When I was a fundamentalist, I had a perception about those who had left the fold that I can now see was far from the truth. My perception was that those who had left born-again Christianity were never really as committed or convinced as I was. I knew I could never forsake my faith; therefore anyone who left their born-again, Bible-believing, conservative evangelical faith never truly had the relationship with Jesus that I had.
I was wrong. I know that now that I'm on the outside.
I can think of some reasons why I thought that. First, to admit that ex-fundamentalists, liberals, agnostics and atheists were once like me would be to admit that I too could be that way one day. Second, I had such certainty, I couldn't fathom why or how anyone who really knew God could consider any way other than straight-down-the-line, Bible-believing religion.
Pastor, preacher, saint, brother, sister: I was once just like you.
I believed, yes, really believed that Jesus died to save me from Hell. I knew the Bible was true. I shed tears as I worshiped. I spoke in tongues, received words of prophecy and fell to the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit. I talked to God and he talked to me. I stood on street corners and proclaimed loudly that Jesus was the only way to heaven. I even got the call, went to Bible College and interned as a pastor.
Some Christians will suppose that there was always something deficient in my Christianity. They will say I lacked some essential element of faith, or my foundation was insecure. My faith was all in my head and never in my heart, they will say. They will suppose that I never had the quality of relationship with God that they have. Some will have to believe that, or they would have to open their minds to the potentially terrifying possibility that one day they too might stop believing.
No, brothers and sisters, sorry. I was pretty much where you are now.
This is just one of many myths about those who leave fundamentalism. Stay tuned, as I'll be addressing a few others in the coming weeks.