Oy...Edric good sir, I feel old now that the thread was 11.5 years ago! Then again, I felt old when you pointed out our nations on NS are more than a decade old. Please give me a moment to go review at least some of my thread posts before I answer your question, as I'm sure a great deal has changed, not only with maturity, but also given the fact I am no longer a Baptist. Edit: I think I need a drink, after my atrocious typing at the time. Though I think I've grown a bit less "attack dog" over time. Also, deeply appreciate Timenn being so level headed. However, I'm amazed at just how prescient I was about where my personal journey was headed. Much like Edric, I was a "generic" Christian, however I had been raised as a Baptist and basically whenever I had a question, I was told to shut up and "believe this because that's the way our church teaches it". As a Baptist, no one ever gave me any sort of justification for why I should believe, just that I should. So yes, I believed in the Resurrection, the Holy Trinity, that Jesus is Lord, etc. Unlike Edric, I attended church each week, having been the 3rd generation of my family to be baptized in that physical building itself. I say the first post was prescient, due to the "heretic" bit. Surely enough, I was labeled that and a few other things...let me tell you, southern Baptists do not tend to take it well when you try to correct points of fact in a "Religions to Beware of" class. Anyhow, not long after the Religion thread, I went forward to be baptized (most of my peers having done so between the ages of 4-8 ), got all sorts of hugs and congratulations, but then, however, came the two straws that broke my back. I was told I wouldn't be baptised. I remember just staring blanky at the minister in shock before he amended his statement to say "right away. We want to maximize the number of baptisms we have, so I've decided we're only doing them quarterly now, like Communion." There is nothing to throw cold water on your relationship with a place that's already called you an anti-Christ and Satanist like being told the sign of your covenant with God, something you read has to be done in Scripture, has to wait because they want to put on a good show. The second thing was how people kept congratulating me on my decision to finally give my life to Christ and how it was about time I had seen the Light/Truth. Not just for a day, but for weeks. Not just from people who didn't know me from someone off the street except for seeing me go forward, but people who actually knew I had believed but just been too timid to go forward. No matter how many times I explained to people that I had already believed, I was assured that I didn't really, or I'd have gone forward; no one actually waits and tries to make 100% sure of what God wants them to do. My baptism was wonderful, even though the preacher lost his grip and I hit my head on the bottom of the baptistry (explains a lot, eh?). However he was moving on to a new church shortly after and storm clouds of politics were swiftly gathering in his wake. There were divisions between the "contemporary" and "traditional" services. The prayer chapel to the side of the sanctuary, more than once, was filled with drumsets from the contemporary band not wanting to take their toys back downstairs. Also my mom, who was on duty as a volunteer in the chapel, was thrown out by a group of people during a service one day, "Some of us have important things to do". It was like a smack in the face that setting up trays of finger foods for after the service, was considered more important than prayer! Then there was the politics: Purging membership rolls, shunning people, driving people away, manipulating who was on committees so a certain candidate won, changing the Church Constitution so the candidate could ascend to Senior Pastor, and continued questioning by people of whether I really believed or my going forward was a show didn't cause me to leave my church. Those were just the toppings on something that had already been decided, a side dish of hypocrisy to the rot I had already found by keeping my word to God. Recently I read an excellent piece by The Atlantic about a Christian nonprofit that did a series of interviews with Atheist college students, and what struck me was how much their stories mirrored my own right around this point. The decision to leave the Christian faith they had been raised in was an emotional one, it usually happened between 14-17 years old, and often it was the result of being exposed to a shallow and superficial Christianity where questioning things was denounced and ministers with no knowledge of the Bible were in charge. I wandered a few years. I went to some non-denominational churches and some Pentecostal ones; always the same thing, just with different flavoring. Social justice, Jesus is Lord, You need to Believe, You need to be Saved!, but never anyone with knowledge to explain beyond the buzzwords. Yeah, all those things are nice, and yes, true, but like the Atlantic piece on young atheists pointed out, what good is truth if it can't be backed up? What good are Christians who don't act like Christians? Why espouse Sola Scriptura when that ISN'T SCRIPTURAL? I never found what I was looking for, though sometimes the odd thing would pop up and point at Catholicism, but I tried to ignore those things; every Catholic I knew while growing up was exactly the opposite of what I felt a Christian was called to be. Why would I want to be a part of another hypocritical place where people bragged in school about lying to their priest in Confession? Why would I want to be a part of a place where no one I knew could explain why they believed the things they did? The old man across the