I was a fundamentalist Christian for 27 years. I became "born again" after joining the Air Force in 1979. I remember reading a bible I had bought and for the first time read what the New Testament said about salvation. I realized that I was a great sinner and needed help. I was upset with the way my life was going and saw no way out. I was in my barracks by myself reading the bible when I came across the passage "If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved". I bowed my head and repeated this to God and put my trust in him. I felt great release and love flowed into my heart. I started to go to church, go out with Christian friends, sing and witness in the park and of course read my bible day and night.
For a year I was on cloud 9 but then I was sent to an Air Force base in England. At RAF Lakenheath (a nuclear bomber base) I was charged with guarding the various weapons we had and prepare for nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It was an exciting time for me since I truly believed that the Rapture would happen anyday now and was not worried at all about the world situation. In fact the worse it got, the better. But I noticed my spiritual life was leveling out. I found it harder and harder to keep my body from sinning. I struggled with thoughts of sin and battled everyday with unclean thoughts. I was going to a Full Gospel Charasmatic Church in the meantime that believed in all the fruits of the Spirit. I remember watching the healing services and seeing the same people go up week after week with the same complaints. Never did I see someone healed of a major illness, it was always a back problems or cold. I then began to see what power does to people. The pastor was only part time but he wanted to be full time and bullied the members of the church to pay him a full time salary. Anyone who opposed him was cast out of the church, including me. I returned to the United States, still in the Air Force and went to another Full Gospel Church.
I was beginning to see problems with the bible. I saw that there were some very real contradictions that couldn't be explained but I just let it go believing that God had a reason for everything in the bible. One thing that really bothered me was the violence that God used in the Old Testament against various nations. I just couldn't understand how God could order Israel to kill entire cities, including women and small children. I imagined them being lined up for execution, the woman holding onto their children who were crying and then getting a sword run through both of them. It didn't make sense to me at all and I was very upset at this. I imagined myself an Israelite soldier being ordered to kill children. "Would I do it?" I thought. If I didn't I would be disobeying God and would be killed and sent to hell. That thought put terror in my mind and I quickly thought of different things.
I also questioned the idea of an eternal hell. Again I thought how could God send someone to a lake of fire for ever and ever? How about all these people in the world who never heard of Jesus? Were they doomed? The Church was telling me that they were and that God was justified in sending them to hell and in fact one day we would all rejoice at the justice of God for sending those people there.
I also saw the state of the Church itself in two parts. The first was Church history which was terrible! The entire 2000 years since Christ was filled with violence, hatred, greed and powerful Christians doing bad things to others. I saw the Church take over the Roman Empire and turn it into an Empire of Christian horror. People with different opinions were called heritics and hounded out of the cities. When the Empire finally fell and the Church was the only law, things really got out of hand. I don't know how many people were killed in the name of Christ, but it was not a few.
The second part about the Church was what I saw people doing now. I saw very little love in the Church. I saw greed and people seeking power and money. I saw various churches that didn't care one lick about their members except how they could continue to contribute money to the Church. I was amazed that I never found a man or woman that I could say truly lived the life I envisioned a Christian should live. It seemed that the Church as a whole was even worse than the general public. Divorce was rampant, various sexual sins were all the rage and money was the new god.
I am glad that this writer experienced a relief in his very essence. His story is typical of what many have experienced.