The Truth About Me

Calling, christians, Coming Out, Deconversion, Ex Christian, Faith, God, Skepticism, Unbelief

I’ve recently realized that I have been shutting people out. I have been afraid to let people know about some changes that I’ve gone through this year. Life in the closet is a lonely one so here it goes.

I’m an atheist.

Seriously though…

Basically I’ve been trying to decide which sounds better – Heresy or Apostasy. For the past year I have been critical of the bible. I don’t think that it is trustworthy on human rights issues and other moral topics. To say this as a christian would be clearly heretical. I’m not interested in that sort of duality. As a rapper once said- “be true to yourself.” My loss of faith has a lot to do with the doctrine of heaven and hell, the unequal treatment of women in the church, the condemnation of homosexuals, a growing number of Christians being against science and reason in general, pain in child birth, circumcision, weather, global inequity, the doctrine of vicarious redemption, the general caprice of YAHWEH, the cloudiness of the words of Jesus, and so on. The truth is that I stopped believing in God around the time that my daughter, Jane, was born. I thought that it was just doubt at first and I tried to hold on to my faith for some time after that but ultimately, I was unable to salvage my Christian worldview. I have been largely in the closet about this for most of 2012. I was afraid that I would lose friends and alienate myself from many of the important people in my life. I recently told a long time mentor about my unbelief and he said: “I’d like to think that our friendship is based on more than just philosophy.” Craig’s response really opened my eyes and helped me to overcome my fear of losing acceptance. If you are super bummed out I totally understand. I would be too if I were me from a few years ago reading this. For nearly 15 years I lived for Jesus Christ. I was a true believer and I stood for what I perceived to be biblical truth. Just to be clear, this isn’t anyone’s fault. I have been treated really well by Christians. It was mostly Christians who took me in as family when I really needed people. The Christian people who I have told about my unbelief have been ridiculously supportive.

Some may ask, “why go public? Why not just keep your personal beliefs to yourself?” I asked this question of my self many times. The first answer is that I just need to get on with life. I can’t keep worrying about what I want to say to people. I have a lot of ideas which are no longer in line with the ideology that I’ve held for the entirety of my adulthood. The second answer is that I just want to say new stuff.

Some of you might be wondering why I used the word Atheist. Because my identity was so entangled with my faith in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, I felt it necessary to find a word with which I could identify. I suppose I could have used the words skeptic or agnostic or even naturalist but I think that atheist does the job in this case. I came out to my mom last week and she asked me if I became a Scientologist, proving to me that she deeply misunderstood what I was trying to tell her. I had to go on to further clarify that I don’t believe in any spiritual force or in any deity. I think that it was hard for her to hear but she’s my mom and I know that she will always love me.

This leaves me in somewhat of an awkward situation. My wife Becca and I moved to Germany in order to fulfill what we believed was a calling from God. We were welcomed by an awesome community of Christians at Christus Gemeinde and continue to be in touch with many people from that church. When we got here we got right to work. I started leading worship and Becca started working with kids, doing sound, creating things, and greeting people. After serving for about 15 months I told everyone that I needed a break in order to spend more time with Jane. This was true but there was more to it than that. I just couldn’t lead worship anymore. Worship leading was something which I was very passionate about for over 10 years. I even had the opportunity to do it professionally for a while. When I stopped believing, against the advice of the epic 80’s rock band Journey, leading worship began to feel incredibly inauthentic. I made the decision to step down. All of this has ultimately led to me being a happier person. I don’t have to worry about what God might be trying to tell me in any given situation. When the wind changes I don’t question it. I am no longer suspicious of people being influenced by evil forces. I find it freeing to make decisions confidently without feeling like I need to strike that perfect balance.

Belief timeline and pertinent information:

Moment of self awareness until about 1991- Deist: I entertained the possibility that there might be a prime mover but I did not believe in a personal God.

November 1991 to 1995- The Magic Johnson Period: Most of my prayers were dedicated to the longevity of Magic Johnson’s life after I learned that he had contracted HIV. I prayed to what I would have called a higher power. I prayed the AA prayer that I learned from my mom and I created long memorized prayers which I would recite before bed. During this time I was also very interested in science. I memorized the spellings of long words, and became familiar with one of my life long heroes – Carl Sagan.

May 1995 to February 1997- Returned to Deism: I actively sought spiritual meaning in things after the death of my Father. I didn’t pray during this time but I did expose myself to books about meditation and Buddhism.

February 15th 1997- Became a born again Christian: This was one of the most significant moments of my adolescence. It marked the beginning of a long journey which brought me to where I am today. My ideology changed throughout the years and was highly shaped by the communities to which I belonged but over all, I was an evangelical christian. If you are reading this and you’ve know me for a while, we probably met during this time period.

1999-2008 – Walnut hill Community Church: During this time I became a man. I Learned about honor, perspective, patience, and hard work. I became a musician in this time, attained a college degree, and essentially became myself.

May 2009-Worship director Grace Community Church: I had been leading worship for about 8 years at that point and I’d been offered a job to do it. I remember talking on the phone with Terryl Delany, the pastor of the church during the interview process. He was long winded and very energetic for a person of any age. During one of our talks he said, “all we can offer you is money, but when you take this job, you are giving your life.” He was right. It’s hard to describe how immersive serving on the staff of a church can be. I was highly involved. I came to know a lot of really great people. I also came to realize that there were certain things which I believed which were not for sharing. At this time I was skeptical of the supposed dangers of homosexuality. I believed that the church was on the wrong side of history on that topic. During this time I became reacquainted with the theory of Evolution and concluded that it was by far the best explanation for the diversity of species on our planet. I also started learning about Astronomy again and learned tons of information supporting a universe from nothing. None of this interfered with my belief in God. I was able to keep my biblical beliefs separate from my growing knowledge of science and my evolving morality on social issues. In this particular environment I decided that I needed to keep these ideas to my self. There was a very strong emphasis on the total inerrancy of the bible. I learned that this position can be polarizing.

