So far I’ve covered the following influences that led me away from my faith:
Part 1: The fact that my Faith was not achieving the promised results
Part 2: The Modern Christian Approach to the Bible “as truth” made no sense
Part 3: The sincerity of zealous martyrs in other faiths invalidated my own faith
In this post, I’ll list a few more that finally did the trick.
First, I exposed myself to some excellent literature that seemed to present a more logical picture of the universe than the Bible did. One of the most prominent books was “Fear and Trembling” by Søren Kierkegaard. That book shows how God’s command for Abraham to kill his son Isaac was completely irrational, anathema to Jewish tradition, and in fact mimicked the practice of the people of Baal—who were the arch-enemies of the Jews at the time.
Imagine if God told you to wake up and kill your children. What would you do? If anyone today were to tell the 6’ O’clock news that “God told me to kill my son,” we would have a word for them, and it wouldn’t be “patriarch.” In that book, Kierkegaard helped me see that God—being God—can do whatever he wants including violate his own laws. This book in a strange way knocked me off my stasis. Even though WE abide by rules, God does not. This idea opened my mind to a more chaotic universe. Kierkegaard is considered one of the fathers of existentialism, and after reading that book, I could understand why.
Shortly after finishing “Fear and Trembling,” I took a trip to Japan. Not only was the entire culture a giant heaping serving of secularism on a plate, the culture also was clean, relatively crime-free, extremely non-violent (especially given how crowded Tokyo was), and notably at ease with its place in the universe. This was not the picture of godlessness that I had been taught. Where was the anxiety? Where was Satan’s influence? There seemed to be less of it here than in America. Even though I was unofficially part of Youth with a Mission while in Tokyo, one distinct truth rose with the steam from the grates in the streets: These people do not need Jesus.
Then one night I visited Shibuya Ecke and ran across a statue of a dog I’d never heard of before, Hachiko:
Hachiko’s story is quite heart-warming. He came every day with his master to the Shibuya Train Station, and waited at the platform all day until his master returned from work. One day his master died while at work, and Hachiko waited for the rest of his life, at the station, for his master to return. Eventually he was fed by the local vendors, and became a well-loved pet of everyone at the station, but each day at the correct time he would sit and look at everyone getting off the train to see if his master was among them.
The story gripped my heart. I was like Hachiko, and realized that I was patterning my entire life around an event—the return of Jesus or my ultimate death and joining with him in heaven—that was never going to happen. Once I allowed myself to be open to the painful truth, it crashed down upon me like a sledgehammer. There was no happy eternal ending for me. This life is all there is, and I was wasting it by waiting for a master who would never return.
Right there in the Shibuya train station I renounced my faith.