Breaking Up with God (#634)

We've visited this theme before, but not quite this way.  It's a popular theme these days: someone grows up, aspiring to Christian leadership, and then decides God isn't real and Christianity doesn't work. Then, they need to write a book and justify their decision to anyone who will read it. What's really going on here? Why are so many former Christians concluding God doesn't exist? Could it be that they never met a God worth loving for himself, and thus were not able to forge a real faith that goes beyond doctrine and ritual and grounded in a life-giving engagement with God himself? If we don't come to know him, our self-absorbed disappointments will make him seem unreal.

Podcast Notes:
Books by Sarah Sentilles
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  1. “It’s all about her.”

    It is a profound observance, Brad. I have “experienced” that when it isn’t “all about me”…. that is when God shows up. Maybe when we are focused on self and our needs and wants and desires and our expectations, we miss God showing up where he shines the best.

    I am also saddened that it seems that when people get a bad taste in their mouth from religion, that the only option is to throw Jesus out with the religious baggage. Thank you Wayne and Brad for helping so many people know that there is another option.

  2. “It’s a popular theme these days: someone grows up, aspiring to Christian leadership, and then decides God isn’t real and Christianity doesn’t work. Then, they need to write a book and justify their decision to anyone who will read it.”

    I understand your concern, but I don’t understand why you felt the need to include that last sentence in quoted portion above. How is that any different from your own course of action? You have written several books. I get that you think you are mostly right and everyone else is mostly wrong, and that maybe you feel yourself more justified to write books defending your views than say someone who “decides God isn’t real”, but at the end of the day, it’s just opinions.

  3. It’s good that brad has it all figured out-much laughter over such an important search for some sanity.
    When U give up on the system wholly focus on a relationship with ABBA but still can’t find Him it is unbelievably painful and frustrating.Everybodys journey is different.Mine has been very painful but through it all I seek His forgiveness,grace, mercy and fellowship.I guess it’s incouraging to hear the laughter of the redeemed while some of us are so wanting that relationship with ABBAbut our tears and heart ache in the search is painful too-enough to sometimes give up much less doubt.I understand the writer of the book(Breaking Up With God) Because that has been my journey also.The one difference might be I haven’t total quit-I’m still seeking,trying to learn-it is nothing I have done for Him but everything He has done for me.
    Arrogance is a two way street-like the prodigal and the righteous bother-only GRACE covers both of them.
    Great show guys-the laughter was timely and of course appropriate especially to those of us like the writer who are struggling for that relationship that you guys have but can’t seem to find it.

    • I’m not sure she’s quit either, given other statements she’s made. I’m glad you haven’t. He is there, and he is not silent. I know it can seem like that at great stretches of our life, but that usually means something else is going on. I wish there were more people in the world actually helping people discover what it is to sense God’s reality and flow with it. I’m afraid so many people miss him just because they don’t know where to look and it breaks my heart to hear people after years of looking to say they still don’t sense him beyond themselves.

      That’s why I travel to talk to such people and to help them discover a journey inside of his reality. So many are looking for some kind of overt supernatural act or a voice out of the sky to prove it all. It just works different than that and isn’t nearly so difficult as we have made it. I do think our expectations getting the way and we’re not seeing him AS he is coming to us.

      And I’m sure the laughter had more to do with my tiredness and my complete surprise at the tact Brad took with her book…

  4. Hi…some thoughts…
    If she found that at the end of it she didn’t believe, surely that’s just being honest? I don’t get where it’s assumed she’s being arrogant.
    Also, isn’t doubt part of the journey, unbelief can lead to so much growth. I haven’t read the book, but from what you read Wayne , it sounds like a description of how she is dismantling things that don’t make sense, particularly in the light of some bible passages. She’s been brave enough to take a step back and honestly look at her motives and real feelings about God.

