For the past couple of months, I have come to a point religiously where I can have some perspective on my days as a full-believing Mormon/Christian.
In essence, I can now feel what its like to come through a religious conversion. I saw dozens of conversions up-close, of all kinds of people: old, young, rich, poor, male, female, black, brown and white. nversion as a missionary in California. And it was spectacular. It is still one of the most astounding experiences I ever had to see people just adopt the Book of Mormon as the Word of God and Joseph Smith as a prophet simply because I sat down with them for a couple of hours. And to feel the power of the Spirit all the time as a missionary. It was a shaking, magical experience, on my side and on those I saw converted. But now I am more surprised how different it actually is to experience conversion than witness one.
When I was truly converted to Christianity, the religion ignited my spirit so much that I simply could not see see things from a reasonably skeptical position. Religion is enthralling, but it is sooo much better when you actually believe it. By turning my skepticism away from Christianity and against Non-Christianity it freed up my intellectual side to really delve into spiritual things, and mixing the mind and the spirit is intoxicating. I could not be skeptical of the truth of Christianity for fear of having to give that combination up. Faith was a far superior spiritual position and the faith I had in front of me was Christianity. As a Christian, I could believe all kinds of things and skeptical in all kinds of areas and still maintain a fervent spiritual/intellectual connection, but I could not doubt its ultimate truth.
I am a skeptical person, very intellectually rebellious, a firm believe in and an adherent of the idea that you must keep an open mind above all else. I gravitate toward questioning things; I am so much more comfortable being a skeptic than a believer. But with the Church and the gospel I could not go to the skeptical position. I simply could not see things without including Christianity.
The Spirit is real and overpowering and it is in Christianity, therefore I believed Christianity must be true. And with that argument the belief that Christianity was “true” became inextricably linked with the acceptance that the Spirit as real. And this entanglement seems to be the key to why I was legitimately scared to lose my faith. I risked losing touch with the Spirit.
I still remember when I had my first real doubt about the truth of the Church. It scared the shit out of me. I remember believing that a literal evil spirit visited me. I really marvel how I could actually believe that, but I did. And its starting to dawn on me why I was so scared, and why I was willing to believe that the Devil was in the room with me.
It wasn’t that I was not scared be skeptical of Christianity’s claims and was not true, I was scared to accept that the Spirit wasn’t real. . . because that would be nuts considering what I had seen. The Spirit may be elusive but it is as real as the rain. I would just as soon doubt that thunderstorms happen than to doubt that people feel the Spirit. Doubting the Spirit existed felt like I was doubting whether the earth existed. If I suddenly thought that the earth didn’t exist tomorrow, I would think I was going batshit crazy. So I was stuck because I had the Church, Christianity and the Spirit linked. Because the Spirit was in the Church, the Church was true and that it must be, as it claimed to be, the exclusive vessel of the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
When I was a true believing Christian and Mormon, I unconsciously steeled myself against skepticism all the time. As reasonable as the skeptical position was, if it meant giving up a belief in the Spirit I had to pass. When my belief that the Church was what it claimed to be faded, I started to worry that being a skeptic would be like becoming schizophrenic.