I was loosely raised Catholic but I left the church as a teenager and was never Confirmed by the church. While a student in college, I was persuaded to become an Evangelical Christian and persisted down this path through seminary and several years as a pastor. Despite my upstanding orthodox theology and mantra of “personal relationship with God,” I eventually had to confront the reality that my Christianity made very little difference in my life beyond what people saw at church, and that my supposed “personal relationship with God” sounded much better in sermons than it actually added up to in real life.
So, I left professional ministry, walked away from Christianity, and began writing my story of shedding religion to find God. In fact the title of my first book, which I wrote in 2005 was: Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you). Each chapter tells a different story of an unsuspecting person who mysteriously popped up on my path to show me something about myself, others, God and life that didn’t fit into the nice Christian box I had previously constructed. This book covers that part of my journey when I laid all my Christian beliefs and mindsets out on the table and questioned them. Most of it I left on that table, but I kept moving forward in exploring what it might mean to know God outside the box and mentality of religion, even the Christian one. This led to my second book: Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity. Each chapter in this book tells the story of how my previous Christian beliefs and practices were being replaced by new ways of relating to myself, God, others and life, and the peace, joy and freedom I found in this.
Having left the Christian religion behind, I was still very much interested in Jesus. I began to suspect that the Jesus I learned through the Christian religion might not be the full picture or story. I discovered in time that my suspicion was right, and that even some of the most fundamental things I had learned about Jesus were not true. I was compelled to devote a year of my life to figuring out what if anything Jesus really had to do with me. This was my fourth book: Being Jesus in Nashville: Finding the Courage to Live Your Life (whoever and wherever you are). This year and book had a profound impact on my life. Over the course of writing the book, I lost both my parents and miraculously survived two Near-Death Experiences. What radically altered my spiritual path was a shift in how I understood Jesus and his relevance to my life. It involved letting go of the Jesus of Christianity as someone to be worshiped and imitated, and to see myself as Jesus at the most fundamental level. The book was not without controversy. My Christian publisher refused to publish the book and abruptly cancelled my book contract under the charge of heresy.
This was just the beginning of my uncovering the spiritual significance of Jesus and his message, unchained from the premises of the Christian religion. My fourth book, Notes from (Over) the Edge: Unmasking the Truth to End Your Suffering addresses several of the Christian religion’s misrepresentations of Jesus and his teachings. The book gives guidance to those who have been damaged by organized religion and a plan for recovery and freedom. There is also a set of spiritual tools offered for taking responsibility for one’s spiritual path, as well as cultivating inner serenity and well-being, and a new relationship with oneself, life and the divine.
Writing those four books covered a span of ten years. But one matter that lingered in my mind was the return-of-Jesus story that the Christian religion has been proclaiming for the past 2,000 years. Christendom has sufficiently convinced billions of Christians that Jesus is one future day going to come back in the sky to save the world, and how his true followers will receive eternity in heaven as their reward. Hmmm. Something about this story seemed a little fishy to me, and the more I pondered it the more I questioned it. I tugged at one of the threads of that story and the whole thing unraveled, and an entirely different story about the salvation of our world and humankind emerged in its place. Jesus is not the savior of the world in the way the Christian religion has told people, and that story is actually preventing the world from experiencing the salvation and freedom that Jesus promised. Jesus the person cannot save anyone, but the truth he bore witness to and demonstrated has the power to birth a whole new world, order and age that every human heart has imagined, dreamed and longed for. This powerful truth that Jesus demonstrated is simple and uncomplicated but is difficult for this very reason. It requires starting over. It involves dethroning all the religious and worldly beliefs, mindsets, narratives, stories and ideologies that are ruling us all from within, and turning to an entirely different source within us, which a child accesses naturally. This is why I wrote Inner Anarchy: Dethroning God and Jesus to Save Ourselves and the World – to lift up the truth that can save us all… a truth that applies to every person and can be embraced universally without being religious or becoming a Christian.