Christianity completely.  I still attend Church at times.  I enjoy the worship time.  I still believe in God and can sift through all that goes on at Church to still take something with me.  Sermons are fine.  There is some good, practical guidance given, even if the Bible isn't the Word of God from cover to cover.  I really like this part of your response, "I believe that over the last 1600 years, the church has departed so far from Jesus teachings so as to become an also-ran sensationalist works based strings attached gospel religion that's riddled with superstition."  Couldn't agree more.  Thanks again.

    5. Tari profile image60
      Tariposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      My mother was very strong in her faith. Her strength and belief in God unyielding to the point of forcing that belief on us her kids. Some of us took to it, some didn't. I was of the opinion that although I think there is a God, some 'creator' or supreme being, I had much difficulty in believing in Christ as the 'son of God' or his 'only' son. I wondered what kind of faith would have a woman who believed so strongly that she must force her children to believe too. As I got older I saw and could pull away blame from her belief in God, to her desire to want what is best for us. In her mind, what was best was that we follow in God and his word. Okay, I can deal with her viewpoint but would that make me believe in God and the rules by which he lay down? I didn't and I sat on the fence for a long long time, unwilling to commit.
      Interestingly I came to learn more about myself and what I have to do with life and living. How there are natural laws that if applied well, can bring me much pleasure. It wasn't all that 'spiritual' in my mind, yet funnily enough, it seemed to strengthen my belief in God. Not so much in what his word is, or what I should do with regards in following him/her/it.. but just that he/she/it exists. Whereas before I might have thought, yeah I believe in God but secretly wondered 'but do I?'  You ask, does God know understand our questions.. and I find myself thinking, does it really matter? In this world, we live our lives dependant solely on our decisions, we form our decisions soley based on our experiences in life. Sometimes our experiences with/in God are wonderful and we decide upon a given course to follow that. Other times the experiences are horrific and the same thing happens, we decide upon a given course and follow that. Belief in God isn't so much what we 'believe in' so much as what experiences have we had to form that belief. Some of us believe in God because we do, other want imperical proof of his existence and will test theories till the cows come home to get their proof. Others just don't believe and in some cases discredit others belief. Does that mean God doesn't exist? I can't speak for you. Does that mean that he doesn't hear or understand that? I can't speak for him. All I know is that I believe in God. I believe he hears and understands, but it doesn't mean that he has to fix my problems in life. I believe that he can give comfort just by the fact that I think he's there and I'm comforted to know or rather feel that I'm not alone.
      These are only my thoughts and opinions, and they may mean little or nothing to anyone else, but they mean a lot to me. I think my viewpoint is very simplistic, I'm not an overly complicated person. But sufficed to say, is that I think everyone has the right to believe in whatever they wish, what will matter in the end is the actions they take for themselves and others, based on their belief.  Anyway, that's what I think.

      1. jonnycomelately profile image86
        jonnycomelatelyposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        What more can we say, Tari?   Down-to-earth, straight to the point, sincere, sensible and total respect to you for what you find is your truth.

        1. Tari profile image60
          Tariposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          thank you jonny, i really appreciate your comment. I like to think myself sensible to a degree and a greatly appreciate your respect.. its interesting is it not, how some people will completely disrespect anothers belief merely on the insistence they must make others believe in what they believe is right.. i truly think if people respected others beliefs it grants us tolerance, grace and dare i say it 'peace'.. hey.. if we all practiced this, would our world have less war? who knows.. i would like to think so

      2. cam8510 profile image93
        cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        tari, thank you for the real life wisdom.  Yours is a lesson in maintaining some kind of faith and not giving in to cynicism.

        1. Tari profile image60
          Tariposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          cam, i'd like to thank you for your hub... i find it truly brave and courageous to open up a topic such as this, nations, peoples, countries have gone to war too often in history over such a subject.. so thank you for being so brave as to pose the question in the first place that allows people like myself some measure of courage to make a comment.. smile

    6. heavenleigh707 profile image88
      heavenleigh707posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Cam8510, Thank you for this forum! Much love to you for the loss of your dear wife.