  5. My wife, Dorothy and I have been committed Christians for over fifty years. Two years ago, Dorothy had brain surgery for the removal of a tumour. The hospital were negligent and she has now lost a great deal of her mental capacity and I am now a full time carer. Prior to the final surgery, one close, mature and respected christian friend told me that God had spoken to her and told her that Dorothy would come through the surgery without any problems. Then, when it was apparent that Dorothy was brain damaged, a christian minister explained that it really wasn’t about Dorothy. It was about what God wanted to do in me!! For two years I have cried out to God but have received no reply. The only explanation is that God is either deaf, not interested or not there. I look around our nation and see no evidence of any supernatural activity. No evidence of God in the either the church as an institution or in the lives of christian friends. I am crying out for the reality of a loving heavenly father but my cries go unanswered. The promises of Jesus in Matthew 7 are, in my experience, not true; and what we have built our lives on for the past 50 years appears to be a delusion. I say this with great sadness. I am heartily sick of theoretical Christianity. Where is the reality of New Testament Christianity today.? Where is the living God in this world?

    We had a great fervour for God and his kingdom but now we have only emptiness. Please do not dismiss us as people who were shallow in their commitment . My hunger for the reality of God was, and remains real. I have not walked away from God but He is nowhere to be found.

    Wayne may remember us as he stayed with us in Dumfries Scotland a few years ago.

    Steve and Dorothy Ashworth

    • I’m so sorry, Steve, for the problems with this surgery and how it changed your life together. Life can best incredibly cruel, made even worse by the insensitive “Christian” counsel you’ve been given by others. I do think there are more options than the two you’ve settled on, for he is not deaf and he is incredibly broken by all you’re going through and wants to walk this road with you. As one who has endured much suffering and watched others go through it as well, I wish God “fixed” more things in this world than he does, and I don’t often understand the reasons why he doesn’t, but I do know he works great triumph out of despicable tragedies and comforts the broken-hearted in the devastation of this age. Our hope is beyond the brief span of this life to a restored heaven and earth where Dorothy will be whole again, and you more alive than anything you’ve known here. Until then, or until God changes something in your situation, I’ve no doubt that you are a great gift to Dorothy and living out the fullest measure of what it means to be her husband in situations you could not foresee. I don’t say that lightly, Steve. I say it with tears in my eyes. I know a bit of what that kind of love looks like when the rewards of love are mostly one-sided and your heart hurts so deeply. You have my prayers and hopes for a more spacious door to open soon….

  6. I am with you Alyssa.
    I felt angry listening to some of the comments said about Sarah. If this is where she’s currently at, then this is where she’s at. Aren’t we all to some extent self-absorbed, prideful, and all the other things that go along with being human in this journey? But once again, there is another thing that must be overcome so the person can see ‘how much god loves them.’
    To those who have this revelation great; but to those of us who do not – which I am one of them – it feels like I am damaged goods who will never know of this experience that others have because there is yet one more thing that gets in the way of god’s love…UGH!!! I think the journey for so many of us goes beyond just trying to defend what I think is “right,” as if my connection with god is solely attached to my self-righteous Pharisaical mentality.
    Brad, your comment of, “all of the things…that are struggling…the areas of real disappointment…the emotional discontent…it’s all related to my selfish self” I think is too simplistic, and does not account for the many other experiences that cause disappointment, discontent, and struggle.
    Is it selfish to want the physical needs of life: food, air, water…? Of course not. Then why would it be selfish for someone to feel disappointed, discontent, and struggle when they want the emotional soul needs of life, like love, acceptance, security, connection, belonging, etc…, and all the other soul needs ? Sure, being right and other attitudes of thinking ‘I know the answers’ get in the way of experiencing life and others more fully; but to say “all of the things…(are) related to my selfish self” I think invalidates and may push people further away from honest, empathetic and creative conversation and relationship; possibly pushing the person to retreat even further from talk of god.