January 2011- Missionary partner at Christus Gemeinde, Gau-Algesheim, Germany: In the months leading up to the biggest and by far most stressful move of my life, Becca and I weighed the pros and cons of moving to a foreign country to serve the local church. I had felt drawn to german speaking people for a number of years and had even begun to learn the language. My responsibilities at Grace Community Church increased greatly but my position was not made full time as was previously promised. It was obviously a closing door. I contacted some people in Germany, set up a visit, went, was offered help to get started in Germany, prayed about it, decided to move and moved all within a 3 or 4 month period of time. It was exceedingly fast. Ultimately I’m happy that we came here. I led worship nearly every week for the first 5 months and after that I led at least twice a month for the next 7 months. The biggest challenge was learning songs in German. I was able to sound decent pronouncing the words while singing but I realized how much I truly dislike worship songs. I knew that I wasn’t such a big fan of the style but having the words distanced from me like that really took the magic away. I even got a chance to lead a christmas choir. It was really fun to work with those people in that context. I love helping people create beautiful music and discover the sense of pride that comes with being a part of something cool.  We were heavily involved up until a few weeks before Easter 2012.

December 4th, 2011 – Shadow of Impending Fatherhood: Before we learned that Jane was female I was worried about the baby being a boy. It wasn’t because I didn’t want a boy, I actually was really looking forward to using the boy name that we had picked out. I was worried because I didn’t want to be involved in any ritual which involved cutting the baby’s genitals. Becca was in favor of circumcision because of her jewish background but I had come to think of it as mutilation and immoral. The arguments for circumcision are in my opinion base. An uncircumcised penis looks bad, I want him to look like me, it prevents the spread of disease, it is cleaner. The second two are debunked and the first two have nothing to do with the child. I thought that cutting an infants genitals in order to have it look like me would be an incredibly egocentric stance.  There is a surprisingly thick cloud of BS encompassing this topic but it seems like circumcision is largely unnecessary and in many cases dangerous. Becca being a person of reason was able to look at the issue objectively and she also concluded that it is a less than favorable procedure. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway because the practice is not an option here in Germany. With Jane on the way, I started thinking about all kinds of things. It is typical for Christian families to perform a baby dedication at the church. It’s sort of like infant baptism but without water. I realized that I did not want to have such a ceremony for Jane. I became leery of her becoming indoctrinated. I had already needed to deal with and unlearn some bad things I had been exposed to at church. How could I start Jane off like that? This caused me to think deeply about what I actually believed. When Becca went into labor it was long and horrible. Her travailing began on Saturday and Jane was born on Tuesday afternoon. I know that her experience was abnormal but I kept coming back to Genesis where God punished all women with pain in child birth.  After watching my best friend go through that I could no longer believe in spiritual matters. I realized that we are just mammals and nothing more. Also suffering in general makes me think that if God exists, he, she, or it is bad. I took this as doubt at first but now I realize that my disillusionment really starts with the birth of my kid. For some reason this was the last straw. The foundation of my faith had come undone.

Current perspectives and gratefulness: I think that people are good and that I have a particularly decent crop of friends and acquaintances. I have had tons of support and help from all kinds of people who believed in me and what I invested in. Friendships have been extremely important to me as I am a secret extravert. For this reason I resisted coming out but ultimately I realized that I couldn’t retain any real depth in friendship while keeping my identity hidden. I am ultra grateful for the path I’ve been able to travel and for the quality people who I’ve met along the way. If you made it this far down the screen, I commend you. Thank you for your acceptance and understanding. I would like to think of this as the beginning of a new conversation.

44 thoughts on “The Truth About Me

  1. Ryan, Thanks for your vulnerability and willingness to share your process. As an aside, we chose not to circumcise our son.

    Jess

  2. Ryan, I love you still! It’s interesting though that my journey to God really began with the pregnancy and birth of Sarah–I remember looking at her and saying, “There must be a God”

    Is Becca of the same mind as you, in relation to God?

    1. Leslie,
      Thank you for your gracious words. I wanted to tell you myself but it was just too difficult. We would love to catch up with you personally. Thank you for everything and much love.

  3. Hey Ryan, you may not recall me, but I jammed with you a couple of times at Justin Loeber’s office space a few years back (I was ultimately on my journey out of religious faith at that point so I only came once or twice as it was just too awkward for me). You may be interested in contacting “The Clergy Project”, which is an organization that seeks to help people whose livelihood were/are tied to religious organizations when they leave the faith. They can be contacted at http://clergyproject.org/.

    Btw, I identify *strongly* with many of the issues that led you out as well. Kudos for having the courage to follow your convictions and to publicly out yourself.

  4. Joel Eidnes said if you have lost God go back to the last place you saw him. You will be in my prayers. I am off to teach Sunday school. The old man is still at it. Lisa had a great time with the three of you.

