Apostasy: an open thread
I see that the Southern Baptists have re-affirmed their belief in hell as “an eternal, conscious punishment,” following views to the contrary expressed by a pastor in Michigan.
When I abandoned the fundamentalist Christianity of my youth (watch the movie “Jesus Camp” and, mutatis mutandis, you’ve got my childhood), one of the first bits of doctrine to be jettisoned was that of any kind of hell. Punishing even the rankest of sinners with an eternity of material torment was utterly impossible to square with belief in a God of love or justice, let alone mercy. As I met more and more non-Christians, many of whom were far more pious, moral or godly than me, it became even more impossible to believe that heaven would be accessible to Christians only. I cannot imagine now why anyone would want to worship a God that would dictate otherwise.
It was a liberating thing, to shed so much of what I had once believed with such fervor. It’s left me very wary of any kind of ideological rigidity as an adult. I like to think it’s made me a better person, but perhaps I’m just prone to diffidence and moral indecision.
One of the things I admire about the community here at LOOG is its philosophical inclusivity, its small-C catholicism and panoply of perspectives. So, I’m curious — what may you once have believed, truly and sincerely, that you have since repudiated? Was the process of changing your perspective something that informs your perspectives now? Do you feel better for it, or was it a loss you still regret?