I Am No Longer a Christian

I Am No Longer a Christian June 1, 2019
Photo by Shanique Wright on Unsplash

I am no longer a Christian.

I am not anchored in Christianity.

I am not using any terms to try to express how my spiritual walk is “about a relationship” with Jesus through creative phrasing to distinguish myself from other Christian denominations and beliefs.

I am not using terms to suggest

A new form

Another way

Improved

Truer

Updated

Clearer

Open

Closed

Version of Christianity.

I am not a follower of Christ, a follower of the Path of Christ, or variations of this phrase that I have explored over the years in attempts to distinguish myself from being a person heavily embedded in religiosity.

I am not a disciple of Christ or Christ’s teachings. I am not a follower of only Christ’s teachings.

I am not a Christian.

I do not fit neatly into theological, religious, and spiritual categories. I do not need to create another theology in order to hold onto Christianity, either.

I am not classified under a theology that needs to claim me like property. There is no freedom within a proliferation of divisions of knowledge to satiate an egotistical yearning for comfort.

Although I have studied and experienced much more than I have written and spoken about regarding my spiritual journey, I am not identifying every single belief I possess.

I believe in God, the Universe, the Divine.

I believe in the mystery of Universe.

I am filled with wonder about the Divine within, without, and throughout.

Christ was here before Christianity.

Still, I am not a Christian.

What was once weird has become normal and what was once familiar has become strange.

I believe in

Energy

Energy work and healing

Many paths to God

That Jesus is unnecessary for eternal afterlife

The necessity of isolated devotion to Jesus in order to please God.

I believe in

The power of prayer

The power of Jesus name.

I believe many teachers have come to this world to guide us. I believe that religion functions as both a means and an end for a diverse humanity.

I hold the Bible as useful, and my spirituality is not limited to one sacred text.  Christianity has supported much of my spiritual development. I value this aspect of my life.

I have no particular incident that reveals a dramatic story behind leaving Christianity.

As I have embarked on a year without the Bible*, I sensed more and more that there were ways of thinking and being that no aligned.

I began to overthink Christian identity because I tried to tighten my grip onto loosely held together ontological strings of familiarity.

In the process of spiritual awakening, I attempted to deny and ignore what I knew.

My denial created a war within my soul. Without peace, there is no freedom

I want freedom.

I realize is time for me to simply name a reality that has existed for me for years.

Finally, I am naming my reality: I am no longer a Christian.

My Ancestors and Progressive Christianity

Becoming involved in a writing space with the explicit label of “Progressive Christianity,” has helped me to live truer to who I am.

Being able to look myself in the mirror and look unto God is what matters most in how I orient my life.

Before anyone else ask me if I am a progressive Christian, or a progressive, or a Christian, I ask myself the “truth” questions.

And the truth is: I am none of these constructs.

Although my writings, particularly anti-oppressive ones, like my anti-racist work, can be easily located within a progressive space, no longer identifying or anchoring myself in Christianity, alone,  means that I cannot look myself in the mirror and look to God and remain within the space.

Otherwise, a re-articulation of an entire category would be in order that allows for the fluidity of spiritual experiences. In some ways, I fit the label, and in more ways,  I do not.

I can find pockets, trends, and movements of people all around within religions, pushing to free themselves of institutional chains.

I am no more interested in locating myself with any progressive, regressive, or oppressive forms of any religion.

For years,  I held onto a belief about  my ancestors knowing the true God-the one who cut through the lies they were fed by people who enslaved them.

The one they believed as a deliverer.

The one whose call, Nat Turner heeded.

That was my Christian God.

Christ were Black bodies bearing strange fruit.

The ones who embodied, lived, and died the truth.

Over the last few years, even these understanding began to fall apart.

Understandings I thought I would never let go of for the rest of my life.

I weighed the possibility of letting down my ancestors.

Then, questions guided me.

How many enslaved Africans brought Bibles with them on ships, clinging to books in language unknown, as they were shackled together in filthy conditions?

My ancestral roots were not constructed in one way.

The story of spirituality as a collective for Black people throughout the Diaspora, then, is one that will continue to shift.

In this Word of Life, I find freedom.

There is a change happening. What helped centuries ago continues to move, expand, shrink, and evolve.

The ancestors are with me.

Taking Time and Envisioning: What is My New Spiritual Category?

When we hear the words

Buddhist

Muslim

Christian

Hindu

Or any religion

What do the labels signal for us about people and their beliefs, if anything at all?

A simple word can have complexly historical meaning. Saying any of them can invite expectations and beliefs about the who and what of each other.

If we let it.

In an instant

Upon hearing one word

We can reduce people to our perceptions of their beliefs

If we let it.

I do not seek

One word

Or two words

Or three

Or four

To summarize

Or categorize

My spirituality.

Yet, I struggle

To name what I conceive as

Un-nameables.

“Spiritual” falls short.