      It seems that you still are ministering to others. I think ministry is deep within us. If we aren't doing this under the "authority" of a church, we can often minister much more effectively.

      More power to you! Love is the KEY to it all. If a church hinders love, you gotta do what you gotta do. (That was my childhood church). Very abusive! I've spent much of my life recovering. smile  I turned my story into a fantasy book in which the Sorcerer is an amalgam of every abusive pastor I encountered. I learned the psychology of an abusive church and hope to help others with that hard-won knowledge.

      My ministry has evolved, but it is still growing and alive, much more-so than when I was in a church.

      All the best to you! Keep Shining! ~heaven leigh~

      1. cam8510 profile image93
        cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Heavenleigh, thank you for your words.  They are very encouraging.  I haven't looked on anything in my life as "ministering" since I left the professional ministry.  I think I understand what you are saying though.  Thanks for your input and condolences. 

        Chris

  2. Druid Dude profile image60
    Druid Dudeposted 4 years ago

    I frequently use the bible, simply because, here, that is the book that most people around me are at all familiar with. When a person draws closer to God, there seems to be an onslaught, launched from inside and outside the individual, which acts as an obstacle and pulls the person away, rather than closer, to God. This is known as backsliding. Backsliding is a fact of life. Alcoholics and drug addicts do it, too. It is demonstrated in the bible, during the ministry of Jesus, where he says, in no uncertain terms that 1) Understanding God is a real possibility. 2)That there are things which were hidden, or covered up, things which were veiled from our understanding. 3) There would come a time when all of those things would be revealed, that everything that was covered up, would be uncovered, and that there would be nothing that would remain unrevealed. This is in connection with the Baptism of Fire, of which Jesus said. "The Baptism of water, the baptism of John is for the repentance of sin, but, I have a new baptism for you. It is the Baptism of Fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit." further, he also said: "There is another one coming after me. He is the Spirit of Truth. He is the Holy Spirit." This will occur before Jesus returns. It is beginning to happen...NOW.

    1. cam8510 profile image93
      cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      What do you think is going to happen as a result of the Holy Spirit coming.  Why do you say it is happening now?

  3. jacharless profile image81
    jacharlessposted 4 years ago

    Good Afternoon Mr. Chris,

    I would like to begin by saying the obvious, "You are not alone."
    Here on HubPages, I few have gotten to know me and can validate I am not a proclaimed Christian, nor agnostic, nor atheist and my point of presentation often results in the tilt-head effect. Yes, there are numerous things I have experienced but not shared here before. Given the nature of your character and what appears to be genuine interest, would like to respond.

