Disclosure & Vulnerability (2020)
I’ve spent a long time on Morning Mercy through the years. It’s hard to explain how much was invested in this online space. Most the effort will never be visible on the pages or the articles contained within.
This website was kicked off with a public declaration of leaving the message. It was raw, honest and sincere. In the final portion of the declaration, I emphatically expressed how I had no fear, that I stood by my decision, that I was engaged more than ever in my faith and that I was a Christian.
I stand by those words as being sincere – they were a true representation of my heart as I wrote it. Nearly 8 years later, in this moment of vulnerability, I want to share that I no longer call myself a Christian.
One of the greatest things I’ve learned after leaving the message was the meaning of vulnerability and authenticity. It’s a difficult thing to find – and is something I’m still working on. It’s been a personal goal of healing for me to be more expressive, and that’s what I am allowing myself to do here: be vulnerable and authentic.
I was warned many times by message friends that I was destined to ‘fall’. It was not as though their words were prophetic, nor improbable. I clearly knew that I was opening my mind to change, and I was accepting the risk of an uncertain future. Truthfully, I felt my decision to leave the message wasn’t even an option. Based on the evidence I saw, I had to. Agree or disagree, the greater indictment on my character would have been for me to stay when I knowingly saw blatant error.
Other people had opportunity to examine the same evidence, and perhaps they didn’t see the issues as I did. Or perhaps they did, and chose to ignore. Whether willfully or in err, we all choose.
I think it’s important for me share where I stand now. Especially since my earliest articles and my original testimony offered a statement of faith. Though I have no desire to persuade anyone against their Christianity, I recognize my words – past, present and future – may be esteemed as “tainted”. I don’t want to mislead people into thinking my advice is “godly counsel”, if they later learn I may not view things in a similar manner.
I believe my personal path is just that – my own. I have many friends who left the message who continue to thrive in their faith. It cannot be construed that leaving the message always results in the abandonment of faith. I support those who remain faithful in their walk; I assume those have examined their faith, as they should. For them, I am grateful for continuing friendship.
It would be my opinion that anyone leaving the message should do the diligent work of pursing the questions of their faith. That, in fact, is the point – examine all things, and don’t follow me for the sake of following. There are good Christian churches and pastors, offering spiritual guidance. Men like Ravi Zacharias – who’s passing I mourned – and many others are wise with words that penetrate deeply. [ *Amended Comment: I was unaware of the accusations of sexual abuse against Mr. Zacharias prior to writing this; it’s a horrible, disappointing shame.] I will not shy from directing people to these resources or to suggest they find counsel with former message believers who continue in their faith. Finding a different conclusion than I have doesn’t bother me.
For myself, I could not quiet my mind to the questions and concerns I wrestled with. My questions were many, and after years of seeking – I determined that Christianity did not provide answers that satisfied me. I am a different man, for sure, but I will carry the lessons of my faith with me always.
To conclude, a good friend who was questioning the message once wrote to tell me – though he had concerns with William Branham – he couldn’t dare risk to take his family venturing into “the wilderness” outside the message. What if they perished? And my response was simply — you’ll perish in Egypt no less than you’ll perish in the wilderness. To stay in Egypt is to prefer fear over honesty. I know he doesn’t equate the message with Egypt – and that’s fair enough. But to me… when fear is the thing stopping you at the door, you might wonder if that’s a good thing.
I am grateful for my journey into the wilderness. To some – because of this disclosure, I have perished. To me…the Message was my “Egypt”. And then maybe “religion” was my wilderness. Far from me to say things are now perfect – there’s no promised land I’m aiming for. But from where I am now, I’m alive – and still on my way.
Though I will not presume to offer spiritual guidance, I still have perspective and experience, which I believe will remain a benefit to those seeking a new path. Future articles will reflect this vantage point.