Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary

Why I Believed

What would you do? This book is the story of what happened as the foundation of my faith turned to quicksand beneath my feet. In this volume I present in some detail the problems I encountered with the claims of Christianity while serving as an evangelical missionary in Africa. Attention to detail makes the difference between a safe plane flight and a crash, between successful surgery and disaster, between engineering an electronic instrument that works and one that doesn't, or between writing a robust computer program or one that fizzles.

I am well aware of the risks of undertaking this project. It might lead to alienation from friends, family, and coworkers. But, for reasons I explain later, it is a risk I must take. I mean no ill will against anyone who reads this book and disagrees with my conclusions. I struggled throughout to maintain a balance between respecting my readers and calling a spade a spade. It is not my intent to offend. This book is not a treatise on the factors that have contributed to the rise of religion in human history, nor is it an attempt to explain why religion retains its appeal for the majority of humanity today.

These broader questions are explored in works such as Breaking the Spell: My effort is a more limited retrospective on the reasons for my particular brand of Christian belief, as best as I can recall them. A note on style: I hope to speak both to friends and family and to the Christian community at large. One reviewer considered the style overly formal and wordy for friends and family. Another reviewer insisted I keep it the way it is in order to convey fully the breadth and depth of my reasons for leaving the faith.

For now, I have retained a somewhat formal approach, but I may consider an abbreviated, informal and lighter version in the future. Whether or not you agree with my conclusions, I trust we as a society can ultimately succeed in carrying out a civil discourse among those who see the world in very different ways. I certainly do not expect most of you to be swayed by reading a single book unless you are already entertaining doubts , but for those of you who do begin a journey away from faith, I trust it will be for you an adventure full of pleasant surprises, even when mixed with inevitable conflict and pain.

I wish to thank the many freethinkers and heretics who have gone before me, some of whom risked or lost their lives as a result of their break with the prevailing religious establishment. Many writers, both historical and modern, have contributed to my thinking, but I especially wish to acknowledge the influence of Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, and Robert M. Price at critical junctures in my journey. I also wish to thank a closet deist missionary physician who reviewed the manuscript and provided many helpful corrections and suggestions. In addition, I am grateful for the detailed feedback Norman E.

Anderson provided on four key chapters. That said, all views expressed in this manuscript are my own, and I take responsibility for any errors. Finally, I wish to thank my wife Charlene, who has faithfully loved me and stayed by my side despite our differences, and who for the most part! I have been told that if I had embraced a slightly different brand of Christianity, I could have avoided coming down this path. It was because I believed incorrectly, or because I wasn't truly a believer in the first place, or because I did not seek God earnestly enough, or because I did not submit to his sovereignty, that I ended up abandoning the faith.

At times I have explained to others my reasons for doubting, only to have these reasons dismissed with the question, "So what's the real reason you left God? It is not only Christians who wonder why I have left the faith—I, too, have been puzzled by these questions: What is it about my nature that has led me down this road, while the vast majority of believers never take this turn, even though at times they are troubled by doubt?

Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary (2009)

Yet at some point it occurred to me that I had been looking at my experience from the wrong perspective. If I was justified in jumping ship, then a more appropriate question to ask was why I ever believed in the first place. And why did I remain a believer for as long as I did? Like many believers, I was aware of puzzles in the Christian faith even in my youth. Most of us, whether or not we remain in the fold, have wondered about God's commands to the Israelite soldiers to kill men, women, boys and infants keeping the virgins for themselves ; his endorsement of slavery; the harshness of eternal hell; the apparent discrepancies between parallel passages in the Bible; the hit-and-miss nature of prayer; the mystery of so much human and animal suffering; the silence and hiddenness of God; the kindness and moral uprightness of so many nonbelievers; and the apparent conflict between science and the Bible.

Given all these difficulties and many more, why did I not leave the faith earlier in my youth when I first became aware of these issues? Many recognize problems and unanswered questions in their faith yet persist in believing as I did for years. This is no doubt due to overriding considerations that make belief appear attractive or true despite its difficulties. Throughout this book I will critically explore some of the most important reasons I delayed my exit from the faith. Many evangelicals cite these same factors as anchors for their faith.