  5. Ryan, as someone who has been in and come out of the closet in many different ways in life, including the same one from which you have now emerged, I just want to say I feel your frustration, anxiety, and freedom. I would love to compare thoughts and insights some time, but I don’t have that time right now – I have to get ready for my church job, haha. Seriously! (Music director)
    Anyway, if I could offer one tidbit, it’s this: in my years since detaching myself from Christian dogma (I believe I’m still agnostic), and yet still working for churches, I have found immeasurable reward from being a part of a faith community. In friendships and extended families, these communities have been a rock for me – at no time more so than when I went through a serious illness and the death of my father this summer.
    I am not suggesting finding a Christian church which shares your beliefs (there are many which come close, but they all believe in God still). But I do encourage you to join a “community” of some sort – one which gathers weekly, discusses and shares and debates values, and supports each member through adversity. Above all, don’t let the rational completely take over the heart. It doesn’t sound as though you’ve allowed that – rather many of your ties have been strengthened by this journey. Mystery is still an awesome human experience, and I go through and witness things all the time which are better left without explanation (i.e. why music moves us so deeply). Mystery is my last, best vestige of God, and the greatest is the power of humanity at its best – when we lift up and help each other in good times and bad. It is amazing and inexplicable, and I’m ok with that.
    Good luck, my old friend (well, I’m old, you’re still a spring chicken; but we do go back a long time).
    I’ll be sure to check back in here to see how you’re doing. Take Care.

  6. Ryan, thank you for your story. I closely identify. In fact, the choices involved in raising children had a profound effect on my decision to leave Christianity after many years of following. I prefer to call myself a naturalist because I feel that it implies a positive perspective whereas atheist implies a negative. (But that’s just for my own head. It is what it is.) Best wishes. I’ll be following your thoughts.

    1. Thank you Susan. I do really like the word naturalist. I will probably use it often to describe myself. I’m looking forward to investigating your thoughts as well.

      1. I wanted to let you know that I imagined you to be English when I read this comment so now, I read all of your blogs and comments in an English accent. (In my head of course)

  7. Ryan,
    I hope you won’t be offended by my commenting, being that we’ve really only interacted a few times on skype. It’s good that you’re wrestling with weighty issues and trying to make sense of them all, as it’s sad for me to see people just go through life never really thinking about why they believe what they believe or never really exploring the deeper issues of life because it’s hard and gets messy. So, even though I’d probably come to a different conclusion on many of the issues you’ve mentioned, I do applaud you for being a thinking person and really wrestling with it all. I’m curious how much you’ve read or delved into the writings of some of the more prominent Christian apologists/thinkers/teachers of our time: men such as William Lane Craig, Greg Koukl, or Tim Keller? I’d encourage you to check out some of these guys’ material as they do a great job of addressing the skepticism of the new atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, and the like). Tim Keller’s book “A Reason for God” is particularly good and addresses almost all of the concerning issues you’ve raised (sorry, I don’t recall him delving into the propriety of circumcision) in a very clear, concise, and winsome manner. Being a pastor of a larger church in NYC, Keller has heard almost every argument there is from skeptics and is able to make a clear case for the Christian faith. Anyway, for what it’s worth to you, Sarah and I pray for your family and will continue to do so. I look forward to meeting in the flesh one of these days!
    Blessings,
    John Spear

      1. John,
        Thanks so much for responding. I’m the opposite of offended. When I stopped believing I actually started reading and engaging in more Christian conversations than ever before. Sometimes I purposely listen to the crazies but I do frequently take time to listen to mainstream apologist whom I think add to the market place of ideas. I have heard Tim Keller speak and I appreciate his gentleness and thoughtful approach. I’ve listened to hours of debates from William Lane Craig but I didn’t find his stance to be particularly convincing. I do hope that we can meet in the not too distant future.
        Honor,
        Ryan

  8. Hello Ryan,
    I do not have the pleasure of articulation, but I am writing to remind you of what I promised before.
    Ryan, Becca you two are extremely dear to me, not your religion, not your faith. The inner things of your heart, the emotional struggles or events are yours, I would always try my best to walk and assist as much as I can when needed. Ryan, at the moment you are in a wonderful walk of discovery and is good to question, we are not machines and therefore there is a sense of wanting to know, and that is good. Sad is to walk in life as a puppet being directed to places that sometimes makes us unconfortable. Ryan, the reason I mentioned both of you is because, regarless of your wallk, because it is a walk into something, keep in mind your wife and your child, because no matter which direction you are heading… you are part of them. I was very much in tune with your mentioning of Becca´s child birth pain, well I had my share of them and all I can say is. The pain of childbirth is intense, but momentaraly, to hold the gift and pour all that emotion into loving that gift last an eternity, we later remember the moments but the pain itself is like magic…it goes away, that is the intensity of laboring, as women we know we have to experience the moment of childbirth, but I can see that as an observer to the event is got to be traumatic, think of watching now Becca and Jane from afar, doesn´t it inspire you to be their protector. That is exactly the feeling of holding that child. is just pure love,
    Ryan, I am extending my love and friendship to you once again, and please forgive me for not writing to you and Becca in awhile.
    With much love to both of you
    Mercedes Biktjorn

    1. Mercedes,
      This is such a beautiful comment. Thank you for loving us and wanting to be our family. I don’t think that I could ever forget that Becca, Jane, and I walk together as 1 family. It’s sometimes difficult to think of Becca and Jane as separate entities form myself. Let’s set something up so you can see Jane’s cute chubby face.

  9. Forgive me if I ramble, I have a tendency to go on and on sometimes…..sorry in advance.

    I think human beings have a tendency to make things harder than they really have to be and that we forget to use common sense and judgment when assessing our own core values. I am the mother of 8 kids….one of whom passed away as an infant. I identify with God as a parent.

