Letting Go Of Everything But Jesus

Letting Go Of Everything But Jesus September 6, 2019

 

For the last 12 years or so, I’ve been going through the long, slow and painful process of Deconstruction. That has meant questioning and re-thinking everything I thought I knew about the Gospel, Salvation, the Crucifixion, Resurrection, the Second Coming of Christ, the Bible, the Church, and pretty much everything in between.

Along the way this process has meant tossing aside some beliefs that I discovered were based more on tradition than on anything Jesus actually taught, or what the earliest Christians believed. And it’s also meant revising and reforming my views on ideas I once held dear.

But as I’ve jettisoned toxic doctrines and abandoned bad theology, there’s one thing I can never let go of: Jesus.

For many Christians, however, it’s letting go of Jesus that eventually leads to the collapse of their faith and the beginning of their misery.

I’ve received hundreds of messages and emails over the last decade from Christians who tell me that they miss Jesus and wish they could pray again. But, due to the fact that they let go of their belief in Jesus years ago, they’re left with an aching hole where Christ used to dwell. And the pain is too much to bear.

[NOTE: I have to stop and mention that many former Christians who have let go of Jesus say they are happier now than when they still believed in him. This article is about those who let go and wish they didn’t].

Many of those who contact me and share their struggle with me ask me how I held on to Jesus, or want me to explain why I still believe that Jesus was a real person, or that Jesus said or did any of those things we read about in the Gospels.

My answer is usually two-fold:

One, I believe – like infamous former Christian turned Atheist Bart Ehrman does – that Jesus of Nazareth was an actual historical person.

As Ehrman points out, there are many reasons to accept the fact that Jesus was an actual historical figure. We have incidental mentions by Paul that the mother and brothers of Jesus are still alive when he is writing his epistles. We have numerous other historical references to Jesus by pagan sources, and we also have the early existence of the Christian sect which was composed of people who went to their death’s proclaiming that this Jesus who they followed – and was crucified – was seen alive by them three days after his death.

I also believe that the Gospel accounts are remarkably accurate about the teachings of Jesus and there are numerous details that give us very good reasons to trust they were written by people who lived during the time of Christ.

My second reason for believing in Jesus is personal, and subjective. I have experienced the presence of Jesus first-hand. I have experienced miracles, answered prayers, dreams and even [on one occasion] an open vision from God.

Even before I knew what a Christian was I used to lay in bed and talk to God as a young boy. It was only when I was in Third Grade that I actually went to church, walked the aisle and got baptized. But I knew God and talked to God long before that.

So, I know that this isn’t very helpful for those who have walked away from Jesus and who never had any such experiences. I have talked to numerous Christians [and former Christians alike] who tell me they have never heard the voice of God and never felt the presence of Christ in their life. Many have said they have prayed for these experiences and never had one. So, I know it’s not as easy for some as it has been for me.

But, I wonder if some of those who say they have never heard the voice of God and never experienced the presence of Christ just don’t understand how to recognize such things. In other words, maybe they HAVE heard the voice of God, or experienced something, but they didn’t realize it at the time.

For example, when I say I have “heard the voice of God”, I don’t mean I’ve heard an audible voice with my ears. What I mean is that I have had strong impressions or thoughts that often interrupt my own thoughts with phrases or ideas that are not my own. That can take many forms. Sometimes a dream, sometimes a strong feeling, and other times a word from a friend sitting across the table from me at a Starbucks.

Still, it may also be the case that not everyone has these sorts of experiences. If this is so, then those who question their theology are likely doomed to drive right off the edge of the cliff once they’ve started to pull the threads of their Christian faith until there’s nothing left but a pile of yarn.

But, what if those who have never had these experiences – and who have deconstructed their faith until they have no faith at all – could learn to hear God’s voice? What if they could start to experience God’s presence even though their faith in the religion is dead?

Well, that’s something I’m very interested in helping people to learn how to do. Because I do believe we can experience the Divine presence of God. I do believe we can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Just like anything else, we have to learn how to put ourselves in the position to experience these things, and we have to practice listening and place ourselves in a posture of receiving. But I do believe it’s possible.

What do you think?

**

NOTE: If this is something you’d love to learn how to do, I invite you to join me at Square 1. This is a new 90-day transformational coaching experience starting Sept. 30. You can learn more here: www.BK2SQ1.com

We are only taking 12 people on this journey from Deconstruction to Reconstruction and there are only 10 seats available.

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

Keith’s newest book, “Jesus Unveiled: Forsaking Church As We Know It For Ekklesia As God Intended” released on June 9, 2019 on Amazon, and features a Foreword by author Richard Jacobson.
Keith’s Podcast: Heretic Happy Hour Podcast is on iTunes and Podbean. 

Can’t get enough? Get great bonus content: 
Patreon page.
"Thanks for the reply, John. I am not sure that Paul would have agreed with ..."

Reconstructing New Faith Practices
"David thank you for the reply and there is no need to be sorry, but ..."

Reconstructing New Faith Practices
"I don't deny that there is a problem in knowing exactly where to draw the ..."

Dear Church: Here’s How You Can ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John MacDonald

    Keith said:

    For example, when I say I have “heard the voice of God”, I don’t mean I’ve heard an audible voice with my ears. What I mean is that I have had strong impressions or thoughts that often interrupt my own thoughts with phrases or ideas that are not my own.

