Mr. Trube asked me to write this post.
He and his father (coincidentally, also named Mr. Trube) have been reading and discussing a book called You Lost Me, which is about 18- to 29-year-olds who have left the Christian church. In other words, me.
I am not a Christian. I am an agnostic. But I was raised Christian, my parents were Christian, and my wife is Christian. I have a deep respect for Christianity, and (I think) a fairly good understanding of it. My rejection of it is not something I take lightly, nor something I came to quickly. I am agnostic because that’s where my search for truth led me, and for no other reason.
I’m what You Lost Me would call a “prodigal,” someone who has left not only the church, but also the faith itself.
Since Ben and his dad are talking about this so much right now, he asked me to share my own perspective, and I was happy to oblige.
Although many of my beliefs about Christianity are highly critical, there’s also much that I admire. In the interest of mutual respect and understanding, I’ll start today with the admiration part, and move to the critical part tomorrow.
What I Admire About Christianity
- Jesus. Putting aside for today the question of his divinity, Ben and I agree on one thing: Jesus, as presented in the Gospels, was a remarkably compassionate and wise human being. I do believe that Jesus existed as a historical person, and that his attitude was more or less as the Gospels describe. Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Love your enemies, bless those who curse you. Ask, and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more. I get chills – literal, genuine chills – reading these words. They form most of my own core philosophy on life.
- Forgiveness. Redemption lies at the heart of Christianity, and that’s deeply compelling for me. I believe people need second chances, and ten millionth chances, too. I believe we must forgive, as much for ourselves as for others.
- The Church as a community. I was never one of those people who hated “organized religion.” I think it’s great that so many people get together so often to do so much good. It strengthens interpersonal bonds, it strengthens the community, and it strengthens faith. Which reminds me…
- Faith. This is one of those words that has endless interpretations, and I believe my own interpretation is a bit different than the average Christian’s. Nevertheless, in my own way, I have a strong belief in the power of faith, and I think it is among the most powerful things we’ve discovered as a species.
- The idea of God and Heaven. I’ve got to hand it to Christianity: it makes a pretty amazing deal. Eternal bliss is hard to turn down. I love the idea that God could be real, that I could spend the remainder of Time co-existing with Him. It certainly makes me wish I could be a Christian.
So, with all these warm feelings, why am I not a Christian?
Stay tuned tomorrow.