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Divinity School


Lee Tasey
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I'm looking for stories, websites, and testimonies of Christians losing their faith in divinity school. It didn't have to restult in flat-out atheism or anything, but just a journey away from Fundamentalism/conservative evangelicalism (and the emotional turmiol, rejection, etc that went along with it.)

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

Lee

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest wayfarer2k

Lee,

 

I didn't go to divinity school but I did attend a Pentecostal Holiness Bible school for a year (sort of "divinity school lite").

 

Although my experiences there didn't cause me to overtly go to atheism, those experiences were my first hard look at how Christianity doesn't often follow the optimistic promises that it presents to our culture.

 

In summary:

 

When I began Bible school, I hadn't received the "gift of tongues" which the school (and the denomination) considers to be the primary evidence that one is a Christian, that God has seen fit to put his spirit in you. No matter how much I sought the "gift", God never gave it to me (even to this day some 30 years later). I happened to play the piano so I was sent out as an accompaniest for the school's "ministry teams", whose main function was to advertize and raise money for the school. Half way through the school year, I was called into the dean's office and informed that I would no longer be sent out on the ministry teams because I could not yet speak in tongues. Their logic was that God would not put his spirit in me because I was harboring some secret sin and was just too dirty for God to use. It was a crushing blow to me at the time because I looked up to the leadership of the school as being so spiritual and tight with God.

 

The second thing that happened there that caused me to not return the following year involved a friend I had that was a converted homosexual. He was in his last year at the school and although his testimony was supportive of his conversion from homosexuality, the school said that they would not give him a minister's license, only a certificate of completion. They did not want someone who had such a shady past to represent their school or denomination in the pulpit. My friend completed the school but, just like me, felt that he was considered second-class by God. Oddly enough, he *could* speak in tongues, surely evidence that he was converted. :)

 

Anyways, both of those experiences led me to see that though Christians talk about the ground being level at the foot of the cross, when it comes to practical living, there is still a pecking order. And that pecking order has much more to do with imposed standards than with looking for the fruit of the spirit in the life of the believer.

 

God taught me some things through those experiences but those events definately were the seeds of my later discontentment (and eventual disowning) of the conservative, evangelical, fundamentalist approach to God, to the Bible, and to others.

 

wayfarer

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When I began Bible school, I hadn't received the "gift of tongues" which the school (and the denomination) considers to be the primary evidence that one is a Christian, that God has seen fit to put his spirit in you. No matter how much I sought the "gift", God never gave it to me (even to this day some 30 years later).

 

That is fascinating. I was ten when I "received the gift." As I understand it, it has more to do with personality. "Speaking in tongues" is a form of self-hypnosis. Some people are more able to be hypnotized than others are. I had a good friend as a child who had a similar experience to what you did. Although, in the church I went to it was not seen as bad thing. They went with the idea that God gives different gifts to different people and even though many get the "gift of tongues" not all do.

 

Their logic was that God would not put his spirit in me because I was harboring some secret sin and was just too dirty for God to use. It was a crushing blow to me at the time because I looked up to the leadership of the school as being so spiritual and tight with God.

 

Yikes! Well, in a way we all are ;) Actually, it sounds like they are projecting. What is interesting is that both Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker had secret sins and both spoke/speak in tongues... hmmm...

 

They did not want someone who had such a shady past to represent their school or denomination in the pulpit. My friend completed the school but, just like me, felt that he was considered second-class by God. Oddly enough, he *could* speak in tongues, surely evidence that he was converted. :)

 

Whoa!

 

 

God taught me some things through those experiences but those events definately were the seeds of my later discontentment (and eventual disowning) of the conservative, evangelical, fundamentalist approach to God, to the Bible, and to others.

 

My experiences differ some from the same place but I had the same end result. I found that those who I had looked up to were much more "human" than they let on to be. I also found out they were just flat out wrong about a lot of things. As a female I was also seen as a second class citizen which also led to my leaving of the denomination of my childhood.

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Guest wayfarer2k
I found that those who I had looked up to were much more "human" than they let on to be.  I also found out they were just flat out wrong about a lot of things.  As a female I was also seen as a second class citizen which also led to my leaving of the denomination of my childhood.

 

Hi, October's Autumn. I think that was a big part of my revelation also, realizing that we all put on our pants (or skirts) the same way. :)

 

I now attend a denomination that does support that women have just as much "right" to represent God in church as men do. I'd rather celebrate the differences than judge by them.

 

Oddly enough, those who claim that, according to a *literal* New Testament, women have no right to take a leadership role in the church don't seem to support the apostle Paul's *literal* view that women are "saved" through childbirth. :D

 

wayfarer

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I found that those who I had looked up to were much more "human" than they let on to be.  I also found out they were just flat out wrong about a lot of things.  As a female I was also seen as a second class citizen which also led to my leaving of the denomination of my childhood.

 

Hi, October's Autumn. I think that was a big part of my revelation also, realizing that we all put on our pants (or skirts) the same way. :)

 

I now attend a denomination that does support that women have just as much "right" to represent God in church as men do. I'd rather celebrate the differences than judge by them.

