Now I know some people are going to leap to the comfortable conclusion that this proves I’m an atheist, as they’ve always expected or wished. But please read what I have to say.
What I was passionate about as a pastor and now as an online community facilitator, is helping people to become spiritual independent. I love helping people explore, experiment with, and exercise their own spiritual autonomy.
I was talking with a friend yesterday who really misses the community we used to have at the last church I pastored and left in 2010. Indeed, it was remarkable! We experience the same kind of community online at The Lasting Supper. She asked me what the secret ingredient is.
I thought about it and said, “We have to allow people to be totally themselves, authentically them, at all times and always. We need to trust people to be able to help themselves. And when they’re given a safe place to do that in, I believe they will. When this value is shared by all the members… this value, NOT certain beliefs… this is what makes real community!”
Now, this also means letting people make their own decisions theologically. I remember the terror I felt when my ideas about God started to crumble. The most terrifying moment for me, many years ago now, was when I realized my theological thinking, including my thinking about God, was a protective coping mechanism based in fear. When I knew I had to start letting my “God” go… I was absolutely terrified. When I saw that my thoughts about God were not God, fear set in.
It’s like holding on to a carved idol (because that’s what it is) and realizing you have to drop that idol without the guarantee that there is a reality beyond it. That’s right. There is no guarantee!
But I had to do it if I wanted to know the truth. Whatever that is.
I can’t promise you what you will find. I will not guarantee you won’t become an agnostic or an unbeliever or an atheist, or even a stronger believer. This is for you to discover. But I can promise you this (because I’ve seen so many people do it): when you finally find the confidence and whatever else it takes to become spiritually independent, the fear dissipates. It will finally all make sense, and you will find the peace of mind that has always eluded you.