Saturday, June 9, 2012

Extreme Christianity

There is one word in the entire English language that just does not go with any religious belief or practice; that word is fundamentalism. The free online dictionary defines fundamentalism as: 1. 'A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.'

Fundamentalists are proud and think of themselves as the one and only true followers of God, and they tend to take religious practices to the extreme. They tend to be judgmental of everyone who is not a member of their circle of "divinely" selected members. They joyfully look forward to the end of this evil world and have their heads already in the clouds hoping that very soon their body would follow. Their eyes are always heaven bound on the look out for the return of their Lord and savior Jesus Christ. They sing songs about forever being in his presence in a future state and relish the idea of being washed in his blood and purged from their sinful nature.

I was a fundamentalist! I at one time thought the bible was the inerrant and undefiled word of God, that he walked with me and talked with me at all times in the form of the Holy Spirit which at that time I believed had taken residence in me. I saw demons everywhere and the influence of Satan on everyone and in almost any situation. I preached in the streets, on the radio, in the local churches and anywhere else where I had the opportunity to do so. I wanted to bring as many souls to the foot of the cross before I left this world for good.

I was emotionally and psychologically completely immersed in my beliefs and there was nothing that anyone could do or say to prove me wrong. I felt God's presence, heard his voice in my head, saw visions, and had many dreams that I believed were direct communications from the divine. In the name of Jesus I spoke in tongues, apparently healed the sick, cast out devils by the legions, etc. I saw and witnessed God's power in every service; so my faith was only strengthened by these apparent displays of divine intervention.

Notice in the definition of fundamentalism how I underlined the words rigid adherence and intolerance? Somehow even though I was lost in a fog of extremism, there seemed to be something of me left in there. I was never intolerant towards other faiths; of course I thought they were wrong but I did not judge them for it. I saw them as people who had be duped or deluded by Satan into believing a lie. Part of my job as a "servant" of the one true God was to get them to see the truth, and I did so by learning about their religions from their own source books and then showing them the error of their ways. I did not see them as my enemy I just saw them as lost souls who needed to be pointed in the right direction.

I was very non-confrontational, the way I saw it is that if I told you the "truth" and you refused to believe it then that was on you. I had fulfilled my part by just letting you know that you were wrong. When it comes to the rigid adherence aspect of my beliefs I prayed for hours at a time. As a Christian I read the bible cover to cover both Old and New testaments four times and on one of those four times I read it in Spanish to compare that translation to the English ones. I've never cried so much in my life! I cried for the unsaved, the sick, the dead, the dying, the many injustices of this world and I literally took the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Leaving the fold was one of the hardest and scariest things I had ever done. I have never done drugs but I have heard accounts from others of how difficult it is to kick those bad habits and how easy it is for some to relapse. I think leaving fundamentalist Christianity is similar to that in some sense and I have met theists who have broken free only partially to then relapse at a later time in their lives.

Fortunately, I have not relapsed. I feel that my life is now more fulfilling and has taken on new meaning than when I was a believer. I live for the here and the now and I am fully aware that like many before me my time on this earth is limited. I have been free from superstition for the past eighteen years and have never looked back. In my life now there is no room for gods or superstitions and there is no fear of hell or death. I live a down to earth and simple and practical life that is productive in every way possible. I look forward everyday to what tomorrow will bring although I know it is not promised. I live in the here and now, I am happy, and most of all: I am free!

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