Am I Christian anymore? So many people must ask themselves that question. I ask it all the time.
For me, Christianity has become disconnected from our present-day reality. It makes being good very complicated. I feel I can be good, kind and compassionate without the need for doctrine – and without the threat of eternal damnation. Maybe 2,000 years of Christianity has put goodness into our bones – who knows? Being good feels natural.
I don’t feel saved because I’ve never felt lost. I feel inadequate most of the time. But I’m a human striving to become the best version of myself. I’m beginning to feel as if Christianity is getting in the way of my relationship to myself and to God. Christianity now feels like a bossy, older brother who is trying to tell me how to relate to my creator when I feel I can relate better to the creator on my own. God created all life so surely there must be a natural connection between creature and creator. Maybe this is more apparent now than it has ever been.
So, what is Christianity?
That may sound like a stupid question. Christianity is a world religion of course. It is a world religion based on a story most of us know by heart: Jesus, son of God, came to earth to redeem the Jewish people, in line with their historical and religious expectations, by becoming the sacrificial lamb and offering himself up for crucifixion. He was said to have resurrected three days after his crucifixion thus overcoming death – symbolising a new spiritual rebirth for his followers. His work was mainly rejected by the Jewish people and as a result a new religious movement was formed that became known as Christianity. This new religious movement was later adopted as a state religion by Emperor Augustine. The Catholic church claims direct papal lineage to Jesus’s original disciples.
Sometimes I imagine religion should have ended with the resurrection of Jesus. Sometimes I imagine that at the resurrection, humanity was reborn. The world became a new creation.
According to most Christian churches, Jesus’s redeeming power only applies to those who believe in him. His crucifixion did not save the entire world but only Christians. I would like to disagree. Jesus changed the way we relate to God and how God relates to us – as individuals. The narrative of gaining salvation from the burden of sinfulness through sacrifice ended with Jesus. He put an end to a narrative that was going nowhere and causing needless suffering to individuals. Jesus’s death was supposed to have ended a human oppression of our own making. We had mistakenly thought that we had to become perfect like gods.
The sacrifice-narrative continues though. Christians sacrifice their inner natural inclinations – their animal nature – to become pure in spirit. Christians strive to achieve a perfection as defined by those who lived thousands of years ago. Christians tear themselves away from physical nature to enter the spiritual kingdom of heaven. I know because I’ve been a committed Christian since I was a teenager. I know the struggles a Christian goes through to fight against their inner natures. We have torn body from spirit. This is what I mean when I say that Christianity is getting in the way of my relationship with myself and God.
Today, we stand before God, alone, as we are, body and mind, without intermediary.
Closing Christianity is not easy. It’s not like selling your favourite car or rehousing a pet. Fortunately, closing Christianity is not closing your relationship to God. That continues and will always continue. Rather than there being the roof of some edifice between you and the stars, there will be nothing, just you and the stars.