    At the ripe old age of seven, I had a series of exasperating dreams. I say series because they were progressive in nature. The end of the saga came to be me falling down a very deep well, that was laden with the faces of every kind of human imaginable -their expressions, voices, cries, laughs -everything. Finally with a thud, the dust exploded from the floor, as I landed face first. Expecting to be in pain, I pulled myself up only to find myself kneeling at the feet of an unknown entity, who's very presence scared, excited, soothed and consumed every fiber of my being. Was it God or my vivid imagination?
    At age eight, started my first "ministry" which was children helping children in the parish hall. I had many long, interesting conversations with the vicar, about God, as well as questions about entering monastery, and even considered becoming a Catholic Priest. Skewed away for a while as my studies became more intense, decided missionary work might be the road for me. I was naturally a people person.
    At age twelve was taken by a lifetime missionary -who just so happened to be my unofficial girlfriend- and my brother to a full gospel service, where I did the "altar call". Right then I should have turned and walked away.
    By the age of twenty, I had completed by studies and working full time, when several events would transpire. These events included me graduating Rhema-based biblical school, an offer to minister at the 10k member mega-church and shortly afterward a small, campground group -who had been missionaries to Malawi- that were duped by yet another conman minister. Likewise, my mother diagnosed with a rare/new Type A Cancer, which she was healed from, only to die four years later, due to extreme intense chemotherapy. A year later, nearly to the day, my father had a massive heart attach and was gone. Short of it, I was officially an orphan before the age of thirty.
    I have always been a curious fellow, a sponge for knowledge with a very weird ability to see the forest and the trees. The adults around me called it wisdom but I deemed a nuisance. Considering all these events and more, led me to walk away from all the ministries and just do a full stop. A complete "check up from the neck up". What was I really doing? Was I truly walking with Creator, or just pretending? What valid testimony was being built in me, instead of the testimony myself -and countless others I know- were leaning on/stealing?
    This began a quest in me to find that Truth we are so quick to sound off. Combining my knowledge of science, sensation (religion) and rooted in Philos, set out to unravel the mystery of "What The EL" is it all about. As of today,  am closer than I once believed. In fact, belief is the furthest thing from my mind. I discovered I no longer need to believe -be it in the gods designed by men, written in books, titles and traditions, translations. I do not need to believe in astronomy, physics, quantum effect. What I simply need to do is let go of this limited idea, let go of the self, the ego, the mind and walk in practical faith.
    That is the difference between needing to believe/preaching to believe/working to believe and experiencing what it is we all desire: Life. Having sat with literal kings, priests, ministers, homeless folk, double PhD scholars and Ivy League man-whores, and countless other characters, am convinced we have all missed it. We all missed the point of the events we trust are true or at least believable. If I could sum up everything I have experienced, learned, argued and listened to, it would be this: Creator is not a respecter of persons. So, the only logical step is practical faith void of the stuff we humans believe are necessary to achieve the Reality -that real relationship. Interim, we create landing pads called "atheism" or "spiritual but not religious", "self-aware", "on the fence" or "the farthest point away from yes", yada yada. We entertain ourselves because in truth we don't know what else to do with all this knowledge.
    Like any advice, mine comes cheap, but I hope serves some good:
    Take a much needed time out. Close the books. Burn them in a nice warm fireplace if needs be. Have a cup of tea. Forget everything you every thought you knew and just go one-on-one with Truth. Wipe away the tears and years. Circumcise {cut} your loses. See if there really is a Creator, instead of assuming there is -or is not. Do not take it on the words {nor testimony} of any other man -myself included. Investigate as if your life depended on it. Investigate and invest  be it blood, sweat or tears. Summon that sleeping Breath and see where it takes you -if it takes you anywhere. There's really nothing to lose.
    James.

    1. pennyofheaven profile image81
      pennyofheavenposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Whew what a journey! Good advice.

    2. cam8510 profile image93
      cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      jacharless, Thank you for your helpful words.  Yours has been a very hard journey which holds many lessons.  "See if there really is a Creator, instead of assuming there is -or is not."  This is a great bit of advice for me and others as well.  We don't need a book, a denomination, pastor, priest or building to prove to our own satisfaction the existence of the Creator.  Thanks for that wonderful comment.

    3. Disappearinghead profile image89
      Disappearingheadposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      I have learned much from James' postings here. When we try with conscious effort to be what we believe a believer should be, we fail every time; racked with guilt and disappointment. We cannot grow in God by reading books or following some plan. These things we inherit from organised religion.

      Studying religion, the histories of their beliefs is interesting and stimulates the mind. But we are more than this. We should just be, be ourselves, and trust God/Creator to direct our lives in background. Take each day for what it is and do whatever your hand finds to do. Salvation does not depend upon us or whatever we do, it depends upon the task he completed.

      1. cam8510 profile image93
        cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        well said.

      2. pennyofheaven profile image81
        pennyofheavenposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Yes agree.

    4. jonnycomelately profile image86
      jonnycomelatelyposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      ....Yet everything to gain through this freedom....

      Thank you James, very profound and enlightening.

