A Year Without God: a Former Pastor Blogs Living As an Atheist

#Religion

Sat, Jan 18th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On the Huffington Post, Ryan J. Bell explains why he is living as an atheist for a year, trying to answer the question "what difference does God make?"

As it turns out, the day came when I really didn't fit within the church anymore. I had been an outspoken critic of the church's approach to our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered members -- that approach being exclusion or, at best, second class membership ("we won't kick you out but you can't participate in leadership"). Through the years, I had also been a critic of the church's treatment of women, their approach to evangelism and their tunnel-vision approach to church growth. I was deeply committed to my community and its betterment -- something that won me the praise of some (and even an Innovative Church of the Year award from the North American Division) and the vitriol of others. I engaged in and sponsored interfaith relationships within my churches and in the community. I struggled alongside our neighbors for justice and peace. All of these things -- things I was most proud of in my ministry -- earned me rebuke and alienation from church administrators. I tried to maintain that I was a faithful critic -- a critic from within -- someone committed to the church and its future success but unwilling to go blindly along with things I felt were questionable, or even wrong.

This was on top of my theological concerns. I couldn't affirm the teaching that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was the "remnant church" -- God's chosen people to prepare the world for the last days. If fact, there was a lot about the church's beliefs concerning the last days (and the more proximate days) that troubled me.

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