|A theological revision; a clarification, if you will.
||[19 December 2007|11:50 pm]
In about a week, I'll be catching up with Johnno. Those of you who've been reading my journal since 2004 will remember Johnno - Mr Johnson - as the teacher of my Study Of Religion class at high school, the one class that was actually intellectually stimulating and a ground for considerable debate. I held and still hold Johnno in the highest respect, and I am very much looking forward to seeing him for the first time in over three years. There is a lot to talk about. There's just one thing that may surprise him, and that I am a bit nervous about saying.
I am indeed nervous about saying it here too. I have always written about religion nervously, concerned with what people may think. Some of you have encouraged me in such a selfless - and intellectually stimulating - manner that I owe you an immense debt of gratitude. The only problem is that I have headed in a direction opposite to what may have seemed apparent in, say, 2004. I think this started to be made manifest in late 2005, and certainly my theological entries from 2006 and especially this last year have pointed in one clear direction; they have revealed a clear loss of faith and a movement from pretty mainstream Protestantism to the outer agnostic fringes of Christianity. To be honest, over at least the last half a year, the only thing keeping me attached to Christianity in any way has been people who I hold in the absolute highest regard and profoundly respect. I do not wish to let them down. I do not want to feel that they have wasted time, energy, and a lot more. Most of all, I do not want to cause any deterioration in any friendships.
But I have to be honest. Since July, I have claimed to be an "agnostic Christian". This has evolved into "an agnostic in the Christian tradition" or, in the last couple of months, simply "agnostic" to those receptive towards it. So, with sincere nervousness and apologies to those I may disappoint, here goes: intellectually, I do not accept the most basic claims of Christianity and find the evidence to be insufficient and largely unpersuasive. I am agnostic towards the existence of a deity as I believe this is the only position I can affirm in full intellectual honesty. My interest in theology is not at all weakened, and I still wish to engage in discussions that I have enjoyed for the last few years - indeed, they may be even more rigorous and enjoyable exchanges of ideas and perspectives than before. I am definitely still interested in reading Christian literature; I am not a man of only one perspective. I still feel a connection and a debt to Christianity; for example, although my ethical and political systems of ideas can and intentionally do function independently, their development was of course influenced by Christianity. I also believe that there is a place within some conceptualisations and frameworks of Christianity for agnosticism, and indeed that agnosticism can be edifying for the Christian; I will write about this more at a later date.
I do not consider myself to be a former Christian or an ex-Christian. I consider myself an intellectual who continually investigates ideas and, upon encountering new evidence and propositions, re-evaluates presently held positions. This is by no means the end of my Christian, religious, or theological journey. This is in fact just the beginning. I look forward to many more years - indeed, decades - of fruitful exchange between myself and others about theology and religion of all kinds, and I especially look forward to these exchanges with those of you who have been such invaluable companions and friends these last few years.
I am not leaving anything behind. I am just following academic principles and attempting to pursue intellectual honesty. I am, nonetheless, sorry. This has been something that has been extremely difficult for me to acknowledge and deal with, and writing this entry has not been easy either. I now have a very profound respect for those who have departed from one theological community to another, as what they experience must be considerably more internally tormenting than what I have experienced. I have comparatively few ties to religion. For example, none of my close family members are particularly religious and I have never belonged to a church. The only struggle for me has been a nervousness and a fear of rejection or disappointment from people I hold very dear. Right now, as I post this entry and wonder how people will reply, if anybody will reply, those feelings are really at their peak. Again, I am sorry. However, I cannot be intellectually dishonest. I simply cannot.