  7. I really enjoyed this podcast. It was hilarious! I was sooo entertained. But along the way, I was saddened by the conclusion that Sarah Sentilles came to from trying to walk out a relationship with God in the system of organized religion that even as we realize can “bless” people (not me!) has skewed and damaged the character of God and what brought confusion to what love is. I guess what I am feeling is that in my attempt to be gracious, not appear bitter, or not offend a brother/sister, I will not speak to the horrible damage that is being done to so many by a structure that for the most part is an intellectual approach/assent to the reality of God, and does very (and I mean very) little to foster our relationship with Father. I know organized religion can talk about it and discuss a relationship with God…. but is very (and I mean VERY!) poor at providing an environment to nurture and grow it. At best they correctly define and talk about Father and relationship, at worst they produce a belief system that creates an irrational, hateful, judgmental, arrogant, and ignorant people. OK…. rant over. hahaha
    It is true that when I am disgruntled with God, it is probably for the most part just my self centeredness. I am really good at being self centered…. and it causes all kinds of angst. It is taking a lifetime to find that it isn’t about me… my abilities, intellect, good looks (haha), strength of will, desires and plans….. it is about my loving, compassionate, all knowinge… etc… will and plan for my life that is best. This process has been best described as brutally humbling. And I mean that in the best sense. What my plans and desires have been have so changed from my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s… must I go on??? I think I will stop. My plans have rarely proven to be like Father’s…. and I am grateful. (most of the time)
    All this to say… I am so saddened by the reality of Sarah Sentilles current understanding. But I find myself indignant/angry/pissed off (OK.. this part may not be Godly or politically correct, but how I am feeling at this moment) at organized church and structure and the damage it can/does create to so many fervent, conscientious people. (rant 2 over)
    Thanks Wayne and Brad for the discussion. Totally entertaining!

  8. Thanks Jim. My response was a bit minimal, so I thought I’d expand on it.
    I think the god that is often presented in Christianity today is tyrannical, exclusive, violent…if that’s what Jesus/god looks like then I don’t believe in him either (surely you would agree Wayne). I can understand why someone like Sarah would come to the heartbreaking but honest conclusion; ‘Actually the god I’ve been following is a harsh, judgemental wrathful being. It’s like a dysfunctional relationship. We need to break up’. Sometimes it can be freeing to admit what you really don’t believe, to make way for an authentic exploration of God.
    I lost my eldest son in a car crash a little over two years ago, and I feel that there is no certainty in God, only mystery. I have changed so much I don’t even know myself much less what I believe. I wondered if God really exists, and I still do at times. Enough that it gave me an understanding and compassion for how atheists think about things. I know that I must learn to live with the mystery, and so I guess that’s a small step of progress. At the same time, I am in deep grief still (do you ever get over the loss of a child?) so I’m not holding out for any spiritual experiences. I do live in hope that there is a loving God, but how it all fits together I won’t know on this side of life. Hopefully one day I will.
    Getting back to Sarah and the snippet Wayne read from her book, I can relate to her feeling all of a sudden God is a stranger. Hopefully for her it will open a way to grow spiritually beyond an institutional set of rigid absolutes (whatever form it takes) and her book will make others on a similar journey feel less alone.

    • Alyssa, I’m so, so sorry for the grief you are walking through. Nothing is more cruel in this world than losing a child, and no, you’ll never get over it, but you will get through it. His loss and his memory will shape you as it is already doing. I just had a good friend bury his 57 year-old daughter who died of leukemia, and some 35 years ago they buried their 23 year-old son from a motorcycle crash. My heart really goes out to you. I know God can get you through all of this because he triumphs over tragedy, but it is nonetheless tragedy and pain no parent should have to endure.

      And I do agree that people need to break up with THAT God, who is harsh and judgmental. That’s the false god religion needs to survive. Interestingly, though, that’s not the environment in which Sarah grew up. She was part of the Episcopal church, which doesn’t seem to embrace that disfigured view of God. Her theological mentor taught her that God does not reveal himself, so we have to find an explanation for him with our own rationality. Did that help her create a “god” that wasn’t worth living for either? That’s what I got from the book she wrote.

