What I Personally Believed When I Was A Christian

I never really got into explaining my beliefs and influences that helped shape my personal theology when I was a believer.  I won’t go into much history in this post, since I’ve already done that in my last few posts.  I just want to talk about what I believed and who influenced my beliefs.

Spiritual Beliefs:
 My hyper spiritual belief’s weren’t always there. Like I said in a couple of my earlier posts, I was starting to flirt with agnosticism before my conversion into the Charismatic side of Christianity.  I grew up in a non-denominational house church that got hit with the Toronto Blessing in the mid-90s when I was in elementary school.  Even as a child I was a little skeptical of all the charismania going on in my church at the time.  But I trusted the people around me to think that it may be real Godly experiences they were having.  Even though I didn’t have my own experiences as a child, I still looked to the Toronto Blessing as a big influence on what I believed God can do to a person.
The renewal meetings that got me involved in the Charismatic culture I talked about in my post God Encounter; or Not influenced me in what it may be like to encounter God.  I started reading books like Bill Johnson’s Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind, Graham Cooke’s When Heaven Opens: Discovering the Power of Divine Encounters, John Crowder’s Miracle Workers, Reformers and the New Mystics and lots of others in that vein.
Supernatural stories I heard about Heidi Baker, David Hogan, Todd Bentley, Randy Clark’s Global Awakening, the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and some of the Kansas IHOP stories were an influence. As well as miracle stories I heard from missionaries I knew personally.
The Supernatural School of Ministry also influenced my spiritual beliefs in that God was a miraculous God and we, the Church, are Christ’s body so we can do the miracles, signs and wonders of Christ, plus more (John 14:12).
The Gospel of John, the Book of Acts as well as other mystical passages and stories in the Bible were huge influences on my belief in what it was to be a spiritual follower of Christ.  I use to read John and Acts constantly for encouragement.

Social Beliefs:
Coming out of a liberal punk scene before my conversion into the Charismatic culture I had a hard time finding anything I could relate to or believe in the more Conservative and Fundamentalist cultures of Christianity. So I found my inspiration in the social gospel.  I saw the social gospel as more on the lines of what Jesus was all about.
I loved the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke. The stories of Jesus driving out the money changers in the temple, calling out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, feeding the multitude and his love and care for the “least of these” made me want to be more like Him.
I was inspired by books like Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution (even wanted to spend time at his Simple Way community in Philadelphia) and Leo Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You.  I read and listened to Tony Campolo.
Other inspirations were the Catholic Worker Movement activists like Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin and Ammon Hennacy, the Catonsville Nine, Christian Civil Rights and Labor activists. I also loved knowing that Bill McKibben, the environmentalist author and founder of 350.org was a Christian.
The early Jesus People movement in the 1960’s and early 70’s was also a source of inspiration.
During the Occupy Wall Street days I often imagined God had a place for me in that movement.

Other beliefs:
– I always believed in evolution.  I thought evolution was God’s way of creating all the living things on earth. So even as a Christian there was no doubt in my mind that evolution was a reality.  I just thought it was a mystery on when exactly God breathed his Spirit into the animal called Man.
– I was on the fence about Hell.  I had a hard time believing that Hell was a reality with a loving God in control of the universe.  I wasn’t sure what to believe about it.
– Homosexuality was another hard thing for me to put my head around.  I had a lot of gay friends and had trouble figuring out why it would be a sin.  I wasn’t sure what to believe about the nature of homosexuality with a Christian worldview.  I tried to stay away from the topic. But would always end up siding with the homosexual community.
– The Rapture was a joke.  I knew enough about the history of Christianity to know it was only a recent belief within Christendom.  I believed the Church was the Second Coming of Christ, because we were the Body of Christ. And we were here to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth.

How I thought Christianity should be:
With my beliefs coming together I thought Christians were to live a radical life similar to that found within the Social Gospel movements while performing miracles, signs and wonders, because we are the Body of Christ.  All of this together would bring the Kingdom of God to Earth.

And that was the fantastical Christian utopia I believed in.

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14 thoughts on “What I Personally Believed When I Was A Christian

  1. I always find it interesting to read other perspectives on what their former faith used to be. It’s almost like looking through shoeboxes of baseball cards. “Do you have Rapture? No? Me neither.”

    That kind of thing.

    Some of the things you believed are very familiar to me, and yet others are different. Best wishes as you continue your journey!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have debated how best to comment on your blogposts. I am genuinely concerned and do not want to add insult to injury. Intentionally or not, you have suffered at the hands of those whom you trusted as speaking in the name of God. Rather than toss in my Baseball Card (Confessional Lutheranism), I will pose a thought-provoking question for your consideration. Martin Luther asserted the following: “That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god.” (Large Catechism, First Commandment). As an atheist what is your god? That is, rejecting the existence of the Triune God of Christianity or for that matter any other divine being(s), upon what do you “set your heart and put your trust? Food for thought. If you or any other commenters would care to discuss this question, send me an email at revjustinkane@aol.com.

