Monday, November 17, 2014

Absurd fundamentalist beliefs I once held

From 1990-1994 I had converted to Christianity; particularly, Pentecostalism. I joined a Hispanic church whose beliefs and practices were quite extreme. We took the Bible as the literal and inerrant word of God. We took every bit of information from the scriptures as absolutely divine and considered them facts that did not even require evidence because no matter how absurd the claims may be our faith and confidence made them true. We measured all other things about the world around us by the standards of the Bible. If science contradicted the Bible then science was wrong and that was the end of it. 

Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa.” William Lane Craig  ‘Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (1984). 

My beliefs were entirely based on emotions initially. I believed at the time that I was filled with the Holy Spirit and that "He" would confirm all truth to me as taught in the scriptures.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
Often when I read the Bible I felt currents of electricity coarse through my body when I came upon texts I believed were being opened to me by God or expanded upon by the Holy Spirit. I heard these new teachings in my mind in my own voice and took them as confirmation of their truth. I believed  that God spoke to me in my head in my own voice often in those days. I also believed that only our church had the truth. All other Christian sects were wrongly interpreting the scriptures and teaching lies whether they knew it or not. 

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

I believed it was my mission appointed to me by God himself to save as many souls as I could from darkness and finally eternal damnation. If you did not believe as I did then no matter whether we believed in the same God or not you were already damned to hell. This is what eventually led me to become a Christian evangelist. I started out with my friend from church who used to preach on the streets of Brooklyn, NY on Saturday's and Sunday's. I joined his ministry and served initially as his Spanish to English interpreter as he preached his message of salvation. It wasn't long before he had me preaching as well. 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

As Carl Sagans aptly titled book stated I once believed that I was living in a 'Demon Haunted World.' Everything in the world that was wrong in my view was wrong because of Satan and his minions (demons) attempts to lead man into perdition. Women dressed provocatively not because they liked showing what they had, but because the devil used them to entice men of God and even lead or distract men from seeking salvation. Gays were demon oppressed or possessed and made prisoners to the unnatural desires of their evil flesh. Basically, the Devil was always in the details and only Christ could wrest you from his grasp once you committed your life and soul to Jesus. 

Today just like then this church continues to proclaim that Jesus is coming back for his church soon. I honestly believed that he could arrive any day and at any time like a thief in the night unannounced and I had to be prepared and had to make others ready before it was too late. I believed in the rapture back then. The idea that Jesus would descend from the cloud with his angels and call up to himself both the dead and the living that he has saved from perdition. 

I sought guidance in my life through fervent prayer and often searched the scriptures for answers to some of my own personal struggles as a believer. I would pray before I went out to job interviews and often silently lay hands upon and pray over my resumes so that God would lead me to the right job. I prayed for him to cleanse my mind from impure thoughts that I knew to be sinful. 

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28

Even something as natural as sexual attraction was sinful. If I looked at a woman and thought to myself that she was attractive or smelled good etc. I would mentally begin praying to the Lord to help me resist those evil urges and tempting thoughts. It was no way to live but at the time it was the only way I knew how. These are just a few of the absurd beliefs I held as a fundamentalist Pentecostal and I hope that this helps you understand how hard it was to leave. Luckily I have managed to pry myself from the clutches of religion and have truly found my way into the light of reason. 

The key element that held me prisoner to these beliefs was the fear of the Lord. The fear of eternal damnation and the fear of losing out on a life of eternal bliss and joy in the presence of the Lord forever and ever kept me bound to these absurd beliefs and unsubstantiated claims. 

Note: All biblical quotes are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures. 


  1. Thanks for this! It brought back memories of my own thralldom to religion - but in truth much of it was really worshipping at the altar of the self.

    Me, me, me... religion just results in self absorption, as I said in a recent e-mail to a priest I know 'I have much to be thankful for my time as a Christian; it helped me discover strengths and abilities that my formative years had sought to quash and smother. Yet I think there is something very sinister about Christianity: it is, to my mind, a form of institutionalised narcissism (as could be said about much religion). It may pass itself off as a desire for a greater relationship with God, but in the end tends to be an egotistical journey into making the ‘self’ feel better about the ‘self’ and as such results in a pious self-absorption that the less perspicacious mistake for holiness...'

    Since I left the fold I think I am of far more use to my fellow man as I am no longer wrapped up in myself.

  2. It is clear that FEAR is used to manipulate, suppress and hinder the human spirit. It is a sad, sad thing that most do not even realize. A great movie that is all about FEAR is "Defending Your Life" with Meryl Streep, Albert Brooks and Rip Torn from the 80's. A must see. Very funny and very eye opening.

    I enjoy your blog very much! Thank you for sharing your tale :)

    1. You're very welcome kristen. I agree, that fear is the driving force behind religion. The Bible often admonishes believers to fear the Lord and love him with all their hiearts, minds, and souls.

  3. Hello! My name is Carmen. I am a Christian and I enjoyed reading this very much! I love to learn about other people's beliefs. I am a Christian out of love and faith, not fear. I can't wait to read more of your posts!

    God's Not Dead,

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments Carmen. I am glad that you have enjoyed my post and are interested in learning first hand what others believe and how they think.

  4. Interesting to see how often fear seems to be the key that keeps someone in the faith. For me it wasn't fear of God, but perhaps fear of death. that always hung in the background of my thoughts on the whole issue.

    1. Fear is a key component of religious control of the masses. I feared the wrath of God and death because of the idea of hell and the possibility of my dying unexpectedly and ending up there myself. Once I realized that these beliefs were all superstitious myths I was able to overcome those fears with time.