RETURN TO THE FAITH
A true story of one man's journey of faith from Christianity to Buddhism (and Atheism) and back
I was Baptised as a baby, but growing up I never really committed myself to the Church. I kept my distance and saw it as pointless.
In my late teens I got into Buddhism and became quite excited by this "new" religion. I also got into animal rights. The two beliefs fitted together pretty well.
I read a few bible passages out of context, and very quickly believed myself to be a biblical scholar (like most people on the Internet). Unfortunately, I made no effort to fully understand those passages, particularly those where God was being strict with His creation. If I'd only read a few chapters back and put it in its proper context, I’d have seen that God was being strict because the people had been sacrificing their kids or worshipping false gods or practising other wicked ways.
Anyway, I didn't care or want to know any more, I became an Internet troll on a mission to propagate Buddhism and teach the "truth" about Christianity and the bible. My heart was hardened and my eyes and mind closed. Everyone who knew me knew what I was like. Though I was Buddhist, I was essentially Atheist. I said some terrible things against God, the Church and the clergy.
I can't explain why, but when my wife was pregnant with our daughter, something "pulled" me towards Christianity. Maybe it was just more of an interest, but there was definitely something there. I ignored it for a while, but eventually gave in and returned to Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth book. I was impressed. It wasn't the same Christianity I "knew" everything about and had been so angry at. Pope Benedict wasn't the rich, arrogant selfish figure I'd thought and said he was. He was humble and kind; a servant. He taught that God was loving; so loving that He came to earth and actually died for us. None of what I was reading was anything like the "Christianity" I had ‘mastered’ and hated. This Church wasn't the monster the media made it out to be. It is an organisation that cares for all people, even the unborn! It doesn't judge anyone, and there was no Vatican conspiracy or cover up of child abuse. That was a minority of clergy, it was not the Church.
I realised I'd been wrong and I prayed. I said none of this to my wife, because as humans it can be very difficult to say we're wrong! One day out of the blue, she said she'd like to go to Church. I decided to phone the priest and he was a great and compassionate priest and he guided and led me back. After confessing, I realised that every sin can be forgiven, and God never gives up on us, despite us giving up on Him.
Going back to Church was scary, but everyone was so welcoming and kind. We've been back ever since. Our daughter has also been Baptised.
As for me, reconciling with God got me out of a depression I'd been in for a long time and got me back on my feet. My problems aren’t so big anymore, because I have someone I can ask for help.
There are some things I have learned on my journey: atheists can be forgiven, but they don't want to while their hearts are hardened; they'll fight God trying to speak to them. They're not bible experts; they've just read a few passages on the Internet out of context. They're as devout as any fundamentalist, except their gods are people. They can sometimes come across as very arrogant. I personally think the best way to soften their hearts is by example.
This story is one which many will resonate with and perhaps they are even able to draw parallels with their own journey of faith. For others, it may not be enough to make them pick up a bible and read it in the way the writer suggests. But it’s worth considering whether our hearts are simply hardened to God. Can we really say with any great authority that what is contained in the bible is just make-believe? Can we, with any great authority, say that the faith of billions of people across the world and which has been passed down the centuries is all just a sham? Can we say with authority that the countless martyrs who were prepared to die for this Faith was a meaningless act for a non-existent cause?
It’s worth just taking a step back and considering the writer’s points: there is context to everything in the bible and it does make sense; God never give up on us, NEVER; and he is always there to help us in our problems if we are willing to soften our hearts and turn to Him and trust Him.
The Christian faith is one of love; and by example Christians, like the writer, can change the world.