      But it breaks my heart whenever I hear of someone losing their faith moorings because they’ve been given a broken picture of God and can’t make sense of him. The God I’m coming to know is the most endearing and wondrous presence in the universe, in spite of this broken world in which we come to know him. I want that for everyone, but I do think he best makes himself known in the honesty of our journey, no matter how painful it is, rather than continuing the religious pretense in which we have found no reality.

      • Thankyou Wayne. I think I’ve had to do battle with my own black and white thinking. Since Jordan died, I want absolutes. I don’t know, really know, where my son is and I wonder if the signs are just my own wishful thinking. It’s hard to comprehend a life after death. I am speaking as someone who did understand God as really loving, a relational trinity, embracing…..I always thought my faith would hold me through the hard things and it did until this. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of horror in wondering if this is all there is to thinking that god might be like Orwell’s depiction of big brother. After all, who really knows? We humans believe what we want to believe.
        I hope for more clarity one day, but as I said I know I am deeply sad, which means I’m in a kind of numbness bubble most of the time and can’t sense the presence of the spirit. I tell myself that whether I feel the presence or not won’t change who he is and the ebbs and flows of my own belief won’t either….so I’m hoping for a God who is bigger than all of that.
        I’m very sad for your friend. It doesn’t matter the age of our children, they are our babies and forever a piece of our heart.

        • Hi Alyssa,
          I feel that I am in exactly the same place as you. For fifty years I’ve believed and trusted in a God who is personal and answers prayer. Whether the answer is what you are hoping for is less of the point than that there is an answer. In Matthew 7 Jesus says “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find.” He says that God hears our prayers and will not give us a stone if we ask for bread or a scorpion if we ask for a fish. He also says in Matthew 18:19 that if two of you agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by your Father in heaven. All very definite promises and very hard for me to reconcile with the total lack of response to my prayers over the last two years. I am still crying out to God and asking Him to speak into my life. So far there is no response and I am left wondering whether God is there and interested or whether He is aloof and just watching what happens in His creation. Many years ago, before I gave my life to Jesus, I wrote a poem entitled “I wonder who it is, plays us on the pinball game,” about a God who takes no interest in shaping our lives but just watches as we bounce from the pins and finish up down the hole. I now feel like I’m back to that point, asking the same questions. I feel totally confused by “the God who hides” I find intercessory prayer very difficult other than crying out to God asking Him to answer me. It seems that praying for everyday things, like my daughter’s need of a new job, is trivial. If God did not answer when I was praying for my wife’s recovery, why would He take an interest in the minutiae of our lives? One thing I’m sure of is that I have no time for trite theoretical Christianity that seems to be the norm these days. Matthew 7 says that everyone who asks will receive: that those who seek will find. To those who knock, the door will be opened. despite all my past experience of a God who does not seem to show up, I continue to ask, to seek, to knock. As Peter said to Jesus, “to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life.” What else is there?

          • Hi Steve. It’s been a big step to articulate my thoughts here, as I’m always afraid of being misunderstood (I’m working on this to try to come to terms with it)I am so sad to read about what happened to you and your wife, it must be heartbreaking every day.
            This thread has given me hope that my journey with god continues….maybe not as an evangelical. I don’t believe in the exclusivity of the gospel anymore.
            To survive I know I have to learn to live within mystery. There’s a searing emptiness that comes with knowing your child is no longer here. He is ashes on my shelf. I don’t believe in hell, but I get so worried about where he is, IF he is (on very bad days), what he is doing, has he changed. I want to know in a way I can’t know until I die. If only I could trade places….
            I really like the last verse in your post..”where else shall we go, who else shall we follow?”

