He narrated his experience in a series of tweets.
I’m not a Christian anymore.
After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from faith.
Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.
When I was in 8th grade and I was reading Greek mythology, it dawned on me how much of the supernatural interactions between the deity of the bible and mankind sounded like ancient mythology. That seed of doubt never went away.
I was raised in a hyper-fundamentalist family, and it felt good to be in a system that promised all the answer and solutions to life. The problem is, the system didn’t work. The promises were empty. The answers were lies.
As an adult my marriage was a sham and a constant source of pain for me. I did everything I was supposed to – marriage workshops, counseling, bible reading together, date nights every week, marriage books – but my marriage never became what I was promised it would be.
I was fully devoted to studying the scriptures. I think I missed maybe 12 Sundays in 40 years. I had completely memorized 18 books of the bible and was reading through the bible for the 24th time when I walked away.
I devoured all the “Christian apologetics” books that came out, and none of them answered my questions regarding the nature of god and the problems I found within the Scriptures. I found these books to be trite, dismissive, and full of pseudo science and evidence.
The more I read and studied the scriptures the more questions I had. Literally from the first chapter to the last, so many problems. And the more I learned about how the scriptures were canonized, the less I could believe in the “inerrancy” model that I had to espouse.
In 40 years I never witnessed a single event that was supernatural. Not one. Time and again I watched people die of cancer. I did funerals for 47 people from the age of 4 to 96. I prayed in faith with hundreds of people for healing to no avail. god didn’t answer prayers.
My devoutly christian parents were abusive, my marriage was a sham, prayer was never answered, miracles were never performed. People died, children rebelled, marriages failed, addictions occurred – all at the same rate as non believers. The system just doesn’t work.
I pastored mega churches & tiny churches. I did college ministry, camp ministry, youth ministry, music ministry, preaching ministry, church planting – everything in the church except work in the nursery. And what I saw was people desperate for the system to work for them.
I traveled on speaking teams, preached to thousands of teenagers at a time, wrote blogs, was published, formed curriculum, taught workshops, was an up-and-comer reforming my denomination. The whole time hoping at some point it would click, and become true for me.
An inescapable reality that I came to was that the people who benefited the most from organized religion were the fringe attenders who didn’t take it too seriously. The people who were devout were the most miserable, but just kept trying harder.
All the while, the experience I had within the church was that a lot (granted, not all) people use the church for power and influence. Many involved people in churches use it as their small kingdom for personal control and ego.
And the entire system is rife with abuse. And not just from the top down, sure there are abusive church leaders, but church leaders are abused by their congregants as well. Church people are just shitty to each other.
I spent my entire life serving, loving, and trying to help people in my congregations. And the lies, betrayal, and slander I have received at the hands of church people left wounds that may never heal.
This massive cognitive dissonance – my beliefs not matching with reality – created a separation between my head and my heart. I was gaslighting myself to stay in the faith.
Eventually I could not maintain the facade anymore, I started to have mental and emotional breaks. My internal stress started to show in physical symptoms. Being a pastor – a professional Christian – was killing me.
During this time I also found something amazing: I found a handful of people who were more Christian than any Christian I had ever met – and they weren’t Christian. I found love in places where love wasn’t supposed to exist. I found acceptance among people who were godless.
I learned that love is real. That acceptance is possible. That life is vibrant and full. But the church burdens people with fear, shame, and guilt, all for the purpose of maintaining control. I now see the church as a system perfectly curated to control people and culture.
I was a part of a system that enslaves people, and I was both a slave and a slave driver. We called chains freedom, and misery happiness. We had impossible standards that we could not meet so we turned the attention on others so the spotlight wasn’t on our own inadequacies.
Eventually I pulled the lever and dropped the bomb. Career, marriage, family, social standing, network, reputation, all gone in an instant. And honestly I didn’t intend to fully walk away, but the way the church turned on me forced me to leave permanently.
For those of you who want to yell at me, that’s fine. I know that many will call me an apostate, say I was never really saved, that I was a wolf in sheeps clothing, and that a hotter hell awaits me. And to you I say I love you. My heart is tender toward you.
To those who have been in my congregations or under my teaching/preaching I sincerely apologize. I thought I was right. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I could fake it until I made it. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I love you.
I have lost everything. I gave literally everything to serving Jesus. And walking away has cost me everything. All I can hope for is that the second half of my life can be full of love and genuine human relationships. I was wrong. I’m not faking anymore.
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