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Hello From An Ex-Fundamentalist Turned Agnostic Turned...what Comes Af


Leonardo
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Hello,

 

I'm Leonardo. Not my birth name, more like a 'personal' name.

 

I'm 21 years old, living in Tennessee, and a student at MTSU.

 

I dropped out of the Baptist church about 4 years ago and went on a lot of different rabbit trails, sometimes thinking I'm an atheist, other times thinking I'm some sort of Christian, often just over the course of a day. For the most part, I've dispensed with labels.

 

After getting to know myself a bit more, I went back to studying church history, the gospels, and various other sources on Christianity. I wanted to see if there was something still relevant to me, because I felt like, for some reason, a part of me was still a Christian.

 

But as I like to say, once a fundamentalist, always a fundamentalist. Even after dropping out of church, it's hard to outgrow that black-and-white perspective. It leaks into every other life philosophy, even the most mundane ones. I came to realize that if there is any kind of God, then God must have a much broader, more flexible perspective on things. Because that God is the one who created all of life's grey areas that I couldn't process.

 

So here I am, a little indignant that I let others define what it means to be a Christian for me. I don't know what I believe, except that if people like you weren't brave enough to bend Christianity, then it would have broken a long time ago.

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Hi Leonardo, welcome to the board. I can identify a lot with what you say. I'm 23, and too was raised in a Baptist church (Independent Baptists in the Northeast US). Started intensely questioning things at the typical age, around 15. Left fundamentalist/conservative faith a few years later, and began to explore other religions and philosophies. Like you, I still feel a pull to Christianity, though perhaps somewhat ambiguously. Studying a bit of the contemplative/mystical vein of Christianity, as well as popular liberal theology has helped me to see Christianity in ways I was never exposed to as a fundamentalist. No doubt what has really solidified my identification with Christianity was actually joining a (moderate-to-liberal) Presbyterian church a little over a year ago. Finding a place in a worship community can really make the faith meaningful/real, as opposed to remaining isolated or inactive in one's Christianity, which makes Christian faith difficult to maintain because it risks turning into more or less an idea, an abstraction.

 

As far as black and white thinking, it is of course very easy to fall into it, in part for logistical reasons: binary thinking simplifies the matter. This indeed manifests itself in all kinds of thought, including for example political. Neither pure capitalism nor totalitarianism are desirable, and strangely, though opposites, at their extremes they really resemble each other - like Taoism's doctrines concerning yin and yang. But I recall a member here saying something to the effect that real life is not lived at the extremes. I feel we have to learn how to live with ambiguity, because reality is ambiguous, and ideas and theories are rarely truly universal (and if universal, usually not very useful) but contextual.

 

I think you are right in ultimately dispensing with labels, as they are not really useful in life as it is lived. I believe above all else we must search for personal truth, no matter what label it might fall under.

 

Again, welcome.

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Welcome to the board. I was raised Jehovah's Witnesses...very fundamental..black and white mind-set. I walked away from it in 1996. After that I began researching the inner-net to see if there 'might be' NON-fundamental Christians out there. I found in my own experince that most XJWs end up very angry at God and usually end up angry atheists..so I consider myself lucky. I am still VERY cautious around conservative religious folks of any denomination or set. But am very glad this site is here!:)

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hi leonardo,

 

Welcome. The place where you are has a familiar ring.

 

The spirit blows where it will, and the promise is that the spirit is Mercy, Grace and Love.

 

If there be anywhere on earth a love of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shpwn to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love. (Julian of Norwich)

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Hi Leonardo,

I know what you mean when you talk about fundamentalism entering into every area of your life. It's too deep to enter into completely here, because it has so much to do with man's "natural" view of God: hard, punishing, judging..

It's incredible how much Christendom has made God into a man!!

I do believe, however, that God's ways really are higher (more noble, more pure) than man's ways. Man likes to destroy and judge.

 

But being spiritual, I would say, has a lot to do with simply "not knowing." Unless we have the Spirit without measure, as Jesus did.. otherwise, it's probably safer to say, "I don't know" than it is to make God to be/think like man.

 

Personally, I think it's not that fundamental Christianity doesn't know God, it's just that there's so much politics and materialism in it today that it's almost hard to see Jesus!

 

Blessings to you,

Brian

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