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Archived Letters

Sunday, December 08, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

You took that out of context

"God does not work salvation for fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin vigorously.... Do not for a moment imagine that this life is the abiding place of justice; sin must be committed."

You took this out of context... Here is the complete saying of the above quote... "If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. if the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner"

You are concerned with the truth... and so am I... I just feel that this saying of Luther is taken completely out of the context in which it was said.... Thank you

Ben

Hello Ben

I fail to see that the quote is completely out of context, but regardless I wonder what you think about some other interesting quotes from Martin Luther:


  • "Sin cannot tear you away from him [Christ], even though you commit adultery a hundred times a day and commit as many murders."

  • "An earthly kingdom cannot exist without inequality of persons. Some must be free, some serfs, some rulers, some subjects."
  • "I maintain that some Jew wrote it [the Book of James] who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any."
  • "Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads...."

  • "Many sweat to reconcile St. Paul and St. James, but in vain. 'Faith justifies' and 'faith does not justify' contradict each other flatly. If any one can harmonize them I will give him my doctor's hood and let him call me a fool."

  • "We are at fault for not slaying them [the Jews]."

  • "We should throw the Epistle of James out of this school [the University of Wittenberg]....

Also check out: these quotes and all these


WebMaster

Friday, December 06, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Although we have come to different places

Dear Dave,

My name is Jason and I am a Youth Pastor. I read your testimony and must say that your honesty is refreshing. Although I disagree with your conclusions (so far) with agnosticism, I can respect your "throughing in the towel" on your christian religious jouney. I went to Bible college and am about to complete my masters in Theology and can understand your theological dismay, I too have vasilated back and forth between how I view scripture and election, thinking that my eternal salvation was at stake. My current status is that of a more Barthian view of scripture (seeing the Bible as more a witness to the Word of God) and of predestinarian universalism ( I see hell as redemptive rather than punitive). Although we have come to different places, I think we both are finally being honest with God (and/or ourselves). This is the place that I think God wants us, since I do believe that God is infinitely more interested in us rather than our behavior or theology. Although man looks at the outward, God looks at the heart and I think He has led you to this place for this season in your life. My intention here is not to "bring you back into the fold" but to encourage you to continue on your journey of honesty and tell you I understand. As a pastor I talk to people who constantly do and say the right things around me but I know they are not being honest. To me what you believe is something that comes from your gut rather than your mind or even your heart. I have finally come to a place in my spiritual jouney were if I am wrong "praise God", if I am not wrong "praise God" for "from Him and to Him and through Him are all things from now and forevermore. Amen!"

If you would like to respond to this email, I would enjoy discussing it with you, if not, have a great jouney of freedom. My email addresses is jason@dixoncommunitychurch.org.

Sent from : Val DuPratt [val.dupratt@ronduprattford.com]

I am not an ExChristian

I am not an ex christian if you are wondering, but I was researching Charles Templeton to see if he became a Christian at the end of his life. I understand that you have doubts about the Christian faith- I have had many in the past. But I was not willing to give up my faith just because of those questions. I have buried myself in research and I have found the answers to the questions. Such questions are about the trinity, evolution proving Christianity wrong, and why is there suffering if God is so loving. I found all those answers and many more. If you are willing to actually research the Christain Faith I will recomend you books. The two I started out with was the Case For Faith and The Case For Christ by Lee Stobel. Please write me if you want any information. I will also answer any questions and I am willing to listen to your side of things. Hope to hear from you.

jana smith

Wednesday, November 20, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

To: Dave VanEllen, Webmaster of Ex-Christian

Dave,

I found your testimony very well written, carefully thought out and genuinely persuasive. Not knowing the best way to communicate with you or your site I have attached a pdf document. The first page is a response to your testimony, the second page an essay inspired by one of your contributing members.

Taking the time to respond to you has been well worth the effort to me personally, and I hope you find my thoughts worth your while to read. I will continue to enjoy your site - your articles reflect a mind I truly respect.

Best Regards.

David Hooten

below is the pdf file's text reproduced without editing

Your testimony resonates with those who, like you and I, have sorted through their own faith fallacies. Those of us who have actually wrestled with the problems you’ve described so well have no difficulty authenticating what you have written. Your transparency gives you credibility, but your capacity to articulate true experience is what gives your message its persuasiveness.

Some of what I write may have a similar affect with your posting contributors, perhaps less persuasively considering the conclusions I have drawn. My essay is certainly different from any I’ve seen posted here, but like yours it touches nerves that make it a bit unpopular in Christian circles. My own past struggles with faith were not caused by my religious bent, nor from hypocrisy in the church (nor my own for that matter). I was never a victim of coercion. These conditions simply complicated my confusion. Why did I struggle? I had faith in a belief – in short, God was not real to me like trees are real.

What does it mean to have faith in belief? I had no first hand knowledge of God objective enough to describe, I could however quite proficiently discuss what I imagined about Him. A Christian who relies on belief in God’s presence is an ex-Christian waiting to happen. I always considered myself a true follower of Jesus Christ, and perhaps I was. For 25 years I strove to uphold religious righteousness where my only certainty was clearly failing the standard I held to be God’s. To then be judged again by others (failing just as miserably in some other area of their lives) made me feel ever more pathetic since I rarely saw their hidden struggles – religious
hypocrisy at its finest.

Questioning one’s personal righteousness is normal, perhaps healthy, for any Christian, but many of those with doubts, like mine, question not their walk of faith but their literal awareness of God – very few will freely admit that even to themselves. Here’s the test: How can a person truly know anyone whose reality they struggle with? One can not both know and doubt. That fact was unpleasant, but facing it put an end to my religious complacency. Some “believers” wake up to this same fact to conclude by some authority there is no God to honor – they choose a new faith in atheism.

Trading one faith for belief in another was no solution for me. I continued searching. One thing I did learn through my trouble, I am an intelligent, very rational person and possess more self-awareness than anyone I know. If Scripture was not true and the people who wrote of their experience with God made it all up in their imaginations, then there was no God to fear at all. Having long ago proven to myself that no other religion describes a tenable God – I was fully prepared to become an atheist. If you thought it was difficult to defend Christianity, try proving to yourself atheism is true without relying on anything beyond your own objective experience, your own rational mind and your own senses. You are the only authority on earth who is an expert in what you truly know – rely on that before accepting any claim as your own.

What did I find? First the presence of God is tangible. He is not a kind of energy or a force, He simply is – I have no other words to describe Him. I did not hear a voice, I did not see a vision and I did not feel a touch. The best description I can offer someone seeking God is by allegory. God’s presence filled my mind as the ocean would a water glass. The experience is one of awareness not of sensation, like understanding a book has an author then knowing him by his work. Awareness requires no effort, comes without warning and removes all doubt.

So where does faith come into play? God never expected me to have faith in beliefs, only faith in His covenant.The Bible is clearly a compilation of writing from people who describe in very human terms, truly indescribable experiences with an incomprehensible God. They each add something unique about their own encounters with one Creator who I recognize from my own awareness of Him. Their combined perspectives added to mine reveals a complete promise I know I can trust – and so I do. To honor the only God there is, the only way I can, I follow the best I am able what is written in the one place I find His promises. I feel badly for Christians who struggle to please who they merely believe in because discontent in their secret lives holds misery which they pass on to everyone around them. As for atheists, agnostics and non-Christians I have no argument at all, but I do make an offer. If you ever tire of believing, I can clearly describe how I know.

My essay follows.

Respectfully, David Hooten

Testimony of a Man Like Me

“Earnestly seek truth, Learn to live truth, then Discover truth as your life-long journey.” [ - David K Hooten 1997]

“I was once a true believer…” begins the cynical testimony of a man who caught my attention with words from my past. He dismissed his “faith” for the fallacy it was, and turned his confidence inward putting faith in himself. As a child I put my faith in something he never found – had our belief been in the same fallacy our testimonies would have ended in one accord.

Many “religious” never discover the god of their faith because God is not in what they chose to believe. One may find comfort in “believing” yet never have their god confront them. Sincerely believing what is not true is the trap religion offers when the god it serves is less than the one who is there. Without truth behind one’s faith, belief is not worth holding.

Reading my journal, written through my darkest season, you would find an arrogant man who alone was rightminded in a world of wanderers. Having never kept a journal before, and never written another since, I captured three years from the mind of a stranger who just happens to be me. It is unnerving to watch the god of my own making destroyed by my maker - God.

My childhood faith was in its innocence true, my fortune or my destiny? Perhaps both. I grew up to righteous teaching from godly instructors with honest failings. I spoke to God as my friend in prayer, with commitment to this Jesus more real in my eight year old mind than it could ever have been once my innocence had died. And die my innocence did.

Materialism in every sense the god of our natural world seduces the soul with his veils of honesty, hiding lies in folds of truth. Christianity tinted with legalism betrays itself as a contest between the wills of men, forsaking service to the will of God. Evangelists of science spoke of knowledge and of myth, while Elders answered questions with compromise and drift. Rationalizing my doubts became as autonomic as breathing, while maintaining faithfulness to Christ an unrelenting struggle. Hypocrisy consumed my faith like a cancer until the shell of my soul was laid bare. If I was still a Christian then, God alone could tell.

Being right for a moment makes no one righteous – I wish I had considered that when I let my love betrayed move from hurt to my unmaking. Nineteen years is much too young to marry, and four years of marriage too soon to let it die. I created my own dilemma, a commitment to the God I would not feel in a relationship of pain I knew was real. To divorce a deacon’s daughter can leave a Christian quite alone. Impressions can convict the guiltless.