    I know that there is almost nothing in my power I wouldn’t do for my kids….and I know the same is true with God when it comes to me. I wonder, though, if there are some things that God just cannot do. I think he is probably much more “human” than we want to believe and when things don’t go our way, it has more to do with things He set into motion, long before we came into being, that he chose not to stop because stopping it would be worse than letting it all play through. Sort of like a close shave in a car accident. You know you just ran a red light, but if you stop now, after you’ve already committed to going through it, it will be worse. So you grit your teeth, brace yourself, and hope it will come out all right despite what you just did…..and sometimes it does and other times it doesn’t. *shrug*

    I quit listening to much of what “the church” says about God…..and quit paying so much attention to the letter of the Bible, and concentrate more on the jist of things. Yeah, okay, God hates divorce….but I think He would rather I live and divorce a man who threatened to kill me in front our five kids, than be dead and stay in a marriage that had proved to be getting more and more abusive over the 15 years I had been in it.

    As a parent, that is what I would want my own kid to do. I’d be happy she chose life and left that abusive man so I could enjoy her life along with her for longer. So, I figured, God, as a parent would want the same. *shrug* If it were my son, I’d be glad she got away from him so he would’t be facing a lifetime in prison or the death penalty. That would suck.

    When I divorced, the church gradually edged me out. Turned out to be the best thing ever. I’m not part of a church now, but I have a 2 year old and 4 year old that I figure should have SOME religion, however, I look at it very differently than I used to. I figure it’s important in a historical and cultural sense, more than a “I’m going to hell for being a bad parent” sense if I “don’t” do it. I also miss the community. So, when I get around to joining a church, it will be more for the community and networking and much less for actual sprirtual instruction as to being told who God is. I hope to teach my two younger ones the same idea.

    Don’t give up on God, just yet. You might just need to decide for yourself who He actually is, devoid of what “other” people have “told” you who He is. I don’t think a book written by men, that had men decide what were and what were not relevant parts for the masses to know, and what has been watered down in translation over the last thousands of years, and which has been printed on printing presses where mistakes can be made in places where ONE misplaced letter can change the whole meaning of a verse and all that jazz, is particularly reliable in the big picture. Like I said, probably best to get the jist and keep it simple. Commands like don’t kill, don’t mess with your neighbors stuff or spouse, don’t lie or steal…..are pretty basic and can be embraced by anyone. If we could all just do THAT…..or even just adhere to the Golden Rule, we’d eliminate a lot of other unnecessary crap when it came to honoring each other as people.

    Oh…..and pain in childbirth….I can’t see how anyone could construe that as “punishment” for being female. It’s how the human body works. Last I looked, men who broke their legs also experienced pain. If we’re going to get mad at God for pain, then why don’t we just get mad at Him for creating nerves in the first place? Think outside that misogynistic box, shall we?

    1. Thanks for sharing your story here. I agree with your comment on community. I think that it’s an important thing to have. In regards to your last paragraph where I’m pretty sure you call me a misogynist, I was referring to Genesis 3:16
      ~To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”~
      This is commonly used to explain the pain that women feel in childbirth. God purposely makes birth harder in order to teach Eve and all of her descendants a lesson. Who would do that?

      1. I wasn’t calling YOU a misogynist as much as I was pointing out that the idea of pain in childbirth is because of Eve’s sin, which is misogynistic at it very core and an idea that has been with mankind from the begining. I wasn’t accusing you and I am sorry I came across that way. Forgive?

        And that is exactly what I mean when we look at the text of “the Bible” when it explains pain in childbirth. I don’t think God imposed that upon women anymore than He imposed pain on men for breaking their legs because of so-called sin. If you, as a man, hated to see your wife in pain during childbirth, then how much less likely would you be to impose it on your daughter as a consequence for her disobedience of you? I’m guessing you never would…..and the idea that God did that to womankind everywhere….His daughters….as a way to punish us for ‘disobedience’ when he also created us to have free will, does not compute at ALL to me.

        What DOES compute is that the idea of us being punished for Eve’s sin on down through the generations, is an idea contrived by men who refuse to acknowledge women as equal heirs in the Kingdom of God.

  10. Ryan, hey buddy. I hear about your change of heart and wanted to say hey and ask some questions. When I knew you I really enjoyed talking to you. I found that I respected you and generally liked you. Even though I haven’t seen you in a while I doubt I would like you any less or think any less. You just always seemed like a cool dude.

    I am not great with words man. I hope I don’t piss you off. The best way to approach someone with a different belief and especially such a personal and heavy one as this requires more tact than I have. But I do want to share some points.

    I believe in God. I have heard some great arguments from those who don’t believe. But I have never hear one that was good enough unfortunately. In fact I usually find most arguments backed by arrogance, fear, and foolishness. To make this really clear, there are many Christians who speak from these places also but that only shows their flaws not Gods.

    So, in the most loving way I know how (because I hope to see you someday and say “Ryan, hey, fancy meeting you here man, how is everything………..) I need to criticize your thoughts, or maybe just one or two.

    I am sorry that you don’t like to see your best friend in pain. I wouldn’t either. But surprise, God doesn’t like it either. He doesn’t like His daughter in pain. But that doesn’t prove that He doesn’t love her or is bad. (**warning harsh words ahead**) the only thing that it proves is that you haven’t understood Him yet.