      1. jacharless profile image81
        jacharlessposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        A humble thank you, as well.

    5. Bronterae profile image60
      Bronteraeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Loved the landing pad metaphor.  And encouragement for the personal journey for self.

  4. Care Bear profile image59
    Care Bearposted 4 years ago

    Take my words for what they're worth. They're coming from a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, otherwise known as Mormon. It is a branch of Christianity and as I have never truly stepped away from it, I can't really answer all of your questions.

    As a Mormon, I know that God does understand questions. He understands our questions about everything. I remember as I was getting ready to marry, I had a short period of doubt. I had already known previously that the man I was with was who I was supposed to marry, but during that doubting period, I prayed. I was questioning my decision to marry. Shortly after I prayed, I was comforted and I know for sure that my decision to marry this person was the right one and the best one.

    When I was 15 years old, I got myself into a relationship with a boy who had been in trouble with the police, was in summer school and got himself kicked out, and apparently already had a child with another girl. In a sense, I stepped away from the LDS Church for a while. It was not a pleasant experience. When I finally decided to break off the relationship and get back on track with the Church, I found that I was much happier.

    I'm not saying that a decision to become Atheist or Agnostic is a bad one. I just know that in my experiences, however insignificant they may seem, I am MUCH happier with my choice to be a part of the LDS Church.

    Again, take it for what it's worth. Please don't be offended.

    1. cam8510 profile image93
      cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Care Bear, of course there is no offense taken.  Thank you for responding with your genuine concern.  I just want to clarify that I am not agnostic or atheist.  I hold to a very basic belief in a being greater than me.  I am glad that you have found happiness in the LDS Church.  I also appreciate that you make room for people to conduct a sincere search for the truth.

  5. Jerami profile image77
    Jeramiposted 4 years ago

    i need to say something?    BUT    I don't know what to say   You  all  have said it better than I could have hoped to..

    1. cam8510 profile image93
      cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Come baz ck

      Come Back and say Something anyp way

      1. Jerami profile image77
        Jeramiposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        OK  I'll come back and say something.

        In my opinion, everyone who posted in this thread so far is correct in their own way.

        Talk about an oxymoron????   Organized religion?   100,000 different variations???
        how organized is that ???

        And to think, in 326AD there was only one variation of Christianity. Well at that time there were many variations until the Universal church killed off all the others.

        It took 1000 years before people began waking up to the fact that the church was corrupt.
        Thank God for the reformation.  They tried to fix the problems but many false interpretations had been so well established by this time that they had to stay.   And these false interpretations are still with us today.

        Why didn't Got stop it before it went too far?    Well;  In 96 AD John was given a revelation that it would be so.   It is written that this will last for  42  months.
          This is 42 months is the same as that 62 weeks until they kill the Messiah (Daniel 9;26) was 568 of our years.

          This 42 months is almost over and people are beginning to wake up.

        1. pennyofheaven profile image81
          pennyofheavenposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          So are you saying that the time we have spent in unawareness is about to end?

          1. jonnycomelately profile image86
            jonnycomelatelyposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            Oh! How I wish, Penny!   But that would sure mess up my plans for celebration on the 24th!

          2. Jerami profile image77
            Jeramiposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            Good morning everyone.
            Yes Penny, I guess I am.  I believe that is what prophesy are saying. It all comes down to understanding timeline comparisons between those given in prophesy and what we consider real time on this physical plane.
            Daniel 9:23 says that THE commandment has come forth.
            Daniel 25 & 26 says that it shall be 62 weeks from the time the commandment goes forth until they kill the Messiah, 568 years later they did.  62 weeks = 568 of our years. If this is true concerning ANY prophesy it would be true concerning all of them.
            The 42 months that the beast is given to blaspheme should be seen in the same manner as should any reference in prophesy of time.  Whether a day in prophesy is a year; or a week is 9 years;  forty two months is a VERY long lime.  When this mathematical equation is used examining ALL  prophesy that a time line is given, they can then be placed in chronological order. 
            Has anyone ever wondered why prophesy sometimes states that it will be 1260 days before something happens and sometimes the term, 42 months (two equal amounts of time) ?   1260 days is an exact period of time while 42 months is an approximate period of time. 
            Any way …. Whatever it means?   I believe the 42 months (1640 years) is almost fully accomplished.