Disappointment, rejection, mistrust, doubt – there are many formulas for unmaking the mind of a man, creating a new person who looks at life only through a cynic’s eyes. There is little room in the heart of a man consumed with indignation, much less room for Comfort’s motion buried deep within. For fifteen years I remained secure behind walls of self-control. I let no one close enough to harm me, and none to help me heal. My second wife was no exception, much loved on my terms and in my way. Ten years is too long for a human being to be loved like this, as my wakeup call arrived in the hollowness of her eyes. What the of loss of our child, the waste of our dreams and the death of our brother did not move, the tears of God broke through. Divorce does not just happen to anyone, not to a Christian, not twice. What had I become?

Absolutely alone, but for a presence waiting patiently within. In the year that followed, my faith was reduced to an illusion that God was only as real as my inventive mind could imagine, and the Bible a creative ploy by persuasive men bent on controlling the feeble minded. In his mercy God granted me my disrespect while I minimized the Spirit and criticized his Son. I was bared open with sincerity for the first time since an eight year old boy repented for his failings and asked his savior in. Jesus honored His promise to the pureness of faith in that small child, and in me by his word He will remain.

My journey returned me to the place where I’d begun, humbled before my God’s undeniable presence. What plagued me with confusion is buried with my past, leaving room to fill my soul with what truth alone can bring. Faith is unshakeable only when you have absolute confidence in its truth. Mine moves no more.

Rev 3:19-20 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (NIV)

Tuesday, November 19, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Nihilist

Dear Sir,

i just happened to stumbble onto your site via your livejournal. you see, im in a band called nihilist and i was just looking to see who all had "nihilist" as a intrest. well... your beliefs are interesting. i dont agree with them, i mean, im a messiah jew, meaning that i think that Yeshua is the Messiah, but i was just wondering....

what could you say was the big turning point for you in your faith? im just wondering cause everyone in my band doesn't know why they dont have it anymore (faith in the lord), im the only one that does have it, but id like to know from someone who is as educated as you are.

im not trying to pick a fight or anything, id just like to have a nice chat via email.

thanks man!

deric


Hello there Deric,

While I have no problem chatting with people about nearly anything, I did spend some time to write out my whole testimony from conversion to deconversion. If you are interested you can read it HERE

BTW I too am a former professional musician, jazz musician. I spent 20 years touring with Air Force Bands around the world. Music rules!

Dave VanAllen
webmaster of http://exchristian.net

Thank you for your site

I was raised in a fundamentalist baptist home in which there was room for the love of god but not for the love of anybody else, including the children. I never heard the phrase "I love you" in the house I grew up in, but there were 3 services a week filled with "God loves us and we love him". There was money for the missionaries but not for better food, or shoes, or college. They did not speak to us, hug us, or spend any time with us. Their only social life was through the church.

My father is a deacon in the church. My mother was the church secretary until she retired (she was also the church pianist). My parents held services in the local "mission" and at the various convalescent home. They have no idea what it did to me to grow up in an atmosphere centered on "sin, guilt and death", and they would never understand it. Their world view is centered on their cult. I do not know what hurt them with they were children, but I wish that they had chosen another way to deal with it.

The minister was a self hating booze hound who substituted an addiction to religion for his addiction to alcohol. He ranted and raved against communists and unionists and feminists and homosexuals and those obsessed with sex and drugs. Sunday after Sunday he stood up there with his facing turning red and showers of spit flew out over the podium. This man was telling an enthralled audience all about the God of love who tortured people who would not do as they were told, like a gigantic abusive parent in the sky. Telling children, who are in the process of defining their reality a load of hateful and frightening stories about an all powerful being who wanted to torture them for all eternity because of the sin nature they were born with causes a huge amount of emotional damage to them. It
is brainwashing and it is emotional abuse.

I do not think that it is right for adults to take children to any religious indoctrination meeting, which is what a fundamentalist church service, or a children's church, or a bible school for kids really is. The goal of the "conversion experience" (which is really well documented) is to drive the audience into a state of emotional despair - a nervous breakdown of sorts - and then to tell them that the only way to stop the pain is to join the cult. With children the effect is even more profound. They are still forming their world view. They have no defenses. They have no "past experiences" or "old life" to conflict with the preachers message of self hate. All they know is that "they are bad"..."so bad they deserved to burn forever". It leaves children is a state of complete despair.

By the time I was 9 I was suicidal, playing "hanging" games in the playground across the street with real rope, and drawing extremely disturbing things. I wanted to be dead. I hated my life. I though that everybody hated me, that I was unlovable (like the preacher said every service), and that I deserved to go to hell. Nobody noticed that I no longer had friends and that I could not sleep and that my health was failing.

There is a lot more to my story, but I'd like to summarize the rest of it (too late to make this long story short).

I went though most of my life suicidal, alone in my room with no friends and no girl friends after grade school. After high school I jumped from one kind of escapist group to another (mostly forms of SF and fantasy fandom) after I left the church. It took me ages to figure out that I was raised in a totalitarian cult.

When adults choose any religion that tries to define reality, and drag their children along, they are exposing those young and forming minds of their children to dogma. Dogma that contradicts reality. It gets the kids used to accepting things that conflict with what they see. If gets them used to the idea that they should go through life being told what to think.

Ken Linder

Monday, October 21, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Ex-Christian if I ever was one

Great site,

Just found it on the net, I can relate to your story in spirit although I never became as immersed in Christianity as you did. But the guilt and fear of a Catholic upbringing still haunts me to this day.

I can remember growing up I was depressed about life. I think I saw life a lot different than most of my friends. While I would party with them and all, all they wanted to do was drink and get high. Meanwhile I was contemplating things like what happens when we die, almost obsessively (this probably stemmed from my father dying when I was 12).

I would see Christians on T.V. and decided I wanted that ‘peace and harmony’, I gave my life to Christ. Nothing happened! Years of reading, praying, worshipping, and nothing, I would hear people talking about the power of the Holy Spirit and I wondered why I didn’t have it. I was consistently told there’s something I’m doing wrong, and that’s why I didn’t have the spirit, or hear God talking to me.

One day it was revealed that the minister of the church I was attending at the time not only was having an affair but was embezzling money from the church. How could he have been filled with the ‘Holy Spirit’ while committing such grievous acts? Surely he was he talked about the spirit, I heard other church members talk about how God had graced him so powerfully with the spirit. The answer was finally revealed to me. He wasn’t, never was, none of them were, they were completely full of it. The only difference between them and me was I was naïve. I didn’t pretend to be off in La-La land with my friend Jesus, while the rest of them did. There was no spirit, no harmony with the almighty, it was all bologna.

I guess the moral of the story is I needed therapy not church. Since the realization that there isn’t a loving God of the Universe who cares about me, I’ve been much more productive and happy with my life. I live in the here and now, I enjoy the little time I have with my wife and children, and I’m not preoccupied with what happens when I die. Because I know what happens I get buried! As life fades I go to sleep and that’s it, and you know what I’m absolutely fine with that.

I still probably need therapy to reverse the damage done by Christianity, and the church. My theological standing right now I would say is agnostic; I haven’t become a full fledged ‘evil atheist’J. I still think something pushed this universe along. But I don’t pretend to have any what that was, what I am sure about is it didn’t send its son to be butchered on a cross so we can be cleansed in his blood.

But once again great site I think it really helps people out!

Sincerely,

Mike




Hello Mike,

Thanks for the kudos, and I am glad you got encouraged by the site. If you allow me too, I would like to post your letter on the site, or if you want to write a more detailed testimony, I could post that. Either way, or not at all, it is up to you.

If you have spent any time on the site, you will notice that I get quite a bit of negative Xtian attention with the site, so when someone like you comes along, I like to post the positive stuff too.

Thanks again,

Dave VanAllen
webmaster of http://exchristian.net





Hello Dave,

Sure you can post it on the site; I may also write a more detailed testimony. I’m sure you can guess there was a lot more to my conversion to Christianity, and subsequent departure from the church.

Once again I enjoy your site; I love all of the Christians arguments of quoting scripture to prove the validity of the bible. I don’t believe in the bible, you may as well be quoting a Cracker Jack box. I got that all the time from Christians and never received a solid answer from one of them when I was a church goer.

It’s good to know they haven’t changed since I left the church. I don’t tend to immerse myself in debate with Christians too much. Usually they ask me how we got here if there isn’t a God, I say I don’t know, nor do I pretend to know. But there are many interesting theories about he ori.. This is where I’m again cut off to be asked, aren’t you worried what’s going to happen when you die, I again so no because I’ll be dead and won’t care about much of anything. This is usually where the Christian calls me an idiot, or says something self-aggrandizing to show there superiority over me. I usually just let them speak they do a much better job of discrediting Christianity than I ever could.

Again great site, I’m a systems engineer and I dabble in web-development so I like the design of it too.


Regards,

Mike






Friday, October 11, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Timothy, the hit and run Christian

Man, do you have to be so insecure that you have to write a webpage listing the "cliches" that Christians will say to you, hoping that it'll influence what they'll write to you? Your website is pretty vulgar, to say the least. The only reason why "atheist" ideas seem more unique is because they blurt static.

YES YES YES, YOU NEVER WERE A REAL CHRISTIAN. EX-CHRISTIAN IS A NON-WORD.

Honestly, I am feeling insecure and hateful towards others right now, but that's why I know I need God.

Saturday, September 21, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Thank-You

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for taking the time and effort to create and maintain this web site!! I visit it almost daily and it has helped me quite immensely.

Here's my story if you care to read it. After 9-11 I was in a total state of panic. With all the talk about it being the beginning of the end of the world and such I didn't know what to do. I started to talk to a co-worker who is a devout Christian and out of fear he convinced me to accept Jesus. I'm sure with no malice intended he saw an opportunity to convert another lost soul. He told me I needed to read the Bible daily and that God's word would be revealed to me. I started reading everyday and attending weekly Bible classes, but the problem was that none of it made sense to me and I couldn't understand it. There was so much contradiction it didn't make any sense. When I asked why I couldn't make sense out of it I was assured that I would understand when God decided to reveal himself to me. The old story of I just have to have faith was the usual response!