    Do you think you will ever be able to raise your Children with out them ever feeling pain? Will you set rules up in your household for the safety and benefit of your kids? And if they are going to ignore your rues and instructions out of immaturity, foolishness, curiosity, or arrogant rebellion, and do some dumb shit are you gonna stop them every time they are going to get hurt or will you hold back and let them learn some lessons. Because you know that those lessons will sink in and ultimately they will be wiser. But in the moment your kids might wonder as to your love when you didn’t save them. Or should you prevent every time they may feel pain and then see if they have good sense, boundaries and self control when they grow up. Will they be able to live on their own? I don’t feel that God wants us to be in pain. But He knows that when we walk away from Him, who is the source of life and goodness, we are choosing pain for us and the people we come into contact with. And He lets us walk away, he isn’t happy about it but He gave us free will, to seek Him and obey or to go our own way. His way is life, ours is death and all its friends. With out free will we can’t love Him.. It had to be a choice., and in that the freedom to leave Him. (And it breaks Hid Heart.)

    And what about Justice??????????? Do you believe in justice???????

    Can there be justice in life with out consequence? With out pain?? If God prevented us from feeling pain, how can anyone ever be punished? If people can’t be punished…..how can there be justice…….If there is no justice……how can there be right and wrong……if no wright and wrong……how can there be good and bad……..if no good…….nothing has any meaning or value. This includes the existence of me, you, and your new child. (I don’t mean to be indelicate) If people don’t deserve consequence and pain, they have to be perfect. This makes them God????

    The truth is that you, Becca, me, and everyone we know are human. We are not gods. We are not perfect in wisdom. We are not all knowing and therefore for any of us to conclude that God doesn’t exist is arrogant man. We just can’t conclude that. *******If you accept your humanity, your imperfection, than you must accept the limitations of your reasoning and logic and therefore can not conclude that God doesn’t exist, is good or bad, you can’t conclude anything.****** All we can do is humble ourselves and accept that we can only ever live with faith in our convictions. You and I have no truth. Not to say that there is no truth, but that we can not access it on our own. Therefore you can go one of two direction. 1. Believe that God exists and take the journey to discover His truth faithfully believing that it exests, or 2. that He doesn’t. Either way is faith based. But either way you have to accept that you don’t really know the answer. What Christians have is not truth in and of their own ability to discern it or hold it, but we have belief and trust. Faith that God’s truth exists, that He loved us enough to show it to us, and its something we constantly seek more and more of until He makes it complete.

    Love you guys. Sorry if I was too harsh man and leave a bad taste in your mouth. I really did like hanging out with you when we were painting, and I hope to run into you some day and can catch up. Be good, I’m praying for you. And God loves you whether you know how or not.

  11. Justin,
    Thanks for your comment. Feel free to say stuff like this to me. I think that your questions are valid and worthy of robust discussion. I did believe for half of my life and I was deeply engaged in trying to hear from God and to know him. After lots of reading and some serious and honest questioning I just don’t think that the existence of God is very likely. I don’t know for certain that there isn’t a God but if there is one, I can’t think of him/her/it as the personal God of Christianity. Basically, the bible isn’t good enough. The more I investigate the Christian and Hebrew scriptures, the more confused I become. The God of the Old testament is ever changing. His actions are often atrocious. The commandments found in the pentateuch are not useful for moral teaching. They are outdated, incomplete, and replete with moral inconsistencies. The writers of the Bible were completely unaware of anything that wasn’t know in their day. If God was involved in the inspiration of these books, they would have deep reaching and timeless knowledge. I can’t understand why God would hold such value on believing in him on such inconclusive evidence.

    One of the problems I have with scripture and it’s interpretation is global access to knowledge. Many people claim that in order to truly know God, we must fervently study scripture. In his word there is deep hidden meaning. I studied the Bible for years. I was diligent and dedicated to knowing him. It would seem that I should have gotten an expensive christian education at a university. To that I would ask, what of the poor people without access to the knowledge of scripture? What of the generations upon generations of people who suffered without knowing God simply because they were born before the Bible was written or they never had access to it’s vital information in the first place because of other religions or socioeconomic circumstances? Why was the bible revealed to such a tiny group of mostly illiterate and superstitious people? These questions go on forever.

    I am also troubled by what I read in the New Testament. Jesus invents hell. It’s implied that if you don’t accept his sacrifice to you, you will burn in eternal torment. I’d be happy to stay a Christian and just omit that part but I don’t think that I could keep being one and reject the preachment of vicarious redemption. The idea that a blameless Jesus is tortured and murdered to redirect the wrath of God on humanity. If it was God’s plan to do this, what was he trying to teach? Should a parent tell their child, if you disobey me, I will beat your brother to death and then you must thank him for the rest of your life because of the sacrifice he made for you? It’s wrong. I have to ask who God was trying to impress with this act of self immolation. It’s just unbelievable to me. I’m happy to admit that there is so much about the world that I don’t understand but I don’t think that any of the God’s in scriptures seem to know anymore about the world than their bronze age writers knew.

    I think that the philosophical questions that you raise about justice, pain, goodness, and value are better answered by philosophers than by theologians.

    I look forward to hanging out again with you too. I greatly enjoyed our conversations when we painted together and I think back to your words often.
    With respect and friendship~

    1. Thanks for responding. And not being offended. I read your response and want to put some time into them before I respond. I am guessing that many people want to talk to you, pray for you, tell you what to do and try to change your mind about this which I am guessing I would get a little annoyed by after a while. I think in your shoes, I could see that i would be considerate for a while but then just get annoyed. Let me know if/when you hit that threshold. But until then, if your open to it, I’d like to discuss your thoughts. Not because I have the answers, but because I do believe there are answers and I just generally like these conversations. They help me to learn and study more about what I believe. Probably a healthy practice for me.

