Don’t worry, I’m not about to attempt a comprehensive comparative analysis of these two faiths in a single post. 🙂 I just wanted to say a few things from a personal perspective that hopefully address the question, “why did I lose my commitment to Christianity?” Not that anyone has asked me this question, but I felt as if someone might after the last couple of posts.
In a nutshell, the answer is that there was no good reason, but perhaps there’d been no good reason for the commitment in the first place.
I went through some disappointments. A lot of what I’d taken on board from sermons and books turned out to be wrong. There is a lot of what I now call “cause-and-effect theology” in radical Christianity. It goes along the lines of, “if we do X, God will do Y” and for the life of me I don’t know what they base their predictions of God’s behaviour on. Because of my lifelong spiritual hunger, I guess, I swallowed it all up, gripped by the idea that God can intervene in our lives in spectacular ways. Eventually I saw it for the smoke and mirrors it probably was.
But does that mean that the fundamentals of Christianity as stated in the New Testament are automatically untrue? No, of course not, and I never intended to stop being a Christian even when I first took a hiatus from church. Does it mean that my decision to date and then marry a Muslim was rational and sensible? No! I have never made a reasonable relationship decision, and this was certainly a pretty rash move on paper.
When you are steeped in a particular mindset such as a religion, opening your mind and learning about something else can be scary. To be honest, I’m not even sure whether it’s always beneficial to do so. I would like to think ideally that every religious person has thought it all through and considered alternative perspectives, but realistically, many choose the nearest or most convenient path to God without giving it much cross-examination. I’m inclined to think that sometimes it’s actually better for them to do that than to confuse themselves with endless questions.
But in my case, it so happened that I opened my mind and learnt about something else. How it happened may not have been admirable. By lacking dedication to my faith. Melting when the heat was on. Chucking it all in, then trying to justify it to myself later. But this is perhaps what happens when you have been over-zealous and naive. Perhaps that initial bad decision sowed the seeds of all of it. In any case, it happened… and I am happy it did, on balance.
And I haven’t ruled out Christianity yet. I’ve got a much clearer view of it now than before. Aside from the divinity of Jesus, I don’t see any really significant theological differences between it and Islam. Even the “saved by grace” thing has parallels, just without the human sacrifice element. I suppose I am coming towards the idea that perhaps it doesn’t really matter what religion you belong to. Perhaps it is all the same journey of faith with all the same perils and pitfalls.
I do think most of the differences between faiths and faith groups are about implementation. And this is where Islam is one up for me. I’ve already said that I like the ritual element. I generally find the approach to worship and to morality much more practical and sensible. Actually it makes Christianity look completely bonkers: drinking, but only in moderation; dating, but no sex; and the expectation of complete mental self-control?
I guess it all boils down to two tasks:
- working out what I think was the nature of Jesus and Muhammad
- taking the long road towards a mature faith, whatever religion (or none!) I settle on.