The Anatomy of a Deconversion

deconvert

The first cynical maxim of deconversion: God may be good, but He’s not *that* good.

Whatever the smart men say about the theology of “good”, at the end of the day, we dream bigger than God. He usually intends for us to wallow in poverty and shame; those He capriciously blesses (there’s no rhyme or reason to it other than He seems to favor those who publicly detest Him) are unaware of their unmerited gifts. They choose instead to lecture the rest of us on how life works. They obviously have it figured out. So be grateful for whatever little scraps you get because there’s no use in dreaming. He’ll never allow it. This leads to the second maxim:

If you have a dream or a vision for how your life could be, God will take it from you.

As Lewis notes in his “Problem of Pain”, we’re scroungy dogs God is trying to domesticate, and what matters the dreams of a scroungy dog? God wants us to thrive in the living room as a clean, beloved, house pet, while we want to eat the furniture and roll in filth. Lewis wonders, then, how we can expect God to indulge our dreams when they’re so lowly. He follows George MacDonald in believing that God is the all consuming fire who slowly burns away the fallible, finite parts of us, leaving purified remains. Whatever those remains will be, they wont be human…so, does God really love humanity after all? Is He really the greatest “humanist?” Even the house dog enjoys a bone from time to time, but not us. Having food, hope for the future, and an honorable livelihood are beneath the ultra-man-type-things we’re being turned into; we’re not to have them. And on that, maxim the third:

When the Bible teaches that God will provide our basic needs, it’s either outright false, or it’s so ambiguous as to be, otherwise, worthless.

Whatever it means, it doesn’t mean God will provide for *our* basic needs. Maybe He’ll provide for the needs of the Psalm writer (who doesn’t fear arrows or disease), but not us. Maybe He’ll answer the prayers of His hand-picked apostles – for them, He’ll move mountains and heal the sick. Not for us. Not for the average Joe. Us? We’re stuck in a world where, if we want to see miracles, we have to do them ourselves. God is m.i.a. Out to the races. Gone. And did He leave us the Holy Spirit as a guide, or was that only meant for His hand-picked apostles as well? I hope it was only meant for the apostles because if not, the Holy Spirit has made a terrible mess of things down here. No one can prove me wrong on that because none of you can say what the Bible really means (one way or the other). If you think you can, maxim the fourth is for you:

The only people who can be Christians are those who refuse to take Christ seriously.

Do you want a God who is active in the world? A God who, like a King, directs His people? Gives them tasks? Holds court? Christianity is not for you, then; while the Bible claims God is like a King, whatever that means, it doesn’t mean He’s like any sort of king we would recognize. If you take it seriously when it says Christ is a king, you’ll be very disappointed. How about a father? Would you like a God who is a loving father? Again we’re in the same spot: whatever it means to say God is like a father, it doesn’t mean he’s like what we mean when we use the word “father.” How could it? Don’t take the Bible seriously when it says God is like a father, or, again, you’ll get very angry. How about a shepherd? Unlike the other two, here we have a God so good at shepherding, He’s shepherded me right out of the damned covenant. “Out of my pasture, you sheep! Go belong to someone else!” (Lewis says God has shown a lot of emotion towards humanity, but never contempt. He should have rethought that; God shows acute contempt for those outside of His covenant).

The only way these analogies can be accepted is if they’re not accepted seriously. “Oh yes, God is our Father and our King!”…but such can’t be said without a wink or a form of emotional double-think. The moment you really need a Father or a King and He’s not there, you can’t (if you want to take Him seriously), simply shrug it off as inconsequential. Either He’s a king or He’s not. Either He’s going to be our father or He’s not. Additionally, praying without expecting answers is another way to avoid taking God seriously. Praying in such a way that you don’t end up praying for anything at all may appease a false sense of religious piety, but it doesn’t take God seriously. Oh no. Taking God seriously means you’ll experience all manner of disappointment and anger when He doesn’t do as He promised, and answer our prayers.

Avoid taking Him seriously.

