Author Topic: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?  (Read 757 times)

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Offline BigV

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Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« on: August 06, 2012, 12:47:45 PM »
As a former evangelical, and the one who remains in a church (1), Baptist, and a choir member, I'd like to know about how former fundamentalist evangelicals on this board got over their fear of hell.

thanks all.


(1) I come from a religious family, very fundamentalist Christian, and I married in church to a wonderful woman who I still love.  My wife is devastated that I'm not a believer anymore and she still wants me to pray and go to church.  We have two kids and for the sake of keeping the family together I've decided to continue with my church membership and church attendance. 
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 12:50:50 PM by BigV »

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2012, 01:00:10 PM »
As a former evangelical, and the one who remains in a church (1), Baptist, and a choir member, I'd like to know about how former fundamentalist evangelicals on this board got over their fear of hell.

thanks all.


(1) I come from a religious family, very fundamentalist Christian, and I married in church to a wonderful woman who I still love.  My wife is devastated that I'm not a believer anymore and she still wants me to pray and go to church.  We have two kids and for the sake of keeping the family together I've decided to continue with my church membership and church attendance.

I actually lost the fear of hell before I stopped believing. A Jehova's Witness friend of mine at the time explained to me that a loving god wouldnt send anyone to hell. His argument was convincing enough for me. I still did pray for forgiveness after I stopped believing in hell though.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 01:05:59 PM by The Gawd »

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2012, 01:03:47 PM »
Hi BigV, and welcome to the forum.

I come from a religious family, very fundamentalist Christian, and I married in church to a wonderful woman who I still love.  My wife is devastated that I'm not a believer anymore and she still wants me to pray and go to church.  We have two kids and for the sake of keeping the family together I've decided to continue with my church membership and church attendance.


Sorry, I know this is not the topic, but I think this is more interesting and more important.  I have a few questions about it.

Are you saying she's holding the marriage and children hostage in return for your compliance?
Are you comfortable with that?
Do you think that sets a good example for the kids?
Have you and the wife worked out what the kids are going to be taught?
Is she insisting they will be fundies?
Are you continuing to financially support the church?

If you find these too personal, sorry for the intrusion and you needn't answer.


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Offline BigV

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2012, 01:40:37 PM »
Hi BigV, and welcome to the forum.

Hi Screwtape,

Thanks for the welcome.  I've actually registered a while back but have been more active reading than posting :-)


I come from a religious family, very fundamentalist Christian, and I married in church to a wonderful woman who I still love.  My wife is devastated that I'm not a believer anymore and she still wants me to pray and go to church.  We have two kids and for the sake of keeping the family together I've decided to continue with my church membership and church attendance.


Sorry, I know this is not the topic, but I think this is more interesting and more important.  I have a few questions about it.

No probs.  I don't mind the questions.


Are you saying she's holding the marriage and children hostage in return for your compliance?

I'm actually not sure how I feel about the situation.  On the one hand, we are both from a very religious backgrounds.  And when we were married, I was very active in the church, preaching often (though never ordained), active in the Bible study, etc...  Then I started having doubts, agonizing over the uncertainty and the fact that we just can't know for sure whether our faith is as true as the Bible tells us.

My wife understands, in my opinion, where I'm coming from, but I think that my doubts are having an opposite effect on her.  She feels more assured of her convictions.

Also, my dad is a pastor, and father in law is one of the deacons.  My stopping cold in the church attendance could be a bad ripple effect for more people than I want affected. 

And, lastly, I'm not sure if church harms children in any way.  Certainly I had issues with assurance of salvation, etc.. that could not be addressed with my parents, but my son (12 yo) does not have any struggles in his faith and I told him that I don't find Christianity to be convincing.

Are you comfortable with that?

It's not an ideal situation, but I don't want my kids to be hurt.   What is the alternative? 
Ken Daniels, a former missionary and an author of the book "Why I believed", has a similar dillema.  I have decided that, like all Christians, I can pick and chose the Bible verses that I find applicable.  For example, Jesus says that we should love our neighbor.  That's not a bad commandment to follow.

Now, other things that Jesus (like forsaking all to follow him) could be ignored (and most Christians ignore them anyways).



Do you think that sets a good example for the kids?

Hm.. I hope they learn to compromise.
Have you and the wife worked out what the kids are going to be taught?

The kids will be going to sunday school on sunday, and they are attending a public school.  I don't think my kid is seriously considering to be a missionary or a pastor.
Is she insisting they will be fundies?