In the mean time I continued to have conversations with this friend. He told me about Revelation and the rapture and that the world is going to go through it all in the very near future. All this time the more I read and studied the more depressed and hopeless I felt. It affected my family life and everything. I love my family more than anything in this world and when I asked about my family I was told it was up to God whether they went to heaven or hell. That was the straw that broke the camels back, I couldn't take it any more. I didn't feel any peace and love when I read the bible, all I felt was despair, loneliness , depression, & etc.

To me the Bible is full of nothing but hate, anger, bigotry, death, destruction, all the things I abhor. You're site helps me to see things clearer although I must admit I do at times still have fear of the future, anxiety about what if the end times are real, worry for my family, and other things like that.

There's that nagging little doubt about not knowing what to believe. I have friends that say Nostradamus predictions are coming true and they correspond to the Bible and we are all going to be destroyed, things like that.

It's a little disheartening!

But little by little my faith in mankind and our self reliance and will to continue on is becoming stronger and stronger. I think mankind still has a long way to go and I think that the future will be better.

I'm sorry for rambling, I'm not a very intellectual man and it's hard for me to put my thoughts into words. Thanks for listening!!!

P.S. please don't post this, it sounds like babbling and is not very good!

R

R,

Thanks for the email!

Since you asked me not to, I will not post your letter to the site. I wish you would let me post it, or an edited version, if that would be okay, as I think it would encourage others.

I am encouraged and glad that you are helped by the site. If you have read my ex-testimony, or any of the others posted on the site, you realize that you are not alone in your doubts about religion.

Now that we are out of religion, it does not mean we have the answers to all of life's questions, but we do know that blindly believing what we know is falsehood just to be accepted, or out of fear, or because it makes us feel safe about hell, or fear of the end of the world, or whatever, is foolish.

Welcome to the thinking crowd!

Or rather, welcome back!


Dave VanAllen
webmaster of ExChristian.Net


First off thanks for replying. You are right, go ahead and post it. Please edit it as you see fit, just please don't include my name or e-mail. I don't really feel like getting into debates with people.....I've had enough! Again Thanks for you're time and all that you do, Keep up the good work!!!

R

Sunday, September 01, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Thanks for this website!

Hello,

I just had to tell you how much I appreciate your site. I'm an ex-Christian also, and might just take you up on your offer to send along my own "testimony" in the near future.

One thing stood out when I read your story, and I just wanted to mention it because my experience was similar. When I was in 15 or so I attended one of these Billy Graham movie things too. There was an altar call at the end, and instead of responding to it, like you, I memorized the prayer to say at home later. And now I'm 41, and wonder why I did that - what made me delay my response? The only conclusion I can offer is that somehow I knew - deep down - that it was wrong for me. I had doubts, too many doubts, to commit in such a public way. Yeah, I did the whole youth group, street evangelism, Bible study thing too. But no one ever saw me make the commitment. Oh, don't get me wrong, my response in making the private repentance/conversion was just as real as yours. I had similar feelings. It was so private, though, that I can only say my behavior in not repenting publicly was an indicator of my doubts.

I left the church about 10 years ago - I did a little swinging back and forth for a while, but I attribute that to all the years of control that were programmed into me while I was still a Christian. While I was a Hyper-Christian (that's the term I use for it) my family and friends found me to be unbearable to be around. My mother recently pointed out to me that at that time I was in hyper-mode, I would not even discuss certain subjects with her - more evidence of indoctrination. When she mentioned this to me I told her I think the reason was that I was afraid that by talking about these things, I'd give Satan a chance to magnify the doubts I already had and would end up backsliding or leaving the church altogether.

Sometimes doubt is a good thing. I got my life back.

Thanks again for your site. :)

Sincerely,
Keket

Atheist charities and whatnot

I found your websites. I was wondering if you had any information on
charitable work by atheists. I am trying to research this.

Second, I would send you $10, but it is also written not to throw pearls to
pigs and whatnot. In balance, I would do it, but just curious where the
money is going.

Richard Hutnik


Well, to date I have received two donations of $10.00 - a whole $20.00!

The whole point of my plea is not really to make money, the point is to show that Christians refuse to obey the actual words of Jesus, if it involves money and contradicts their common sense. Jesus does not ask his followers to use their brains, he asks them to OBEY.

That is the whole point of that rant.

However to answer your question, my sites cost money to keep running. Server space and bandwidth cost money. My time is not even part of the equation, so any donations are to keep the site up, and alive.

Atheistic Charities to give to?

Atheism is not an organized sect of some religion. It would be better to say that Atheists are linked only in that they are non-religious. I know several atheists here in town and none of them are close friends of mine, not because of their opinion about gods, but because they have personalities that differ too much from mine to engender a close kinship. I think what you might be asking is for secular charities who collect for causes without any reference to religion.

The United Way is chock full of such organizations. This link is another place to look around. Just as identifying yourself as a Charismatic Church will narrow the field when it comes to donations, identifying yourself as a pure atheistic concern significantly lowers the possibility of soliciting funds for any cause. 84% if this country calls itself "Christian" while only 7.5% call themselves "non-religious." People are very prejudiced against an open atheism.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

YOU WERE NEVER A CHRISTIAN!!

Chad says:

I was 16 when I became a Christian. I became a Christian because I needed forgiveness and the Lord drawed me to Him. I will always serve the Lord even unto death if necessary

I am from Olathe KS USA

He wrote:

If you say you used to be a Chrsitian, you simply are mistaken. Those who truly turn to the Lord became a new person.

John 14:6- Jesus said unto him, " I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.

IF you say you used to be a CHristian, you need to turn to the Lord because you are sadly mistaken. You may have had a interest in Christianity at one time. You may have faithfully attended a church one time. You may have done a lot of good things in your life. WIthout Jesus your hopeless, your good works can't get you to heaven.

Ephesians 2:8,9 - For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves 9 It is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.

You can try to denie that there is no Lord. In other words you can try to denie that there is no meaning in life. Go ahead and try to prove the Bible wrong, if you search long enough you will see that it is truth. Think about the eternity of your soul, where will you go when you die.

There a false Christians out there in other words people who look like Christians but never knew God in the 1st place. There are also false teachers out there, that are in the pulpits to deceive. Falst teachers are not Christians but they are pretending to be.

WHERE DO YOU STAND WITH THE LORD TODAY? without Him you have no hope turn to Him because He is your hope. Think about Heaven, and hell which one will you choose to be in forever? Think about Jesus and Satan which one will you choose to serve?

Matthew 19

25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."


I would desire for you today that you would choose life.

Thanks Chad for your so, so original post. I wonder if you guys will ever come up with something original in your presentation?

Then again, original thought is an oxymoron to religion.
DVA

Tuesday, August 06, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Is This Necessary?

Hi Dave,

I am interested in the atheist / christian debate and have therefore spent some time in your website. I am initially shocked at the personal attacks made on christians themselves as distinct from their beliefs. I read your testimony and was interested to see that you counted yourself among them once.

From what I gather (please correct me if I'm wrong) it would seem that, in time, you were intellectually unable come to terms with much of the teachings of christianity. Your own sense of reason overcame the 'bondages of faith' if I can put it that way.
Now, I can see where this can become a very emotive issue (as indicated by the letter to you from Janine), but what I fail to understand is why no one FROM EITHER SIDE seems to be willing or capable of entering into a mature debate that doesn't degenerate into a name-calling debacle.

I can understand that both atheists and christians believe themselves to be right. I can also understand that they both can't be. There either is or there isn't a personal, loving God as accepted by christians.

Both claim to be able to get to their viewpoint via the processes of reason and science. Both claim to have evidence to support their view. So, it would seem an ideal forum for debate. Why, then isn't there any?

Dave, I can't help but feel that by the time a christian has gotten to the discussion forums, they have been so belittled and humiliated, not by your arguments against their beliefs, which in many cases seem logical and reasonable, but by the personal (and I might say childish) insulting, name calling that is evident in so many of your articles.

Is that really necessary?

As you will have guessed, I am a christian, and I hold my views from a position of reason and intellect, don't you? I have enough evidence to prove to me that my view is the correct one, don't you? I know beyond doubt that God exists, but don't you know beyond doubt that he doesn't? Christianity can claim that some of the greatest minds on the earth are christian, but can't atheists claim exactly the same thing? I could list many scientists who, for scientific reasons only, accept the Intellegent Design Theory, but you could do exactly the same for the Theory of Evolution.

If I am an idiot for believing what I believe, on the basis I have for believing it, then you are just as big a fool... so why can't we stop the name calling? I'll stop calling you a godless bastard :-) and lets get on with the debate.

Regards

Nev Randle

Nev,

I suppose nothing on this site at all is necessary, but I believe you misunderstand the purpose of this site. I designed this site as a place for ExChristians to be encouraged, and often that means ranting. I added the "discussion board" because so many "Christians" wanted to voice their opinion, which meant I was responding to a ton of sermonette emails.

I do not refuse emails such as yours, in fact they are often posted on the "Letters to the Webmaster" pages, however, if you really feel compelled to know what people think about this topic, then that is what the discussion board is for. I am not particularly interested if anyone is deconverted because of these pages. I am only interested in letting those with serious doubts understand they are not alone.

The emotions associated with becoming deconverted are as powerful as those associated with converting. They are quite normal, and if they are distasteful to you, just imagine how distasteful the zealously emotional Christian appears to the non-christian.

One question, do you see anything wrong with the Christian attacks on the non-believers, apart from the ideas they talk about? I thought the Christian was supposed to turn the other cheek and glory in persecution. Seems this sort of personal attack you are lamenting is a human trait regardless of beliefs, convictions, or the holy ghost's indwelling spirit.

Regards,

Dave VanAllen

Sunday, August 04, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Fanatics

Hi Exchristian,

At the extreme end, yes fanatics fly planes into buidings. But, my interpretation of a fanatic is anyone who has an extreme and unreasonable enthusiasm or zeal with regard to religious matters.

