Part 5 of 5 of my journey from faith.
“I came to the realization that it wasn’t just the answers that didn’t fit anymore. It was the questions too.”
My departure from Evangelical Christianity was my first attempt at finding better answers.
How do I know anything at all about God?
How do I know about Jesus?
How can I restore my faith in the church?
But my next stop was not deconversion. Instead, my questions led me to Catholicism.
I had grown up in the Catholic Church so it was familiar. I understood the theology and how it differed from Evangelicalism. And there was much I liked…
The Bible is God’s word. But who gave us the Bible? The Catholic Church.
The Bible is often unclear and hard to understand. Wouldn’t it make sense that if God gave us his perfect word he would also give us a perfect interpreter? The Catholic Church.
When I went to Evangelical churches, I often left energized by what I had experienced and learned. So much of what I heard was about my life, my pastor, my bible study, my role… there was a lot of me, me, me and us, us, us.
In contrast, whenever I left mass, I felt that God was big. And I was not.
I liked that. I still do, in theory.
The whole of the mass was built upon liturgy that focussed on the cross, the scriptures, the sacraments, prayer, and connecting with God. The evangelical church service centered on the pastor and their sermon—and—the band and their music. I wanted less man and more God.
The Catholic Church.
When I went to mass I knew that in every Catholic Church around the planet—everyone was partaking in the same liturgy, the same readings, and the same sacraments. I was part of a universal community that projected more meaningful and obvious unity than a church built around a pastor who delivered impressive sermons.
It gave me confidence that the doubts I was dealing with were part of being human. And that since the church’s roots were traced to Jesus—I believed I belonged to something bigger than me, bigger than my opinions… even bigger than the Bible.
I didn’t have to have all the answers.
I had learned to argue both sides of so many Christian arguments. I had explored persuasive cases for opposing views. And I finally became convinced that believing rightly was too vague a notion for anyone to be so self-confident about.
I was tired of trying to correct everyone’s theology and incessantly purifying my own.
The Catholic Church had an authority that felt authentic. It gave us the Bible, the sacraments, the liturgy. And because of this, I didn’t need to solve the world of theology. I just had to have faith.
Faith. It was a word that had lost meaning over the years. It had evolved into certainty. Certainty in the fact that everything I believed was the right thing to believe.
As I loosened my grip on the right beliefs, I became more interested in the right actions. I often said—and still say—I am a “behaviorist”. I’m not so much interested in what people believe, but rather, I’m interested in what they do. How I treat people is the most significant impact I can have on the world.
I still believe that.
There was a point in my life when I believed that good deeds were meaningless if they weren’t done in God’s name.
I no longer believed this.
I started to find (and admit that there was) wisdom in places outside of Christians and Christianity.
My stay in the Catholic Church was brief.
Not so much because of anything the church did—although there’s plenty of gold to mine in those hills.
It was just that my transition away from the dogma of Christian soteriology had taken me to a place beyond the self-imposed limits I had put around my life.
I had escaped the cage I placed around my mind, my beliefs, my love, my life experience.
I came to the realization that there was no evidence or reason for so much I had put my faith in. In many cases, quite the contrary.
I came to the realization that the Bible wasn’t God’s word. And if somehow it was divine in origin, this was not a God I needed to worship.
I came to the realization that it wasn’t just the answers that didn’t fit anymore. It was the questions too.
And when I made that realization, I was born again.
There was liberty. There was relief. And there was joy.
But there was also loss.
It was an existential crisis. While it had happened over many years, the realization was in a moment.
In an instant, I realized that my worldview was completely turned upside down.
It is wonderful.
It’s simpler to love and be loved. To appreciate the moments we have on this earth. To embrace the breadth, depth, and profound beauty of people and the many walks of life.
It’s a giant leap to go from living a life of faith to a life of wonder.
But the world is bigger. Time more precious. Lives more significant. And mysteries more awe-inspiring.
But… this is just my story, my own journey. There is certainly more than one way to be human, and I don’t diminish or discount stories with entirely different outcomes than my own.
I don’t regret the portion of my life I gave to Christianity. I may certainly regret some of my actions and beliefs—but to remove those chapters would make my story incomplete.
It was a start. My start. A start of wisdom that only comes from paying attention to the lessons we learn along the way.
In big ways and in small ways, I hope to build upon it each day.