Why some “Christians” become agnostics?

(updated)

I met a guy from the bereans forum sometime last year. He’s a Christian, a member of Jesus is Lord church. Last time I heard, he’s now a self-confessed agnostic (he wants to be called “agnostic_pilgrim”). While I never had a real, big time, online communication with him in the past and has not known him personally, it pains me to see Christians turning their backs on their faith.

So I spent about 4 hours yesterday trying to understand why. I read his articles, I followed his links to agnostic sites. Then I surfed into an ex-christian site. There I was exposed to the “real thing” — that people can be really disappointed to what they thought as “Christianity” and do Christian-bashing, Bible-bashing and Christ-bashing all together. Of course, they are free to do that, but I’m just amazed how a former Christian can be too pained by and hate “Christianity” to the point of cursing and literally burn down the world view they once thought is right.

In my readings from his site and that of the ex-Christian’s site, I have observed several identical issues that led former Christians to agnosticism. And sad to say, most of the reasons are caused by organized Christianity itself. Let me share some of my findings:

1. Most turn their back on Christianity because of a legalistic past from a traditional, organized religion. Some Christian families and denominations simply push behavioral expectations to the limit. In fact, even today, I hear people say, “Christian ka pa naman” whenever those who are known to be a Christian committed a mistake. It’s as if Christians are supposed to be behavioral saints. Now, imagine if your local church, even your parents will tell you that. What kind of pressure would it be.

Reading the Bible, praying, or even having your quite time and going to church on Sunday — all these Christian traditions become “burdens” if done in a legalistic manner. Burdens that causes dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction the causes doubts. And doubts that causes disbelief.

It’s a lesson for us Christians. It’s a good practice to treat fellow Christians as “humans” not “super humans”. Yes, we believe that the Holy Spirit lives in us, and he will enable us to do mighty works. Yet, we should understand that we still live in this sin-sicked world. And even Christians fall in to sin. And if they do, the least that they need is ridicule. They need grace, not just from God, but from us first and foremost.

Bible reading and other Christian “activities” are not meant to become standard of measure of a good Christian. They are tools to make us enjoy our relationship with God. Don’t impose it in a way that if you don’t do it, it makes you a lesser child of God.

2. Scare tactics isn’t always the best way to describe the gospel. Now this is common. “If you don’t believe, you’ll burn in hell”. In fact, when we do this, we drive them away from the real essence of God’s grace and to agnosticism. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in hell. But the traditional way of describing the gospel by pointing people into heaven or hell does not always work. It paints an unloving God who will throw people to hell fire just because they argued with Him.

Remember that God does not want anyone in hell (2 Peter 3:9). God’s very character is love. So the best way to describe the gospel is not telling them about hell. It’s telling them about grace. Leave it to them — accept it or reject it.

3. They just don’t know what Christianity is all about. I read a lot of complaints from former Christians in that site about their former religion. They were asked to do this and that. They were seen as this and that because of doing this and that. Some say their religion manipulated them. Sadly, this is reality. The organized religion has done quite a big damage on the image of Christianity as a whole.

But we need to understand too, that Christianity first and foremost, isn’t a “religion”. Well, from the worldview perspective it is — just like Islam, Buddhism, etc. But if we’ll understand Christianity as a “relationship” with someone who supposed to have founded this movement, then that solves the problem. Because everything else will be based on your experience with that relationship and not with the religious group one had had.

If you’ll notice my title, I placed quotation marks on the word “Christians”. Because a lot of people call themselves Christians without really knowing how and why they became Christians in the first place. Some people believe that they became Christians because they were born in a Christian family, was going to church on Sundays, reading the Bible, or even have been baptized. But those do not make one a Christian.

Most of them will say they left Christianity. No, I don’t think so. They only left the traditions based on Christianity. Because only if they had a real, vibrant relationship with Jesus, they had become Christians. And if they had it, they won’t doubt him. I still have to hear an agnostic say “I had a wonderful relationship with Jesus, then I doubted him and left the faith”.

* 4. Too much intellectualism. The reality is this: most if not all agnostics are thinkers. Bright people. When I visited that ex-Christian site, the owner of the website community has a PhD degree. I read a debate, actually an interview by a Chrsitian broadcaster to one of their members — and the guy is a scientist, PhD. Most posters have masteral degrees if not graduates of prestigious universities. Now, I’m not saying that to be an agnostic, you need to be educated well. Not in all cases. But I see the pattern.

