I am pleased to join John and the others on this new blog. Here is a brief introduction to my background:

I was "saved" at age 18 in a fundamentalist home. My parents had recently converted and I saw a dramatic change in their lives, especially my father. He was 40 years old and had a drinking problem. He immediately stopped drinking and smoking (3 packs a > day) and has never picked it up again (that was 30 years ago). He and my mother are sincere and devout and I would never criticize them. Lets face it Christianity (or any sincerely held belief) does work for some people. That doesn't mean its true (objectively) but, just as perception is reality, if someone holds a belief strongly enough it can change their lives. After getting "saved", I entered a fundamental Baptist college in Atlanta. After 4 years, I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Theology (3.9 > GPA, summa cum laude). In addition to my studies, I was very actively involved in the local church. I worked in a bus ministry. I preached in nursing homes, jails, etc. I attended church three or more times a week.

After graduating with my BA, I went off to Bob Jones University. There I earned a Masters and a Ph.D. in Theology. Whatever you want to say about BJU, and there is a lot to be said, they were in touch academically in a scholastic sense. Namely, the languages were greatly stressed. I passed language exams in Hebrew, Greek, and German in order to get my degree. I wrote a 326 page dissertation. During my time in Greenville, I taught an adult SS class and worked in other various ministries. Lest someone say my faith was only intellectual, let me add that I spent an average of one hour a day in prayer, memorized Scripture, I wept over "lost souls," and "won souls" for the Lord.

Upon graduation from BJU, I took a position as a professor in a small Baptist college in the Western United States. I taught there for 10 years. I taught Greek, English Bible classes, Theology, Church History, and Apologetics. During this time I began to have my first doubts about the validity of my faith. I have never been one who could just accept something without investigating it for myself. The more I studied and the more I thought, the less I believed. I finally came to the conclusion that all religions are man-made and represent wishful thinking on the part of the believers. All of us want to think that there is some meaning in life and that we will see our loved ones again. Religion offers simple answers to those and other deep questions. I can discuss in detail at some future time the specific doubts that eventually led to my "deconversion," but lets just say that the major stumbling block was the whole concept of the atonement. How could someone else be punished in my place and I go free. That strikes against any sense of fairness. We would not allow that in any court of law. Punishment is only valid if it is the guilty person being punished. I have read every major theologian's discussion of the atonement and I have never been satisfied by the various answers.

Since I left Christianity my mind has started to "clear" (from the brainwashing) and I am amazed that I was ever that foolish to believe. Its not a matter of intelligence, though, there are extremely intelligent people who are Christians but there are also intelligent Mormons, Catholics, and members of other faiths as well.

I remain interested in the academic study of the Bible and religion although from a different perspective these days.