When we do not make the time that can be beneficial or necessary to understand each other, “spiritual” serves a purpose of helping people to quickly categorize us.

How can I (we) talk about our spirituality in ways that honors a journey?

Taking My Time

When I am asked about my spiritual beliefs,

I desire lingering

Lengthy

Drawn-outConversations

Requiring sweet and precious time

The kinds that call out

“Take your time!”

Like Black women

Sitting

Rocking

Fanning themselves

In a hot Mississippi church

Heavenly earthen, humble, and mighty building

Like Jesus

Way out in the countryside

Affirming

Listening to the preacher of the hour.

 

The taking

Of sweet and precious time

Like a Black mama

Talking about

How long it took

For children to come to her

After calling for them.

“Didn’t you hear me calling you?”

Taking our dear time.

 

Blurring

The lines

Between

Poetry and prose.

 

Listening

Talking

In circles

And over each other

Still understanding

All of it.

 

I Envision

Words

With stories unto themselves

And, oh, the stories they would tell.

 

Letters

Formed from Darkness.

 

Spirituality

Speaking more volumes

Than Bible translations.

 

Playgrounds

Where we run

Like our inner-child caught up with us.

Care-free devotion.

 

Fiery

Dyadic exchanges

Warming

Igniting

Our souls.

 

The kind of answers and descriptions

Taking several conversations

To touch the beginning

Feeling

Not scratching the surface.

 

Feeling our way

Through

Beloved

Humanness.

 

Taking

Our dear

Sweet

And precious time

Without getting into trouble

With Mama

Or Father

Who art in heaven.

 

Answering

The calls within and around.

 

Over time,

We know more than a label

A word

Or two or three or four.

We know more.

 

A new vision of describing

My-our spirituality

And spiritual journeys

Feels good.

Feeling like the God of Genesis beholding creation

Kind of good.

 

No obligation to turn inquiry,

Magic and mystery

Faith and hope

Rebellion and love

Justice and truth

And the freedom within the Unknown

Into fossils and artifacts

Protected by brick and mortar.

 

Like God

Universe

Divine

Unknown

And other one-word terms

I invoke

Trying to identify

What is beyond words

My spirituality cannot be easily defined or named.

Amen.

*Week 48 of Quitting the Bible– Typically, this post would come out early next week.

Announcement: Moving to New Visions Channel

In approximately a week, the Race + Grace Blog will move to the Patheos New Visions Channel. Instead of leaving Patheos altogether, I have decided to see how it goes.  The journey continues! See you there!

Peace, Love, and All That Jazz,

Dr. Sam

""How Do You Perceive the World— Mostly Good or Bad?"I perceive the world as mostly ..."

How Do You Perceive the World— ..."
"BTW, I commend you on your patience in attempting to communicate with a bible idolater! ..."

The Bible is Fallible—And It’s Okay
"Then God is fallible, since all God had to do was write a simple book.Makes ..."

The Bible is Fallible—And It’s Okay
"Remind us again: what was Martin Luther King's dream? That his children would one day ..."

Are You As Racially Colorblind As ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS New Visions
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • a Nagual in Arizona

    This is beautiful.

  • Chris Dobson

    When one stops praying to God, stops reading their Bible, stops doing what the Bible asks one to do and stops fellowshipping with other committed believers then this article written is more then likely the possible result of one losing their faith. God loves those who even turn away from him and he is patient however to reject Jesus and the grace he offers forfeits the protection he guarantees to those who trust in him. This world, its concepts and all those who reject Christ will one day vanish and be no more. Then all those who trust Jesus Christ and loved him by living out his Gospel in their lives will receive eternal life. And to those who rejected him will be condemned to an eternal Hellfire.

  • Etranger

    This is a great comment illustrating that without the constant indoctrination or regular meetings with likeminded believers, there is really nothing to the religion. If it were not forced upon you you would never go to church or believe the nonsense that makes absolutely no sense. (Christian logic is that only about 1/4 of the world deserves to be saved because they believe in J.C. The other 3/4 of the world will never know of J.C. or will not turn Christian because they grew up indoctrinated in a different cultural expression of the Word/Truth. But they are damned because Christians chose the right religion…)

  • @RaceandGrace

    Thank you.

  • @RaceandGrace

    Thank you for your comment. My spiritual walk no longer draws upon fear and hell for me to receive or be loved of God. I recognize your freedom to draw upon these beliefs in your life and share them in attempt to help me/others. I decline this assistance. May peace reside in your life.

  • Fearless Feline

    Thank you for sharing this! I no longer use the term Christian to describe myself. I do recognize my pathway in and with the Divine has been through Christianity and remains Trinitarian and informed by the New Testament, yet now see how the Divine is much beyond our limited verbal symbols and way, way beyond our understanding and isn’t limited in where and how Truth is revealed.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Yet it is those “Harlot of Babylon” fake-christians, who in 2016, willingly went to the Dark Side and aligned themselves with
    TЯ卐m₽ >–> the Beast that will receive God’s greatest wrath during the Tribulation and on Judgment Day. – Revelation 18:4

  • @RaceandGrace

    You’re welcome, Fearless Feline. Thank you for your comment and making time to express part of what you have learned and come to understand in your spiritual journey.

