I plan to post more on this but this is a brief response to Ray, who asked about my conversion from atheism to what I call “half-Protestantism” Another way of putting it is this, while I was a Mormon, I felt that the Spirit was representative of God. I lost faith in a personal creator of the universe when I determined that all we know about God is myth, not fact. I recognized the Spirit as a special kind of intuition, but not necessary the source of “truth” only more myth. In this philosophical move, I lost all faith in Mormonism. I think you could call me an atheist because I denied the existence of God, mainly because I did not think that whatever caused the world was sufficiently definable to be called a “thing”. In other words, I did not think I believe in God made any sense without a sensible definition of God, and I did not believe that any definition of God I had heard made sense.
In November I accepted that there is a fact that is also the deepest mystery that yielded the world, I accepted this fact as God. I sought to sort out what that meant, including trying to determine if it made sense to call God a “person” or a “father” i.e. whether those sorts of myths meant anything at all in light of science and philosophy. I started thinking about what could be behind the myth of the love of God. I posted this about Mormonism and the love of God and the Mormon approach to theology.
While in this process of coming to terms with how I could sensibly talk about God it dawned on me how unique orthodox Christianity was in concept with regard to virtue, sin, and redemption,and the world. I began to think that if the love of God means anything at all it is a means of escape from the torments we face in the world that came from God. I recognized that it was unquestionably that there were experiences of reconciliation where justified guilt turns to joy in the human mind without rationalization. When I accepted this as a fact, the same experience happened to me, I felt joy. At root the joy did not come from a spiritual experience, it was from the real recognition that the guilt that hung over my life was, in reality, somehow redeemed.
In my past religious life, I have experienced such joy in the context of spiritual experiences, but I recognized that the joy I now felt was not a spiritual feeling brought on by prayer, but a simple fact of reality that I had failed to see before. It was similar to when I first grasped calculus, but in this case it seemed to allow a solution for any problem of the soul.
I consider myself a “half-Protestant” because I accept what the New Testament was talking about as reality, i.e. the fact of Christ. I also believe the New Testament reliably points the mind to this fact. I am only “half” Protestant because although I am clear on the redemption of the soul, I am still unsure on the other half of the Gospel, i.e. the redemption of the world.
Whatever new light or insight I now have is similar to what I had as an LDS, but I think contemporary LDS teaching does not make the fact of Christ clear to most of its members in a way that they can readily explain it or talk about it. In this sense I think LDS are just bad Protestants, i.e. they do not clearly repeat the proclamation of the New Testament even though they proclaim it as the Word of God.