In short, I will use for my starting point not the problems and contradictions of Christianity per se, but the reasons most commonly advanced for believing. In so doing, I will also take the opportunity to demonstrate that many of these arguments turn out to be liabilities rather than assets for faith. I am not naive enough to expect that most who read this book will abandon the faith they hold dear, but I do hope to convince my readers that many of us who walk away have not done so out of a rebellious, juvenile whim, but rather out of a careful weighing of the reasons for and against our former faith.

Our decision, far from being "sad," as many of my friends and family perceive it, represents a move from unquestioning acceptance of tradition to a spirit of openness and adventure that pursues the evidence wherever it leads. We left in pursuit of truth. Many books have been written along these lines, a number of which contributed to my own journey away from faith. So do I have something significant to add to what these books have already offered?

My desire is to present the seldom-heard perspective of one whose life was formerly defined for decades by his commitment to Jesus and who continues to live successfully with family and friends who retain that commitment. This book brings together in one place the most important factors contributing to my particular journey away from faith. My reasons for taking up this cause are quite personal. The great majority of my family members, both immediate and extended, are committed evangelical Christians, and I have no desire to sever my family ties over our religious differences.

This puts me in a bind: If I could patch things up by forcing myself to believe again, I would do so in a heartbeat. Unfortunately I have tried that several times, only to be besieged again by doubt, and have come to the conclusion that attempting to will myself to believe that which in my heart I do not believe is futile. In this struggle I am not alone; millions of others have passed through the valley of the shadow of doubt, finding themselves unable to return to the pastures of faith, despite repeated appeals to God to restore their faith.

We have prayed more times than we can count, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! So my options are limited: This book is my effort to undertake option d , the others having proven unviable or unsatisfactory. Though my primary audience is my family and friends, I am also concerned to convey my experience to the wider world, especially to those in the evangelical and fundamentalist Christian communities. I appreciate my parents and my evangelical heritage for inculcating in me a deep respect for truth. It is my conviction that only good can come from knowing the truth, even if it seems at first glance too stark, too cold, too inhumane to bear.

Nineteenth-century agnostic Thomas Huxley put it this way:. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this Huxley and Huxley , Why should I be concerned with what other people believe, as long as they aren't causing any harm, or as long as their beliefs lead to admirable acts of charity?

I have heard this objection from a number of Christians, an objection I find surprising in light of the Apostle Paul's view:. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.

But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men 1 Corinthians Paul goes on to assert that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, but if his assertion is mistaken, then according to these verses , my intention to bring that to light should be seen as a noble endeavor. I don't quite concur with Paul that Christians are to be pitied more than all men if their faith is baseless. After all, knowing the truth is not a precondition for happiness; there are happy and unhappy members of every religion.

But Paul does make a valid point: One of my primary reasons for writing this book is self-serving: I do not relish knowing that others consider me to be on the road to eternal damnation if I don't repent, and I want to do what I can to change their perception of those of us who do not share their faith. Yet is this self-serving endeavor reckless? If I believed it would worsen the lives of all those who read this book, then yes, it would be reckless. But I am convinced that life can actually improve for those who come to understand that our earthly existence is not simply a stage, a cosmic morality play, a precursor to an eternity to come.

This life is the real and only deal. I am not out for blood. I love and respect many believers, some of whom are no doubt better people because of their faith whatever their religion may be. If you are convinced your faith is the only thing keeping you from a life of profligacy, murder, rape, and pillaging, then please read no further; the world already has enough of that to go around. Studies have shown that Christians are on average more generous than non-Christians; for example, religious people are 57 percent more likely than secularists to help a homeless person at least once a month Brooks , I confess I have reservations about some of the nihilistic, libertine, and disrespectful tendencies I have observed in some freethinking circles.

I often find myself more comfortable socially around evangelicals than around many nonbelievers, due no doubt in part to the habits instilled in me through my conservative upbringing. So am I double-minded, concerned only about truth for its own sake, while acknowledging that Christianity provides a noble way of life, even if untrue? The answer cannot be a simple "Yes" or "No," because there is a great variety of Christianities on the market, and the answer depends on which brand is in view.

I have no interest in undermining any form of religion grounded on passages like these:. He has showed you, O man, what is good.

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And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God Micah 6: Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody 1 Thessalonians 4: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: However, many within fundamentalist and conservative evangelical circles are not content to limit their faith to such expressions.

Their views concerning the authority of the Bible, Christian tradition, science, and hell can lead to forms of divisiveness, exclusivity, and insularity that threaten societal cohesion and progress. I am concerned about the common assumption that unbelievers are on the whole immoral, rebellious, arrogant, or otherwise distasteful individuals whose unbelief stems from their twisted desires or other personal failings.

