Phil Hemsley has a blog, Thoughts from a Minimalist Christian. Since I have discovered it, I have enjoyed reading Phil’s thoughts, but I wondered how a 40 year old atheist (as he once was) came to convert to christian belief.
So I asked him.
Conversions and deconversions
Studies on rates of conversion to and from christian belief give slightly varying answers, but I recall one UK study which showed that the number of people leaving christianity was only slightly higher than the number converting – the study found 8.3% of people have left christian belief at some stage in their life, and 7.7% have moved from unbelief to belief.
Phil is one of the 7.7%.
Phil had an irreligious upbringing, and had no belief until he was 40. But a challenging remark from a christian friend led to him to seriously consider whether christianity could possibly be true.
He started reading, asking questions and looking for answers. He found that he respected Jesus and that a lot of his objections to christianity had reasonable answers. Eventually he got to the point where he knew he had to make a choice, and he decided to ‘give God a chance’.
You can read a full account of Phil’s journey, in his own words, at A slow year’s journey into light.
Living as a ‘minimalist christian’
On his blog, Phil outlines what he now believes, 10 years on:
I have explored what science can tell us, and I have explored the authenticity of the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ, and I conclude that both are important and properly understood provide a consistent and satisfying worldview. However, I am not convinced that a literal reading of the complete Bible is correct or necessary. So I have concluded that the important thing is to embrace and understand as much as I can of the universe, and to commit myself to the person and teaching of Jesus Christ.
He calls himself a ‘minimalist christian’ because he believes in Jesus and wants to follow his teachings, but doesn’t necessarily want to accept all the trappings of 2 millennia of institutionalised christianity:
A Minimalist Christian is someone who is committed to following Jesus Christ, but without having to accept all traditional Christian theology and dogma.