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6 Responses to The Anatomy of a Deconversion

  1. Isn’t it the case that (in light of our prayers) God’s will has primacy?..Maybe He chooses for some of His covenant people to live an entire life of sacrifice and perseverance, from one season to the next. And that it is His desire for them to be complete in Him while he has spiritual blessings laid up for them in heaven. Sometimes I think that it’s God’s desire to have some of His people testify solely to one purpose (bound up with the Gospel of Christ)- living a life that reflects genuine faith altogether( not some cause and effect state of affairs),a life lived whereas it’s clearly the case that what governs the life of the believer is contrary to what “drives” carnal individuals or generic spiritualist or some such.

  2. Joe Putnam says:

    Hey Shotgun,
    I was a little sad reading this essay of yours. I have never met you, and have no idea how your life has been. I do not pretend to know your personal struggles. I thought that you were Reformed oriented in theology.
    I guess this all comes down to ones’ conception of God.
    As a child, I had some time in full out Arminian circles. Then as a teen and adult, I became an Independent Baptist, basically an Arminian with Eternal security. A couple of years ago, after years of Bible study and thought, I moved into the Reformed camp -more along the lines of Reformed Baptist that Presbyterian.
    I say all of that as my lead up. I understand why a Jesus loves everyone Arminian would question God when his life was miserable, but not the Reformed. I guess it all comes down to (1) whether or not we are all really bad and God is showing mercy by not immediately destroying all of us and by redeeming a few for no merit of their own, or (2) we are all basically good (or just a little) bad and God wants to have a bunch of little buddies to come to heaven with him. I take position 1.
    As to our needs, if we have food, clothing, and shelter we have our basic needs, even though people- including myself- want a lot more than our basic needs. I recall laying in a hospital bed at age 24, with un-diagnosed appendicitis that rather than rupturing caused a grapefruit size abscess in my liver. I was not angry with God during this -not from some inner self-righteous piety but because I knew that I was living contrary to God’s word and deserved whatever happened. I guess I was a Calvinist before I actually became a Calvinist! God saw fit to preserve my life and restore my health fully, and that was nine years ago.
    I agree that modern life is frustrating and unfulfilling. We have left our social structure, way of life, and our ancestors view of God. Texan homesteader and Christian separatist Michael Bunker calls people back to this in his agrarian book “Surviving Off Off-Grid”; I would advise you to check it out if you are feeling disillusioned with life and the world. I did not go full out Bunker style off grid, but I am slowly moving that direction.
    Don’t give up Shotgun! There is hope and peace out there, you just may not have looked in all of the right places. If there were no diety, what would there be for you other than materialism and decadence on one hand or a race worshiping National Socialism on the other hand?

    • Oh, if I gave up the Faith all together, there’d be nothing left but suicide, and that, in either one of two ways. It could be done outright (get it over with, face my punishment, and get on with my eternity in Hell), or it could be prolonged, filtered through a life of hedonism (a slow death but just as meaningless in the end).

      But there is nothing that can replace what was lost. Atheists, especially the sort in modern America are naive cowards – they’re the type of people who are easily programmed by the State. They’re exactly what they’ve been designed to be. The deeper thinkers – maybe call them the poetic agnostics – may be strong willed enough to avoid state programming, but they’re not strong enough to face the inevitable nihilism that follows (unless they too commit the slow suicide of hedonism).

      If I didn’t believe in God a “race-worshiping” National Socialist is the *last* thing I’d be. It’s always bugged me about that ilk – they don’t realize how utterly futile their cultural aesthetic is if, as they believe, we’re all random sacks of atoms-in-motion, popped out of a mud-puddle after getting struck by magical lightening so many odd millions of years ago. They’re either too stupid to be hedonists or too culturally Christian to kill themselves. I like to think it’s the latter.

      Don’t give up on me yet – I’m brutally honest about my struggles because unlike many (whom I cannot respect), I do take the Faith seriously. I’m writing a follow up today where I’ll describe two recent ways God actually did answer my prayers, even though (in both cases), it was not at all what I wanted.

      • …oh, and thank you for the book recommendation. You’re not the first to suggest Bunker’s work to me. (I hear the man makes very fine, homemade cigars). I’ll check him out.

      • Joe Putnam says:

        I am glad you are not leaving the faith. I agree that stuff like W.L. Pierce’s godless race religion is futile when carefully considered. I will check out your next post.

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