Regards,
Nev Randle

Friday, July 19, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

welcome to the family :-)

I admit I have lots of exposure to atheists who have been so more or less since birth (myself included), and as a given hardcore
Christians and such, but it is rare indeed to encounter a "fallen one," hehe. I look forward to perusing your website after reading
your opening statement and follow-up to it. Here's a cool quote I recently came across....

"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Fickle, fickle Lord."
-Solomon Short

Frank V

Thanks Frank!

Hope you enjoy the site!

Dave VanAllen
webmaster of ExChristian.Net

Wednesday, July 17, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

You are an arshole!


from Janine

you are a self righteous, pompus arshole who blames the world and especially christians for all ur trouble in life. U should take responibilty for ur actions and stop blaming Christ. Only u r responsible for ur life NO ONE ELSE.

U have choosen to walk way from christ because of ur pride and hurt that God wasnt a give me god who gave u everything u ever asked for. People in the church make mistakes and so do u. u alone are to blame for the postion u are in!!!

U choose to not come under any leadership of the church by going to lots of diffent churches and when they tried to help u, u left because ur pride was hurt.. U werent in it for christ but rather for ur self and what u could get out of God. Christianity is not about u! and wat u can get from God. It is bout u being lost in ur sin and God choosing to save u of his own free will. GOD DOES NOT OWE U ANYTHING!!!!

The world does not owe u anything, I dont owe u anything. ur life is your own so grow up and take responsibilty for ur own actions and stop blaming others. The buck stops at u!

To Janine from the Webmaster

of ExChristian.Net:,

Thank you for your typically Christian comments!

Oh, and Janine, I did delete the other seven times you posted the exact same message. BTW, I love you janine, with an atheistic love that says you can be whatever you want, OKAY?

Ah, I however, still refuse to believe in fairy tales, even JESUS fairy tales.

Sincerely,

Dave VA

Sunday, July 14, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Hi, Thanks for visiting

my site

Your site I think runs rings round mine (am too poor to get my own domain and too lazy to learn snazzy web publishing techniques).. Your testimony is very moving and at the same time reminds me that it is so easy to fall for the fundy trap, especially with the current rise of fundamentalism in many parts of the world (here in Singapore its getting a wee bit out of hand)..
Wishing you all success in your endeavors

Balaji

Balaji,

Thanks for the return visit and the compliment. Just remember that it is content, not looks, that really matter when it comes to a website. Keep up with the writing!

webmaster

Saturday, July 13, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

HELLO!

Hello, you have a great web site.Your site is a great resource for me. I am not an exchristian however I did go to a baptist church as a child. I discovered early that I was far more interested in the girls at sunday school than any scriptures. I also always felt that the bible and "nature" didnt seem to mix to well.

For the past few years my feelings toward religion mainly christianity have grown more intense with absolute disgust. After the terror attacks on 9/11 these feeling have multiplied. I joined a web blog community{xanga} back in january and have since been debating with younger christians.Mainly between the ages of 15-30. I just joined your forum last night under foolsparade. I would also like to join a christian forum,do you have any recomndations?I probably would see more action by going there.I envy you with your knowledge of the bible,I still do not have enough disciplin to sit down and read the book cover to cover.I love reading writers such as Neitzsche, Camus, Voltaire, Twain, and books about Einstein. so you could imagine the utter boredom I experience with the bible.I hope to start up a web site also in the near future geared towards a "younger" audience. There are alot of teenagers I have noticed that are trying to spread among themeselves this gross concept.I would like to imagine that if there were a god, that this god would require nothing more from us than to just live in peace.

You should get bumper stickers for your store.I will purchase your book soon,I am knida poor right now..peace

Paul Weaver

Monday, June 24, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Well alrighty then,

Hello Dave,

I stumbled upon your site today and have read much of its contents with interest. I think God wanted me to put off registering my Website to pursue your site.
I'm 41 now and was saved at about 15. I'm currently about half-way through my one-year bible as this is nearly July. I don't have your extensive background, but have been in and out of church since junior-high.
You may find it interesting that I am dismayed at what I read in the old testament. How can a God of love, incapable of evil, do such things? Today I am reading in 1 Kings 20--21 where God spoke through a prophet to Ahab the then King of Israel, verse 20:42: "This is what the LORD says: Because you have spared the man I said must be destroyed, now you must die instead of his people." From the prophet Elijah to Ahab, verse 21:20: "The LORD is going to bring disaster to you and sweep you away. He will not let a single one of your male descendants, slave or free alike, survive in Israel! He is going to destroy your family as he did the family of Jeroboam son of Nebat and the family of Jeroboamson of Nebat and the family of Baasha son of Ahijah, for you have made him very angry and have led all of Israel into sin." 21:23: "The LORD has also told me that the dogs of Jezreel will eat the body of your wife, Jezebel (RB-she lied and had Naboth executed), at the city wall. The member!
s of your family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures."

OK so now the LORD sends another message to Elijah, 21:29: Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime. It will happen to his sons; I will destroy all his descendants."

This is really rough for me to take. Should Ahab's decendants be responsible for what Ahab did? Also, if pre-destiny is real, then is God just playing with us? I'm having real problems understanding pre-destiny right now. The best I can figure is that some are pre-destined, such as Judas who betrayed Jesus, but pre-destiny really seems to clash with the concept of freewill.

With all that said, I know there is a God. I know He is a force for good, and I know in my soul that this force exists. I also know of the force for evil. I believe that force was put here so that we would have to make a choice. I also firmly believe that Jesus Christ existed, and performed miracles of God the father.

A spiritual law that I have experience to be real beyond any question is, "WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND."

God is a jealous God. One should do as He says and not as He does, which is similar to the relationship I had with my father. I don't believe that, even with the problems I have been having understanding, that I will ever be led to not fear Him.

How could Solomon, with his great wisdom given from God, be led away from Him, as he was?

Is it just mere coincidence that I only a week ago received a copy of "The Case for Christ," and now both sides have been revealed here in your site? Thanks Dave, I'll have to put off my Website registering a little longer as now I have to read that book and then the anti-links you have posted.

Maybe I'll write again sometime. Keep the faith Dave, even if it is just the smallest ember right now.

Your comment that there are a lot of things we don't understand was understated. My advice---pray for wisdom.

Thanks a million,
Ron Behrens
Mon 6/24/2002 5:46 PM

Wednesday, June 12, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Your Anti-Testimony

From: Will Smith [mailto:areo50ad@mindspring.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 6:28 PM

Greetings. I just found your site and read your anti-testimony, as well as
the testimonies of many others on your site. I am still a Christian, but have
gone through much of what you yourself have, and I can say that I, too, have
"lost my original faith", just not quite the same way you did.
I was raised in an Independent Baptist Church (which means to the right of
Southern Baptists) and also spent much time reading Seventh Day Adventist
literature. I believed that the 1611 King James Bible was the "infallible,
inerrant word of God" and that anyone who didn't believe so was going to
hell. Furthermore, we were saved by faith, not works. The services were dry
and booring. Jesus was always portrayed as one having and showing no emotion.
I was told that the earth was made in six days and that the earth was only
six-thousand years old. The church I went to had four barren walls and wooden
pews to sit on. No matter how a sermon started off, it always turned into:
"your going to hell if you don't get right with God right now." And, of
course, one day we were going to be "raptured" away into heaven.
One stressing point in particular was my love of art and the Second
Commandment, or rather, how it was explained to me. "No graven image" meant
there should be no depictions of Jesus, the Apostles, etc. in the church
building.
I can sympathize with you as far as struggling with puberty and adolescence
and the faith as I understood it. Jesus had said, “You have heard that it was
said, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ (Exod 20:14; Deut 5:18)
28 But I say to you, anyone who stares at a woman with lust for her has
already committed adultery with her in his heart."-Matt. 5:27-28. (I know now
that Jesus was referring to married men and women in the context of this
verse, but that wasn't how it was explained to me then. It is a shame that
many churches teach or imply that human sexuality is somehow evil or sinful.
However, the Song of Solomon shows that not to be the case.)
I too struggled with the inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible as
did many of my friends. Many of us went from church to church seeking
answers, only to be confronted with the same. I then turned to the history of
the church for the answers which I was looking for, reading books such as
"The Oxford History of Christianity". In the end, I discovered that the
Church Fathers who chose the books that were to be known as "The Bible" were
well aware of the differences in the accounts of Jesus' life contained in the
gospels, as were the Jews who already had included the books of 1 and 2
Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Hebrew Bible were aware
of the differences in the accounts of the history of Israel. The
Greek-speaking Jews and Christians of old were also aware of the differences
between the Greek and Hebrew versions of the Bible. There was no problem with
having differing accounts of events because the notion of "infallible,
inerrant word of God" hadn't been invented yet. It is in truth a late novelty
(as is the belief in the "rapture") that is alien to the greater part of
Christianity.
I also found that art had long been a part of the Church; from frescoes
dating from the second century, sculptures and mosaics to the chants, music,
and stained glass pictures found in most churches today. In context, the
Second Commandment only refers to making idols of God, and worshiping as
such.
I and several others also took an interest in reading everything we could
about evolution, the big bang, natural selection, the Neandertals, etc., and
I am still fascinated by the earth and everything in it, as well as the
vastness of the universe and all in it.
As I said before, I discovered the Song of Solomon, which leaves no doubt
that those of old never considered human sexuality to be sinful. I found
where Paul had written, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither
slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in
Christ Jesus."-Gal. 3:28; and, "Is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not
the God of the Gentiles, too? Yes, of the Gentiles, too."-ROM. 3:29. Also,
"For whenever Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the
law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the
law. They show that what the law requires is written in their hearts, a fact
to which their own consciences testify, and their thoughts will either accuse
or excuse them.."ROM. 2:14-15. These verses, as well as several other quotes
from Paul, that the true faith is an inclusive one, where everyone has the
opportunity to be saved. I have since made many friends of other faiths and
am also convinced that from reading passages about "hell" that the
condemnation mentioned is for those who know right from wrong and choose to
do evil.
Paul's letter to Philemon, admonishing him to free his slave, Onesimus, and
to accept him as a brother is another example of the kind of faith I now
have, which is not based on believing certain doctrines and having what I
call a "head-knowledge faith" where a person believes that if he just knows
the right idea, he will be saved by that mental process. That is the kind of
shallow, superficial "faith" that I lost, along with several of my Christian
friends. The faith I now have is one in which equality of all, social
justice, and love for all in word and deed, today and every day, is more
important than whether I believe the earth is 6,000 years old or
four-billion; or whether the King James or the New International Version is
the only true bible.
I highly recommend several books by Philip Yancey, namely, "The Jesus I Never
Knew", "Dissapointment With God", and "Where Is God When It Hurts?" for
further reading on losing ones faith in order to find it.

