I am currently about three quarters of the way through “Jesus, Interrupted” by Bart Ehrman. I highly recommend this author, no matter what state of belief or unbelief you may currently be in. He knows how to explain things in a way that challenges you but is also easy to understand. His attitude is not arrogant or an attempt to dissuade anyone from faith, but merely to present objective facts, and let you decide what that means for you, personally. My husband had been urging me for the last couple years to read his books, but driven by a fierce desperation to cling to my faith, I refused. The thought of having something I held so dear-something I was convinced was the only reason I was able to keep on living-completely obliterated, was beyond what I felt I was capable of handling. Perhaps I was right. Or perhaps I would have been able to face the truth, and find myself still standing. I will never know.
I remember as a kid reading the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and having, not exactly full on doubt, but more these blips of uncertainty about the differences in the story of Christ amongst the four stories, particularly his death and resurrection. I never allowed myself to ruminate on them because I a) didn’t really have anybody in my life who would be open to discussing the differences with me b) to allow myself to go headfirst into full on doubts and where that would lead was, in my mind, akin to heresy, and c) I think looking back, that deep down I knew I was not capable of handling the dread and fear that going down that particular path would cause. So, I stuffed the uncertainty down, made excuses, continued to see what I wanted to see, and stayed a committed Christian who placed my faith, and hope for the next decade and a half in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
What I do know is that, right now, I am finally FINALLY able to take a good solid look at the book behind the beliefs I clung to so fiercely for over 20 years, and truly see and accept the discrepancies in the different accounts of Jesus life and ministry. I don’t have to make up reasons as to why every single account of Christ’s death, resurrection, and the events following it are different. I don’t have to rationalize why one gospel account emphasizes one aspect of who Jesus was, while another one emphasizes something completely contradictory. They are different because the people who wrote them were different people, who were trying to impart what they considered important, to future generations. There is nothing wrong with that, but it does mean that maybe the Bible is not the inspired, infallible word of God. That is up to each of us, individually, to decide.
As a 30 year old woman, who has spent the majority of the last four years doing little else but doubting everything I believe, first by force as I watched my husband walk confidently into apostasy and atheism, then reluctantly beginning my own apostate journey, the only thing I know for certain is this: At some point, you have to look at your beliefs and be honest about them. Look at the challenges, look at the inaccuracies, perhaps even appreciate the good things they may have brought to your life, and then find the confidence to continue in them or walk away. The important thing is to make that choice on your own terms with dignity, grace, and peace.
That is my wish for you all.