        2. cam8510 profile image93
          cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

          jerami, so are we waiting for God to do something soon?  I don't know.  Seems like God has passed up opportunities to set things right.  Do you think He may need some help?

          1. Jerami profile image77
            Jeramiposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            I think that from Gods prospective  things are right. Everything has its season.
            At first I didn't like this concept that organized religion, such as it is, was Gods plan. 
            But when we examine WHY this would be so, we would have to examine prior events and then everything prior to that etc. etc.  I came to this notion.
            Rev 4:11   All things were created for his pleasure ....  simple statement!
            God said let Us make man (a physical body) in our own image.

            After the body is produced our spiritual bodies can inhabit them.
            In the beginning, we brought all of our foreknowledge with us. This was a disaster.
            It is impossible to have the fully experience physical life while having full spiritual memory.

            Kinda like being the Hero in a movie about the Wild Wild West.  There is no excitement in going against a dozen gunfighters when you know the outcome.

            When the movie is over, we leave the theater and go back home.
            At least, that is kinda how I see it.

  6. recommend1 profile image72
    recommend1posted 4 years ago

    The only thing I would add is that the christian collar and leash of indoctrinated guilt can take a while to get rid of, when it is gone is the time to start 'looking around' in the way that has been suggested.

    1. cam8510 profile image93
      cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Recommend 1, I wrestled with some guilt, but not as much as I thought  I would.  It is time, for me at least, to move on.

      1. Disappearinghead profile image89
        Disappearingheadposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Where are you moving on to cam?

        1. cam8510 profile image93
          cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

          I am developing a very basic understanding of God based on my experience, nature and reason.  I may be faulted for not taking advantage of written revelation, but I have been that way, understand it and have set it aside for the time being.

          1. Druid Dude profile image60
            Druid Dudeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            Same here, Cam. Raised as a Baptist, then my Mom became Pentecostal as my sister did. Grandad was a seventh dayer, Auntie was a catholic. I attended a catholic parochial school back in the days of the old style nuns (Fine place for a baptist raised youth) My best man was a buddhist, and my wife is native american. I more or less went native and turned my back on organized religion.

          2. jacharless profile image81
            jacharlessposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            If I may be so bold, Chris. You, I -everyone is the sum-substance of all creation, of nature. That is why we {humans} were created to begin with. To express that sum-substance. And we were given reason -complete information- so we could live beyond reason and experience that relationship with Creator.  And, I think you do not need to take advantage of the written text, in any way. Frankly, the best thing you could have done by leaving it behind.
            James

  7. pennyofheaven profile image81
    pennyofheavenposted 4 years ago

    Nice Post Tari!

    1. Tari profile image60
      Tariposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      thanks penny.. like everyone i was chipping in my little bit to a very fascinating hub

  8. kerryg profile image85
    kerrygposted 4 years ago

    In my experience, life outside organized religion is considerably more pleasant than life within. Of course, I am an introvert, so I don't miss the social aspects of church at all (much happier without them, in fact), whereas others might.

    I'm probably personally too much of a heretic to have much useful advice for you, but my husband is similar to you in that he believes in God but has moved away from organized religion. In his case, he has continued to practice the rituals that bring him the most joy and peace, such as regular prayer, charitable giving, and Ramadan (he's Muslim), and has created others to replace those that didn't work for him. For example, he feels closest to God in nature, so he hikes as often as possible.

    From a more Christian perspective, I think the most important thing to remember is Matthew 22:35-40. The rest is just window dressing, and some of it (frankly) very counterproductive window dressing!