 

Oddly enough, those who claim that, according to a *literal* New Testament, women have no right to take a leadership role in the church don't seem to support the apostle Paul's *literal* view that women are "saved" through childbirth. :D

 

wayfarer

 

I was having a similar conversation with my husband last night. I was noting how people who are so bent on hating gay people but don't have a problem with gluttons.

 

Don't get me wrong, I don't think people should hate/exclude/whatever people who have addictions or are obese.

 

It is just the contradictions of literalists who pick and choose which scripture to focus on.

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  • 1 month later...

Seminary may encourage doubt, but that isn't, as I see it, a bad thing at all. Doubt--rather than being a threat to faith, usually ends up being the growing pains of faith--at least, I think, for those who are willing to hang in there with the discomfort and anxiety of uncertainty.

 

In my case, as an undergraduate studying Scripture at a Catholic college where I was introduced to historical criticism, and later, where I found myself reading hungrily anything I could find by theologians like Tillich, my faith was often stretched to the point of great discomfort and my assumptions were frequently challenged. When I went off then to seminary, I was pretty well ready to deal with the 'deconstruction' that took place there, and the opening up to deeper, newer, avenues of exploring my faith tradition.

 

I would say, if it hadn't been for the challenges to the religion of my childhood and its fundamentalist outlook, I would not have grown in faith and would have left it behind for something a lot more 'rational'. My undergraduate and graduate study of religion and theology kept me in the church, rather than leading me out of it. :) Luth

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I didn't - and won't - go to Divinity School. But studying religion at my moderate/liberal Baptist University certainly shaped who I am today. Going into college, I was already more moderate and less conservative than my parents, I was just afraid to admit it(lots of long stories there). Through college, seeing the hypocrisy of certain christian students, as well as learning some of the things I learned in classes, finally led me to becoming open to the world of the liberal questioner.

 

Which makes it aggravating to have to still live with my conservative family. Last time my mom and I got in a serious religious conversation, she told me that I was hard-hearted and evil, and would probably die soon because I was turning away from God. :huh:

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I didn't - and won't - go to Divinity School. But studying religion at my moderate/liberal Baptist University certainly shaped who I am today. Going into college, I was already more moderate and less conservative than my parents, I was just afraid to admit it(lots of long stories there). Through college, seeing the hypocrisy of certain christian students, as well as learning some of the things I learned in classes, finally led me to becoming open to the world of the liberal questioner.

 

Which makes it aggravating to have to still live with my conservative family. Last time my mom and I got in a serious religious conversation, she told me that I was hard-hearted and evil, and would probably die soon  because I was turning away from God.  :huh:

Wow! That's sad. Sorry to hear she had that reaction. My brother and my ex-wife are both fundamentalist Christians (During our marriage, we went to a Lutheran church, where she apparently kept to herself her Right wing Christian sympathies, and as soon as we split, she made a hard right!) I tend to stay off the subjects of religion and politics with both of them. Otherewise, there would be no relationship at all, or a very strained and unpleasant one.

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I didn't - and won't - go to Divinity School. But studying religion at my moderate/liberal Baptist University certainly shaped who I am today. Going into college, I was already more moderate and less conservative than my parents, I was just afraid to admit it(lots of long stories there). Through college, seeing the hypocrisy of certain christian students, as well as learning some of the things I learned in classes, finally led me to becoming open to the world of the liberal questioner.

 

Which makes it aggravating to have to still live with my conservative family. Last time my mom and I got in a serious religious conversation, she told me that I was hard-hearted and evil, and would probably die soon  because I was turning away from God.  :huh:

 

 

Yikes!

 

I found the hardest thing about coming from a conservative family and becoming a liberal is feeling isolated. I went to a UU church for a short time and when I said something to my mom she replied with "Oh, they don't believe in anything." So, when I started going regularly to the UCC I didn't bother to tell her.

 

I found two things that helped me. One was moving/living far away from my family so I only have to deal with them once in a while and the other is finding a social network of those who believe similarly. It was very helpful that the senior minister of my church is about 4 years old than my parents (essentially the same age). I did a "Ha! He is 'old' and he believes like I do!"

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Chad:

 

I'm sorry to hear of your trouble, but many have suffered for their beliefs and survived to live better lives in the future. Only you can decide what's best to preserve who and what you are, and no one else can give you those answers. It's very difficult to be negatively judged by someone who loves you and that you love, but even that can be overcome by finding the core of yourself and preserving it fiercely. If separating yourself from the pain is your only option after all your considerations, then I repeat, you must do whatever it will take to preserve yourself and who you are.

 

Two books helped me through that process when I went through it twice, The Road Less Traveled, and People Of The Lie, both written by the Late M. Scott Peck. He was a very wise and loving person and a psychiatrist who believed in finding love and caring in the most difficult of situations. He espoused a very Christian approach to solving these sorts of situations.

 

G-d go with you and enclose you in His/Her loving arms.

 

flow.... :unsure:

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Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I do definitely plan on moving out. We currently live in NC. I have plans to move to the Chicago area. Could be as early as this fall, or as late as June of next year..... pending some details on the job front and of course, apartment search.

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