Thoughts for doubting Christadelphians

By Phynnodderee

When I first started having niggling doubts about my faith, I assumed there must be answers out there somewhere, it was just that I wasn’t smart enough or knowledgeable enough or spiritually mature enough to figure them out. Later, when these unanswered questions developed into serious doubts, I began to wonder what on earth was wrong with me. Everyone around me seemed to have such a strong, easy faith. Why did I alone seem to be struggling with doubts? Was I crazy?

It took years to figure out that the problem lay with the belief system, not with me. But in the meantime I went through all the mental torment of thinking there was something fundamentally wrong with me and feeling very alone in my misgivings.

Right and wrong
It is a characteristic of the Christadelphian community that the belief set is held to be more or less unquestionable. The Truth has been discovered for us and our only job is to accept it. (We should, by the way, be suspicious of ideas you’re not allowed to question. Why aren’t you allowed to question them? Don’t they stand up to scrutiny?) Christadelphians further claim that their beliefs are the logical conclusion that any reasonable, impartial individual will reach for themselves by studying the Bible with sufficient care. You’d really have to be unreasonable, biased, or stubborn, if you can’t see how much sense their beliefs make.

So if you assume, as I did, that your religion must be right, then if there’s anything about the religion that doesn’t make sense to you, it follows that you must be wrong. In fact, if traditional Christadelphian beliefs are right then the rest of the world must be not just wrong, but obtusely, perversely wrong. This in itself should give us pause for thought.

When I was younger, I held the Christadelphian community in awe and it loomed large as an important authority in my life. It followed that I felt confused, bad and guilty for disagreeing with Christadelphians about anything. The courage to disagree increased as I got older, was exposed to more ideas, and gained more life experience. But I was puzzled that the issues that bothered me never seemed to be discussed or mentioned. This really did make me wonder if there was something wrong with me. I even questioned my own morality. If I were a good and moral person, why would I have doubts about certain beliefs or practices? Shouldn’t I find them easy to accept?

This shows the unhealthy degree of influence that the religion exerted over me. It actually made me question both my reason and my morality. But although I felt like a misfit, there was a spark of independence inside me that made me feel sure I could not stop following my own conscience even if it meant being completely isolated.

Don’t fear to doubt
For what it’s worth, I have come to the conclusion that when I found certain Christadelphian beliefs or practices hard or impossible to embrace, it was I who was thinking sanely and morally. Frankly, it was the teachings that didn’t add up. But my conditioning made me feel (or fear) that I was crazy and bad. Only when I let the beliefs go did the sense of torment let me go, because I was no longer being torn in two as my religion pulled me in one direction and my reason and conscience in another.

So let me assure you of something: if you are a Christadelphian, and you are having doubts, you are not crazy. There are aspects of Christadelphian beliefs which are genuinely problematic when subjected to scrutiny. As we probably all know, there are also instances of ecclesias behaving in ways that are uncaring, insensitive and high-handed, which belies the notion that the community is somehow the sole guardian of morality.

My advice is simple: Don’t be afraid to question. Don’t be afraid to doubt. If an idea is sound, there’s no reason to fear to examine it. If an idea is unsound, then the sooner we discover that the better. By examining your beliefs and underlying assumptions, you may arrive at valuable new insights. Above all, your mind is your own. You’re entitled to use it.

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