If I Were To Return To Christianity…

Former fundamentalist evangelical Christian Mark Andrew Alward discusses his religious journey and wishes he was aware of Progressive Christianity before “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

Review & Commentary

  • Frank Kajfes

    Mark Andrew Alward is but a young version of me! At 65, I am just now coming to terms with the effects of the ‘old paradigm’ of Christianity and have embraced the whole progressive Christianity as well as the Emergence Christianity movement. I would recommend that he read some of the books by Phyllis Tickle, Brian McLaren, Diane Butler-Bass, etc., etc., etc. as a way of trying to understand the ‘new paradigm’ of Christianity. He is well on his way by having read Spong and Borg! With best wishes on your spiritual journey, Mark Andrew! We need more young people like you in the Faith!

  • Thanks for leaving your comment, Frank! I have definitely heard of McLaren and Butler-Bass, but not Tickle. Spong has definitely been a help. It’s almost a trauma when we leave fundamentalism; that whole world view that we came from. With it comes anger and bewilderment, and some people never get over it. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Christianity in any of its forms, or stay Unitarian, or be a Unitarian Christian! We’ll see what suits me best.

  • Samantha

    Almost like looking into a mirror! I too rejected the fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity of my family. I did a lot of searching and studying before reaching that point — exploring Biblical criticism and even dabbling in the new age movement. After about five years I “came out” on Facebook (because I was too chicken to do it in person) as a freethinker and not a Christian. I got some insane backlash from people I didn’t know (friends of friends) who were quick to tell me I was going to hell. My family never spoke of it.

    Unlike Mark I was aware of the progressive Christian movement but I was so thoroughly entrenched in the fundamentalist mindset that it was all or nothing for me. Either Jesus was God or there is no God at all. I’ve kept searching and have come back to Progressive Christianity — but almost in secret. With the exception of two of my three younger sisters, my entire family and extended family are still very Fundamentalist. Admitting I was following but not worshipping Jesus would be a worse blasphemy to them than my original denial of Jesus as God. I often heard the dangers of this liberal (oh so dirty a word) Christianity! You do not get to create Christ in your own image!

    So here I stand at a cross road. I’m very grateful and happy I’ve discovered a way to still love and follow Jesus without accepting superstitious nonsense. I don’t go to church, I’m still recovering of 20 some years of church 2-3 days per week of frankly hateful, harmful sermons and endless worship service. As an introvert, church was never fun for me.

    Thanks Mark for sharing your story. It’s always refreshing to know I’m not the only one! I can’t be a fundamentalist anymore and I can’t be an atheist either. Thank god for the Progressive path!

  • Thank you for your comments Samantha, I appreciate it! Yes, it sounds like we have had very similar experiences. It resonated with me when you said that it would be worse for your family to know you were following but not worshiping Jesus than if you had rejected him outright. I agree. Some of my family think I am blaspheming the truth (whatever that is) and that I should leave their gosh darn Christianity alone! I’m glad you’ve found the progressive path!