I’m not insinuating, too, that being a thinker is wrong. In fact, our faith should be based on logical foundations. But here’s the deal: most thinkers think a lot — obviously. And by thinking a lot, questions are raised, doubts are built — and that’s abolutely normal. It seems that, for them, all questions has to be answered. So far, I don’t have any objections to that. But you see, we also need to accept the fact that our brain can only accomodate that much. We are not physiologically capable of knowing everything. And so, in the midst of questions, we will reach the end of the rope. That the answer to a question can either be “I don’t know” or “I don’t want to know”.

Having said that, each one of us have no escape but to have faith in something. Anyway, faith is needed in this earth to survive. You got to have faith in the chair that it can carry your weight when you sit on it. You got to have faith in you mom that when you go home, the food that you’ll be eating is edible. You got to have faith in the jeepney driver to drive you safely to your destination (otherwise, you’ll see yourself walking in the middle of the road from Muntinlupa to Monumento). You got to have faith in something to survive.

In the case of agnostics, when they reached the end of the rope of their questions, they’ve got to trust on something (or someone). And choose whatever it is.

That’s how it goes. We have no choice.

I also do not buy the idea of Chrsitians blaming the “God’s way is not our way, so don’t question Him. I simply trust” excuse when we’re confronted with honest questions from agnostics. There’s got to have some answers to their questions too. But not all answers are acceptable to them. Because some answers seems “too good to be true” and does not satisfy their logical standards. But that’s how it is sometimes. On the other hand, we have to point out that most of the time, our reasoning and faith for that matter does sound more logical than that of the agnostic worldview. Just take the issue of creation vs. evolution. You may present me bulk of data concerning evolution, but when I look around and see nature, and when I studied Anatomy and Physiology back in college and found out how our body functions so amazingly, my only conclusion is that creation is far logical than evolution. And it will take me more faith to believe in evolution than in creation.

Is thinking and questioning bad? Not at all. As long as we recognize that we’re no super computers. Our brains have limits, and so does questions.

Last words

Agnostic_pilgrim disagrees with common Christian thought that only in Christ can one found happiness. I agree with him. I also believe that even if one does not have a relationship with Jesus, he can be happy. But what’s the difference between a real Christian and an agnostic? It’s how they see the future. The real Christian has hope. The agnostic does not. They just live life and die. The Christian sees the light at the end of the tunnel and looks forward to that light with eagerness. The agnostic simply enjoy life here and now. That what logic tells him anyway.

* updated Wednesday afternoon

  • http://daxi.blogspot daxi

    thank you! thank you very much kuya arnold! a lot of ur views has answered some questions of mine. i recently been attending christian services since June 2004 at victory christian fellowship in alabang. i have found a deeper relationship with christ very fulfilling but i still do catholic service every sunday as well. thoughts of being thorn between christian and catholic faith often crossed my mind. now i realize, i don’t have to be thorn between them. God has given me grace and gifts to share with both my friends and family, whatever faith they may have. god bless you and ur family arnold!

  • http://newphilippines.org Arnold

    Great to hear your experience, dax. I pray for your continued growth in your relationship with Jesus.

  • http://newphilippines.org Arnold

    Great to hear your experience, dax. I pray for your continued growth in your relationship with Jesus.

  • http://rickymanzano.com ricky

    your entry is just great. my older brother was once planning to become a pastor but for some reason he became agnostic. He raised some poinjt which i think you have answered in this entry.

    I especially agree with “I also do not buy the idea of Chrsitians blaming the ‘God’s way is not our way, so don’t question Him. I simply trust'”.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://rickymanzano.com ricky

    your entry is just great. my older brother was once planning to become a pastor but for some reason he became agnostic. He raised some poinjt which i think you have answered in this entry.

    I especially agree with “I also do not buy the idea of Chrsitians blaming the ‘God’s way is not our way, so don’t question Him. I simply trust'”.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • billy zarcone

    i feel that the christian has high hopes,you say that the christian has the hope of heaven,but you cab`t really know that as fact.while i an agnostic says that there is only this life.

  • billy zarcone

    i feel that the christian has high hopes,you say that the christian has the hope of heaven,but you cab`t really know that as fact.while i an agnostic says that there is only this life.

  • ricky18

    Gotta tell you arnold.I had a wonderful relationship with God.Prayed every day, Read my bible,worshiped.Was saved at 14.After 7 months received a personal anointing through sacrifice not at services.Prayed for hours.Had trouble along the road.At 19Prayed in tongues for 3 day period as the Holy Ghost enabled me.So I think i kinda qualified as a real christian i think.After that doubt came in.I started to unintentionally doubt creation,other stuff also one of the main things – Why God would punish people for all eternity.
    Doesn’t make sense to me.This happend for 2 years.I asked God to give me faith that surpasses all understanding.Even if I didn’t undrstand Him i wanted to serve Him,even without taking a wife.Guess what.The doubt never stopped.For hours I cried in prayer.Countless times i repented and tried up until a year ago.(almost commited suicide even if it meant going to hell).I’m also a member of xchristian.net.No I think There I was loving God,asking His help.Sureley being the almighty he could take my doubt away.If He didn’help me then maby he’s not the almighty after all.Leaving Christianity wasn’t easy,still isnt easy to live,but well that’s the case.Even now if God could take my doubt away I dont think I could be happy still knowing that all those other people thats not christian will someday be tormented for all eternity.Life is crappy.but thatslife