From: Will Smith

Mr. Smith,

Thanks for the email!

I hope you have found what you are looking for. If you read "Losing Faith in Faith" by Dan Barker, a former minister, you may find you have much in common with him.

Sincerely,

Dave VanAllen

Sunday, June 02, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

In Ref to "Proof of God"

Dave,
I have read so much of your experiences and beliefs I feel I have known you for ages. I admire your sharp mind and your grasp of the English language which I can not claim with my 9th grade education but when you write about reason I can only think that you reason much differently than I do.
I too have so much trouble believing everything in the bible but why should we stop believing there is a god (a creator} just because we don't except a book that claims it's from him ?
I look at the world we live in and the universe around us,the order of things such as being able to tell the height of the tide at any given time and place,the rising of the sun and the moon etc. and then I cannot comprehend any one thinking all this came about at random !
for example throw a pile of timber into a lot and watch a house build itself, or mix a quantity of ingredients in a large bowl and sit back and wait for a cake or anything else for that matter to develop and it will never happen without outside intervention.or better sill ask your father with all his knowledge of radios to throw all the parts needed into a box, to shake it as much as he likes and then open it and produce a working radio. I think not.
even if you believe that al this came about from one individual cell or atom or whatever,
where did that cell come from ?
you would say to me , where did this god I believe in come from ?
I have no answer Dave, but no answer to that is a better explanation than that of an atheist to saying that all we see exist without a maker.
please don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, if you never believe in the son, believe in the father. you have a son Dave, you know that he wouldn't be here without a father.
my argument is this { how can we have a creation, without a creator ??? }
we tend to put flesh and blood on any being we try to imagine including god, perhaps god is un-imaginable with our finite mind, does that prove he doesn't exist?
I can understand your refusal to believe the bible is the word of god but how do you possibly explain this the universe and all that is in it.
I can't prove gods existence, but then can you explain life and this universe without accepting there is a creator ? that too is a mystery. you accept one but refuse the other, is that wisdom or foolishness. to quote the book we have a hard time believing
" the fool has said in his heart - there is no god " so much for now,
Bill Warner
save@mybrosplace.com

Wednesday, May 29, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Proof there is no GOD?

Hello,
I noticed on your site that you could supposedly prove that there was not god. I didn't really notice that you had any evidence to support this. I also didn't notice that you had talked to any people who held PHD's in the feild or had a degree in archaology, or history. Anyway there is a book written by a law journalist who used to cover some of the most controversial cases to date. I suggest that before you say you have evidence that there is no god that you read this book with an open mind. It is called "the Case for Christ". I believe you need to look at both sides of a case before you can make a truly educated decision. Until you have looked at all the facts you should not spread your word as if it is the truth. Anyway I just wanted you to try reading the book berfore you make any harsh decisions.

Your Truly,
Autumn Girard

Thanks for your post. Perhaps you did not really read the article closely, but be that as it may, I think you must be referring to Lee Strobels Book - The Case for Christ, with which I am quite familiar.

In response to your admonition, I want to recommend to you that you read these articles written in response to Mr Strobel's work:

'The Case against The Case for Christ'
Review of Lee Strobel's 'The Case for Christ'
A review of Lee Strobel's 'The Case for Faith
Lee Strobel, "The Case for Christ". 1998 HarperCollins Publishing House. - A Critique
A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel’s The Case For Christ

Wednesday, May 22, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Your Testimony

Dave,

I am a new "freethinker" per se. I really like your testimony on the Exchristian.net website. I have never sit down and put together a "testimony". But if I did it would be similar to yours when you describe the years of diligence studying of the Word that you did. I spend most of my live in a fundamentalist Southern Baptist church environment (I'm 35 now). As I read your "testimony" I could identify with everything you wrote. I look back now at the number of years I spent in the church and I wouldn't change a thing. That may sound funny but I look at that time in the church as a test. I waged a war of the mind through a controlling belief system that few overcome. Think about it Dave, we're free and on the other side of this religionist illusion now. Millions of people will never escape because they are afraid or refuse to think and ask the question that we did.

For years I was suspicious of religious fraud, toward the end of my fundamentalism I no longer really believed the Genesis garden account and The Myth of the Great Flood. I knew that the "rapture" was a nineteenth century invention and that 95% of the Jews in Israel today are descended from converts of 8th century CE Khazaria so the prophecies about the end of the world thing is a hoax. I really started digging for answer. By pure change I read an article at the bookstore about Astro-Theology entitled The Origins of Christianity and Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ. I wondered how all these years I never heard about the Pagan origins of the Christ myth Not until I started looking for the whole truth was I able to find the truth at all.

In the fall 1999 Hurricane Floyd was heading straight for the Florida coast where I live. I'm glad that Hurricane Floyd didn't turn west and destroy my home like Andrew did to hundreds of people in Miami 1992. Yet Floyd did hit the Bible belt state of North Carolina, costing them millions of dollars in damage. After everything in Florida had calmed down from the hurricane. I remember sitting in Sunday School and hearing the Sunday School teacher say "We need to thank Jesus for answering our prayers and delivering us from hurricane Floyd". When the instructor said that, I had had enough of that mentality, the camel's back was broke, I haven't returned since. Thinking about what the teacher was saying. Are the prayers of Floridians more righteous than those from someone from North Carolina? Maybe since there are more people in Florida we just out prayed them and turned to storm toward North Carolina.

Steve W

Thanks for your letter Steve.

I agree with you completely. I also miss many of my friends from my Christian days. Unfortunately most of them severed their ties with me altogether, believing by so doing they are obeying Christ. Dogmatic religion is not friendly to those who leave it's harsh grasp.

I think discovering how much Paganism has been infused in Christianity, how the very roots of Christianity are nothing but pagan, is a fascinating study. I wonder at times if the plethora of bible teachers and preachers out there really have no clue about it, or simply keep it to themselves. I am amazed at the ignorance which abounds concerning the origins and relative lateness of the Rapture Eschatological theories, taught everywhere as fact. Right now I am reading Carl Sagan's book, The Demon Haunted World. We humans just love to have our fantasies, it appears.

Anyway, welcome to a growing number of people waking up to reality, and thanks again for the affirmation.

Dave VanAllen

Friday, May 03, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Why do Christians leave the fold?

I recently rec'd the following e-mail from a creationist Christian
friend of mine. He was once into eastern religions before he became a Christian. He attempts to psychoanalyze people who have "left the fold." If anyone would like to respond to this, please send your responses to me at ed.babinski@furman.edu and I'll cut and paste them together and send them on to James.

Sincerely,

Edward T. Babinski (author of Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists, Prometheus Books, 1995; editor of Cretinism or Evilution? at the talk origins archive; and author of "The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience" at www.infidels.org )




Just my thoughts:
I have visited some of those Websites for people who have decided to
abandon the Christian faith and have banded together to discuss their
Christian experience. They have a number of different names on their
sites: "Ex-fundies", "Infidels" (founded by a former minister),
"skeptics.org", etc. The title to one of these organizations is known as "Walk Away", but that is a misnomer, for they have not walked away from Christianity; instead they have become obsessed with it, although from a hostile viewpoint. In their attitude towards Christ and His Kingdom they have become like the deranged Glenn Close character in "Fatal Attraction". The same type of unhealthy zeal that consumed them when they believed in Christianity is now being directed towards attacking Christianity . In other words, they were never simply nominal, ordinary believers even when they were Christians. They were compulsive Christians, obsessed with
proving their faith, or else proving themselves worthy of God through
their excess acts of zeal. They had the same type of religious "fever"
that some of the Moonies have; the overly zealous need to make converts of
others because they never really had the assurance themselves of the
genuineness of their own faith.
They felt, "If I can just get this other person to believe, then maybe my
faith might be real after all."
I must admit that I work to defend the faith, and apologetics is a
necessary part of being a Christian in today's skeptical world, but my
desire is to glorify Christ, and I do it out of love for the truth, and
love for my Savior, and love for lost souls, but not to "prove" my love
for God.
I do nice things for my wife because I love her, not to "prove" that I
love her. That would be self serving.
I wonder if they ever really felt the desire to witness from the simple
love of Christ instead of feeling pressured to witness as part of working
out their own unresolved guilt. For this is another aspect of former
Christians. They have never really come to terms with accepting God's
unconditional love. They were still caught up in guilt, even as believers,
either through some type of preformance belief system, or else through the
opposite, which is that our salvation is not affected by anything that we
do, and thus they fell into habitual sin while justifying it with the
"once saved always saved" doctrine. Eventually they either could not live
with the guilt or the hypocrisy and they turned their backs on Christ.
On the other hand, I have read the stories of many Christians who have
kept their faith through extremely trying times. I have heard the
reports from other parts of the world where Christians have been tortured
and martyred for their faith. Interestingly enough, it is unusual for
someone who has truly suffered for their faith, that is to say because of
their faith, for them to have "blamed God" and gotten mad at him in a huff
and become disillusioned with Him and abandoned Christianity. Most stories
of those who have genuinely suffered for their faith tell of their faith
being strengthened through their ordeal. And there are the stories of
those who have had dramatic conversion experiences, where God literally
reached down into the midst of some incredibly difficult situation and
brought them "out of a horrible pit" and set them on solid ground.
These genuine stories of salvation usually result in a reverential,
humble, and eternally thankful attitude towards the Savior, much like the
woman who anointed Christ's feet with the costly ointment with her hair.
Christ said of her "One who loves much has been forgiven much."
Many of these former Christians have never even come close to such geniune
love and gratitude towards their Savior, even when they were believers.
Even the ones who were in the ministry, in reading their testimonies, one
can see that long before they lost their belief in Christ they had lost
their love for Christ.
Most of them were comfortable, middle class believers who had the best of
both worlds and then like Esau, they chose this world in exchange for an
eternal one. For many of them their salvation experience was really one
like the Roman who was "almost persuaded", while in their hearts they had
never reached that position of full and total surrender. It was either
emotionalism, or else it was like joining some club, or following some set
of mechanical rules.
The two types of people who have abandoned their faith, for the large
part, were either the compulsive Christians, the "zealots", or the
"anything goes" type of Christians who never had a genuine life style
change in the first place.
And like the seed that fell by the wayside, and the seed that was fallen
on stony ground, and the seed that fell on the ground choked with
weeds, they have brought no lasting fruit into the Kingdom of God. And
like Judas, who was not content to merely abandon Jesus and walk away,
they have returned with a band of soldiers to try to re-crucify the
Savior, to attack and try to destroy the best Friend they have ever had in
their entire lives, in all of eternity.
For them, and for the state of their eternal souls, it would have indeed
been better had they truly "walked away".