  12. Hallo Ryan
    da ich beim durchlesen der Commands keinen “deutsch ” Beitrag gelesen habe,bin ich wohl der erste.Ich liebe es,englisch zu kommunizeren,aber es gibt Situationen da ist es einfacher in der eigenen Sprache,zumal du sie ja jetzt selbst sprichst————————————-
    Ich fühle mich hilflos.Der Gedankenstrich symbolisiert den Seufzer,den ich eben ausgestoßen
    habe bevor ich angefangen habe Dir zu schreiben.
    Ich fühle mich hilflos.Genau wie Du,als Du bei der Geburt von Jane neben Becca gestanden hast und Dir gewünscht hast,Du könntest Ihr irgendwie helfen,die Schmezen wegzunehmen,die Wehen zu verkürzen,die Geburt zu beschleunigen ect.Doch Du konntest es nicht.Du konntest einfach nur bei Ihr sein,ihr deine Nähe geben und mit ihr leiden,bis zu dem Moment als es endlich geschafft war.
    Ryan,als ich Dein Outing gelesen habe,ist mir aufgefallen wie wenig ich von Dir wusste und wie wenig ich Dich kannte.Denn das was scheinbar wirklich in Deinem Herzen vor sich ging hätte ich nie vermutet.Ich habe sehr oft für dich gebetet und wenn ich dir in unseren smalltalks begegnet bin mich oft gefragt,was in Dir vorgeht.Denn Du wirktest auf mich bis auf die Anfangszeit in der Gemeinde eher zurückgezogen und reserviert.Hab das eher mit Eurer kompletten Neuorientierung in Verbindung gesehen.Uns meine Art ist es zu versuchen nicht aufdringlich zu sein.
    Ich hoffe,das Du mich soweit kennengelernt hast,das du es richtig einordnen kannst,wenn ich jetzt in ein paar Details bezug auf Dein Statement gehe.Und ich würde mich freuen,wenn es bei Dir als Liebe ankommt.
    Erstmal danke für Deine Ehrlichkeit und Offenheit.Das ist heute nicht so selbstverstänlich.Finde es mutig,Dein innserstes nach aussen gekehrt zu haben.Für viele sichtbar.

    Bei all den Argumenten ,die du angeführt hast um Deine “neue “Position deutlich zu machen ist mir eines aufgefallen.Du redest von Christen,von der Gemeinde,von Lehrmeinungen,Regeln jüdisch und christlich, Diensten in Gemeinden,natürlich auch Deinem Weg zu einem Leben als Christ,von kirchlichen und teologischen bzw.biblischen Unklarheiten—-
    Aber du redest nie davon,was Jesus am Kreuz für die Welt und für Dich getan hat.Das Gott Mensch geworden ist um uns begegnen zu können
    Und das ist ein FAKT.Das kann teologisch und wissentschaftlich nicht widerlegt werden.Und das das neue Testament Keine Erfindung der Kirche ist, und die Worte Jesu und das Wirken des heiligen Geistes seit 2000 Jahren Menschen in aller Welt und Kultur bewegt und verändert haben und heute noch tun,ist ebenfalls unwiderlegbar.Und es gab genug Wissenschaftler und hohe Köpfe,die Gott in Ihrem Leben erlebt haben und bestätigt haben,das die Bibel wahr ist.
    z.B.Einstein,Darwin (hat sich auf seinem Sterbebett bekehrt und hat ein paar berichtigende Worte zu” seiner ” Evolutionstheorie abgegeben.).Selbst ein Rockefeller hat in hohem Alter festgestellt,das wohl Geld nicht alles ist im Leben und hat sich bekehrt und durfte seine letzten Jahre damit verbringen Gott zu dienen.Und so könnte sich eine Liste fortsetzen lassen,die alle zusammengenommen unendlich lang wäre.Und die nur Eine Botschaft hätte:
    Wir sind geschaffene und von Gott geliebte Wesen.Und weil wir Ihm so wichtig sind,kam er selbst auf diese Welt,nachdem es mit der Schöpfung vor der Sintflut und danach mit Israel nicht so toll lief und klar wurde das wir Menschen NIE SEINEM Masstab entsprechen würden.

    Ryan,ich wiss,du hast vieles wenn nicht alles schon mal gehört.Vielleicht bist Du auch schon frustriert und überlegst ob Du überhaupt weiterlesen sollst.
    Doch lass mich Dir eine Frage stellen:
    An dem Tag,als Du zu Jesus gegangen bist,Dein eigenes Leben für bankrott erklärt hast und Ihn um Vergebung für Deine Dir bewusste Schuld gebeten hast,Sein Blut in Anspruch genommen hast um mit Gott ins reine zu kommen und Du gespürt hast,das in deinem Herz etwas passierte und Du Jesus zum neuen Chef in Deinem Leben erklärt hast.vielleicht hast Du vor Schamgefühl geweint,vielleicht vor Freude———————
    War das echt?????War das eingebildet.??War das aus Gruppenzwang um Freunde zu finden??Nur eine religiöse Erfahrung?????????
    Warst Du an diesem Tag ehrlich mit Dir,Gott und deinen Mitmenschen,oder war es nur Fassade???????
    Ich fühle,das ich Dir leider diese Fragen stellen muss.Auch wenns weh tut.Aber Du suchst nach der Wahrheit.Und wie du schon selbst gesagt hast.Sie fängt (mit meine worten) bei Dir an.

