An open letter to Christians from a former believer

– An open letter to Christians from a former believer –  

I see “christians” as among the most dangerous groups in our world. Please note that I have placed quotation marks around that word as I am aware that many Christians seek to follow the simple teachings of Jesus. If you are among them, I have things to ask of you. Please read on.

But most are “christians” — meaning that they like the association because it reinforces their ideas and fears. It is expedient to sign up with a team perceived as winning, especially if that team gives one a sense of belonging and power in an otherwise crazy world. 

This isn’t so different from many fundamentalist groups in the world, except that “christians” have amassed political and financial power. This fact means that they have gained outsized influence and seek to use it to overturn prudent, human safeguards in favor of laws or rulers that agree with their worldview. 

It also means that they are willing to harm others in the pursuit of their ambitions as the end (ushering in the “kingdom of God”) justifies the means (disregard the teachings of their titular leader, which include honesty, humility, service to all with an emphasis on poor and needy, and genuine equality). 

The issue isn’t “Christianity” so much as it is the identity level clinging to an exclusionary and apocalyptic worldview. 

This is a mark of many fundamentalist groups. 

Some of the dangers of fundamentalism include:

Tunnel Vision: A fundamentalist worldview often leads to a tunnel-visioned perspective, where individuals are unwilling to consider alternative viewpoints or engage in critical thinking. This can limit their ability to understand and adapt to complex issues, resulting in an intolerance of diversity and a reluctance to embrace change.

Inflexibility: Fundamentalism tends to promote rigid adherence to a set of beliefs or principles, leaving little room for flexibility or evolution. This can hinder progress and innovation, as well as create barriers to open dialogue and collaboration. It can also lead to the rejection of scientific evidence or new ideas that challenge established beliefs.

Intolerance and extremism: Extreme forms of fundamentalism can fuel intolerance, discrimination, and even violence towards individuals or groups who do not conform to their specific worldview. This can lead to the marginalization, oppression, and persecution of certain communities, hindering social cohesion and human rights.

Suppression of individual freedom: Fundamentalist ideologies often seek to control and regulate personal choices, including religion, lifestyle, and social behavior. This can infringe upon individual freedoms and rights, stifling creativity, autonomy, and personal development. It can also lead to the enforcement of strict moral codes that limit personal freedoms and diversity within society.

Now that I’ve shared my real concerns about the misguided but powerful group that is bulldozing democracy and decency as we speak, I have some things to say to sincere Christians.

I know many of you. 

I grew up as deeply Christian as one can be — and not just because I was raised in it. I was a true believer, deeply committed to walking through life under the guidance of the Bible. 

I’ve read the Bible several times and memorized large sections of it, many of which I can quote to this day. 

I’m not your enemy. 

I appreciate the spirit you take into the world.

I don’t agree with the most foundational principle that underpins your faith — original sin — but I am not at war with your right to practice your beliefs. 

I am asking you to go back to church and stand up for what Jesus actually taught. 

I’m asking you not to acquiesce to the prevailing idea that might makes right and that temporary violations of Jesus’s teachings can be ignored because the goal of a theocracy seems within reach. 

Listen now. I grew up steeped in these beliefs to my bones and marrow. 

I’m not making any of this up. 

And I will repeat the words of Jesus as they are reported in the Bible:

Luke 19:42-45

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 

Then shall they also answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?’ Then shall he answer them, saying, ‘Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.’”

If you are a modern-day follower of Jesus in a sincere way, you have a difficult task. 

You will be required to walk upstream in a wide, powerful river that is full of those who have never bothered to understand the heart of these teachings. 

You will likely not be popular in what has become known as Christianity. 

And, in that way, you will walk in the steps of the one you aspire to follow. 

He was also unpopular among the religious elite and powerful of his time. He spoke up about the abuses of those who craved political power and wealth under the guise of godliness. This list would get really long if I continued with examples.

But, from my heart, I ask you to take a stand for the principles you talk about at church. Don’t let the term Christian become synonymous with cruelty, ambition, and exclusion.

The history of our world has plenty of other examples of what were originally noble and beautiful movements but became a stain on our collective memories.

You are the only ones who can rescue “Christianity” from that fate.

Sincerely,

Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby is the author of The Divine Arsonist: A Tale of Awakening, and Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives. His third book, The Creative Cure, was released by Hierophant Publishing in 2021 with a foreword by Julia Cameron. He is the co-founder of The Institute for Creative Living and also a highly introverted person who can often be found working in the quietest corner of some Boise coffee shop.

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2 Responses

  1. This article was spot on, I can’t agree more. I was raised strict Catholic and started to move away from it in my early
    teens. When I first read about reincarnation in a book at a friends house, it was like a big light bulb went off in my head and life suddenly made sense. I now consider myself to be someone who does not adhere to any one belief, but blends many together as it suits me. When people ask me what I believe or practice, I just say that love is my religion. I feel that traditional religion has done more bad than good in this world, and fundamentalist Christians scare the hell out of me. I like to study many different beliefs, and take from them what works for me. I think Jesus is possibly one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted individuals in history.

  2. I grew up a catholic and was turned off. I have checked out different religions and have read the Quran, and have started the Torah which these two books are the basis of the Christian bible. Each book and other religions uses pieces of their religion to justify atrocities which is not right. I am now researching North American indigenous beliefs and find their beliefs more suited to what I need for belief systems.

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