    1. Druid Dude profile image60
      Druid Dudeposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Organized religion is mired in multiple interpretations and dogma. Their philosophy is set in stone, there is no room for constructive discussion. The Jews discuss biblical matters on a much broader plane with the Kabbala. Opposing veiws of God are not silenced. Here is an observation I have made: It is written that if someone says 'We have Jesus here. Come here...do not go. If someone says Jesus is over there, go there...do not go. Jesus said that. Pretty accurate forecast of the future from two thousand years ago.

    2. cam8510 profile image93
      cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Good application of Jesus own words DD.  Jesus does seem to get around.

    3. cam8510 profile image93
      cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      I really do think that as we move away from men's religions and keep our  eyes on the true, uncomplicated, open armed God, we will be led to Him.

      1. Cagsil profile image60
        Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Okay, this settles what you define "God" as. Which also means, you're still following the teachings of religion.

        Sorry, had to point that out.

  9. cam8510 profile image93
    cam8510posted 4 years ago

    I think the true God is waiting around every turn.

    1. Cagsil profile image60
      Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Now, that would depend solely on what you define "God" as, don't you think?

      1. cam8510 profile image93
        cam8510posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        The Bible and the Christian church would define
        him for me, but I have gone that way and find men fighting for power there.  Not interested.

    2. recommend1 profile image72
      recommend1posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      If you are starting on this search or journey but start with the precondition that there is a god, then you will only have one path to follow which leads to a preconditioned end.  Even if there is such a thing as a god, you will not find it by walking blindly into a light, any more than a precondition that there is not  a god will help.

  10. profile image0
    SamanthaMiller11posted 4 years ago

    I do participate in organized religion, but I have had my problems with it and I understand how it pushes people away. I personally feel that life without a belief in God is a sad life.  If there is no God, then that means we are all here for no reason. How sad is that? How can anyone lead a fulfilling life with that on their hearts?

    1. Cagsil profile image60
      Cagsilposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Really? WOW!
      Wrong.
      It's sad that you're wrong and don't realize it.
      Actually, it's not in their hearts. Leading a fulfilling life is based on your own understanding of yourself. My life isn't about me and I've made sure of it by creating my own purpose for living. Have you done that? If not, then apparently you're more confused than you need to be. wink

  11. pstraubie48 profile image90
    pstraubie48posted 4 years ago

    Organized religion can be confusing at best. I do attend a small  church in the small town in which I live and I have written about it. I have attended huge churches and find this one is decidedly different. I can feel God's presence within this congregation Amidst all of the clamoring and confusion in a huge congregation, not so much.
    It made me question what this whole organized religion thing was...it is right for some but not for me.
    I also believe that the gateway to my contact with God is through prayer, not through church doors. So I am in continuous prayer throughout the day as I know He is there awaiting whatever words I am sending His way
    I have not had the same experience with unanswered prayer that you have. God has listened and has blessed my family members. My grandson for 17 years and my daughter for nine. Both have cancer. I have written about them here on hubpages (rare disease). We were told my grandson would never be four, six, and definitely would never see his 13th birthday.
    My daughter was told 4 years ago to party like a rock star. The cancers are all throughout her body and she has other serious medical conditions due to the treatments she received.
    How to explain that they are still on the planet was termed by the doctors as 'miraculous.' They could find no other way to explain it. For all of these years we have had a body of Angels praying for and watching over the two of them.
    For this reason I know that Christianity is right of my life. God is here for me each day and as I have said many times carries me over the rough spots. I am sending God's love your way.

  12. cam8510 profile image93
    cam8510posted 4 years ago

    I have been gone on an "internet-less" vacation on an island in Lake Superior, so I am just now able to read any responses to my hubs, questions and forum topics.  Thank you everyone who has replied and shared your wisdom.  I have read every word here and appreciate the time and thought it has taken to respond.  I won't try to respond to individual comments that were made while I was gone, but don't look at that as lack of appreciation on my part. 


    Chris

 
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