A Postmortem on my Deconversion: Was it that I just didn’t love Jesus enough?

A Christian friend from my college days read my latest installment of my series on my deconversion and thought she had finally figured out the problem that led me to atheism. And it’s so simple! Why hadn’t I thought of it in all these years! Why hadn’t I thought of trying this in my 10 years of fervent Christian commitment from when I was 11 years old until I was 21? If only I knew what I was getting wrong! Here’s the astounding insight I must have completely missed and never contemplated or implemented seriously enough which has now caused the scales to fall from my eyes:

Hi Dan! I read your article about how you deconverted. I just want to make one comment and I say this in love because we are friends and I am not judging you in any way. It sounds as if you were trying to get your faith from people and doing the legalistic things of Christianity and not relying on your relationship with Jesus and your love for Him and this is what made you lose your faith. But that’s not what being a Christian is about. Christianity, being a true Christian isn’t a religion, ultimately it’s a relationship with Jesus. The other things flow from that because you love Jesus.

That was it! I never knew I was supposed to love Jesus! Wow! It was right in front of me all that time! As you can imagine, I was surrounded by Christians who were telling me, “Whatever you do, remember this is a religion of rules, not loving Jesus! Whatever you do, don’t love Jesus!” And I foolishly listened to them!

And those hours and hours of intense prayer, all the Bible study, all the efforts to bring my friends to Jesus, all the worship services singing Jesus’s praises with shivers down my spine and sometimes tears in my eyes–I can’t believe that that whole time I never thought to just love Jesus.

Actually–wait a minute. I totally forgot. I did love Jesus. I loved Jesus enough to commit every fibre of my being to Jesus. I loved Jesus enough to do everything I thought was necessary to express my love for Him and to grow closer to Him. I went to a devoutly Christian university to study about Jesus and live with fellow Jesus-lovers, I devoted my heart, soul, and mind to figuring out how he could be known and how to convince others of His existence so that they could believe in His love and come to be saved. I kept myself sexually chaste as best as I could because it was what I thought Jesus wanted. I risked alienating friends and families by constantly making Jesus the central issue in our conversations.

And yet, I still came to believe Jesus was a fraud. And it ripped my guts out and terrified me and alienated me from the people I loved most, including my very self. But I had to stand on my conscience and say, No, I know longer believe this is true. And I came to realize, by my conscience, that loving truth and loving my fellow human beings meant putting my intellectual conscience above the love of Jesus that had defined me as a person and animated my entire life up until that point. I realized that sometimes people’s lives might even depend on all of us having that kind of a conscience.

And ever since that painful divorce from Jesus, nothing has infuriated me more than accusations that I just did not try hard enough or the right way or that I did not love Jesus enough.

How fucking dare you question my love of Jesus? Why don’t you, dear Christian, for once in your life, question your own goddamn intellectual conscience instead of other people’s commitments to Jesus.

Your Thoughts?

If you really don’t understand why I am quite so angry, read my more systematic explanation of my indignation, After I Deconverted: I Won’t Let Christians Judge Me, and my explanation of the problem of religious privilege, Have You Ever Thought About the OTHER Side?

If you are interested in discussing the anger in my reactions to this woman’s e-mail (and how it relates to my stances on civility), see my follow up posts: Should I Have Said “Fuck You” to the Woman Who Told Me I Lost My Faith Because I Didn’t Love Jesus Enough? and my fuller discussion of the value and limits of rage: After I Deconverted: Avoiding The Abuser’s Dialectic.

Any Christians out there who are interested in actually reaching out to atheists instead of merely trivializing our entire intellectual, moral, emotional, social, and spiritual lives with banal clichés would do well to read my post with my Top Ten Tips For Reaching Out To Atheists.

Read posts in my ongoing “deconversion series” in order to learn more about my experience as a Christian, how I deconverted, what it was like for me when I deconverted, and where my life and my thoughts went after I deconverted.

