Orientation for new believers

What should new believers expect to find when they sign up to follow Christ and thereby inherit a spiritual family?

Well, pretty much the opposite of this list recently posted on a group support website for former Christians.

I think it is worth noting the stark contrast between conversion stories vs. de-conversion stories. One is a story of new life breaking in where death once stood. The other is a story of death overtaking life.

The contrast couldn’t be greater.

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9 Responses to Orientation for new believers

  1. "death overtaking life" Your assumptions are dead wrong.

    Pain is a part of recovery. It's what deconverts have to go through as they realize what they once believed/worshiped are not true. It's called growing up and facing reality. When reason and critical thinking become our main focus, this pain eventually subsides, and we appreciate what "truth" actually means.

    • You are assuming that "reality" is what they are facing. I would argue that stripping one of all their beliefs also robs them of meaning and purpose.

      Atheism (which is what most deconverts seem to deconvert to) is, as Nietzsche pointed out, at base a nihilistic system which offers no hope, joy, meaning, or purpose.

  2. Getting addicted to something is a thrill.

    Christianity promises eternal life, and when you first believe it it is thrilling beyond belief. But then the addiction begins to take control. At some point if you get in too deep you realize you have to get out. Withdrawal is painful.

    Thanks for this post as it brings attention to just how awful leaving the Christian faith can truly be. I recommend nobody join unless you understand the risks.

    • And what would those risks be, exactly?

      It isn't the intention of this post to prove Christianity is true or false, the point is that the transition between the two, from one to the other is radically different.

      Whether you agree with my summary that going from unbelief to belief is akin to going from death to life, the point remains that atheism only brings heartache because it offers no greater hope or connection to anything other than a cold harsh reality that you are finite, going to die eventually, and that nothing you do can possibly matter for very long (because the entire universe is trending towards heat death).

      • Well, I mean… I'm an atheist and I wrote the article you linked to and I have to confess that I'd prefer cold, harsh reality.

        The risks of joining a Christian group are wide and ranging and mostly psychological. If you think about it (and I do realize that the normal jist of faith is to trust something without understanding it completely – hence the mystery and the need to actually trust) there are psychological hooks within Christianity that can cause all sorts of problems.

        From my personal experience, being in a Christian home and church increased my OCD, anxiety, fears, depression, and even voices in my head because I firmly believed that demons and angels existed and were co-existing and interacting in our world. The core problem from my experience is that there is no way to keep someone's faith in check and it can lead to dangerous consequences. If you want examples, let me provide. For the most part, I am simply going off of my personal experiences in churches where decisions were made based on faith – with disastrous results. We've all heard of the stories of children dying at the hands of their parents because the parents refused to seek medical treatment for them based on their faith.

        My point is that it is risky, not completely flawed. But the same goes for just about anything: moving to a new place, making a new group of friends, getting a new job, taking up tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, finding a new sexual partner, etc. All of these things are tempting and promise a certain reward but have associated risks.

        I just personally believe that everyone should avoid Christianity because the faith promises the reward of eternal life. But it is not true. You mentioned that atheism was about facing cold, harsh reality. There is a subtle contentment to be found in facing reality.

        Almost all the pain I have experienced in the last year since leaving Christianity has been related to watching my family members and old Christian friends do completely irrational things and make completely wrong assumptions – and then suffer pain because of it. To make things worse, they treat me as if I never was a Christian in the first place (effectively calling me a liar) and either try to convert me back or completely ignore my life now.

        I was talking to a friend recently about how Christians are so nice… and he responded with "they save their vitriol for people like you." So, this is just warning. Don't join unless you plan to stick it out forever, because when you leave Christians will make sure they inflict on you all the emotional pain they can.

        There is nothing worse to a Christian than a heretic or an apostate. As Peter says, it would have been better for someone to have never understood the truth than to have understood it and turned away. What Peter doesn't say is that a lot of Christians are the ones who will make your life miserable because they suck you in socially, remove other influences so that your only solid friendships are them (you can't be influenced by the 'world'), and then if you decide to leave you are… well… alone.

        • I am sorry your personal expieriences with Christians in the past was apparently traumatic. I recognize and accept that many who have claimed to have been followers of christ (and some may have been) may have done you grievous harm.

          However I'm not sure what you are really referring to when you say that Christians "inflict on you all the emotional pain they can" when/if you leave the faith. Can you elaborate on that some more?

          As for creating a dependency. Are you talking about joining THE church (the one Christ established) or are you talking about joining an organization/institution? If the former, then I am confused as to how that could possibly be the case since Christ taught that joining him was the definition of freedom (from sin, death, hell, etc) but if you are talking about the latter then I can and will readily agree with you.

          Finally, you seem to be rather confident in your view of reality. Since I don't want to misrepresent you or address a position you don't hold do you mind outlining to me what your views on reality is/are? Especially as they pertain to the realm of the supernatural? Also, I am curious what makes you sure of your present conclusions and how you think they are correct (given that you previously held conclusions you now claim are incorrect)?

  3. I should clarify that they won't inflict "all they can", but it will certainly feel like it. They won't listen to you. They won't pay attention to any of your objections except to tell you that you are wrong. They will not be open to you emotionally. It is social suicide to join Christianity and leave.

    Christians won't intentionally make your life miserable (some of them will) for the most part, but that is where it is so hard to explain the psychological damage that can come from joining the church. It creates a dependency that is not necessary, if that makes sense.

  4. First you're just a baby. Then you are finally old enough to really understand just who Santa Claus is, and believe that he brings you all those wonderful presents. You hang onto that belief for as long as possible (so you don't stop getting all those presents!) but eventually you grow up and mature and become rational and are forced to admit that you no longer believe in Santa Claus. But there are punishments if you don't keep your mouth shut around younger children who still believe.

  5. Joshua: "I just personally believe that everyone should avoid Christianity because the faith promises the reward of eternal life. But it is not true."

    I'm curious how you would presume to know that.

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