James Foard

my "home page" at the Secular Web
Edward T. Babinski



Interesting letter you posted here Ed; thanks for the thought provoker! I would agree with him in part. I would agree that some of the characteristics displayed by some ExChristians would imply some of the conclusions he supposes. However, as with any attempt to marginalize a group of people with stereotypical rhetoric, the conclusions are flawed. It is painfully obvious that your friend is accustomed to thinking in “either/or” patterns, as in everything is either black or white. Hasty generalizations are seldom satisfying as a means of support in either argument or debate. Nonetheless, he is entitled to his opinion, as are we all.

Having said that, I would like to present the writer of this letter other alternatives to add to his amateur psychoanalyzing. It could be that some of the people who become ex-Christians have had a very sincere and lively faith. It could be that some of these former regenerates believed they had a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe and His Son. It could be that at least a few of the vocal apostates out there were what we “Born Agains” would have definitely considered “in the faith”. Quickly dismissing large numbers of people who made the painful decision to abandon a lifestyle and worldview they once accepted as the ultimate truth as he has done is too simplistic. What motivates a person to do what he or she does is far too complex, especially when it comes to dramatic life changes such as occurs in conversion or de-conversion from a religion. I wonder if an Ex-Mormon, or an Ex-Jehovah Witness, or even an Ex follower of David Koresh were to set up a website or write books exposing the fallacies and foibles of there respective faiths they would be condemned as passionately by your friend for their new stance? Imagine that if on top of publicly proclaiming their realization of the deception endured while under the influence of their previous cult, they were to announce that they had become Evangelicals fully convinced of the truth of Biblical Christianity. Would your friend disapprove of their attempts to let the world know? If these same former cultists saw their previous religion as a danger, as a mind numbing experience, as brain washing, as rife with false claims and unrealistic expectations, would he applaud their outspokenness or criticize them as he does the former Xtian for his or her vocalization. Does your friend think Martin Malachi is overly preoccupied with false cults, or is what he does and writes about okay?

While a lack of empathy is a fairly common quality in our generation, it is not very attractive, especially in one who portends to be the representative of Love. I personally set up my own website as a sort of catharsis. I wanted a place to collect my thoughts, and work through my transformation from “totally sold out Christian” to my present position of “Rational Human Being” (if there is such a thing!). I had no idea of the onslaught of negative attention I would receive by supposedly Holy Sprit filled saints, as they stumble upon my web creation, and react. I mean, if it really offends them, they could just click off. Nothing compelled them to show up at my site. I don’t’ go to their home, they come to mine, in a manner of speaking.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was a real born again Christian. I knew what I knew was true and had the “witness of the Holy Ghost” in my heart to confirm it. The human mind is complex and belief a strong instrumentality with diverse effects depending on the genetics, background, upbringing, education, culture, race, intelligence, sensitivity, personality, etc. of the individual affected by it.

To conclude, I am tempted to generalize a bit myself by saying that this letter gives me the distinct impression encapsulated by the trite overused cliché, “The pot is calling the kettle black”. If he thinks we should just walk away from our previous life without a word, then why doesn’t he follow his advise and walk away from disbelief with out a word? I can’t criticize the faith I once belonged to, or those who cling to it? Well then conversely I would say he is not entitled to criticize his former lack of faith, or those adhering to that. In other words, your friend is silly.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

Don't Judge

I am a devout Catholic, and this may suprise you. I am not going to say that you are going to hell, I'm not going to say that you are in the hands of the devil, and I am not going to say that you are evil or anything like that. This is your opinion and you are entitiled to it. Besides, it is not my position to judge you or anyone else. However, I ask that you, in turn, don't judge anyone who is a Christian, Catholic, Jew, ect..
.
I pray all goes well with you. Please remember me.

With Love - Amelia Barber

God-Speed!

Hi. I am a believer who will be reading you site, since I find the stories of former Christians who have abandoned the faith fascinating. I still love Jesus and will read your "testimony". I was just going to mention though, that you have an excellently formatted site, very well done, but you might want to increase the size of your font. It's a little too small.
Paul (St. Paul) told me not to wish you maranatha or God speed, so I will just say have a nice day,

James Foard




Hello,

Thanks for the "have a nice day". Concerning the font, if you are using Internet Explorer, you can change the font size by clicking on "view" then "text size" then "largest". This may help. Otherwise, I am afraid you are stuck with the font size as it is. You see, I like it that way! LOL.

Though I am not forbidden from wishing you anything at all, I no longer believe in gods or goddesses, so wishing you God-Speed would be inconsistent. Instead I wish you health and happiness!

Dave VanAllen

Tuesday, April 23, 2002                                                                                       View Comments

I pity YOU!

I pity you that you do not know the Lord or my personal savior Jesus Christ. I'm sorry I won't be seeing you in heaven. Have fun in Hell, but don't ever forget, Jesus Christ loves YOU!

No signature, No email return address.

GOD LOVES ME SOO MUCH HE IS THROWING ME IN HELL!!!! Thanks friend!

SORRY!

Dave!

The following was posted on your website, but I thought that I would send it as an email as well!

I just want to say that I am sorry for the junk you have copped from some individuals in the Church. There is a lot of crap in the Church because the problem with it is that it's full of humans, not perfect angels - though some pretend to be so! I have known Christians who try to force God and speaking in tongues on people before - that shows an insecurity and need to control on people. That is not what Christianity is about! The Bible makes it clear that God is the one who does the work of convincing. We're just called to be His witnesses that is all and to avoid foolish arguements, trying to live peaceably with everyone, but giving an answer to the hope that is in us when asked to.

Again, I say a big huge, "SORRY!" to you for any pestering from individuals in the Church. Those individuals don't represent us all though! Just like yourself, they are human and make mistakes. There are some harsh Christians out there, just as there are some harsh Atheists and some harsh Muslims! Some people take a different view to their own badly and others take it well - no matter what you believe! I found your Anti-Testimony very interesting! That is not to say that I agree with all the conclusions made, but it was interesting! I was glad that I read it. A lot of people I know leave the Church because they have been hurt by someone there or because they feel like they have been controlled by someone or other. I would say this though (having been hurt by someone in the Church myself)that no matter where you go in life, there is the possibility of getting hurt. It is not the fault of the organization or place, it is a problem that that individual who hurt you had. That is life. To those people, have you considered that maybe God is crying with you?
As someone who has experienced someone trying to control me in the past, are you going to let that person deny you of the right to choose an idea for yourself in your attempt to find freedom? In saying, "I don't want that because they are forcing it on me!" You are denying yourself the possibility that that thing might be good, it is just that it was forced on you. Is the issue, that that thing was bad, or that it was forced on you? If it is the former, by all means, don't go for it! However, if it is the latter, maybe rejecting the thing that was forced on you is not the answer, but maybe escaping the influence of that person's control is the answer. There are more than just one way of doing that! Anyhoo, seeing as it is now 2:30 in the morning, and my eyes are starting to see double, I am heading to sleep!

Michelle Ingram moli_mouse@yahoo.com.au




Michelle,

You said,

"It can't be said that there are no historical records outside of the Bible that Jesus existed because that isn't true! Roman historians and Greek Satrists have written about Him as well as a Jewish pharisee/historian. I know that Atheists and Jesus skeptics have their excuses about those too, but it does make you wonder!"

Josephus is the Jewish historian to which you refer. Even conservative fudamentalist scholars admit that the statement in Josephus was a latter addition that was not part of the original. Please quote even one other place, outside the bible, that directly witnesses that Christ exisited. You will find a few references to Christians, but never to Christ, except as the man that Christians say they worship. And even those historical allusions are many years after the man-god supposedly rose from the dead.

Your logic that no one can prove the non-existence of god is not a good argument. I have forwarded the article below by Richard Carrie to you concerning the fallicious nature of that argument.

FInally, I appreciate your apology on the behalf of Christendom, but I expect a direct apology from Christ himself. It is he who said he is building HIS CHURCH. It is not the fault of the pot if the potter is bad at his work.