  • Category 6

    Have you looked into “Panentheism”? (I am just referencing the term to you even though I understand your situation regarding labels – I tend to be the same way myself.)

  • @RaceandGrace

    Thank you sharing about Panentheism. I was familiar with the belief-not the name. You are right- I do not have an urgency or desire to name and claim a doctrine or theology to label my spiritual identity. At the moment, I have plenty of sociocultural labels to negotiate in this world. Do you consider yourself a panentheist? Why do you tend to be “the same way about labels?”

  • Category 6

    I used to be panentheist, but at some point, I had to accept the fact that I do not experience God (the Christian God, or any Pagan Gods/Goddesses), and I had to stop hating myself because of this and put an end to the bizarre feeling of shame I had over it. I am “spiritual”, but Non-Theistic.

    I find labels limiting and often associated with simplistic stereotypes. I have chosen not to really identify myself through my path – in the sense of say Christian religion and then having that as a part of one’s “identity”. I have gone through many changes in my path that labels, at this point, become meaningless as “parts” of one’s identity…if that makes sense.

  • Your honesty is refreshing and your reasons are interesting to me given that my experience following the teachings of Christ are so dramatically removed from yours. My guess (and it is only a guess) is that the majority of people who claim to be Christians probably are not despite what they think (Matthew 7:21-23). It would be a blessing to the Church if more people were introspective about what they believe and either step up to it or step away from it. Thank you for stepping away instead of living a lie and compounding the confusion brought by people who really don’t believe and those who believe something other than what Christ taught, yet remain in the Church.

  • While many things you said are true one sticks out: That Jesus is unnecessary for eternal afterlife.
    He is and He is the only way. Best of Luck…

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Here’s a quote from this blog, written by “RaceandGrace”:

    > “I am not a disciple of Christ or Christ’s teachings.”

    There’s a difference between removing oneself from the many sects; and removing oneself from His Saving Grace and
    Christ’s Own Blood Sacrifice on the Cross.
    _______________________________________

    While I have removed myself from the denominational-sects of the several Christian churches, I have NOT removed myself from,
    nor rejected, Christ’s Gift of Salvation and Everlasting Life from my heart, soul or mind.

    In fact, I have reinvented and renamed my particular Christian beliefs … and they coincide with the Scriptures too. 🙂
    I define myself, and my Christian Walk, as “Existential-Zen” Christian.

    See, here’s how it works … I am a Christian by faith and grace:

    I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, who was Crucified, Rose Again, Ascended into Heaven,
    and sits at the Right-Hand of God, the Father. I believe in the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in my life and the lives of all true
    Children of God (those written in, and not blotted out, of “The Lamb’s Book of Life”).

    On my “Zen” road, the Lord and I are still working on it, but I’m aspiring to becoming fully “Zen”.
    Zen = “A meek and quiet spirit, which to the Lord, is of great price” – I Peter 3:4

    From my “Existential” point of view: Whatever is going to happen, has already happened, is happening now, and will be happening for
    every moment of Infinity, for all Eternity.

    You and I can only change our own choices, to change whatever part we play, in any given incident or event we’re involved in, no matter how infinitesimal. We choose either Light or Dark, Good or Evil … and then, the equation of any event can be changed, either way, depending on our own choice.

    That’s why Christ said: “I Am the Alpha and the Omega. I know the end from the beginning.” – Revelation 1:8, Revelation 22:13
    “There is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

  • @RaceandGrace

    It makes much sense. Thank you for offering more insight about this part of your life journey.

  • @RaceandGrace

    Thank you for your comment, Greg Eaton. I agree about the importance of introspection and integrity in the Christian church ( in life). Also, while one person might consider Christianity as something to step up to, another person might consider entering or remaining as a step down. What if whenever people step away from that (i.e. religion; doctrines) which no longer aligns in order to step into what is next in their spiritual walk, they are stepping up? Regardless of religious and spiritual beliefs, typically, growth is not a linear progression. I see my recognition of reality as honoring my journey, with all of its movements. Take good care.

  • @RaceandGrace

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Peace to you.

  • Kobukvolbane

    This entire piece resonated with me. Thank you. I believe Jesus was anti-religion, and that what he sought was far greater than what American Christians aim for today. What I gleaned from this article was kenosis, self-emptying, getting rid of what no longer serves you.

    This was spectacular:
    No obligation to turn inquiry,
    Magic and mystery
    Faith and hope
    Rebellion and love
    Justice and truth
    And the freedom within the Unknown
    Into fossils and artifacts
    Protected by brick and mortar.

  • @RaceandGrace

    Thank you for sharing what you gleaned from my post, Kobukvolbane.