My religious background

I was raised in an Evangelical Protestant home. Because we moved around a lot when I was a child, we attended different types of churches, mostly nondenominational and Evangelical, but sometimes Southern Baptist. My mother was raised in the Southern Baptist church, and my father was baptized as an infant in the Lutheran church, but didn’t attend church regularly until his conversion as a young adult.

I was never taught the Apostle’s Creed, but nonetheless we believed in the vast majority of it:

“I believe in God,the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”

The only difference from Catholicism we understood was that the word “catholic” (lower case) meant the invisible union of believers through the ages, not the visible Catholic Church based in Rome.

I remained a dedicated Christian throughout my adolescence, being baptized, attending church several times a week, serving in the church’s music ministry, and trying to live the best that I could. I remember at the time having a lot of doubts about my salvation and never feeling like I was good enough. But I was afraid of hell and believed that Christianity was true, so I kept on trying to do what was required: believe the correct doctrines, do the correct things (go to church), and try to follow the moral rules.

I never had an emotional conversion experience, or indeed any kind of subjective experience of God, except for the guilt that I felt most of the time. I wasn’t concerned by that, though, since I was taught that truth isn’t a feeling, but is more objective: facts, explainable beliefs. I learned how to defend Christian doctrine, and how to explain why Christianity (Protestantism specifically) was right and other religions were wrong.

My main reasons for believing Christianity were 1) because I had always been taught that it was true, and 2) I was afraid of going to hell.

Next time: why I left Christianity and became a Deist

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