Sincerely,

Dave VanAllen
http://exchristian.net


It's remarkable how many people insist I am not an atheist. It seems pretty obvious to me that I don't believe any god exists, and that pretty much makes me an atheist. Nevertheless, here these people are, so insistent that I cannot possibly be an atheist. "You're too nice," they say, or "you really believe, you just don't know it" (how's that again?). Sometimes I hear something like "You believe in something, and that is really god" or "you are still looking, but you'll find Him" (he's invited to stop by my house at any time). When I have the time to converse with these people, however, it usually comes down to this: I'm really an agnostic, they say, because I am willing to admit that I don't know there isn't any god. It is apparently so important for people to believe that I'm "really just an agnostic" that I find this to be a haunting sign of the hold religion has on people. It is tragic that the mere thought of a good friend or relative being an actual, avowed atheist is so horrible that it must be denied.



Sometimes I have the chance to explain that I am an atheist not because I know there isn't a god, but because I don't believe there is. If someone insisted that their pet fish could talk, I really couldn't say I knew it didn't, especially if I could not go and see for myself, but it would still be fair for me to say that there are no talking fish. The relevance of this is that I do not believe god exists any more than I believe fish can talk. Certainly, I have not examined all species of fish, nor every single fish for that matter, nor could I ever accomplish such a feat, but the claim that they exist is so contrary to my own personal experience and reliable facts that I simply will not believe it unless very definitive proof is provided. Of course, if I visit someone's pet fish and it talks to me, I am still wiser to test the possibilities of trickery or insanity before believing it can really talk. But if I found many fish that talked, trustworthy people confirmed it, scientists published carefully researched papers about them, and newspaper headlines read "INCREDIBLE DISCOVERY: TALKING FISH!" then it would be more than reasonable to believe they existed. No one really disputes such common sense, until it is applied to religion.
I've never seen or talked to a god, nor seen a god do anything unmistakably godlike. People insist they know one exists, but most of them really say they only feel it, and don't offer any other proof. Indeed, it is odd that those few who honestly offer the more genuine proof of actually hearing god talk are branded insane even by the believers. Believers are probably right about that, but their own "feeling" that a god exists isn't any more convincing to me. Anyone might "feel" that fish could talk, but that wouldn't mean it was so, nor would that be a very reliable way to know it was true even if it was. People still say there are billions of witnesses to god's existence, but since the vast majority of them only "feel" that god exists, even trillions of witnesses wouldn't count for much. I am astonished how many people think that if the Earth stopped rotating we would all fall off into space--they just "feel" intuitively that this is true, even though the exact opposite would happen (people at the equator would actually gain a few pounds). I agree that billions of people "feel" god exists, but feelings are only evidence of what lies in our hearts and dreams. Feelings do not tell us much about reality outside of ourselves.

People also say that the bible says a god exists. The bible also says a guy lived inside the belly of a giant fish for three days, somehow failing to be digested in its stomach acids; and that a flood "so great" that it covered all the mountains with water occurred to fulfill a genocidal whim of an apparently uncreative god (why not just make everyone vanish instantly and save the world's people and animals the suffering of being drowned?). Since these all sound like tall tales to me, I think god is probably a tall tale, too. Basically, if the bible said there were talking fish, I wouldn't believe it until I saw one myself (the bible does fittingly claim the existence of a talking ass). Likewise, the bible may say a god exists, but I still won't believe it until I see one myself.

Most people I meet, however, don't realize that I am first and foremost a freethinker, and only an atheist as a result of applying freethought to the evidence available to me. The reasons I have for being a freethinker are actually rather different from the reasons I have for not believing in a god. I sometimes wear a shirt that says, "we all need humanity, not religion; reason, not faith." This has sometimes triggered interesting conversations about why I am a freethinker. "That's pretty harsh," some who read that shirt say. I ask why. It seems reasonable to me that if religion vanished from the earth, but was replaced by the entire human race working humanely together, nothing would be lost, and everything gained. Thus, we need humanity--that is, our own humanity, as well as the entirety of the human species. But we do not need religion--it offers nothing that cannot be gained through other means.

It also seems reasonable to me that if people lived by reason instead of faith, a great many tragedies would be averted, and an equal number of advances would be made, especially in human behavior. I do not claim this as a recipe for utopia, only for significant improvement. How many times do we find ourselves saying of a criminal or a politician, "They are just so stupid! Any rational person would have acted entirely differently." A criminal or politician can have all the faith we want them to, but they will still do stupid things--and that's the problem. Thus, we only need people to act intelligently. We can do without faith. In fact, the "faith" of Islamic suicide bombers and abortion clinic murderers is actually a real threat to humanity, as was the "faith" of Red Party members in their belief that communism would lead to utopia. People can do without faith. They can't do without reason.

It is usually argued, of course, that we need religion in order to get humanity to behave and work together. All evidence is to the contrary. Religion has not notably improved human behavior. The pagan Romans were far kinder than the Inquisition Christians. Nor has religion united Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, or Jews. It has quite unmistakably divided them. In fact, religion will never unite them, because a religion requires that they all share the same beliefs, without offering any reliable evidence that their ideas are more correct than anyone else's. Reason, on the other hand, is the only thing that can actually unite people of diverse opinions. Reason, by definition, bases its decisions on evidence available to everyone, and allows people to disagree when this evidence is lacking. Religion will never do that, and that is the problem with it.

It is also often argued that we need faith just as much as we need reason. Usually, this claim is based on a very loose definition of "faith." Many have said that atheists have faith like everyone else, and that no one can do without having faith in something. However, this is misleading. If you mean by "faith" nothing more than "belief" then you can dispense with the word altogether. In reality, faith is usually employed to describe a particular justification for believing something, rather than to simply say you believe it. If I say I believe there are no talking fish, it isn't very productive to say that this proves I have "faith" that fish don't talk, because I don't believe it on faith. I believe it because of the evidence of my senses and the evidence presented by people employing a reasonable method of getting at the truth about things. However, to say you have "faith" that god exists means more than just saying you believe it. It means that you believe god exists because you have faith that he does. It is this meaning of faith that reason stands opposite to. I do not believe anything on faith. I only believe things because I have good evidence to support them. And that is what reason means: basing all beliefs on the evidence of the senses, and on nothing else.

Of course, some try to take issue with this. For one, they say that I have only replaced faith in god with faith in reason, but I only believe in reason because the evidence of my senses has always confirmed that reason is reliable. I do not believe in it on faith. People also say that I actually do believe in things that I have never seen demonstrated, like the existence of uranium or that my friends would defend me in a life-or-death situation. And this, they say, proves I do have faith in some things. But even these beliefs are not really based on faith. The evidence of my senses has so far proven that certain sources are reliable enough to believe without direct evidence to the contrary. Science, responsible journalism, and people I know who honestly use tried and tested methods, have all proved themselves reliable to me through my own senses. If their claims suddenly widely contradicted my personal experiences, I would cease believing in their claims. The claims of the bible obviously fall into the 'unbelievable' category. That is why I think the existence of uranium is far more likely than the existence of a god. I do not believe this way because of my faith in science, but because the evidence of my senses tells me that science gets things right far more often than the bible. Even more than that, science much more quickly admits an error than any religion will. Likewise, my faith in friends is also based on prior experience. The evidence of my senses proves so far that honest, compassionate, mature people will defend their friends. Thus, all my beliefs are rooted in evidence, and not in faith.

Why do I think this way? It seems almost silly to ask such a question. Does it really make sense to base your beliefs on things for which you have no good evidence? "Faith in god" is not the same as faith in science or friends or even everyday assumptions like "a fish did not write this essay." Faith in god means faith that something astoundingly incredible, that is both unproven and unprovable, is true. That is simply not reasonable to me. I will never base my beliefs on such stretches of imagination, because it so easily leads to error and self-deception. Though my heart may tell me many useful things about me, only my mind has anything useful to say about the outside world. And it tells me that god, like talking fish, is the grandest of fictions.

I suspect that many people think they need to believe in a god for life to have meaning, and this may very well be the only reason they believe in god. More than a suspicion, this theory has been confirmed several times by the open admission of believers I have spoken with. However, it is not rational to believe in something only because you need to, especially when it stands a good chance of not being true. It is unwise to build an emotional investment in any idea that could be wrong, lest you bind yourself to a bad idea that can mire you in error and misery. We can all easily see that a compulsive gambler "needs" to believe he'll win in order to keep placing his bet, but that need has no correspondence with the truth. If the odds are 10 to 1 against, no matter what a gambler needs, he is not likely to be right about winning the bet.

Since I have always lived my life with meaning and joy, without needing a belief in god or an afterlife, I know that such beliefs are unnecessary. And I have also personally encountered hundreds of other people who find ample meaning in life without needing to believe in god or heaven, so I know I am not just a fluke of nature. So when anyone asks me why I am a freethinker, I usually start off with the short answer: it is not necessary or reasonable to think any other way. And as a freethinker, if any believer tries to argue that you cannot prove a god does not exist, simply ask them to prove this essay was not written by a fish. Maybe then they will begin to understand.

Richard Carrier




Mate, I am so sorry if you thought that by posting messages on your website, that I was wanting to rumble because that is not my intention. I am just concerned when I see generalisation, bitterness, misunderstanding of people's heart motives, and scriptures taken out of context. It hurts to see that - not because it threatens my beliefs and therefore me. I can hear the hurt in there, and that makes me sad. You can bag me as much as you like for that, but that won't change the truth - I am saying these things because I care. If you say that it is different, then you're talking about something that you don't know, and it will most likely be that bitterness talking.

