Impossible to Believe

I write this post after having read J.E. Holman's excellent post "Now what, Christian?" I want to share a simple and profound truth, a realization that I have come to grips with: faith is impossible for me. Many Christians, upon hearing this, might blink at me with disbelief, protest in denial, or simply try and dialouge with me in hopes of showing me that I have a faulty conception of what faith is. I recall talking with a fellow apostate, Robin, and telling her that it's impossible for me to believe.

First of all, I tried to believe. I sincerely did believe for a decade that the Bible was God's word, that Jesus Christ was his Son, and that Christ was crucified to atone for our sins and that he rose from the dead. I sincerely did believe in creationism, in biblical inerrancy, in the loving providence of God. But now I cannot. I cannot go back to believing in any of that again. I cannot go back through the agony of second-guessing God's motives with each passing prayer, wondering if this or that is a yes-or-no sign. I cannot muster the intellectual gymnastics needed to make creationism or inerrancy work. I cannot work consciously to edit my thoughts and make sure that they confirm to the will of God. For me, it's impossible for me to do that all again. Even if I absolutely wanted to, I don't have the energy, the willpower, or the mental gymnastics. I have seen inerrancy and creationism refuted and I am extremely confident that the resurrection never happened.

Some believers argue that I was never saved to begin with. Even if that's so, why didn't God save me at the age I sincerely thought I was saved.?Why did God let me go groping around in the dark suffering under the honest delusion that I really was saved? What kind of God of love would allow for that? How long was God determined to let me undergo the delusion before having me snap out of it? Why did God let me labor under this delusion for 10 years? This is what I don't understand. I wanted to believe. I wanted the closeness I sincerely believed that others had with God. I wanted God to speak to my heart the way other Christians said that God did to theirs. I wanted so desperately to hear the voice of God, just some indication that he was there and that he loved me.

I wonder the same of other members who left the fold. Why didn't God really save John Loftus to begin with and never let him go? Why did God keep his eternal arms around Ed Babinski or JE Holman? I also think of Robert M Price and Charles Templeton. Both Price and Templeton really did believe that they were saved. Biblical criticism hit Price's faith and withered at it until there was nothing left and the problem of pain and suffering hit Templeton's heart until his faith eroded. If both men were unsaved, why didn't God save them to begin with? If both men were, indeed, saved, then why didn't God work harder to keep them into the fold?

All I can think of is that the biblical God must be a cruel beast if he really does exist. These honest men, including myself, absolutely wanting to believe. And yet we cannot believe. It's impossible for me. I am sure it's the case for Price and it was for Templeton. I will gladly let Loftus and Babinski speak for themselves. If God saved us, why didn't he keep us? Or, why didn't God save us to begin with so we would never leave the fold? I ask the question for many Christians: why does God make faith impossible?

Matthew

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