  • ricky18

    Gotta tell you arnold.I had a wonderful relationship with God.Prayed every day, Read my bible,worshiped.Was saved at 14.After 7 months received a personal anointing through sacrifice not at services.Prayed for hours.Had trouble along the road.At 19Prayed in tongues for 3 day period as the Holy Ghost enabled me.So I think i kinda qualified as a real christian i think.After that doubt came in.I started to unintentionally doubt creation,other stuff also one of the main things – Why God would punish people for all eternity.
    Doesn’t make sense to me.This happend for 2 years.I asked God to give me faith that surpasses all understanding.Even if I didn’t undrstand Him i wanted to serve Him,even without taking a wife.Guess what.The doubt never stopped.For hours I cried in prayer.Countless times i repented and tried up until a year ago.(almost commited suicide even if it meant going to hell).I’m also a member of xchristian.net.No I think There I was loving God,asking His help.Sureley being the almighty he could take my doubt away.If He didn’help me then maby he’s not the almighty after all.Leaving Christianity wasn’t easy,still isnt easy to live,but well that’s the case.Even now if God could take my doubt away I dont think I could be happy still knowing that all those other people thats not christian will someday be tormented for all eternity.Life is crappy.but thatslife

  • SummerSailing

    Many of us former Christians sincerely were and lived our lives as Christians. I knew at that time in my life that the only way to heaven was through faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for me. I accepted him and what he’d done on the cross as payment for my sins. For 20 years I lived my life as a born again believer. However, three years ago there were circumstances in my life that happened and I started questioning why the bible promised things that didn’t come to pass. I finally looked at the truth and what the bible stated as being the truth and found that a lot of the bible was wrong. One example is that a world wide flood never happened – there’s no proof. As a matter of fact, there is documented proof that at the time of the story of Noah’s Ark and the flood, the Chinese culture was flourishing as well as others in Indonesia. There’s also no evidence of flooding at the pyramids in Egypt. Another truth I learned from Godhatesamputees.com is that there isn’t even one documented case of an amputee ever growing a new limb. Why not? Because it doesn’t happen! God doesn’t heal because the god of the bible doesn’t exist!! Don’t even get me started on the bible contradictions and errors (the sun stood still – PLEASE!). I am not arrogant enough to say there isn’t a creator of the universe because there are too many unknowns. But, I know the bible is nothing more than a wholly man-made book of ancient of superstitions and myths.

  • SummerSailing

    Many of us former Christians sincerely were and lived our lives as Christians. I knew at that time in my life that the only way to heaven was through faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for me. I accepted him and what he’d done on the cross as payment for my sins. For 20 years I lived my life as a born again believer. However, three years ago there were circumstances in my life that happened and I started questioning why the bible promised things that didn’t come to pass. I finally looked at the truth and what the bible stated as being the truth and found that a lot of the bible was wrong. One example is that a world wide flood never happened – there’s no proof. As a matter of fact, there is documented proof that at the time of the story of Noah’s Ark and the flood, the Chinese culture was flourishing as well as others in Indonesia. There’s also no evidence of flooding at the pyramids in Egypt. Another truth I learned from Godhatesamputees.com is that there isn’t even one documented case of an amputee ever growing a new limb. Why not? Because it doesn’t happen! God doesn’t heal because the god of the bible doesn’t exist!! Don’t even get me started on the bible contradictions and errors (the sun stood still – PLEASE!). I am not arrogant enough to say there isn’t a creator of the universe because there are too many unknowns. But, I know the bible is nothing more than a wholly man-made book of ancient of superstitions and myths.

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  • Arn16

    Gud day God is One thats why no one Can ever Compare Him. He is only. Gods's Essence is only by Him Because He not revealed all what He is.If we cannot Take His way if we cannot trace His hand, Trust His HEART…. try to Listen a song entitled TRust His Heart…Thank you….

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  • anonymous for protection

    Not trying to start a debate, just looking for answers regarding a relationship of mine:  I must say that after having a family member announce they are agnostic, after years of claiming to be a Believer, I must ask, “Were they ever TRULY a Believer?”.  I feel duped as I’ve created a family based on the idea that my spouse was a Believer only to have him announce, and never offer an explanation as to why, that he is agnostic.