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Archived Letters

Tuesday, July 01, 2003                                                                                       View Comments

anti-testimony

Dave-

Your story is eerily similar to my own, with the exception that I haven’t pursued Christianity for 30 years after first realizing its shortcomings… once out, I’m out.

I sent the following email to the pastor of a church I’d frequented and had been familiar with, in the final throes of my leaving Christianity. I received no response.

-Zachary Moore



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Pastor Todd-

Hello, my name is Zachary Moore. I'm 22 years old, and a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati studying Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine. I wanted to hear your thoughts on my situation.

I was born in Cincinnati into a Christian family. My mother was raised in St. Paul Lutheran Church in Reading, and my father had some exposure to a Disciples of Christ church in Carthage. They both eventually had epiphanies of faith while in college and attended a Messianic Jewish Church, then became enamored with a Reformed Baptist Church which empasized Paul's doctrine of grace. Suffice it to say, when I was born, they were pretty strong Christians.

I was raised in this tradition, with a heavy emphasis on Bible literacy. After church every week, my father would assign a book of the Bible for me to read, which I would then have to give a written or oral analysis of. Currently, I've read through the Bible too many times to count.

When high school started for me, my family moved to Mason, Ohio and joined a new church after a long search in the community. None of the existing churches seemed to satisfy my father, but the prospect of a newly-born church, a foundling of the PCA from Birmingham, Alabama, excited him. I believe it brought back some of the zeal and motivation that he felt while a college student and newly-minted born again Christian. Eventually, however, the growing church announced long-term plans to establish an affiliated private school. My father is a principal with Cincinnati Public Schools, and the competition between public and private (especially Christian) schools is a sore issue for him, especially with his Christian friends who sent their children to private Christian schools. My attendance at public school was a religious statement for him, and the fact that I excelled academically and found Christian friends there has always been a point of pride. Thus, after this announcement, we terminated our membership and my father, who felt betrayed by the Church in general, has never returned to any church.

I, however, enjoyed church and felt no such disillusionment, so I looked for a church that I could attend. On the recommendation of a friend, I visited the Vineyard back when it was still on Crescentville Road. It was a fun place to be, and it was a church. I learned the songs, I passed out Pepsis and cleaned windshields, and I ate bagels and cream cheese while listening to Steve Sjogren's sermons. About the time they moved to their new location, I found out about a new Vineyard starting in Mason, close to where I lived, so I began to attend at your church regularly.

But then I began to read the Bible again seriously, for the first time in a long while. I was older than I was when I had originally studied it, and had a more inquisitive mind. I went to the the bookstore and perused their religion shelves, seeking others' words about the Bible and the message contained therein. It was during this time that I began to notice inconsistencies that I could not understand. One of the most common attacks on the Bible involves claims of inconstistency and contradiction, but I had always dismissed these, based on my faith in the unerrancy of God's Word.

However, I found that these claims do have substance to them. Endorsements of un-Christian practices (prostitution, infanticide) in the Old Testament as well as in the New (homophobia, misogyny) were a serious problem for me. I sought answers in the work of Bible scholars, and was shown the Bible in a different light, as a work of anthological literature. Suddenly so many things about the Bible made sense. All the puzzlement I felt as a child when reading a disturbing passage, yet would ignore for virtue of the whole, was resolved. I looked to men like Meier, Crossan, and Akenson for a new appreciation of the lives and purposes of Jesus and Paul, and I feel like I found what I was looking for.

I short, I've found spiritual peace through my study and reading, and I don't really feel like I can call myself a Christian. I've been outside of the Church for a long time now, and I've had no contacts from evangelising Christians, only the occasional Jehovah's Witness or Mormon. I've been waiting, tense, expecting God to creep up on me, send an emmissary, or give me a dream that tells me that everything I've uncovered is false, that there is a real and solid basis for the faith I am forsaking. I've prayed nightly for some kind of revelation, but the next day I become stronger in my newfound convictions.

This leads me to why I am contacting you. The people I've met at the Vineyard are the only men of God that I've met that I have real respect for, mostly because of the doctrine of servitude that you preach AND follow. But while I admire you, I cannot reconcile myself to the doctrines espoused by your or any other Christian church, especially belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible. What should I do in this situation? Is there some secret about Christianity that I should know before I turn my back on it for good?

Thanks for your time,

Zachary Moore