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To those troubled with their faith: an appeal to reason
In my online 'travels', I've found that some of the most outspoken atheists are former Christians - some even coming from the highest and heavily-dedicated ranks: pastors, deacons and missionaries - some who have given their lives to the cause before doing a total 180. A common thread in this faction is that many have either come from some of the more outrageous, legalistic and heretical denominations (I use the term 'Christian' denomination loosely here), or were a part of an abusive church environment. As a Christian myself for 19 years, I have had firsthand experience with a few of these. It's easy for me to see why someone coming from one of these cultic, caustic and/or anti-intellectual environments would turn so hard against the faith. The wounds created are deep, and I have seen it happen to friends and associates of mine.
The process goes something like this: the person, at some point or another, begins to become educated - while at the same time, first experiencing the 'outside world' in some way that they've never been allowed to before. It can be a child brought up in a strict home finally going away to college, a dedicated church member deciding to research his or her faith for the purposes of better understanding God, or someone who encounters a friend or associate of differing faith and thereby is exposed to arguments against Christianity. The result is the person deciding to 'check up' on what they believe, and when they find some long-held beliefs to be incorrect, the results are traumatic.
Inevitably, the person begins to learn that many of the things they were taught for so long are clearly wrong. So they are forced to abandon their beliefs in those things. But a common problem is that such a Christian is unable to stop with just casting off the wrong things they were taught - they become distrustful of *everything* they were taught. While completely understandable, this is the beginning of disaster.
Some of the things taught in these bad environments were right. Even some of the most bizarre cults get a few points of doctrine correct. But as one goes through such an emotionally tumultuous crisis as a new doubter of their faith, they don't have the presence of mind to distinguish between the right and the wrong teachings - they simply reject *everything*, both the good and the bad. And so the floodgates open - everything they were taught to avoid, they now rush toward. Many turn down dark paths of drug and alcohol abuse. Others turn themselves loose to sexual promiscuity. Marriages, friendships and careers are ashes left behind in the blaze.
If you yourself are in a situation like one I described, I'm not here to pronounce judgement on you for where you are. I can see how it happened. I just urge you to keep a level head, as difficult as it may seem to do at the moment. Don't throw away what you have. There is a true Christ outside of the dystopia from where you just exited. I won't say it's going to be easy, but the answers are out there if you have the tenacity and resolve to find them.
Good places to start are the following web sites:
I would also recommend Ravi Zacharias' book "Has Christianity Failed You?".
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