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    • Justin, many who leave their faith do so because a range of factors cause them to question whether there really is a divine being there to worship. It is hard to trust wholeheartedly in a being you are not sure exists.

      Why might people conclude the Christian God does not exist:
      – The Bible – does it seem like a divine book?
      – Church history – does it reflect a supernatural hand?
      – Personal Christian experience – is what one feels supernatural or psychological?
      – Lives of other Christians – is there evidence that Christians are better people with divine spark that others lack?
      – Christian Theology – Is it coherent, why might there be so many theological disputes in the Church?

      Once I concluded that the Bible made more sense being seen as a human not a divine book, the house of cards came tumbling down.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Peter,

        Thank you for replying to my comment and for your insights.

        From a human perspective God’s existence, the inspiration of the Bible, etc… are articles of faith not subject to definitive proof. Proofs can, and have, been deduced throughout history but not conclusively. Not even Jesus, according to the Gospels, could prove His divinity to those who crucified him–even after His resurrection. Nor did He send out His apostles to prove the existence of God.

        God’s existence or, for that matter, non-existence lies outside logical or empirical proof. The same holds true, incidentally, for the theories of Evolution and the Big Bang. Though generally regarded as fact, neither have been directly observed or replicated in the lab and are, therefore, articles of faith i.e. theories. Even direct observation can, very often, prove unreliable. Both theories are humankind’s best attempts to interpret naturalistically the empirical evidence available and are subject to change and, possibly rejection, upon further observation or discovery of new data. The recent discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur fossils is one such example. This new evidence, if proven reliable, will force scientists to adapt evolutionary theory to reconcile the apparent contradiction of soft tissue surviving for millions of years.

        Thank you again for replying. I appreciate the insights you have provided.

        Justin

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      • Justin, Christian theology says that saving faith is a gift from God. If that is true then in the end it comes down to ‘God’. I thought I had faith I no longer do so. Is that because God never granted me such faith? Why should my faith be damaged by looking into the Bible and Christian history in more detail. I would likely still be a Christian today if I had sought to understand my faith better and study the Bible, Theology and Christian history.

        I am not an expert on evolution, generally what science shows us id that things tend to be more complex than we think.

        Even if evolution was shown to be false it does not mean that the Bible is true. Some such as DL Moody argued if the first 11 chapters of the Christian Bible are not literally true then the whole faith is built on a sand, not rock. I cannot accept the Noah story as being literally true, it flies in the face of virtually every scientific observation as well as common sense.

        I try to keep an open mind, but I do fear it is rapidly closing, so many people I know have prayed, have claimed answers with faith, yet God does not honour their prayers. I wonder then if there is anyone there to answer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Peter,

        One fallacy many Christians have fallen into is answering theological questions for which no answer is given in the Bible. Why did you lose your faith through further examination and study, I don’t know. For many, such as myself, faith is bolstered. For others, it is shipwrecked. You are correct that faith is a divine gift. Like any gift, it can be accepted or rejected. Subsequently rejecting a gift does not mean you did not possess the gift previously. Nor does it mean the gift cannot be accepted once again when offered.

        Often, prayer is seen ineffective when the answer sought is not given. Prayers for healing are a perfect example. What many do not realize is that, in view of the resurrection, physical death is a positive answer to a prayer for healing–an eternal yes rather than a temporal yes.

        A quote by Martin Luther I would like to share with you that I have found insightful.

        The Christian life is one that has a definite promise, but the fulfillment of that promise is delayed and the very opposite comes to pass.

        Applied to the situation described above, the definite promise is eternal life in a perfect body.
        We do not experience this perfect health, though. We get sick, injured, age, etc… It is postponed.
        Then, the very opposite happens–death.
        Faith nevertheless trusts God’s promise of eternal in the face of death because it has been guaranteed by Jesus’ own resurrection. Because all appearances are to the contrary, faith constantly wrestles against doubt.

        Thank you for the conversation and the insights you have given me.
        Peace

        Liked by 1 person

      • As far as a Christian definition of a god “the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.” I don’t believe in that deity. Martin Luther’s definition is a little sketchy because I’m not sure if he’s talking about a supreme being or just a trust in what one might think is a supreme idea, which may or may not be a belief in a supernatural deity. I’ve only not found any evidence of a supernatural deity.

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      • Because all appearances are to the contrary, faith constantly wrestles against doubt.

        I can vouch for that.

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      • Peter,
        God declares His existence. He does not prove or subject His existence to proof. were this not the case, denial of His existence would not be possible nor faith in His existence necessary.
        Keep wrestling.

        Peace

        Like

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