No, we are not pushing either way.
Are you continuing to financially support the church?

Yes.

Offline Nick

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2012, 02:32:08 PM »
Sounds like you are between a rock and a church place.  I don't envy your situation at all.  I can see it getting pretty ugly if and when the church community turns on you so I guess I understand where you are coming from.  Pretty sad that you and your family has to jump thru hoops for an imaginary character.
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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2012, 03:08:35 PM »
My wife understands, in my opinion, where I'm coming from, but I think that my doubts are having an opposite effect on her.  She feels more assured of her convictions.

My guess is that is her brain freaking out, because that makes absolutely no sense. 

My stopping cold in the church attendance could be a bad ripple effect for more people than I want affected. 

My advice is, have a plan.  They are going to find out eventually.  It will be better if it is on your terms rather than having it surprise you.

And, lastly, I'm not sure if church harms children in any way.

I disagree.  Most atheists here see religion, particularly fundamentalist ones, as pernicious and not something anyone would want their children to be indoctrinated in.  You are new to this atheism thing.  Your opinion may change over the next couple months.

It's not an ideal situation, but I don't want my kids to be hurt.   What is the alternative? 

I don't understand.  What would your kids have to be hurt about?  I was thinking more along the lines of you not going to church.  Not leaving your family.

I have decided that, like all Christians, I can pick and chose the Bible verses that I find applicable.  For example, Jesus says that we should love our neighbor.  That's not a bad commandment to follow.

Yes, but there are plenty of shitty ones they try to push on people as well.

Hm.. I hope they learn to compromise.

That is a nice way of putting it.  I don't see it in quite so rosy terms.

No, we are not pushing either way.

?  I thought your wife, family and church were fundie?  So, someone is pushing that way, yes?


Yes.

Why?
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Offline wright

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2012, 03:12:44 PM »
Welcome, BigV. Thanks for sharing your situation with us; I hope things improve for you and your family.

Though I converted at a rather fundie church, I never really embraced its doctrine. Supported the church in other ways though (tithing, various outreach and fundraising activities), so I suppose I was a fundie by default. I definitely went through times of being terrified at the prospect of hell (what if the literalists at my church were right?!?) while I was a believer.

But as my faith was eroded by the consistent lack of evidence for god, so too was my fear of eternal punishment; the two concepts went hand in hand. Indeed, the struggle to reconcile the idea of eternal punishment with an all knowing, all-loving god contributed to my budding atheism.

Infinite punishment for finite transgression was just too horrible and nonsensical to be real, in the end. Not being afraid of that particular bogeyman was one of the great rewards of atheism, for me.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline Energized

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2012, 03:21:58 PM »
As a former evangelical, and the one who remains in a church (1), Baptist, and a choir member, I'd like to know about how former fundamentalist evangelicals on this board got over their fear of hell.

thanks all.

For me, I realized if the bible is a lie, and god doesn't exist, then the nonsense about hell is equally ridiculous and requires no fear. Simple as that. No heaven, no hell.

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Bringing torment and pain to others.
O damned soul wallowing in your sin.
Perhaps it is time to die?'

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Offline Garja

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2012, 04:49:38 PM »

For me, I realized if the bible is a lie, and god doesn't exist, then the nonsense about hell is equally ridiculous and requires no fear. Simple as that. No heaven, no hell.

E.

This sums it up nicely for me as well.  I'm not saying that there isn't a part of me that thinks "holy shit, I hope I'm right about this".  But that voice gets quieter everyday.  For me it is painfully obvious that the Bible was written by a bunch of bronze age sheep herders, nothing more.  The more I read, the more I learn the less of a hold Christianity has on me.
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Offline Truth OT

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2012, 05:12:50 PM »
As a former evangelical, and the one who remains in a church (1), Baptist, and a choir member, I'd like to know about how former fundamentalist evangelicals on this board got over their fear of hell.

thanks all.


(1) I come from a religious family, very fundamentalist Christian, and I married in church to a wonderful woman who I still love.  My wife is devastated that I'm not a believer anymore and she still wants me to pray and go to church.  We have two kids and for the sake of keeping the family together I've decided to continue with my church membership and church attendance.

The fear of Hell vanished for me the more I started reading what the Bible texts had to say about death and the human soul. The vast majority of the scriptures do not place an eternal soul that lives beyond physical death within man. What is actually taught is that human beings are wholly moral and that man's hope is a resurrection to life after death as opposed to living beyond death in Hell or even Heaven for that matter.