I am concerned by the marginalizing of unbelievers from public and social life. Both of my sons are involved in Boy Scouts, a nonsectarian organization that requires its members and leaders to believe in God. As long as you believe in Shiva, Zeus, Allah, Yahweh, or Jesus, you're in; but if you cannot declare your allegiance to any member of such a pantheon, you're out.

For this reason I am ineligible for official participation in our troop, even though my moral character has not been questioned. A University of Minnesota survey found that Americans are more likely to vote for members of other races, recent immigrants, homosexuals, and Muslims than to vote for atheists Edgell It is next to impossible to be a respected public skeptic of religion in the United States.

Even in higher academia, thought by many to be a bastion of unbelief, only I am concerned also about the scarring mental torment unwittingly served up to children who are taught that the majority of the world is destined to everlasting hellfire. I want to see children grow up chasing butterflies, catching tadpoles, and reading good books—not agonizing over the possibility that their unsaved friends might suffer eternally.

It is one thing for adults to hold to unsubstantiated beliefs, and I respect their right to do so, but it is another matter altogether for adults to press these beliefs on vulnerable children who have not yet developed the cognitive faculties needed to weigh the evidence for and against what they are being taught. I am concerned about religiously inspired idealism and rigidity that can lead to political initiatives based not so much on their real-world consequences but on their conformity to sacred tradition or divine imperative.

I am concerned that we in the West are headed for catastrophic confrontations with uncompromising factions of Islam and that our failure to heed the call of reason to moderate or abandon our unsupported ideologies will deprive us of any mandate to call Muslims to do the same. I am concerned about the relative decline in scientific education and research in the United States, fueled in part by religious suspicion of the scientific establishment's naturalistic outlook, and also by an unwillingness to tamper with sacred objects like embryos and genomes.

It grieves me to witness bright, promising young men and women distracted by the study of fundamentalist theology, or by the prospect of traveling the world to convert people from one empirically unverifiable form of supernaturalism to another. I regret having used up the best years of my youth pursuing religious goals. In retrospect I would have preferred a career seeking a vaccination for malaria, which kills one person every 30 seconds in sub-Saharan Africa alone. I am concerned by the enormous diversion of time, energy and financial resources used to maintain and propagate religion.

These activities too often take priority over believers' concrete charitable contributions to society. I am concerned by the lack of care for the future of our planet on the part of many of the millions of believers who expect Jesus' imminent return:.

Pastor Heneghan of Gospel Community Church sees the issue of population growth in more biblical terms, specifically those taken from Genesis and Revelation. I don't really get into that much. The Bible says "be fruitful and multiply. They don't believe in God, so they think we have to conserve what we have. But in my belief system, He's going to give us a new earth. Because I am convinced that the world will ultimately be a better place the closer our ideas approach reality, I feel compelled to do my part to uphold free inquiry as a virtue rather than a vice. As a former Christian I am cognizant of the counterconcerns of believers.

What will happen to society if we all abandon our faith? Will we not forsake our moral compass, leading to the collapse of our country, which, according to the Christian Right, was founded on Christian principles? I will address these concerns in due course. I claim no special expertise in any field but my own experience. Though I grew up as the son of missionary parents, attended a mission boarding school, spent four years at a Christian university, and completed a one-year graduate certificate of biblical studies at an evangelical seminary, I have not yet acquired an advanced degree.

Those looking for a scholarly treatise will be disappointed. Indeed, some have raised my lack of knowledge to caution me against judging the Christian faith. The implication is that as long as I am less knowledgeable than others who embrace Christianity, I am not qualified to critique it. However, most believers consider it a virtue to instill the Christian faith in their children, even before the children have had an opportunity to study the alternatives in depth.

Well-intentioned friends and family have reminded me that I need only accept Christ with the faith of a little child. It is as though the Christian faith enjoys a special status not shared by other perspectives: I recognize that many Christians—some of whom I know personally—are far more intelligent and educated than I am.

And so are many individuals from other faiths and nonfaiths. It is an enduring mystery to me that bright scholars can hold such widely divergent views. But I am not responsible for believing what others espouse simply because they happen to be intelligent; I can only believe whatever appears to me to hold up best after weighing the various alternatives. I must emphasize again I have no ax to grind against Christians as people, even if I do not accept their beliefs. The most wonderful people I know are Christians. Precisely the opposite was true for me: When addressing Christian beliefs throughout this book, I know I will not always accurately portray what you believe, especially if you are not a fundamentalist or conservative evangelical.

