By 2004 I was very involved (on the web) with what was often referred to as the out of church Christians. At that time there was no broadband and we used to talk of tens of thousands of committed Christians leaving churches that they may have been attending for many years. Now we know that the number leaving churches in Europe and North America is in the region of 3 to 4 million every year. Where are you now on your journey?
Maybe you hadn’t realised that people have been on such varied journeys.
- Maybe you are one of the DONES – Done with Religion – or someone who thinks of themselves as SBNR – Spiritual But Not Religious.
- Perhaps you would describe yourself as an Ex-Christian or Atheist but still looking for opportunities to share your thoughts in a constructive way.
- Many have become ‘disillusioned’ with some aspects of what they had been taught about the Christian RELIGION (or CHRISTENDOM).
[This was an important part of my journey and I have explained in some detail what I understand by this].
- Many people within the different denominations recognise that some things need to change. Others recognise that any denomination can only take its people as far as their own traditions and denominational theology will allow, and are looking for some of those deeper insights.
- Some have been abused by leaders; some are angry that they have been deceived while others have simply let go of what they had been taught.
- Perhaps you have considered some of the very diverse views of people who describe themselves as Progressive Christians where some are working from within while others have moved beyond the confines of their own denomination.
I had been treasurer of an Anglican church in the UK for 8 years in the 1960’s but since then I have been on a journey away from traditional Christianity without ever doubting the existence of God. This was the beginning of my first wilderness experience that lasted several years. I subsequently became a member of a Sabbath-keeping Christian church (very long story). It was in 1995 that the leadership of that church announced that much of their theology had been misguided – and that ‘destroyed’ our own family of 14 related by marriage. As an introvert whose formal education ended when I was 17, I felt ‘compelled’ to reconsider just about everything I had ever been taught. This was the beginning of a second ongoing wilderness experience. A very close friend once said, “Peter, you have the knack of asking some of the awkward questions to which there are no easy answers”.
I have been using the internet for 20 years and this blog started as a web site in 2000 and has been a work-in-progress ever since. I have been able to share stories with over 2,000 people including several Anglican and Evangelical leaders and former leaders. My journey has taken me through and beyond Christendom. For me there is a significant difference between the Christian FAITH and Christendom (or the Christian RELIGION).
I finally stopped attending church in 2009 and it was over the Easter period in 2012 that I had completed what for me was a very significant personal study based on “Christianity after Religion” by Diana Butler Bass (see sidebar). By the summer of 2012 I had a faith that I could hold on to ‘loosely’, but that’s when my real education started and life became really interesting. Like so many older people I no longer know for certain what I believe, and I came to the realisation that others were also holding on ‘loosely’ to somewhat different stories.
Towards the end of 2012 there was a lengthy BBC TV series entitled, “A History of the World” by Andrew Marr (see sidebar for my own rough notes) that highlighted the reality that civilisation as we know it is probably no more than about 13,500 years old. It’s worth considering how much of our history has been influenced in that short time by the many world religions.
In 2013 I started attending local U3A (University of the Third Age) classes that have included some Philosophy, Psychology, Counselling, History of Christianity, History of Religion, Buddhism and Islam – much of which was completely new to me, and raises so many more interesting questions.
“Food for Thought” is an introduction to the story of my long journey through Christendom.