I Don't Know

This is where I’ve arrived at, but it didn’t happen overnight.

The reason I’ve started this blog is that I get the sneaking suspicion I’m not alone. Not in an ‘other worldly’ sense, though that may also be true. Rather, I’ve found myself in a situation that I believe is common to many, though the many may be hesitant to own up to it. I’ve recently stumbled into agnosticism.

There was a time when I thought this would never happen. For most of my life I’ve been a Christian. I grew up in a home with Christian parents, went along to the kids groups at church each Sunday, and then when I was old enough I was invited along to the youth meetings. I took some persuading, however, and in the end my parents offered to pay me to go for the first two weeks, and I bought AC/DC’s Highway to Hell with the proceeds.

It paid off. And from there I got actively involved in my local church; I went on an adult Alpha course, played guitar in the worship band, and helped out with kids and youth work. My whole year became oriented around the New Wine and Soul Survivor Summer camps where I could spend a week with my closest friends, from the holiness of worshipping together with thousands of others my age to the less pious activities of staying up all night playing pranks on the leaders. In the midst of this all, I made a promise that whatever happened, I would always follow Jesus. As the song went, there really was ‘no place I’d rather be’.

I became quite the zealous Christian, debating with atheists online, and standing up for the faith at school, and when the school years of my life had thankfully reached their end, I moved out to embark on a youth work internship at a church away from home. The following two years were incredibly formative, as I not only learned the ins and outs of church leadership, but also discovered a great deal about myself.

When I left two years later to study theology at a Christian Bible college, I was not the same person, and when I took up a Master’s degree after another three years, I was different still. Finally, I ended up taking on a temporary job as a church Youth Pastor.

But it was different this time.

After all that I had been through, what I had studied, what I had learned about myself, about people, and the world around me, I could no longer hold on to the faith and the God who had been my constant companion through it all. It just didn’t fit.

There was no single reason, no one experience, no discernible moment in which I lost my faith. I had learned about ‘cumulative-case’ apologetics at university, an approach in which the reason for God’s existence was not reducible to a single argument, but based instead on the strength of a multitude of factors in tandem. It was this very same approach that allowed me to realise that I no longer held the faith that was once the centre of my life.

It was not simply because I had lost trust in the historical reliability of the Bible; it was not only on account of the unpleasant character of the god found within; it was not just because I could not reconcile my feelings for people of the same sex with a god who condemned this without reason; it was not simply due to the increasing incoherence of the Christian worldview; and it was not only because of the vast chasm between theological expectations and my lived reality. However, when these were all viewed together…

An image that Jon Steingard recently shared has captured my experience perfectly: it’s like ‘pulling on the threads of a sweater, and one day discovering that there was no more sweater left.’ Of course, in England we’d call it a jumper. But that’s neither here nor there.

The fact that nothing remains of my jumper has not left me with the strict conviction that jumpers no longer exist, or that there’s no such thing as a jumper. It has simply given me the freedom to explore what I can wear with authenticity.

I’m not sure who will be reading this, if anyone at all. You may have never held to a faith and regard the whole idea as superstitious nonsense, you may be a devout Christian, now with another name to add to your prayer list. Or you may not quite be sure who you are, or what you believe. And I want to say, that’s ok.

My hope for this page is that it would be an honest space to address questions and doubts that would otherwise be accompanied by feelings of anxiety, guilt or betrayal. I’m not sure what I believe, but I believe that no question should be off-limits, and no topic should be taboo. We may find it difficult to open up to those around us, but it starts by being honest with ourselves.

I don’t know. And that’s ok.

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