If this is the case, I trust you will ignore my comments and not take offense, knowing they are being addressed to others for whom the shoe fits. Among freethinkers there is a tension between those on the one hand who take a hard-line, disparaging view of religion and those on the other hand who take a more sensitive approach. The first group includes the likes of zoologist Richard Dawkins and author Sam Harris, who unapologetically use ridicule and sharp wit to expose the fallacies of those who hold to religion of any sort. Representatives of the second group include the late science popularizer Carl Sagan and his heir apparent Neil de Grasse Tyson.

I have alternatively found myself in both of these camps, but I aspire to the gentler approach, without however hesitating to say "spade" when I see a spade. I was influenced in part by the forceful wit and uncompromising confrontations of Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, and Robert Price in my move toward skepticism, so I cannot discount the effectiveness of Dawkins and Harris' approach, which stems from deep-rooted conviction and frustration with the persistence of religion in modern society.

Carl Sagan's perspective on the tension between a hard-line and a gentle approach bears quoting at length:. Have I ever heard a skeptic wax superior and contemptuous? I've even sometimes heard, to my retrospective dismay, that unpleasant tone in my own voice. There are human imperfections on both sides of this issue. Even when it's applied sensitively, scientific skepticism may come across as arrogant, dogmatic, heartless, and dismissive of the feelings and deeply held beliefs of others. And it must be said, some scientists and dedicated skeptics apply this tool as a blunt instrument, with little finesse.

Sometimes it looks as if the skeptical conclusion came first, that contentions were dismissed before, not after, the evidence was examined. All of us cherish our beliefs. They are, to a degree, self-defining. When someone comes along who challenges our belief system as insufficiently well based—or who, like Socrates, merely asks embarrassing questions that we haven't thought of, or demonstrates that we've swept key underlying assumptions under the rug—it becomes much more than a search for knowledge. It feels like a personal assault If we offer too much silent assent about mysticism[ 4 ] and superstition—even when it seems to be doing a little good—we abet a general climate in which skepticism is considered impolite, science tiresome, and rigorous thinking somehow stuffy and inappropriate.

Figuring out a prudent balance takes wisdom Sagan , Indeed, the quest for wisdom to strike the right balance in my approach is perhaps the single greatest challenge I face as I write. I have been guilty of crossing the line into a mean-spirited confrontation with certain believing friends.

My sincere apologies go out again to the victims of my contempt. On the other hand, some Christians have indicated to me they prefer a direct attack like Dawkins' to an indirect one like Sagan's, since at least one always knows where Dawkins stands. Unfortunately for Dawkins, many believers who might otherwise give his arguments a fair hearing cannot get past his manner. In its review of Dawkins' and Harris' recent books, Christianity Today magazine editorializes:. You can also tell that atheism is in trouble because it is becoming increasingly intolerant.

In the past, atheists or secular humanists or freethinkers were often condescendingly tolerant of their less-enlightened fellow citizens. While they disdained religion, they treated their religious neighbors as good-hearted, if misguided This newly aggressive mood is in danger of undermining civil society Aikman evoked images of Mao's China and Stalin's Russia as the future of America—if liberals ever abandon true liberalism.

Make no mistake; it is that potential abandonment of liberalism that Harris and Dawkins are calling for The antitheistic rhetoric that erodes the ethos of respect is a clear and present danger The new atheistic rhetoric betrays panic, another sign of weakness. Atheism knows that it is losing both arguments and the global tide[ 5 ] Christianity Today After reading this article in Christianity Today , how likely would most believers be to pick up Dawkins' The God Delusion , even if it contained arguments worth considering?

The article discusses very little of the contents of the book. It doesn't need to, because its audience most certainly does not wish do go down the path of Mao's China or Stalin's Russia. Does Dawkins liberally employ wit, irony and ridicule? But the Bible does the same against its ideological competitors, for example, in this deliciously biting polemic against idol makers:. He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak.

He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. It is man's fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill.

He also warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.