    Conclusion:
    Wenn Deine Entscheidung für Jesus damals aus falschen Motiven heraus kam,dann hast Du echtes Leben als Kind Gottes nie erlebt sondern Religion praktiziert.Und das wird im Laufe der Zeit anstrengend und bröckelig.Religionswechsel sind auch heutzutage gang und gebe.Schau nur mal in unsere Gesellschaft.Alles wird gewechselt wenns nicht mehr gefällt.

    Wenn Deine Entscheidung mit Jesus zu leben aber aus einem ehrlichen Herzen kam und Du die Vergebung und Annahme Gottes erlebt hast um hinterher als Kind Gottes neu zu starten,
    bedeutet Deine Abkehr zu einem Leben ohne Ihn nicht nur ” deine Freiheit” sondern du spuckst auf den,der für Dich Sein Leben gab.

    Ryan ich muss Dir sagen,das Du in der Falle sitzt.Du kannst es drehen und wenden.Leider.
    Die Frage für Dich wird nur Die sein:Von wem willst Du dich befreien lassen um Ihm in Zukunft Knecht zu sein———————————————-
    Und du solltest dabei ehrlicherweise für Dich mal A L L E Kosten überschlagen.Denn der Preis wird hoch sein.Der eine kostet Dich Deine Freiheit und der andere Dein Leben—————-.
    Ich selbst bin durch viele wirklich tiefe Täler gegangen und habe mir oft überlegt wie es wäre einfach hinzuschmeissen.Ich hab mit Gott diskutiert.Hab ihn angeschrieen Hab geheult.
    Doch immer wenn ich wieder runterkam hab ich diese leise Stimme des heiligen Geistes vernommen die gesagt hat::
    Was wären die Konsequenzen: bei einem Bleiben oder bei einem Weglaufen.
    Und jedesmal musste ich mir eingestehen,das es sich nur lohnt,an Jesus dranzubleiben.Denn das ist das EINZIGE was mir auch eine sicher Zukunft Nach dem Leben hier auf Erden verspricht.Der andere Weg wäre Nur bis zum Tod gedacht mit der Option einer EWIGEN Gottesferne.Und dafür ist mir mein geschenktes Leben zu schade.Um es dieser welt zu überlassen die es für Ihre Zwecke missbraucht.Jeden Moment austauschbar.
    Dein Leben ist zu wertvoll um es wegzuwerfen.Und wenn Du eine Bestätigung brauchst,frage zum einen Deine Frau und Deine Tochter,und dann fang an mal ehrlich mit Gott selbst zu diskutieren.Schrei ihm deine Gedanken ins Gesicht.Er kann damit umgehen.Aber ignoriere ihn nicht und lass Dir von Menschen nicht sagen was Du zu tun hast.So lieb sie es auch meinen.Am Schluss Müssen wir uns ALLE vor Gott ALLEINE verantworten.Da ist keiner der uns das abnimmt.Auch jetzige Freunde nicht.

    Ich mach jetzt erstmal Schluss.Ich bete für Dich das Du den Mut hast weitsichtig und nicht Kurzsichtig zu handeln.
    Wenn Du reden möchtest,kannst du dich gerne melden.Würde mich über ein Statement freuen.

    Holger

    1. Holger,
      Danke für deine Nachricht. Auf deutsch kann ich nur so weit erklären. Was ich sagen kann, ist das ich war ein Christ. Wie ich gesagt habe auf Englisch, Ich hat was ich dachte, eine neu geboren Erfahrung am Sechzehnte Februar, 1997. Ich aufrichtig fragte Jesus zu reinigen und vergib mir meine Sünden. Ich glaubte wirklich, bis zum Beginn des Jahres 2012. Ich nahm an Hunderte, wenn nicht Tausende von Gottesdiensten und gab mein Herz zu Gott jedes mal. Ich war ein treuer Gläubiger. Ich habe einem Gebet Journal mit Gebeten der Hoffnung und Reue gefüllt. Was kann ich sagen? Ich gebe auf. Ich glaube nicht, dass er real ist und rückblickend glaube ich, dass ich meinen Unglauben ausgesetzt, weil ich Gott wahr sein wollte. Das ist etwas, dass ich nicht mehr glauben kann. Ich hoffe das dieses info wird nicht dein Meinung über mich ändern.
      Liebe Grüße,
      Ryan

      ~Here’s my response to Holger translated into English.~

      Holger,
      Thanks for your comment. I can only clarify so much in German. What I can say is that I was a real Christian. Just like I said in English, I had what I thought was a born again experience on the 16th of February in 1997. I sincerely asked Jesus to cleanse and forgive me of my sins. I truly believed un until the beginning of 2012. I participated in hundreds if not thousands of worship services and gave my heart to God every time. I was a faithful believer. I have prayer journals filled with prayers of hope and contrition. What can I say? I give up. I don’t think he’s real and looking back, I think that I suspended my disbelief because I wanted God to be real. This is something that I can no longer believe. I hope that this information doesn’t change your opinion of me.
      Loving greetings,
      Ryan

      1. Hallo Ryan,
        Danke für deinen Response.Es fällt mir immer noch schwer deine Entscheidung zu verstehen.Zumal ich mich frage,ob Du Dir über die geistigen Konsequenzen für Dich und Deiner Familie wirklich im klaren bist.Schau Dir nur die Geschichte von Saul an.
        Sich von Gott loszusagen ist etwas fundamentales.Etwas lebensveränderndes.Das ist nicht nur ein Kleiderwechsel,oder ein :heute kein MC Donald sondern Kentucky.——-
        Auch wenn Du, wie ich es in einem Artikel von Dir gelesen habe die Existenz Satans leugnest, ist genau Er es,dem Du die Zügel über Dein Leben und das Deiner Familie in die Hand gegeben hast.Du bist auf die selbe Lüge wie Eva im Garten Eden hereingefallen als die Schlange sagte:
        Sollte Gott gesagt haben—-
        Ihr werdet micht sterben, ——-sondern ihr werdet sein Wie Gott.
        Auch wenn Du es nicht wahrhaben willst.Denn leider gibt es nur schwarz oder weiss.Heiss oder kalt.Lauwarm ist nur Noch schlimmer.
        Jesus sagt selbst einmal:Wer nicht mit mir sammelt,der zerstreut.
        Wer nicht für mich ist,der ist gegen mich.
        Be shure,that you are aware of this!!!