Before I Deconverted:

Before I Deconverted: My Christian Childhood

Before I Deconverted: Ministers As Powerful Role Models

My Fundamentalist Preacher Brother, His Kids, And Me (And “What To Do About One’s Religiously Raised Nieces and Nephews”)

Before I Deconverted: I Was A Teenage Christian Contrarian

Before I Deconverted, I Already Believed in Equality Between the Sexes

Love Virginity

Before I Deconverted: I Dabbled with Calvinism in College (Everyone Was Doing It)

How Evangelicals Can Be Very Hurtful Without Being Very Hateful

Before I Deconverted: My Grandfather’s Contempt

How I Deconverted:

How I Deconverted, It Started With Humean Skepticism

How I Deconverted, I Became A Christian Relativist

How I Deconverted: December 8, 1997

How I Deconverted: I Made A Kierkegaardian Leap of Faith

How I Deconverted: My Closest, and Seemingly “Holiest”, Friend Came Out As Gay

How I Deconverted: My Closeted Best Friend Became A Nihilist and Turned Suicidal

How I Deconverted: Nietzsche Caused A Gestalt Shift For Me (But Didn’t Inspire “Faith”)

As I Deconverted: I Spent A Summer As A Christian Camp Counselor Fighting Back Doubts

How I Deconverted: I Ultimately Failed to Find Reality In Abstractions

A Postmortem on my Deconversion: Was it that I just didn’t love Jesus enough?

When I Deconverted:

When I Deconverted: I Was Reading Nietzsche’s “Anti-Christ”, Section 50

When I Deconverted: I Had Been Devout And Was Surrounded By The Devout

When I Deconverted: Some People Felt Betrayed

When I Deconverted: My Closest Christian Philosopher Friends Remained My Closest Philosophical Brothers

When I Deconverted: I Was Not Alone

The Philosophical Key To My Deconversion:

Apostasy As A Religious Act (Or “Why A Camel Hammers the Idols of Faith”)

When I Deconverted: Some Anger Built Up

After I Deconverted:

After I Deconverted: I Was A Radical Skeptic, Irrationalist, And Nihilist—But Felt Liberated

After My Deconversion: I Refuse to Let Christians Judge Me

After My Deconversion: My Nietzschean Lion Stage of Liberating Indignant Rage

Before I Deconverted:

Before I Deconverted: My Christian Childhood

Before I Deconverted: Ministers As Powerful Role Models

My Fundamentalist Preacher Brother, His Kids, And Me (And “What To Do About One’s Religiously Raised Nieces and Nephews”)

Before I Deconverted: I Was A Teenage Christian Contrarian

Before I Deconverted, I Already Believed in Equality Between the Sexes

Love Virginity

Before I Deconverted: I Dabbled with Calvinism in College (Everyone Was Doing It)

How Evangelicals Can Be Very Hurtful Without Being Very Hateful

Before I Deconverted: My Grandfather’s Contempt

How I Deconverted:

How I Deconverted, It Started With Humean Skepticism

How I Deconverted, I Became A Christian Relativist

How I Deconverted: December 8, 1997

How I Deconverted: I Made A Kierkegaardian Leap of Faith

How I Deconverted: My Closest, and Seemingly “Holiest”, Friend Came Out As Gay

How I Deconverted: My Closeted Best Friend Became A Nihilist and Turned Suicidal

How I Deconverted: Nietzsche Caused A Gestalt Shift For Me (But Didn’t Inspire “Faith”)

As I Deconverted: I Spent A Summer As A Christian Camp Counselor Fighting Back Doubts

How I Deconverted: I Ultimately Failed to Find Reality In Abstractions

A Postmortem on my Deconversion: Was it that I just didn’t love Jesus enough?

When I Deconverted:

When I Deconverted: I Was Reading Nietzsche’s “Anti-Christ”, Section 50

When I Deconverted: I Had Been Devout And Was Surrounded By The Devout

When I Deconverted: Some People Felt Betrayed

When I Deconverted: My Closest Christian Philosopher Friends Remained My Closest Philosophical Brothers

When I Deconverted: I Was Not Alone

The Philosophical Key To My Deconversion:

Apostasy As A Religious Act (Or “Why A Camel Hammers the Idols of Faith”)

When I Deconverted: Some Anger Built Up

After I Deconverted:

After I Deconverted: I Was A Radical Skeptic, Irrationalist, And Nihilist—But Felt Liberated

After My Deconversion: I Refuse to Let Christians Judge Me

After My Deconversion: My Nietzschean Lion Stage of Liberating Indignant Rage

Christian Mythology For Kids
Christianity vs. Morality
Shake It Off, Grad Students and Chemistry Geeks...
On Talking To A Bigot
About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X