street from me, when I was young, was a Deacon at the local Catholic Church and the most angry human being I had ever met. In the end though, I convinced myself, with the help of friends and my recently engaged ex that dumped me while engagement ring shopping (still in the Church, told everyone I wasn't converting for a woman), that I should give RCIA a try. That's the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, run by the Catholic Church for those who might be interested in converting, or just getting to know more about Catholicism. A side note on RCIA, it tends to come in two flavors and rarely in between; happy clappy superficial or "Dear Lord I am taking an upper level university course on Catholicism that meets once per week for three hours at a time for almost a year". I was lucky to have the second, run by a priest who was also a convert. The sisters baked cookies for each class. We covered a vast range of topics. One night as we entered our fifth hour, I raised my hand and asked, "Father, may I leave?". We had been talking about divorce, annulments, and remarriage and the topic wasn't pertinent to me, especially with work the next day and entering our fifth hour of a three hour session. It was pertinent to most of the folks there though. He told me to go right ahead, that he wished he could too. One of the most interesting things to me, about those classes, had to be how different it was from how I was raised. I don't mean the nitty gritty of the beliefs, different doctrines, etc. Most of those I had already come to accept by delving deep into religious readings. Instead, what was so different, was that we were all encouraged to question. The priest wanted us to ask hard questions and even wanted questions he didn't know the answer to, so we could all look them up and learn more. Two real take away lines of his actually caring about us understanding where things came from and why are still with me today. The first was, "If you've not considered, at least once, that there is possibly no God, then you're blessed. However, I think asking oneself about the merits of Atheism is a good way to examine just how much you believe and why." The second had to be, "God gave us a brain for a reason. Even if the answer eventually comes down to blind faith, at least we can document why we believe it until we hit that!" Mom, meanwhile, also left our Baptist church due to the politics primarily. She realized one day that her entire purpose on a search committee was to be the lone dissenter among a group of Yes Men. She became a Methodist and had to watch a video on John Wesley, their founder, and did a one page multiple choice worksheet on it. She said she got the easier conversion education wise. Anyhow, I happily entered the Roman Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil of 2009, though it was at a cost. I sent a 14 page resignation letter to my old Baptist church and asked to be removed from the membership rolls; I was told it was shredded after the first paragraph in which I thanked them for helping me along my spiritual journey and first helping me to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was de-friended on Facebook by a number of my Baptist friends, people I had grown up alongside from preschool through undergrad and part of my Masters. I stopped getting wedding invitations from my Baptists I'd grown up with and actually got a dis-invitation from a wedding. A man who had been in the waiting room when I was born, a family friend, will no longer speak to me. One of my professional references told me to stop using him as one. Until grandma died, my mother and I had gone to mom's Methodist church, my midnight Mass, and grandma's Baptist church where I grew up, every Christmas Eve; few people would speak to me, except to make snide remarks. Things like that have hurt and still hurt four years later. Now though, I'm at a university parish in the town where I'm working on my Ph.D. in Criminology. I help with the sorting of books multiple times a year for the annual book sale (which unlike my old Baptist church's book sale, will accept anti-Christian literature happily. I bought The God Delusion from my church). I'm involved in a prison Mass ministry where I learn much more about corrections from the inmates than I do from journal articles; the prison chaplain and I sit down to chat once a month about policy issues relating to our criminal justice system because he loves having a volunteer who he can express his frustrations to and I love getting to hear about things from a practitioner perspective. I also sometimes visit the Byzantine Catholic parish of a volunteer couple at our prison Mass. Hmm...apologies, that seemed to be a tad longer than I thought. So quick run down of some major shifts in my theology: Saints. Praying with them isn't idolatrous.Purgatory, it makes sense and is hinted at in the Bible.Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide aren't in the Bible. Luther violated the first blatantly when he took and added in the Bible, the latter is an innovation of Luther's meddling with the Bible to insert "alone" after "faith" in James.The Eucharist, the Real Presence. Reading John 6 in its entirety, and then what the Early Church taught was eye opening. I can't imagine "Communion once per quarter" any longer.Confession, it's important. Even from a more secular viewpoint, just being able to have someone hold you accountable instead of going "lol, I told God, it's okay" as I used to, makes me a better person.Less a shift in theology than something I like, but it's nice to be in a church that stresses "knowing why" something may be thought of as wrong as compared to telling me "shut up and believe it, that's why".