My 'journey' so to speak started with the first 18 years of my life being raised as a member of the Church of Christ in Perth, Western Australia. Didn't think there was anything unusual at all about that or the fundamental beliefs I was raised on. I joined the Police Force at 18 and had my eyes rudely widened to some of the things that go on in the world (gee ignorance was bliss when I was young!) which led me to serious doubt in the beliefs I had been raised on. My main issue was how God could condemn people to hell for 'not believing' when I saw clearly that so many people are a product of their upbringing. I know there are some exceptions but I could hardly blame kids for becoming criminals or living lives full of drugs, alcohol and violence, when they were raised in homes full of crime, drugs, alcohol and violence!
Anyhow, this led to a rejection of God and I remember specifically being so angry with God that He was so unfair. That transformed over time into a rejection of belief in God at all, and although I thought there was/may be some spiritual element to the world, I didn't really entertain the notion much more than that. Life went on, albeit substantially distanced from my christian parents and my missionary sister.
Fast forward 20 years to when the GFC (Global Financial Crisis as we call it in Australia) hits and there's also that killer flu getting around, and I'm starting to crack a little under pressure. Geared up to the hilt with investment debt I start to worry, for the first time in my life, about possibly losing my home and ruining my family (wife and two little boys). A physical symptom of anxiety (globas - kinda like a squash ball stuck in your chest) was diagnosed and I felt relieved knowing it was just a minor psychological issue (anxiety & worry) and not a physical problem like cancer or something.
Then a friend of mine who is a strong fundamentalist, tells me it's God's way of 'calling' me back. That's it - kick me while I'm down! I went into a tailspin from there and spent the next 12 months (until early 2010) thinking I was going insane and being ######-scared of going to Hell, even though I felt powerless to do anything because I simply couldn't 'believe'. I don't want to overplay it too much other than to say I genuinely think I understand what it's like now for people who feel they have lost all hope or that they are going insane and that suicide is the only way out. Funnily enough, one of the things that stopped me from going that far was the thought I might be bringing on the very thing I was freaking out about - Hell!
Thankfully I found people like John Spong, Marcus Borg, Bart Erhmann, that showed me so much about biblical interpretation and really helped me gain a different understanding of Jesus, Christianity, and the bible (special mention also to Philip Gulley who I found on the web and who corresponded with me via email - he'll never know how much he actually helped me). While I'm at it, I also came into contact by the strangest of ways with a bloke by the name of Denis Osborne who wrote a little publication years ago called "The Andromedans". Denis also rates up there as one of my 'saviors'.
'That' all began around April 2009 and now I am genuinely enjoying reading about Jesus, God and Christianity. I have to admit that I still don't have any firm beliefs about God one way or the other, but I am much more comfortable reading and learning about Christianity now that I understand what 'progressive' Christianity is more about. At least I can investigate and learn and see where it takes me. I am no longer scared (well, most of the time).