It has been on my heart for a while now to document my leaving Christianity. Hopefully this will help others to understand how this could happen to a person with a reputation as a serious student of the Bible. Spiritual Babies.net had has asked their listeners to submit videos where they addressed 10 questions about leaving Jesus, so it seemed like a good idea to follow this format…so here we go:
1. When did you loose your faith in the New Testament? It was in 2014 that I came to terms with where my studies had brought me, but it was a long journey of several years.
2. When you began your journey out of Christianity what was your faith? I spent 20 years in a reformed protestant church (aka Calvinism) and considered myself rather well versed in reformed theology. As a counselor and teacher I was very committed to growing in my faith and understanding..
First step on the journey out was over the past several years I took an interest in:
- Church history
- The canon of the NT
- The church fathers
- Jewish history – First century BC/AD
- Dead Sea Scrolls
- And other topics like textual criticism, inerrancy and inspiration
- Biblical Hebrew
Second step on the journey was leaving our church of over 20 years due to a number of reasons: Primarily doctrinal differences so that we felt we could not uphold our membership vows any more:
- The Sabbath and the Feasts
- The Lords Supper as a communal meal
- Malachi 3:10 on tithing taken out of context.
- We stopped entering into Christmas and Easter due to it’s pagan roots years ago
We began to feel that there were some real problems with how the church had evolved in its theology and not even keeping in tune with what was plain in the NT.
3. How did it make you feel when you questioned the NT? So once we left the church we were members of, things progressed very quickly. I think the reason was because I was no longer counseling and teaching or bound by membership vows and that brought a freedom to “question” the new testament where I saw problems rather than continue to adhere to the circular thinking – if there appears to be a contradiction, its only because the truth has not yet been revealed.
- One of the topics I had been studying was inerrancy and inspiration what i discovered helped me to be confident that I was not alone in asking the hard questions and also I began to see that much christian doctrine is based on opinion and not on truth or fact. I kept asking myself the question, “Who gets to decide if …”
- Jesus is God
- That these letters are inspired
- That the feasts are no longer applicable
- Whether I’ll go to hell if I don’t believe in Jesus
- Whether I need to be perfect to have a relationship with God
- Whether God really gave His name to Jesus
- Whether there is a trinity
4. Did you lose faith in Jesus at the same time? What events led you to question the New Testament? No, I did not lose faith in JC at the same time. Some of the specific things that began to trouble me about the NT were:
- Seeing the misquotes by Paul
- The proof texting prophecies of Jesus
- The Christian IMO, misinterpretation of some of Paul’s writings…like Col 2
- Don’t let anyone judge you concerning the feasts
- The matter of authority – who has the authority to change God’s word
5. What effect did leaving Jesus have on your relationships? In my case my leaving JC has improved many of my relationships. Why, because:
- I am free to be me with out the pressure of evangelizing people
- Free not to feel like I have to correct people’s bad theology
- I am less judgmental and I hope more humble
- And awakened me to the gross deception of Christian doctrine
- Christian friends who know me intimately and love me have remained
- We still talk about God and understand He is central to our lives
One more thing I want to convey about “leaving Jesus” is that in my case, I did not really leave Jesus, he just faded away as I read Torah and looked to my heavenly Father, HaShem, and embraced all the Torah says about Him – it was like one day I realized, Jesus was far away and I did not see my need for him any more. I have since repented of idolatry and turned completely away to worship YHVH alone.
6. Is Your understanding of a relationship with God different now than before? This question makes me laugh because there is such a simplicity and peace that I did not have before and did not realize was missing. That’s because I had suspended my logical rational side and simply relied on faith…Christian definition of faith that has little basis in understanding Hebrews 11:3. As I have journeyed out of Christianity I realized 2 things:
- You can’t know, what you don’t know. All I knew was what I had been taught. I had never really allowed myself to consider any other interpretation.
- That when I became a Christian, it was based on 2 things: a.) experiences: my life was changed for the better and I had a lot of unusual spiritual experiences. b.) I never did my due diligence with the scriptures. I accepted what i was told about Christian doctrines. Now That I’ve reckoned with the scriptures I’ve determined that the tenets of Christianity are contradictory to what I see in the Hebrew scriptures
7. What would you say to someone who has questions about the New testament? I would say:
- Read the Torah (first 5 books). Get very familiar with Torah it’s the plumb line.
- Read the Torah with the restored name of YHVH
- Then read the NT in chronological order.
- Watch for how the theology about Jesus evolves.
- Next take every prophecy of Jesus from the NT and read it in its context
8. Were there people who helped you on your journey at any point? Help comes in all different forms. There are several people whose work I studied along the way
- Michael Heiser. Though a Christian and trinitarian…I have a great respect for Dr. Heiser because IMO he was one of the first intellectually honest scholars I studied with.
- Dr. Robert Eisenman who helped me to see the history of Christianity through a more historical lens and as he has done a good job in my opinion of blending all the NT and extra biblical historical sources together so one can see more clearly what the Jewish/christian mind set was in the first century.
- Bart Ehrman’s work has been instrumental in providing a understanding of textual criticism.
- Rabbi’s Michael Skobac and Tovia Singer whose teaching so resonated with what I was beginning to see for myself in the Tanakh…their teaching felt like a home coming. Water to my soul.
One does not always have to be on the same page faith wise with others, what I am looking for is to learn from intellectually honest people.
9. What is the best thing about being where you are now and what is the most challenging? I love where I am at: I have a peace and freedom, a love and joy that I just did not have previously – though I thought I did. I feel free to simply love God and others and appreciate the differences without feeling the responsibility to correct anyone’s theology. Truly God has His hand on His people and draws them with cords of loving kindness.
10. If I could go back and change one thing what would it be? That would be to reckon with the scriptures (Hebrew and Christian) and not just take someone’s word for what it means. To not feel like I’m just not smart enough or in the know enough to “get it”. That God requires us to have “spiritual eyes” to understand His word. No actually it is plain and written down in a way anyone can understand.
I now realize that Christianity has a lot of emotion wrapped up in it. Jesus evokes a lot of emotion in people and therefore people are quite attached to this figure/phantom who they believe has given them everything they need for righteousness and salvation by sacrificing his life. When the reality is YHVH is all we need – He set His affection on us, He forgives the repentant sinner, He moves us to walk in paths of righteousness for His names sake. He is God and there is no other: He ordained the end form the beginning: He is Savior, Redeemer, Father, friend – He is echad – He is One.