If you want to get beyond fundementalism and help your family do the same, familiarize yourself with the entirety of the Bible starting with the OT. What you will find is that the Bible itself is very anti-fundie, especially the NT.

The key is to make sure you know the Bible just as well as, if not better than the fundementalists that are pushing the religion. Know it to the point where you can bash them with it and bring to light their hypocracy. What you will find is that the overwhelming majority of fundementalists DO NOT know their Bibles even remotely. They are expert quote miners and cherry pickers that have been working with a set of talking points used to back their beliefs that are often contradictory to what is actually taught in scripture.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 05:19:59 PM by Truth OT »

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2012, 10:12:00 PM »
Hi BigV,

Welcome to the forum. I personally haven't fully mourned the idea of an afterlife. I was a bit of a dreamer before my deconversion. Perhaps even something of a romantic or idealist. I don't really think I fit under any one specific label but the hardest part for me wasn't losing my religion, it was losing all my superstitions.

Take for instance the idea of soul mates, I fantasied about this idea most of my childhood. Did you ever watch the movie An American Tail? I forget all the details but Tanya, Fievel's sister, sings "Somewhere Out There". After that I was hooked! I found great comfort knowing that one day I would find my someone who was made for me.

Coming to terms with the reality that there is not in fact someone out there for everyone makes life much harder. It means I have to work for a happy/healthy relationship. It won't just magically work and if I ever expect that anyone to want to be with me I have to actually do things that they value in a relationship.

This makes life rather hard as growing up I never learned how to have healthy relationships with people. I spent most of my life expecting magic. Because of this I often felt cursed by god when things didn't work out. I eventually learned how to have a two way relationship with another person. I do miss the mystery, or mystical beauty of it all but really it makes my life that much more meaningful.

Those people who are in my life are there because they want to be there. Not because they were predestined to be there. I basically apply the same philosophy to the afterlife.  It really sucks that I won't get enjoy the people I love forever. It really sucks that every second of the day my time on earth is clicking away. I mourn the progresses in society that I won't get to see. I value things much more knowing that this is my one shot at it.

I don't get a do-over. I have to make this one attempt at life my best. It doesn't change the fact that I wish there were an afterlife. It doesn't change the fact that I miss a lot of the superstitions I grew up needing and clinging to. But it does make me try just a little bit harder than I did before. It makes me fight for my life, and go the extra mile to fight for the fairness of others.

In one hand it makes me realizes that I have control over my own destiny and I don't have to worry about how sucky the cards I was dealt are. It gives me a sense of freedom, independence, and self worth. I find that pretty comforting, but I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't miss the idea of an afterlife.

And re your family... I can semi relate to the situation you have outlined. My first daughter was indoctrinated at birth because I was still a theist. After my deconversion she has been allowed to learn as much or as little about religion as she desires. She considers herself a Christian most of the time, but she's 8 and really doesn't understand what that means. My youngest was born just last year and she won't be allowed to go to church until she is mature enough to make that decision on her own.

We made this decision because of some of the consequences we have witnessed my oldest struggle with. The guilt and shame she has been put through is not acceptable. The confusion and distrust she feels is not fair. She is stuck in the middle of her families beliefs and has a hard time figuring out one of her own. I would prefer to shelter her from these problems but the other side of the family makes sure to re-indoctrinate her at every opportunity you get. Like telling her mommy can't go to heaven if she doesn't accept Jesus in her heart.

Perhaps these are not situations you have considered or will encounter. I'm prob in a unique situation as I have one half raised another child just starting. In a sense I get to find all new ways to screw up my kid. (My worldview has changed drastically in 8 years.) I hope you are able to find a plan that works for you. One that you can be proud of. But as Screwtape mentioned you may want to start thinking about a plan. Just in case things to hit the fan. You wouldn't want to be blind sided later on and not have any idea how you want to proceed.
Thank you for considering my point of view; however wrong it may be to you.

Offline Not on the fence

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2012, 01:06:25 AM »
And, lastly, I'm not sure if church harms children in any way.
  Bulloney!! its like child abuse, sorry had to say something here. The last two days I have been verbally abused by family, telling me Ive gone off Track, Im basically going to go to hell because Im no longer going to church, etc, etc.. I am middle aged and still being indoctrinated by my family.
 
"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion"
Steven Weinberg

Offline Not on the fence

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2012, 01:39:56 AM »
Also your topic title "former fundies how did you stop fearing hell?
Does that not show you how harmful this can be to a young indoctrinated mind?  Putting the fear of hell fire and brimstone into their minds.
Please watch this video to see what I mean.