    Such things are commonplace, even among secular people. When such experiences are frequent and disturbing psychiatrists/psychologists call them intrusive thoughts. Many people misunderstand such things because they contrast the activity of thought with the passivity of sensation. But thinking is very passive, and real thinking often requires “waiting on the muse,” so to speak. Everyone has stayed up all night trying to figure out a problem, where no act of will could solve the problem, where all of the sudden the answer “comes” to them.

    So, no. God may be speaking to you, but there is no reason to think so. You are just groundlessly interpreting your experiences that way.

  • Herm

    “Such things are commonplace, even among secular people.”

    Why would it be abnormal for God to speak to secular people as versus non-secular people? If one of mankind is receptive to good “intrusive thoughts” that lead to solve a problem, directs to support otherwise missed, or brings her/him to another to heal the other they would not otherwise have found, what does it matter if with secular people it is good (constructive)?

    I am a trained social scientist and cannot find a reason to rule out divine intervention. In the book of Genesis it says mankind was made (I know gifted an awareness of and an influence within rather than “made” to be a more correct description) in the image of God, who is a plurality (we, they, us, etc.) of spirit not carnal. It didn’t say only certain religious sects would be aware and influential in spirit. It clearly says all of the carnal plurality of Man has image recognition and influence that is spirit like God. How would you imagine an entity with only a heart, soul, strength, mind would speak … no mouth, no ears and no written words?

    It interests me that you can’t quite say that no way is God speaking to Keith but are so sure there is no reason to think. After a sentence of deliberation (“God may be speaking”) you pass final judgment as certainly just “groundless interpreting”.

    I will guarantee all that has led Keith to dare try to explain God’s speaking to him was not as simple to explain away as you have attempted. And in my case much greater an explanation is necessary than simply waiting for inspiration.

    What Keith is so vulnerably trying to explain is true. God is real and speaks clearly to all receptive in spirit, the gifted image for all of mankind to communicate with God, including those of Man claiming to be atheist.

  • Erin

    Hi Keith! I am new to commenting here, but have read many of your posts and enjoyed them, so thanks! I was an ardent, evangelical and later a progressive Christian who did experience God. For years, and yet I still deconverted and lost my faith completely. Holding onto Jesus, for me, was the last step. I think of those experiences now as a mix between my own inner thoughts/psychology and a deep connection to nature. A loving God who allows the suffering that happens in this world is something I can no longer understand/believe/justify any longer.

  • We can let go of Him too, He’ll hold onto us – if we’re truly His!

  • James Elliott

    “…there’s one thing I can never let go of: Jesus.” For all the reasons given in the blog (bad theology, etc.) i’ve tried to let go of Jesus. The phenomenal and overwhelming thing to me is that Jesus won’t let go of me. By faith, i trust that he won’t let go of anyone else either. As far as “experiencing Jesus,” in the spirit of honesty i should admit that it has been a long time since i “felt” much of anything. There may be a variety of reasons for that, none of which being accurate, but the one thing that stands out is the studies that indicate that there may be some neurological reasons for belief in God. If that is so, is it possible that for some of us, that wiring degrades as we get older? Or for others of us that it never existed in the first place. If God/Jesus really is, than God/Jesus will hold on to people regardless of their capacity to comprehend.

  • Matthew

    I can really understand your issues when it comes to the problem of evil. Actually, for many years as a Christian I never really thought about this problem (if you can even believe that). Over the last few years, though, I have thought about it more deeply. While I cannot come up with an absolutely definitive answer, it does say something to me that Jesus Christ went through intense human suffering (for all of us) and rose (literally) above it all to absolute newness of life. Christianity doesn´t seem to promise an altogether suffering-free life, but it does offer us a co-suffering God who walks through suffering with us while promising that suffering will at some time be completely snuffed out.

  • David M

    What about the neurological reasons for believing that Trump is President? In theory, you could “explain” someone’s belief that Trump is President by determining what physical state in the person’s brain underlies that belief. But it would still be a fact that Trump actually is President.

    Research into the possible neurological basis for belief in God should be regarded with caution. And caution is particularly required when people suggest that such research is any reason for doubting the existence of God.

  • Herm

    KEITH, please, review my last reply to Erin. Tell us all what I am doing wrong that is now silencing 10% of my replies with permanent “PENDING”. I am no longer participating in your blog until you share with what is happening. If it is Patheos’ policy then I am done with Patheos until they change their ways.

  • James Elliott

    Scary as the thought may be, the President exists in a way that our five senses can comprehend. Being Spirit, God is beyond our five senses. I agree with not placing too much weight on what are studies, but think it remarkable that St. Paul described faith as a gift in his first letter to the Corinthians. In context, not everyone has any given gift. As i said earlier, God exists whether we comprehend him or not…whether we believe or not. And is more significant than a President 🙂

  • Herm

    KEITH, why are 10% of my replies being held in permanent “PENDING” your review. Refer to my last reply today to Erin’s comment a day ago, please.

  • David M

    Yes, there is a difference between believing in God and believing mundane facts about the world. The existence of God cannot be demonstrated in the way that certain other things can be demonstrated. But that is what makes the use of brain-scanning technology to study religious belief potentially insidious. If scanning technology is used to study the way that the people’s brains formulate mundane beliefs about the world, there is unlikely to be any problem. On the other hand, because a lot of people regard religious beliefs as delusional, the “scientific” investigation of those beliefs could easily lead to problems. If a study shows that a particular pattern of neural activity occurs when someone has a religious experience, some might say, “Ah, so that’s what causes the delusion!”