            Thanks for your thoughts

        • It’s easy to believe in the benevolent God when we’re young and almost all our circumstances go well. It’s difficult as we age and life experiences stack up that didn’t turn out as we thought love would compel them to turn out. I get it. I’ve had my share, too, though nothing has heart rending as the loss of a child. So, my heart really does break with yours. But at this point I’m still confident in who God is by what Jesus showed us about him. I don’t take my view of him from circumstances anymore. I used to and was always conflicted between God as loving and God has cruel and mean. Now I know that the Abba is doing what he can to navigate us through a very broken world, while he is also at work to redeem it to himself. So, no, things don’t often go the way I think is best, but I see his hand at work nonetheless and I’m hopeful for a day in which all of our pain is resolved in the most loving presence of the universe. Alyssa, you get ALL the time you need to work through the grief of losing your son and the disorientation in causes. Don’t let anyone rush you with stupid platitudes. I’m convinced we do have a God bigger than all of that and find my hope for your son in knowing that he is in the hands of a God who loves him way more than you do and will be gracious to him beyond death.

          I pray God continues to watch over your heart, bring you comfort in your grief and grant you a hope and a future that is still filled with joy and life, even through this great loss. I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this and grateful to know you are not alone in it.

  9. My heart goes out to you, Alyssa, and your loss of your oldest son! The pain must be unimaginable at times…to the point where you may feel at times like you will take any relief from the heartache, no matter the form. Loss and grief – in the many ways it shows up – have a way of shaking us to our core, and dislodging what ever ‘beliefs’ we held. I would imagine one can never “get over” the loss of a child; or for that matter many losses in life. Rather, I think these losses of life may get woven into the fabric of my story, and maybe we learn to carry that tension with more and more acceptance…little by little. I have gone through soul shattering pain myself in the last almost 3 years of my life with a separation/divorce. It has wrecked me to the point, like you, I don’t know much of anything anymore. And everything is up for grabs at this point.
    Also, I resonate with your sentiment of, “Sometimes it can be freeing to admit what you really don’t believe, to make way for an authentic exploration of God.” I am done with pursuing God, mostly anyway, at this point of my life. If he is real, then whatever relationship with God I may have will be real also!
    I am so tired of hearing crickets and silence, and then having someone suggest that my ability to hear him is off and he is relating to me all the time. UUUGGGHHHH!!!!! Really???!!! It almost seems to me – at this point in my life anyway – that I have to be delusional to understand, experience and hear god talking to me, and finally feel he is with me. Like you, I have listened to and explored atheists sharing their perspectives and I find myself finding some comfort and grounding in their sentiments.
    Going back to Sarah and where she is at in life right now; I have much more compassion and understanding why she and so many others are getting to this point with god.

    • Thanks Jim for all your thoughts. I hear your frustration, it’s a very hard process indeed, this spiritual unravelling. I’m sorry you are going through such a messy divorce right now. It’s understandable you would be in a state of disequilibrium.

  10. A stab to the heart guys. I love you both and have been so encouraged by listening to you, but oh what a stab this one was. I grew up in a Mennonite church, pastors daughter and I so get Sarah’s breakup. And the death of a thousand cuts too. Both resonate deeply with me in this walk away from traditional church and trying to find Him outside religion. It’s painful and lonely and when the theology that kept you from asking questions disappears and you have to reconstruct what you believe or don’t. And when he seems silent next to the loud voices of religion and anti religion it’s heartbreaking. I have to ask Brad – could you maybe be missing the point of the “self absorbed” discussion? If I’m not the point, then you shouldn’t feel you are either, and then what/who is? Does he see us as precious and worthwhile- his beloved? If so why should we not see that too?
    Could it be that instead of making things not about me, Jesus wants us to expand our sense of self to all those around us – our sense of me growing bigger to include others, him, all the life he’s created? What if I looked at you and saw an extension of me… instead of trying not to see me at all… maybe love would be real then, and sincere rather than a duty or obligation or effort to please Him.

    • I’m so sorry, Kerri, for the pain and loneliness you’re dealing with and certainly regret our podcast felt like a further stab in the heart. Just remember not every podcast is for everyone. Brad and I are just talking about life as we see it and I was surprised too at Brad’s response to what little of Sarah’s story he got from the quote or two I read. But we’ve talked about the “selfish self” before and how it makes it difficult to miss God’s reality. And I don’t see it as the only, or even the major, factor in Sarah’s crisis of confidence in God.

