Why I Still Call Myself a Christian

I’ve spent a great deal of time on this blog exploring the ways in which my faith has transformed from the reassuring, cozy, traditional Christianity of my childhood. I’ve wandered far from home into nontheism, flirted with blasphemy, and questioned the existence of the supernatural altogether.

Many would say I’m not a Christian at all, and they might be right. If one defines Christianity as taking the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds as literal truth, then I certainly don’t qualify. I think I stopped believing the creeds long before I ever accepted my crisis of faith. Perhaps post-Christian would be a more accurate descriptor: I’ve entered a terrain which is beyond traditional Christianity, but only accessible by way of Christianity.

And yet, I still hold on to the label Christian, and the reason is simple: I can’t give up my love affair with the myth of Christ. I can’t let go of the story about the God-man who came to earth, told stories, taught love and radical peace, and then modeled ego-death and resurrection — the path we are all meant to follow, day after day.

In the most simple, minimalistic way possible I am a Christian: a follower of Christ, someone who makes Christ the most central image of my inner guiding myth. I’m not sure I can help myself; religion is mapped onto my being like a language, from the earliest days of my life. No matter how much I may doubt, wander, and reject the unfalsifiable claims of religion, I can’t rid myself of religion, and I don’t think I need to.

If this minimalistic Christianity strikes other Christians as heretical, too little, cloying and pandering to worldly doubt, that’s fine. I accept that. But I welcome others into my minimalistic religion with me. Those who doubt, struggle, and yet still yearn for religious life: we don’t have to believe in God or the supernatural, we don’t even have to accept the stories about Christ as true — I think many of them are probably legend. We can embrace the myth of Christ, and the transcendent, self-sacrificing path that myth sets before us. And that, I think, makes us Christians.

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An Esoteric Christian and a Former Scientologist Have a Conversation

An Esoteric Christian and a Former Scientologist

I recently had a fun, engaging, meeting-of-the-minds conversation with former Scientologist Chris Shelton for his Sensibly Speaking show. In our conversation we discussed struggling with atheism, deconstruction of faith, inner truth vs. outer truth, speaking in tongues, yoga, and much more. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.

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A New Kind of Christianity: Inner Truth Vs. Outer Truth

I’ve written a lot about faith and doubt within Christianity over the past year or so. Doubt has been my constant, dark companion. I can understand now why Martin Luther (according to myth) hurled a bottle of ink at a devil that was taunting him. I’ve been hurling my own ink, trying to fend off the monster.

I could easily shrug off the doubt and turn to the warm light of my faith, stuffing all the questions back into the box, but I can’t do that. My understanding of integrity doesn’t let me shrug off genuine questions. I know that I need to value truth, and that truth requires certain proofs to be true. I know that humility, asking questions, and accepting my capacity to be wrong is integral to living a good, upright life.

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The Good Father: Of God, Doubt, and Gay Relationships

It’s been a long, painful and perilous journey from a life of suffocating fear and self-loathing toward a life of fearlessness and love. I spent most of my teenage and adult years trapped in the impenetrable coffin of my self-loathing, absolutely convinced that I was unlovable to God.  As a young boy growing up in the evangelical world, I somehow absorbed the message that being gay makes a person loathsome and subhuman. When I started to discover that I was gay myself, I became the victim of my own undying disgust and hatred. Like a supernova, my being collapsed upon itself, the object of its own unquenchable disgust.

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Post-Christian: A Lament

I’m slowly coming to the realization that the faith of my childhood: the Evangelical, middle-of-the-road, straight and narrow faith that was passed down to me by my parents and community, no longer fits. My faith has gone through a myriad of transformations, and I’ve always prided myself on having an adaptable faith. But this feels different: the faith itself is no longer working. It’s an old, trusty Toyota that has carried me through forests and over deserts, but it’s sputtering now, starting to break down.

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On Faith and Doubt

Candle

For January, 2017, we explored my personal struggles with faith and doubt. I examined the things I want people to know the most about struggling with doubt, what Donnie Darko taught me about religious doubt, why my Christian give-a-damn is broken, and how I define Esoteric Christianity. As usual, my readers offered some compelling responses, and I want to take a moment to feature the best ones here.

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My Christian Give-a-Damn is Broken

I used to care so deeply.

I used to care so deeply about right belief, about Orthodoxy, about the church’s teachings and how to best live them out.

I used to care so much about being part of the inside, part of the Right Crowd. I used to care so deeply about not being cast outside for some minor heresy.

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Nightmares, Agnosticism, and Esoteric Christianity

On Christmas Eve my partner and I watched an old favorite of mine: Donnie Darko. The film is a trippy, incoherent and yet strangely cathartic philosophical exploration of reality. Running through the film is Donnie’s struggles with belief in God. The film captures well the unreality and alienation that accompanies such deep exploration: little makes sense in this world, and we are surrounded by delusions and nightmares.

The scenes that struck me the most powerfully were the discussions Donnie has with his therapist about his struggles with belief in God.

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