"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion"
Steven Weinberg

Offline BigV

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2012, 10:21:03 AM »
Also your topic title "former fundies how did you stop fearing hell?
Does that not show you how harmful this can be to a young indoctrinated mind?  Putting the fear of hell fire and brimstone into their minds.


Thanks all.  I think that the fundie in 2012 USA cannot compare with the fundie in the USSR when I was growing up.  I remember hearing sermons about losing one's salvation for unrepentant sin and fear was a big part.  Now, church is repackaged as 'fun for the whole family'. 

Today, "Jesus loves you" is preached more often than not, at least in the church that I go to.

My son does not really read the Bible, so I don't think that he is being harmed by the church in the same way that I was.  When they have a sunday school, it's mostly games with prizes awarded for attendance.  The kids are encouraged to think of Jesus as a fun guy in the sky who loves them.  I look at it as a Santa Clause for non-Christmas season.

Besides, I feel that there is a part of me that is used to the church routine.  Most of my friends are church going, I don't drink alcohol, etc...   I would feel like fish out of water in a non-church surroundings.

Lastly, I support the church mainly because my father is a pastor, so I look at it as supporting the family.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2012, 10:23:16 AM by BigV »

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2012, 10:42:16 AM »
The kids are encouraged to think of Jesus as a fun guy in the sky who loves them.

Won't they be surprised when they find out jesus H is coming back to kill everyone except 144,000 jewish virgins!  Get that moment on camera!
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Offline One Above All

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2012, 10:43:45 AM »
BM
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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Offline Star Stuff

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2012, 12:36:50 PM »
And, lastly, I'm not sure if church harms children in any way.

Double baloney.  Please read my opening post on this old thread.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2012, 01:05:52 PM by Star Stuff »
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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2012, 01:31:04 PM »
related to Star Stuff's link
http://lesswrong.com/lw/jy/avoiding_your_beliefs_real_weak_points/

Quote
Modern Orthodox Judaism is like no other religion I have ever heard of, and I don't know how to describe it to anyone who hasn't been forced to study Mishna and Gemara.  There is a tradition of questioning, but the kind of questioning...  It would not be at all surprising to hear a rabbi, in his weekly sermon, point out the conflict between the seven days of creation and the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang—because he thought he had a really clever explanation for it, involving three other Biblical references, a Midrash, and a half-understood article in Scientific American.  In Orthodox Judaism you're allowed to notice inconsistencies and contradictions, but only for purposes of explaining them away, and whoever comes up with the most complicated explanation gets a prize.

There is a tradition of inquiry.  But you only attack targets for purposes of defending them.  You only attack targets you know you can defend.

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Offline Death over Life

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2012, 08:51:51 PM »
The simplistic way of getting over the fear of hell is educating yourself.

I used to believe in the traditional heaven and hell belief in my Christian days. Once I was actually delving in the Bible, I realized the more I read about Hell, the more I noticed it barely had any description towards this eternal barbeque belief I was indoctrinated with. If the Bible preached anything, it's what TruthOT said, it was pretty much eternal life vs. annihilationism. During my Christian days, I went from traditional to annihilationist. Learning about Hell, the traditional views of Hell stemmed from the Greeks about Hades. It does make a lot of sense because the the NT was mostly written from the Greeks who already had that view, with a little bit of Aramaic on the side for some books. Hell (no pun intended), the word Hell itself was derived from the Norse religions (Odin/Thor/Jormungandr/Freyr/ etc.) with that being the word Hel. Don't forget about tossing Surtur's fire all over the planet in Ragnarok as well for the end times!

The crazy thing I learned about Hell was that the word Hell was translated over 4-5 differing words, all which had completely differing meanings, to change the tone and message of the Bible to something it completely did not preach about at all. That was how I lost belief in Hell, and I lost it about 2-3 years before I lost belief in Christianity all together.

Offline pianodwarf

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Re: Former fundies..how did you stop fearing hell?
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2012, 09:05:51 PM »
The simplistic way of getting over the fear of hell is educating yourself.

I agree, although I approached it differently from how you did.  (Not saying your way is wrong or anything, mind you.)  In my case, as it happens, I majored in philosophy, and my big "thing" was the mind/body problem.  The more I learned about the mind, the more I understood that consciousness is brain activity, nothing more, nothing less.  This means that when brain activity ceases, consciousness ceases, and since consciousness does not continue after death, it obviously isn't possible to go to hell.
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