      I know Sarah speaks for a lot of people that find their confidence in God disappears when they look too closely at the religious constructs they’ve been given and they don’t seem to add up. I’ve been down that same road too, but somehow came out of it more confident in who God is in spite of the failures of man and the misinterpretation of Scripture. I pray that in all your deconstruction and re-construction you find that same reality growing in your heart.

      I’ve chosen over the last 24 years to stand with people like you who feel you got lost a bit and hope to point to a road less traveled, but far more fruitful and to recover a relationship with a God who is tender and loving in the midst of a broken world. He will often defy our expectations, but he still draws us into a greater reality than we would construct for ourselves. You have my love and prayers…

      • Thanks for your reply Wayne, I appreciate it. I felt bad after I responded in how I worded myself.
        It HAS been a painful deconstruction of theology along with things happening in my family that make it seem more lonely without the easy answers. But I did not mean to imply that Jesus has not reached out to me even in the darkness.
        I keep thinking of Elijah in the cave. All those shows of Gods power didn’t comfort him, didnt reach him. It was that intimate whisper that did. We all need to hear that whisper individually and when a long time goes by without it it’s incredibly lonely. Elijah was ready to lay down and die without it haha. I always thought that was kinda dramatic in the past – especially after the whole showdown on Mt Carmel. You’d think that fire would be enough of a reassurance. But he still felt alonely for Jesus. I guess we’re all just a little dramatic that way. Powerful muscles aren’t enough for us. We need intimacy.
        You and Brad are one of the places of reassurance for me away from church and religion so I guess I was a little surprised at the judgement I felt I heard in Brads voice. But. That said I think the whole selfishness thing has always been a button for me – growing up the way I did wiTh it being used as a whip to make me try harder. I realized after many years of hurting myself with it that you can’t just decide to not be selfish. Becuz if you could I would have succeeded in eradicating it long ago. Thank goodness Jesus finally told me that it was his job to teach me how not to be and all he wanted me to do was love him and give him time to work in me. It takes a great amount of Jesus’s love and worth to become less selfish. I think selfishness stems out of hurt and insecurity and feelings of not being seen as something of worth. I get to watch this happen in real life with my adopted son who is trying very hard to prove that he’s worth something in all the wrong ways. Ie selfishness. So I think telling people they are being selfish isn’t helpful. Even if it is trUe. If only we could change how we think about it – change how we talk about it…

  11. Both my wife and I so enjoyed and appreciated your insight into this woman’s life, Wayne. Your take on the email you read and your responses to her book spoke volumes (to me) of the good Samaritan story. Whereas Brad’s comments reminded me more of the two religious dudes and how they tried to analyze the situation.
    And by no means is this meant to be a put down on Brad. <3

  12. Wow. A stab to my heart as well.

    I’m a Hospice RN and in my line of work we team members find dark humor to be a deep release as a way to in title some of the pain we deal with. But. We would NEVER have that kind of a conversation within earshot of a patient or family member.

    On my own journey into knowing and receiving and living in Father’s love and affection, I’ve had some of my most painful moments recognizing it is not all about me. But — it wasn’t all selfishness. Some of it was just plain pain from living in a broken world and being a beloved son in need of much healing.

    Today as I listened to you two yuck it up I had to continually remind myself that it is just a conversation between two good friends. The laughter felt very insensitive to others’ pain. Like I was the hospice patient overhearing two of my trusted caregivers laugh at how I’m doing. Ouch.

    I’m glad you’re in a different place than Sarah and others. And I agree the decision to ‘walk away from God’ is often walking away from a God I’d walk away from too; He is so much more generous and caring than I ever thought.

    But I think, Wayne, the word you were looking for above was not the ‘tact’ that Brad took. (I believe the term is “tack” and is a sailing reference). I felt you and Brad took very little tact, sadly.

