Have you ever regretted leaving the ministry & the church ?
"No, I left because I had reached the conclusion that it was all untrue.
Now, over 30 years since leaving
& with much more life experience,
I am even more sure of that."
Could you see yourself remaining
in the church
under different circumstances ?
I sometimes think that if I'd not
gone into the ministry,
I might have become so wrapped up in
a career, family,
church social life,
and church local lay leadership
- I was a Sunday School teacher & the youth treasurer & a lay preacher -
that I wouldn't have time to think
& a busy routine would have
taken over my life.
( I'm sure that is what has happened with many of those who provide lay leadership in their local church,
they leave the thinking
to the minister / priest,
who in turn relies upon the teaching
of older church leaders.
That is how the direction of each denomination continues over generations.)
I read extensively as a teenager & young adult,
so something might have
triggered more questioning
& led to me leaving anyway.
I hope so.
Why do you emphasise that clergy
have special responsibility ?
"Devout people are trained to rely on their priest / minister.
They are seen to be in a special relationship with the Divine.
They are thought to be experts
in what they teach.
Any teacher of anything has an obligation to teach what is correct
& to be informed properly
on the subject matter,
including facts that might cause
thought & re-assessment."
Giordano Bruno ( 1546 - 1600 )
Burned at the stake by the church :
"The foolish renounce this world and pursue an imaginary world to come."
Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592):
"How many things that were
articles of faith yesterday
are fables today."
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My parents were Baptists.
I became a Salvation Army minister ( Officer ),
married a minister,
and have since found I can not accept any religious views...
Although my mother was born into the Catholic church,
my father convinced her that Baptists were the true church.
She was happy to agree with him on that for about 10 years,
but she wasn't always so agreeable with his ideas & personality.
They were from very different countries & backgrounds.
She was the youngest of a large family & became a schoolteacher.
He was a solitary orphan, whose mother had died giving birth to her next child.
They met & married as refugees in a camp in Germany, both badly affected by the Second World War.
( His father, my paternal grandfather, made a huge mistake;
some time after his wife, my grandmother, died,
he decided to leave Canada, where my dad was born,
and go back to his native Ukraine.
The bigest mistake in his short life!
He was conscripted into the First World War
and did not return.)
My father was 11 years old when he had to look after himself.
If you survive a sink or swim situation like that,
you can tend to develop a strong personality & self-confidence.
If some of that personality hadn't rubbed off on me,
I might now be preaching "docile submission to the the invisible "Father in the Sky"...
They had hymns like "I surrender all"
- surrender supposedly to "God and His will",
but really it was "surrender individual attempts to be rational,
and follow the church blindly..."
Often there was singing where God was "a Potter molding clay".
So you would be kneeling down , in prayer, eyes closed,
piously, emotionally singing something like:
"Break me, make me, mold me, fill me ....like the potter moulds the clay"
You were the dumb, lifeless, unthinking bit of wet dirt...
"God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit," - in reality, the church - was all important.
This is a circle,
a perpetual cycle,
because the person leading the prayers had to think the same,
or he/she wouldn't be allowed to lead anything....
and the person who put him/her in that position - had to be checked out by his superior, & so on, & on....
If I'd been stronger, at 6 or 7 I had an experience that could have prevented all this hassle in my life.
I've recorded it in the second half of the 'leaving' page : leave.htm
Although I left the church in my twenties,
I had been a very sincere follower and knew Christian teaching well.
( A school report described me as 'conscientious', and that personality trait remained.)
I attended Baptist religious instruction during primary school.
My parents were farmers, so we didn't get to their church every Sunday,
but we even had special times set aside for hymns, prayers & Bible reading,
particularly after they "went forward" in a "re-dedication" at a Billy Graham rally.
I was converted by the SA at 13.
As well as my local church meetings,
SA city events & Youth for Christ rallies,
from 15 to 21 I attended, every week,
a Thursday night holiness meeting led by the equivant of a bishop.
( This was compulsory for ministers, very few lay people attended regularly. )
Later, for 2 years while in college and on field training near the CBD in Sydney
I attended the equivalent there.
It was a small local church, so I was encouraged to take an active part in most meetings,
testify, speak at street meetings, even do the main sermon at times.
I was a Sunday School teacher
& completed my denomination's studies in preparation for local lay leadership.
For a number of years, my church combined with another small one for 2 street preaching efforts,
one on Friday nights & one on Saturday nights.
Always a serious reader of a wide range of purely secular material,
I built up a library of religous books & continued to do so throughout college,
many of them from other denominations' bookshops.
It included some comparative religion ( non Christian world religions ),
somewhat of a rarity in that denomination at that time.
At college I finished third, after missing all the credit I would have gained if I'd submitted a Religious Instruction asignment,
which, for some reason, I just couldn't get started.
Maybe a sub-conscious memory of the prayer episode during my own attendance at RI had a blocking effect.
( See the second half of the 'leaving' page : leave.htm)
At that time 5 students each year were invited to participate in a distance education Theology course with London University.
I sat for the first year's exams during my honeymoon, some six months after being ordained.
( I passed well :>) )
I am an International Lifetime member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation,
Freedom From Religion Foundation
an Internet member of American Atheists,
and Atheist Alliance International.
Atheist Alliance International
I bought my first computer in 1985 and had my first Internet connection through the University of Qld, back in the days when it was one of very few ISPs.
It has been a pleasure to watch the growth of atheist material on the web,
and to see writing by other ex-ministers,
and, of course, the opportunity for general study that it provides.
Just recently I found that that, in nearby New Zealand,
at the time I was being guided into the ministry,
a Presbyterian minister and theologian, Professor Rev. Sir Lloyd Geering was being tried for heresy.
During his church trial he claimed that the remains of Jesus lay somewhere in Palestine and that the resurrection had been wrongfully interpreted by churches as a resuscitation of the body of Jesus.
He also rejected the notion that God is a supernatural being who created and continues to look over the world.
Could have been a good counter-balance to what I was being taught!
If only I'd known...
The green sidebar on http://expreacher.com/Very_Important.htm has some Bible verses that came as a shock
when I really thought about them,
yet I'd read the Bible from childhood, as a theological student & as a minister
and had NOT really realised the implications.
In another context J K Galbraith wrote :
'Faced with the choice between changing one's mind
and "proving" there is no need to do so,
TOO MANY get busy on "the proof".'
( italics are my wording)
I was very fortunate to have no doubts
that I was doing the right thing in leaving it all completely.
Have a happy, fit and healthy life...
Peter Dashevici, Brisbane, Australia http://twitter.com/expreacher
My late, very devout mother tried her utmost to convince me I was wrong in leaving.|
( My suggestions to those thinking about leaving : http://expreacher.com/leave.htm
and something to seriously consider for any groups
where many want to retain "fellowship" http://expreacher.com/new_reformation.htm )
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