This is an email from one of the P&P readers. I asked him if I could share this with you to try to get some help and encouragement.
Michael, I read your “Leaving Christianity” article with great interest. I am 44 years old, and for most of my adult life I have vacillated among steps 1 through 4. Sometimes I think the only reasons I haven’t gone on to step 5 are my family and my fear of being wrong.
My reasons for discouragement as a Christian are caused less by a lack of answers than by a lack of God. I am (mostly) comfortable with the historicity of the Bible, the deity of Christ, and other issues for which there are good apologetics answers. My biggest struggle is that God doesn’t seem to be “there.” When I pray, I never feel like I’m connecting with God, and I just don’t see much in the world that gives me confidence that God really gives a rip. God seems like a character in a book who is real when I read the book, but when I close the book and look around, he’s just not there.
I’ve heard people talking for years about a “personal relationship” with God, and perhaps my problems arise in part because I’ve taken that too literally. I just don’t see God caring very much about (most) human beings in this life. God seems about as relational and caring as the weather, or gravity: interesting subjects to study, and certainly a great influence in our lives, but not quite the same as a father who calls us his children and claims to love us.
I found it ironic that your biography page on the Parchment and Pen blog lists “A Mighty Fortress” as, apparently, a song that you like. I’ve reached the point where I just can’t sing that song, because it feels so false. I used to think that God would essentially protect his children from any major suffering, but I now realize that that is not true. I’ve heard people say that God will not withhold any good thing from those who love him, but I now think it’s more accurate to say that God won’t withhold any bad thing from them, either.
Well, I could ramble on for a while, but you probably get the gist of what I’m saying. If nothing else, Christianity has convinced me that all other world views are false, but it’s getting harder to hold onto Christianity as well.
Where do I go from here? I’m tired of life being so empty and pointless, and I feel let down by promises of “meaning,” “purpose,” and “abundant life” that just fall flat.