- How a Progressive Presbyterian Preacher Became an Another Angry Atheist, Jesus: History or Myth?, The Fictional Jesus, Why Are Some Christians So Slow to Leave the Faith?
I was raised in Memphis, TN, in the Church of Christ. My experiences at Rhodes College (where I majored in philosophy and religion) led me to leave that denomination and become a Presbyterian. After graduating from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1983, I became an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). After serving various small-town congregations for 27 years, I took early retirement in 2010. I left the ministry and the church because I could no longer accept the tenets of Christianity.
From the time I took my first religion course in college–where I was first introduced to historical-critical study of the Bible–I have never stopped reading and learning about that subject. What I have learned is what led me to give up the Christian faith.
Much of what is being said today about the historicity of Jesus is misinformed. If someone were to ask me, “Is there credible historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed?” I would say, “Yes, but precious little.” If someone were to ask me, “Is some of what the gospels preserve about Jesus a product of pious imagination and religious devotion?” I would say, “Yes, almost all of it.” In other words, I am convinced by the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth did exist, but I am equally convinced by that same evidence that the gospels comprise (as Randel Helms has said) “largely fictional accounts concerning a historical figure.”