Religion and Spirituality · Science and Philosophy

How Christianity Became Just Another Religion to Me

This is a repost from the archives.

Well, in case you missed it…I’m not a Christian anymore.

My religion officially died sometime in February this year, when, during a conversation with the Infinite One, I realized I didn’t need anyone’s permission to stop struggling with the theologies I’d been trying to reconcile and defend for years.

When I was a teenager, I constantly repeated the logical argument: not every religion can be correct, because all the religions are so different, and Christianity was unique among the religions.

Which makes logical sense, but the premises are untrue. I don’t think anyone who’s actually studied world religions can possibly conclude that Christianity is much different from the rest. No other religion has a divinely inspired book. Except Islam, and a bunch of others. No other deity would die for his people. Except Odin. The list goes on and on.

After I lost faith in the Bible, I still wanted to read some dense ancient books, because they’re really enjoyable and insightful. I started reading the Quran, the Rg Veda, and a variety of Hindu and Buddhist philosophical texts.

I still considered myself a Christian, which helped with my approach to these other holy books. It was a massive relief to come across something I disagree with, and to be allowed to disagree. Reading the Bible wasn’t like that at all. If I ran into a story that bothered me, like child sacrifice, I had to pray about it and submit myself to its truth, and somehow reconcile that it belonged in the Bible.

Now I could read about the Hindu caste system, and be open but objective about it. They have some great ideas, and I took notes. Whenever I saw something I didn’t agree with, that was fine. There was no obligation to be consistent and to believe everything.

What I loved most about Indian Buddhism was how honest it was about not having all the answers. It was peppered with the same sentiment that Socrates expressed in his trial – that he was the wisest man in the room because he believed he possessed no wisdom whatsoever. I liked that idea a lot better than the line from the Bible I’d constantly heard from people who wanted me to shut up and stop asking questions: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways.”

I found poetry, prophecy, philosophy, wise maxims and proverbs, and applicable insights. Kind of like what I’d found in the Bible, except I didn’t feel the need to explain and minimize the contradictions, violence, and hatred.

The other question that troubled me was this: why would a loving God only communicate with one small group of people on the entire planet? That’s the claim of Noah, Abraham, and Moses. I thought that while the Israelites were getting direct access to God, the rest of the world was lost in the darkness.

Someone told me about the Zend Avesta. She said that according to legend, the Arabian wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem were Zoroastrian. It’s difficult to actually back up this claim, but the Bible pretty clearly says that the wise men weren’t Jews. So while the Old Testament was being written, the rest of the world was also pursuing spirituality, and tapping into higher understanding and wisdom. It made anthropological sense, and besides, I don’t really want to have anything to do with a God that leaves most of the planet in the dark while favoring one small group.

One of my friends, who had been raised Christian and later became Buddhist, texted me one day to say she was also giving up on the Buddhist title. “I don’t believe everything about Buddhism,” she said. “I just like a lot of what it says.”

I liked that she could do that. I realized that I could do the same with Christianity. I don’t believe everything in it – I don’t think the god of the bible is consistent, I don’t believe in sin, and I don’t believe in an afterlife. My deity is the Infinite One, and I really love the myth of Yeshua, but that doesn’t make me a Christian.

I narrowed it down a lot, and I wouldn’t say my beliefs had ceased to be Christianity. It was still what many people might call Christianity. I just know that I was tired of struggling with a belief system, and I gave myself the space to explore, and I realized I’m a spiritual person who doesn’t adhere to any particular religion.

Part of the reason is that “Christian dogma” is suuuuuper inconsistent. If you self-identify as Christian, you’re a Christian. Most of the population of the planet self-identifies as Christian, but take it from a former apologetics researcher: good luck defining it.

One of my friends asked, “Have you found a title that fits you?” I told her that I liked my own name a lot, and I do. I don’t know whether I’ll try to find another title for my spirituality, which right now looks like lots of meditation, prayer, and chasing my obsessions and dreams.

I’m okay with people picking and choosing what feels right to them. That used to seem like such a bad idea, because Christians told me that they were doing something different. Then I realized that Christians weren’t doing anything different. They just said they were.

And Yeshua saved his choicest words for the hypocrites.