This week I resigned from the Christadelphian faith after nearly 30 years as a member, and having attended Christadelphian activities almost every week of my life.
I resigned because I no longer believe. I don’t believe the Bible is inspired by God. I am not even sure there is a God. Perhaps there is, but he is not who I once thought he was. I was an active and enthusiastic believer from the time of my baptism at age 16, right up until a few months ago when my world of faith fell apart.
I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. I had embarked on what I thought was a quest to re-examine my beliefs, and encourage reform within the Christadelphian community. About two and a half years ago, I started this blog in which I publicly discussed some areas of Christadelphian beliefs (my beliefs) that I thought needed a re-think. I looked at our stance on voting in governmental elections and found it weak. I looked at our position on creation and evolution, and was persuaded by the arguments for evolution. I then tried to re-interpret Genesis (and some New Testament passages) in the light of this knowledge. I explored inspiration, and what it means, and how it might have worked. In particular, I wondered about the obvious errors in the Bible, the contradictions, the mythology borrowed from contemporary accounts, and I tried to construct an approach to inspiration that took all this into account while retaining divinely guided scriptures. I felt like I was part of a group forging a new and more enlightened way for Christadelphians.
But then, quite suddenly, I could not think of a good reason to believe any more. Far from inspired, the Bible now appeared as a collection of ancient human documents, full of propaganda, legend, and bigotry. Yes, there was some wisdom there, and some beautiful poetry, some uplifting words. But the attitudes to women and foreigners that it describes, sometimes commands, were not worthy of the God I once believed in. The alleged miracles seemed more like the superstitions of a primitive people than evidence for enlightened belief. Even the prophecies that I once found so convincing, appeared to be either contrived, out-of-context, or written after the alleged fulfilment. What I once thought were answers to prayer now appeared to be coincidence or imagined. My faith was always based on what I thought was evidence, and once the evidence was removed, the faith quickly followed.
The last few years have been difficult for me and my family, especially the last few months. It makes me sad to think that my actions have hurt the people I love the most. I feel like I’m letting a lot of people down, but I cannot pretend to believe when I don’t. I have always tried to be completely authentic in everything I do, and this is no different.
I will miss the extraordinary community that I’ve benefited so much from. There is something wonderful about traveling to foreign countries and finding strangers ready to invite you into their homes, share their food and belongings, even lend you their car. I will miss the camps too; those weeks apart from everything else in life, having fun, enjoying music, exploring ideas, with delightful people who hold a shared perspective on the purpose of life. A perspective I no longer hold.
Almost all of my family and friends are Christadelphians. Almost all of my social activities have been with Christadelphians. I have spent a couple of weeks every year attending, and often speaking at, Christadelphian camps and Bible schools. While I would like to think that my friends will remain my friends, the reality is that Christadelphians spend an enormous amount of time together, making it difficult to retain friendships with “outsiders”. Nevertheless, I would like to somehow continue the friendships forged over many years of shared experiences.
I expect some people to say things about me that are not true. That is a natural reaction, as my loss of faith will create doubts in others, and demonization of me will help people feel more sure. However, please do not impute motives that I don’t have.
So what should I call myself now I am not a Christadelphian, or even a Christian? I don’t like the term athiest, because it carries a sense of militancy and certainty that I don’t feel. I don’t like agnostic, because it implies (in Australia at least) a lack of interest in the questions of religion. I think I prefer “unbeliever”.
Eventually I would like to write a little about my new perspective on things I once believed. I would like to explain to people who have read my books why I now think I was wrong. But that can wait until later. I will keep this blog here, as I can see no good reason to hide what I’ve written — this is a record of what I thought at that time in my life.
I’d particularly like to thank the Ringwood Christadelphian ecclesia for doing all they could to make us feel at home for the last 12 months. I am grateful for the love and warmth and friendship I have been shown.
- Why did Jesus arrive so late?
- New Bible translations
- Christadelphian places near Melbourne
- How do we know the earth is old?
- Giving a confession of faith