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He prays to it and says, "Save me; you are my god. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, "Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood? I doubt the arch-skeptic Dawkins himself could have matched the poignancy of the above passage. It is one of the finest specimens in all the annals of skeptical literature. It resonates with all nonidolaters. Yet when Dawkins dares to aim similar guns against the foundations of Christianity and theism, he is berated—not so much for his content, but for his approach—as a "fundamentalist atheist," intolerant and antiliberal.

If Dawkins considers all religion to be evidentially on a par with idol worship, Christians who embrace Isaiah 44 must grant him the right to engage in the same kinds of rhetoric as does the author of the Isaiah passage. It is irrelevant whether Christians think their faith has greater warrant than that of the idolaters; the point is that Dawkins does not believe so, and he is merely exercising his freedom to say why.

Those who decry the style of Dawkins and his ilk for example, Bertrand Russell, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, or Sam Harris ought also to denounce the style of many of the scriptural authors who took the same—and sometimes a more extreme—approach. Those who will not do so have little ground for complaint against Dawkins' style.

We commonly hear politicians attacking their opponents' ill-founded positions. Political dissent is generally a sign of a healthy democracy, leading to the correction of abuses that often occur in more autocratic societies like monarchies or dictatorships. The engine that drives political dissent is the hope or expectation of positive change. But when it comes to worldviews, too often the assumption is that what we believe is who we are and that we cannot change who we are, any more than we can change the color of our skin or our physical height. This being the case, it is sometimes considered just as insulting to criticize the religious beliefs of others as it is to criticize their race or gender.

But I would argue that just as it is possible to change our mind about a political policy, so it is possible even if difficult for us to change our mind concerning our religious beliefs. So if we allow for political dissent, we must also allow for religious dissent without crying "Foul! Resistance to criticism and curtailing of free expression ought everywhere to be discouraged, whether on an individual, corporate, or government level.

Progress flourishes only where free inquiry and the right to criticize are unhindered; this is as true whether communist governments persecute Christians or Muslim governments curtail the free expression of atheists. All this to say that, whether I take a gentle or harsh approach, I am sure to elicit criticism.

The very act of confronting deeply cherished religious convictions is unforgivable to some, regardless of my tactics. Nevertheless, my aim is to ask my readers to reconsider at least a few of their convictions, and I cannot do so without inflicting some degree of what may be perceived as insensitivity. Know that any such insensitivity is not deliberate, however uncomfortable my calls for you to reconsider your views may be.

Having lived most of my life in the Christian fold, I recognize I cannot ask you simply to jettison your faith as if it were a common pair of dirty trousers. My own transition was long and painful, rather more like ripping off my very skin than shedding my trousers.

Though many books have been written in an attempt to discredit religion, there are few signs of its slipping away.

Most of you did not come to faith by carefully considering intellectual arguments for the reasonableness of Christianity, nor are you likely to leave the faith by reading counterarguments. My own journey away from Christianity began within as I reflected on the contradictory elements in the Bible, and on the conflict between fundamentalist Christianity and my observations of the real world. It was only after my doubts began that I undertook to read materials written from a skeptical perspective, and I quickly became struck by the magnitude of the evidence corroborating my initial doubts.

Doubt cannot be imposed from the outside; it must begin from within. Believers generally fall into one of two broad categories: If you are as certain of the veracity of your faith as the Muslim hijackers of September 11, , were certain of theirs, then it is unlikely that anything I have to say will sway you from your current position.

I recall a discussion with a Christian friend who expressed his doubt that I was ever a true believer to begin with. Though it was apparent neither to me nor to my family, friends, church, or mission organization, it is in theory possible that I was never a true believer. But if that was the case for me, how can anyone have assurance of being a true believer in the present?

Might you not consider yourself to be a believer and to have a dynamic relationship with God, only to find yourself years later leaving the faith and being told you were never a believer in the first place? When I raised this question to my friend, he looked me in the eye, pointed his finger firmly at me, and stated unequivocally, "I will never leave Jesus. We continued conversing about the merits of our different perspectives, but it occurred to me later that further discussion of these matters was pointless.

Those who cannot allow their views to be subject to revision by data or arguments they may not have yet considered live in a separate world from mine. I cannot imagine stating that I will never again become a Christian, even if I consider it from my present vantage point highly unlikely. If you think it impossible that you should ever change your mind, I implore you to reconsider your certainty, just as you would ask firmly believing Muslims to reconsider theirs.