        Ryan,es gibt eine Sache,die ich nicht verstehe:
        Du sagst,die Geburt Deiner Tochter war der letztendliche Auslöser.
        Aber war es nicht Becca,die die Schmerzen und das Leid erlitten hat?
        Ja ,du hast Sie unterstützt.Sie getragen.Und am Schluss ist ein gesundes Baby auf die Welt gekommen.Als ich Sie vor ein paar Wochen in der Gemeinde traf machte Sie mir aber nicht den Eindruck,als ob Sie bitter und enttäuscht von Gott wäre,sondern Sie sah sehr gelassen und freudig aus.Wie eine Mutter aussieht,die sich über ihr Kind freut.
        Und Gott dankbar dafür ist.

        Warum bist Du bitter auf Gott,während es viele christliche Familien gibt,die ein krankes oder (siehe Tom und Inga ect) z.B.ein totes Kind auf die Welt bringen und Trotz aller Fragen und Zweifel nur noch fester in Ihrer Beziehung zu Gott werden????Sich an Ihn klammern in ihrer Not und bei Ihm Trost und Ruhe finden??
        Du hattest Sorge um Deine Frau und dein Baby.Hast Du bei Deiner Entscheidung über Deinen Wechsel auch an Sie gedacht?Weist Du wie Becca jetzt wirklich fühlt,wenn Der Mann,in dem Sie eine geistige Stütze gesehen hat als Sie dich geheitratet hat ihr den Boden unter den Füssen wegzieht???
        Ryan.Auch wenn diese Fragen hart und unbarmherzig klingen.Aber sind Sie deswegen unberechtigt???
        Ich mag dich.Egal wer oder was du bist.und deswegen muss ich meinen Mund aufmachen.Für Gottes Sache.Und gegen die Macht,die auch mir jeden Tag zusetzt und versucht auch mich zum Strauchel zu bringen.
        Und Du und Deine Familie seid zu kostbar um euch einfach Eurem “Schicksal” zu überlassen.Und das hat nichts mit Gemeinde zu tun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        with love
        Holger

        1. Holger,
          ich weiß was du meins. Ich weiß auch was es in 1 Mose über den Teufel und so was. Ich denke es kann nicht sein. 7 Tag Schöpfung, Eva aus den Rippe, redende Schlange, ich denke die stimmt nicht.
          Wegen das Geburt, wenn es mich durch dieses Erfahrung währe, ich denke es wird anders sein. Aber es war meine Frau. Ich liebe sie und es war so schwer das zu sehen. Wenn Gott sagte in 1. Mose 3:16 “Und zum Weibe sprach er: Ich will dir viel Schmerzen schaffen, wenn du schwanger wirst; du sollst mit Schmerzen Kinder gebären; und dein Verlangen soll nach deinem Manne sein, und er soll dein Herr sein.” Das ist etwas gemein, gruselig, rachsüchtig, an alle Frauen zu tun. Nicht wie ein Gott das seine Kinder geliebt habe, aber wie eine schlechte mensch. Das ist was ich meine wenn ich sage, “Meine Zweifel kommt durch die Geburt meines Tochter.”
          Für mich Erfüllungsgehilfen Erlösung ist auch ein großes Problem. Das der Vater sein Sohn sterben gelassen als Zahlung scheint mir gesinnungslos. Ich habe mich gefragt, ‘Warum braucht er Blut?” Es ist wie eine Kulthandlung. Ich kann es nicht Glauben. Ich denke es gibt keine Konsequenten ausser das meine Christliche freunde wird mich nicht mehr lieben. Das will ich nicht und ist so weit selten.
          Entschuldigung für meine schlechtes Deutsch. Ich will ein freundliche Betonung klar zu machen. Ich hoffe es scheint so.
          With Brotherhood,
          Ryan

  13. I live in Santa Clarita not that far from your old fundamentalist boss, this coming out I’m sure was especially hard with that background.

    I hope you will be helped forward along the way by those who have re-imaged God, the likes of Marcus Borg and John Shelby Sapong, I sure have been.

    And if you’re in town there’s a Starbucks close by, would love to chat about your journey.

    William Cheriegate

    1. Thank you for reading, William. The Grace Community Church that I worked at was a different one. The name is ubiquitous among non denominational churches. I frequent the blog http://rachelheldevans.com. I think that she has some great perspectives concerning faith. I don’t believe in her God or any for that matter however, I might never completely disconnect from the conversation because It was so deeply a part of my life for so long.

  14. Hey there, I uncovered your blog by way of Bing when researching an associated matter, your web site came out, it looks great. I’ve included in favourites types|included in my own book marks Main Page.

  15. Ryan, you are a truly unique, inspiring and incredible human being. This post brought tears to my eyes, but not for reasons you might think. It is just so YOU and you are such a gift. Thank you for being so vulnerable and honest. You are forever viewed and cherished as one of my older brothers. Peace, H

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