It is one thing for you to just not believe that there is a God of any kind. It is another thing for you to generalize and bitterly twist meanings of stuff. If I see something that I don't agree with, just like in any open discussion, I am going to say something. I am quite open to see where I am wrong because as far as I see it, I don't have anything to lose. I am not living my life all shut up in a religious order, not seeing the world around me. I am living my life, so if I die and there is no God, then I lose nothing. I lived a good life! I can not prove to you that God does exist, and He is not one to perform like a trained animal for someone that says, "Do something for us - a little trick maybe! Prove Yourself!" Neither can you by any scientific experiment prove that God doesn't exist! If you come up with something, heck, let me know and I'll ring all the TV stations so that we can all watch you do it!

Of course, you have heard of Cornelius Tacitus - the Roman historian and Lucian - the Greek satirist who wrote about Christ - yes Christ, not just the Christians. Of course, you have heard all about Seutonius too - another Roman historian who mentioned Christ! You have heard countless times about how the geneologies in the gospels would have been easily verifiable by any skeptic back then. Actually, you probably put forth the two geneologies as just another bible inaccuracy! The truth is that nothing anyone can say to you is going to change your mind - nothing! So, I am not trying to change your mind about the existence of a God. If you want to believe what you are believing, that is up to you mate! However, if I do see stuff that I believe is twisted about the Bible or about the Church, then I will say something! By having a message board, you must expect that! However, once again, I do not want to rumble with you alright! These things just go around and around and around etc... simply because we are both looking at it from different perspectives! They can get really petty too! I don't want that! That's not necessary!

You can blast me as much as you like for my beliefs or for any other reason you choose to come up with, but in the end, it really only makes me more sure of my faith - just to let you know - plus, it only makes you look as bad as some of the people you're bagging! I do have to say to you that the stuff that you've been saying hasn't rattled my faith #1 because it is stuff that I have heard before #2 because I can see logical answers to all the problems you're putting forward #3 because I can hear bitterness talking and #4 because I have experienced (yes there is that word) in rubber meets the road type situations the God that I believe in - I was a missionary in Communist China where they arrest you for that sort of thing having to trust Him for my monthly income and everything! I even had all my money for the month along with VISA card stolen, and I didn't go without! That was freaky at first!

I am a thinking person, and I don't just accept something because it sounds good! Even with the ones standing behind the pulpit, I check out what they say too! I can't just accept something! I can't - that's not me! So, it was a thinking person along with many others who have gone before me (thinking people - even atheist scientists!) that accepted Christ as Lord. Anyhoo, just wanted to let you know that I got your email! If you want to use this to make Christians and Christ look bad in some way, what the heck - as if I could stop you! However, it is a sad way to be! Man - enough arguing! Geez! I don't know about you, but I am sick of that crap!

Anyhoo, thank you for your reply to my email, and catch ya later mate!

Michelle




You mentioned the names of three men of old. Cornelius Tacitus - the Roman historian and Lucian - the Greek satirist and Seutonius :

There is inconclusive evidence that Tacitus had independent sources. The Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, writing in 115 CE, explicitly states that Nero prosecuted the Christians in order to draw attention away from himself for Rome's devastating fire of 64 CE:

But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.[82]

Scholarly debate surrounding this passage has been mainly concerned with Tacitus' sources and not with the authorship of the passage (e.g., whether it is an interpolation) or its reliability.[83] Various scenarios have been proposed to explain how Tacitus got his information. One possibility is that Tacitus learned the information from another historian he trusted (e.g., Josephus). Another possibility (suggested by Harris) is that he obtained the information from Pliny the Younger. According to Harris, "Tacitus was an intimate friend and correspondent of the younger Pliny and was therefore probably acquainted with the problems Pliny encountered with the Christians during his governorship in Bithynia - Pontus (c. A.D. 110-112)."[84] (Defenders of this position may note that Tacitus was also governing in Asia in the very same years as Pliny's encounters with Christians [112-113], making communication between them on the event very likely.)[85] Norman Perrin and Dennis C. Duling mention a related possibility; they state that Tacitus' information "is probably based on the police interrogation of Christians."[86] Yet another possibility (suggested by Habermas and defended by McDowell and Wilson) is that Tacitus obtained the information from official documents.[87] (I shall say more about this possibility below.) It is also possible that the information was common knowledge. Finally, there is the view (defended by Wells, France, and Sanders) that Tacitus simply repeated what Christians at the time were saying.[88] The bottom line is this: given that Tacitus did not identify his source(s), we simply don't know how Tacitus obtained his information. Holding himself admits, "Truthfully, there is no way to tell" where Tacitus obtained his information about Jesus.[89] Therefore, we can't use Annals XV.47 as independent confirmation of the historicity of Jesus.

Lucian is not an independent witness to Jesus. Lucian of Samosata (c.125-180 CE), was a Greek satirist best known for his dialogues (Dialogues of the Gods, Dialogues of the Dead, The Sale of Lives) ridiculing Greek mythology and philosophy; he also authored a work entitled True History. McDowell cites the following statement by Lucian written around 170 CE:


... the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world.... Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws.[144]

In a previous version of this essay, quoting Michael Grant, I questioned whether Lucian was concerned with historical accuracy.[145] I misinterpreted Grant; elsewhere Grant makes it clear that Lucian was concerned with historical accuracy. According to Grant, Lucian felt it important to separate instruction from entertainment.[146] Grant notes that Lucian felt a historian should be "stateless;" in other words, Lucian thought the historian should try to remain impartial when recording events concerning the historian's own nation.[147] Moreover, Lucian "denounced fraudulent biography" and said that "it was the sole duty of the historian to ... say exactly how things happened."[148]

Nevertheless, given that Lucian's statement was written near the end of the second century, it seems rather unlikely that he had independent sources of information concerning the historicity of Jesus. Lucian may have relied upon Christian sources, common knowledge, or even an earlier pagan reference (e.g., Tacitus); since Lucian does not specify his sources, we will never know. Just as is the case with Tacitus, it is quite plausible that Lucian would have simply accepted the Christian claim that their founder had been crucified. There is simply no evidence that Lucian ever doubted the historicity of Jesus. Therefore, Lucian's concern for historical accuracy is not even relevant as Lucian would have had no motive for investigating the matter.[149]

It is unclear that Suetonius knew of Jesus. Suetonius, the Roman historian and biographer formerly known as Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, wrote several works, including his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, which is an account of the lives of the first twelve Roman emperors. In his Life of Claudius, he writes:


As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.[109]

In order to use this as a reference to Jesus, McDowell must assume that this 'Chrestus' was Jesus. Thus, in He Walked Among Us, we find McDowell and Wilson declaring that "Chrestus was probably a misspelling of 'Christ' (Greek 'Christus')."[110] Quoting France, McDowell and Wilson argue that 'Chrestus' is a misspelling of 'Christus' because (i) 'Chrestus' is a Greek name; and (ii) the meaning of 'Christus' would be unfamiliar to a Gentile audience. Furthermore, McDowell and Wilson argue (iii) that Christian witnessing to the Jews in AD 49 (similar to that recorded in Acts 18) "probably resulted in the hostilities which led to the expulsion of all Jews from Rome." This, they argue, would have led to the writing of a Roman "police report" which in turn would have attributed the violence to 'Chrestus' (a familiar name).[111]

I find these arguments unconvincing. Indeed, while stating that it is possible that this passage is a misspelled reference to Jesus, France nevertheless dismisses (i) and (ii). According to France, the claim that 'Chrestus' is a misspelling of 'Christus' "can never be more than a guess, and the fact that Suetonius can elsewhere speak of 'Christians' as members of a new cult (without any reference to Jews) surely makes it rather unlikely that he could make such a mistake."[112] McDowell and Wilson never offer any reasons for rejecting France's argument on this point. As for (iii), this is so speculative as to be laughable. There is no evidence of such a police report and there is no evidence that Christian preaching to the Jews led to hostilities which in turn led to the Jews' expulsion from Rome. In sum, then, McDowell and Wilson have been unable to show that this passage even refers to Jesus.

McDowell also quotes Lives of the Caesars--where Suetonius mentions Nero's punishment of Christians--though his reference is incorrect. (McDowell lists the passage as originating in 26.2; the passage is actually found in 16.2.[113]) The passage reads as follows:


Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.

McDowell and Wilson think this "verifies" that Christians were "being put to death" for their Christian beliefs.[114]

However, Suetonius "verifies" nothing of the sort. Suetonius only says that Christians were punished, not that they were "put to death." Moreover, Suetonius does not say that the Christians were punished simply for being Christians; indeed, Suetonius does not specify their crime at all. As the Christian New Testament scholar R.T. France, who McDowell quotes repeatedly in his 1988 work, notes


The great fire of AD 64 is not mentioned in this connection, and indeed the punishment of Christians is included in that part of the book (up to section 19) which deals with Nero's good acts, before he turned to vice and crime. (The fire is not reported until section 38, where it is unconditionally blamed on Nero himself.) Nor does Suetonius even so much as mention the 'Christus' from whom their name derived.[115]

In short, this passage is not independent confirmation of the historicity of Jesus. As Wells argues, this passage "tells us nothing more than what we already know about this from Tacitus and nothing about Jesus himself."[116]

I reject Christ for the same reason I reject UFOs. Please prove to me there are no UFO's landing on the Earth. Prove to me that there are no aliens doing experiments on humans. Get on TV and prove it if you can, and I will watch. When you prove to me that UFO's do not exist, though many people believe they do, then I will prove to you that GOD does not exist. It is illogical to demand that someone prove that something does not exist. Prove that there is no life on other planets. Prove that there are no faires at the bottom of my pond. My point is obvious. If you enjoy talking to your invisible friend, please enjoy. I gave up my invisible friend. I also gave up sucking my thumb.

Dave VanAllen




Thanks mate! You just confirmed my theory that you are just wanting to rumble! I am not interested in arguing with you! I am not trying to prove anything to you! I am just trying to present a different point of view to the claims you are putting forward, so that people can have a choice! Are you against choice?

Catch ya later mate! I will not be responding to anymore emails as I really don't want to fight with you!

Michelle