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How did I presume to account for the existence of matter and all the interacting physical laws without recourse to Someone outside of matter, time and the physical laws? Like the author my own studies in linguistics, particularly linguistic anthropology, ancient history and literature, archaeology, and science showed over and over the huge gaps in my own learning and the apparent truths I had been told. Might you not consider yourself to be a believer and to have a dynamic relationship with God, only to find yourself years later leaving the faith and being told you were never a believer in the first place? As an oil-exploring geophysicist, however, his findings in the field over time did not square with the young-earth creationist views he espoused, and he eventually became a theistic evolutionist. The questions, the quilt, the search for answers.. He was understanding and reasonable and was able to help somewhat by reading Robert Price and pointing out some inconsistencies, even while acknowledging that Price's chapter on Jesus' Resurrection was "devastating" Price , ch.

Shortly after my deconversion I began corresponding with a scholar who sought to lead me back to the Christian faith. In response to some of my objections, he wrote the following eloquent appeal:. All of us have to come down somewhere in the course of life, because of its intrinsic demands. We can't wait forever.

So we go with what we have, open to further correction along the way Because [we] would rather live with the tension of some unanswered objections than live with another tension—the tension of casting doubt on Jesus. And why, in turn, do [we] choose to live with that tension rather than the other? Because the Holy Spirit has made Jesus real to [our] hearts.

Again, this is not irrational or subrational but suprarational. It lies within the scope of responsible cognition. But it comes from a source beyond human observation or verification, and it comes with its own self-authenticating finality. And a thoughtful Christian simply cannot deny this Jesus that has confronted him.

So he sees all the problems. And a mature Christian will respect the problems and will let the problems humble him, reminding him of how little he really knows about reality. But none of the problems is of such intrinsic magnitude as to demand a denial of Jesus, and all of them can be comprehended within a universe ruled by someone as complex and majestic as this Jesus.

So the thoughtful Christian lives with the tensions. He does not torment himself endlessly about "all these objections to faith," as if they all had to be met and demolished before Christian commitment could be accepted as possible. And some of them are not inconsiderable in their strength. But then, there He stands! And he himself is compelling far more than all these "issues. I don't expect it to. Consider it just an explanation as to why someone could exercise all due personal responsibility in wrestling with the problems of life and still be a Christian without the slightest hesitation but rather with great gladness.

And God wants to give this to you, Ken.

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He does not despise you. Maybe that is what you are finding out—how much more he loves you, how much bigger he is, than you ever thought before. Reading this message still tugs at my heartstrings today, and it no doubt resonates deeply with most of my readers. This is the essence of what I am up against. Part I chapters of this book sets the stage for the detailed critique of my reasons for believing in Part II.

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  • Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary.

In chapter 2 I include an updated version of my electronically published journey entitled "From Missionary Bible Translator to Agnostic" Daniels In chapter 3 I recount, from the perspective of the formerly believing Ken Daniels, my recollection of a number of the reasons I chose to remain in the fold. In chapter 4 I present from my postdeconversion perspective a number of obstacles that prevented me from questioning my faith for many years. I then examine critically in Part II my reasons for persevering as a believer for more than a decade after my first crisis of faith.

The author's impressive logic and intelligence, combined with a sensitive approach and his top-notch credentials as a Christian missionary, make it impossible for anyone to dismiss him as an angry crank or an irrelevant outsider. I have never highlighted so many passages in my life. Many of the other skeptical authors Dawkins, Harris, etc , while powerful and helpful in their own ways, don't quite speak the language of the "once convicted.

There were so many passages that made me laugh out loud in the sheer joy of shared experience. When you are leaving your faith--especially one that almost all your friends and family belong to--it can be a lonely time. This book is deeply researched and clearly presented. I'm going to be giving this book to people who have questions about where I am now, because it so perfectly captures my own point of view.

Thank you, Ken, for having the courage and for putting the time and effort into writing this book. Daniels, for bringing peace to my heart in my resolve to reject my religious roots. I read many of your chapters to my Christian husband and it helped him to understand me better.

Visco, Amazon reviewer This book was what opened my mind. Islam and the Future of Tolerance. The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning.

Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary

The Science of Good and Evil. Why I Am Not a Muslim. The New Biography of the Universe. Letter to a Christian Nation. The Triumph of Christianity. An Appetite for Wonder. A Short History of the World. The Magic of Reality. The Heathen's Guide to World Religions: Best of Beyond the Stars.

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