One morning last week I woke up feeling incredibly liberated and the title of my new book came immediately to mind.
The Truth Has Set Me Free is about how I found freedom from the shadow of Christian Fundamentalist teachings.
Don’t get me wrong. This article is not an attack on any particular religion, or even on the variety of churches and denominations within the Christian Religion. It is more about the psychological effects that the dogma of some of these denominations can have on people, and my story in this book is about how it affected me and two previous generations.
In my book I have written about how I broke the chains of those beliefs and freed myself up so that my children would not, in turn, inherit the anxiety and depression that comes from believing that you can never be good enough. And that God is a God of love and not fear.
I found a book which described what I was taught.
I have been reading a very interesting and eye-opening book called The Darkening Age. By Catherine Nixey. It is about the destruction of Greek and other classical arts and philosophy in the first five centuries.
Last month I wrote a blog called “A Heretic?”
In it, I pondered over whether, it is more important for all of us to realise that “I am who God created me to be, and GOOD ENOUGH.”
But it took me the whole of the first forty years of my life before I began to realise that. I had been indoctrinated with being unworthy, and a sinner who would go to hell unless I was “Saved” and lived as a Christian.
I was led to believe that all other religions and beliefs were false, and I must not even read about them, because that would damage my faith.
I spent the last week, reading and listening to The Darkening Age with mixed emotions. Crying, laughing and angry at times.
Angry, because the book describes in detail the damage, slaughter and persecution that Christians imposed onto those who would not become Christians and be baptised. We hear a lot about how the Roman Empire was persecuting the Christians, but very little is said about the far greater slaughter on the Christians part.
I cried because I felt it was so sad that people were taught that way and did not have a choice, such as we do these days.
I laughed at times at what they used to say and believe and found it incredulous that some fundamentalist churches still teach that.
Quote “As preachers in the fourth century started to warn congregations, Gods all-seeing gaze followed you everywhere. He didn’t only see you in the church; you were also watched by Him as you went out through the church doors; as you went out into the streets and walked around the marketplace or sat in the Hippodrome or the theatre. His gaze followed you into your home and even into your bedroom – and you should be in no doubt that He watched what you did there too.” End of quote.
That quote brought back some pretty painful memories for me when growing up. It was exactly like that. I was not allowed to move without being reminded that God was watching me. Or warned that if I was going anywhere, that I was to consider whether I could take Jesus with me. Imagine how it felt, having this hanging over my every move.
In the preface of my book, I tell how it is similar to the Christmas song, about Santa.
“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better be good I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.” Except that for me it was a case of “God will judge you and if you’re not “Saved” you will go to Hell.
Another quote from The Darkening Age; “To allow another person to remain outside the Christian Faith was not to show praiseworthy tolerance. It was to damn them.” End of quote.
That quote reminds me of the time when as a teenager, I found myself having to stand outside the NAAFI building in Plymouth telling them how wonderful it was that I was a Christian — and do this humiliating task in the belief that I needed to share the good news. I must add that being a Christian did not mean culture for us Pentecostals, but a born again Christian, living every moment of our lives, being a witness to bring others to the Lord as well as having to be aware that this angry God was watching our every move.
I felt angry that so many people still have those beliefs and try to impose them onto others.
Have things changed I wonder?
The only difference (and it is a vast difference) is that these days we would not be killed for refusing to become a Christian, but we would be living under the threat of a judgment day when we would be judged and sent to Hell and damnation if we don’t “Get Saved.” Either when we died, or when Jesus comes back again.
I want to believe that things have changed since I was part of this setup sixty years and forty years ago.
I would like it if I discovered that God’s love is more in the light these days, and not an angry God who is out to destroy the people He created, no matter what they believe.
So much of The Darkening Age reminds me of the attitude from born again Christians. And I can see that these teachings have come down through the ages, even to today’s Fundamentalist groups.
I think that the Jesus we read about in the Bible, would be shocked at how humans have taken His teachings far from what He Said. They certainly lost the most important one, which is love, accompanied by forgiveness.
There is so much more I could tell you about this book, and the writer Catherine certainly seemed to have done her homework!
A group on Facebook for discussion.
I am looking forward to a group of us on Facebook which I intend to start, discussing this without fear of anyone preaching at us. Therefore it will be an application-only group. For anyone who would like to ask questions, or has been involved, or affected by what I am saying here. Also, I would like therapists and healers to belong too with their contribution.
See you again soon. And please comment if you would be interested in joining “The Truth Has Set Me Free” group.
The book is getting nearer to being published, hopefully in May. There is no link yet, but there soon will be. Watch this space.
The Gospel Of Inclusion. by Bishop Carlton Pearson.
Leaving The Fold by Marlene Winnell