    I understand ‘not every podcast is for everyone’ but it is difficult, since I don’t KNOW it’s ‘not for me’ until it is too late and your heartfelt missing-the-point laughter is stinging my heart.

    Also re: Sarah’s wine vs beer comment. I thought it was obvious: like other things she had said and done with her ‘love’, which now she had to avoid because of the painful associations — now even red wine reminds her of communion…so she has to avoid it out of her pain. And so she drinks beer.

    Hoping you two find different ways to express your not fully understanding where people are coming from than by laughing. It didn’t like you were laughing with. It felt like being laughed at.

  13. i wonder if we don’t place too much emphasis on theology when it comes to knowing god. does knowing love experientially require we have the “correct” worldview through which we interpret our experience? i have come to the conclusion that knowing god and theology are mutually exclusive categories, and theology, although it cannot keep us from experiencing god, can keep us from realizing we are experiencing him.

    • An interesting observation Kent. A definition for theology I found was: the study of the nature of God and religious belief. A study of the nature of God seems like a good idea, but the study of religious belief in how we interpret the nature of God seems to be where we can get stuck. I have been spending my time on studying the nature of God (his names). I find I can anchor myself to these even if I am not fully understanding. Attaching myself to interpretations of religious belief seem to be limiting and creates problems.

      The interpretation and religious belief that I had learned is where I found myself limited in how I responded to the nature of God. My learned religious belief limited my ability to see what was actually true. The filters I had constructed as a result of religious teaching and also abuse outside and inside the church, kept me from seeing correctly. For example: if the nature of God is to love me, but I have been taught by experience that I am unloveable and through the church that God’s love is conditional, then if someone told me that I was unconditionally loved, there is a deep chasm between where I am thinking and what actually is.

      This journey towards the truth, the renewing of the mind, is not a quick snap of the finger, and in perhaps even one’s foundation may be faulty, which mean starting from scratch. Yes, even throwing the baby out with the bathwater, because perhaps the baby we have been holding on to is stillborn. For me, the baby remained but pretty much all the bathwater got thrown out.

      As I listened to the podcast and read these comments, I could really relate. I almost broke up with God 15 years ago. I was tired with trying, despairing of life itself, and I thought to myself that God was a hard task master and impossible to please, that I was obviously not worthy of his love whatever that was or meant. I told him I would give him one more chance before walking away from it all. I am not sure why that was the turning point, or why after years and years of pleading did something finally happen. Perhaps I was at the end, and had nothing left to lose personally. But something shifted and the journey I am on now is about knowing Him and not religious belief. Slowly He has extricated me from a religious system that has become like the white-washed sepulchre Jesus talks about. So I have have hope for others who are in the same place I was.

      In hindsight, much of what I went through left me really surprised, and had you told me I would be where I am today, I would never have believed it. I had this expectation of what “life” and “freedom” would be if I got my act together but it was in the constraints of the religious belief. Even years later into the process I am confronted regularly with flawed religious belief (theology) as I come to know the nature of God (theology) and experience it.

  14. I have been listening to you guys for about six years now, and I must say that I have never been so troubled by aany of the conversations you’ve had, even though I often have different perspectives on things. I am shocked by two things in this episode. First, that Wayne said “frickin'” (LOL!!!), and second, Brad’s calloused response to Sarah. I am surprised at his inability to recognize that to Sarah, the system IS God, and God IS the system. She came to a place where she recognized that the system wasn’t God, but since she knew nothing else all her life, she is unable to separate put God from that system. I get it. I struggled with the same thing. In addition, I think Brad is picking up on a selfishness that is inherent in the system. It behind to take root the moment we are told about “a personal relationship with Jesus.” Just listen to most preaching, most worhips so gs, most Christian books, audio and videos. They are all rooted in this “how to get what you want from God.” Now, they aren’t put in such terms, but that’s the real takeaway.

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