New Team Member

I am very happy to accept John W. Loftus' invitation to join his blog as new team member. I have thoroughly enjoyed John's blog throughout its short span so far. I feel that his strength in evidentialist apologetics complements my more philosophical leanings.

Though I will be posting anonymously for a variety of personal reasons, my relevant history is that I have an undergraduate degree in biblical studies from a very conservative Christian college, a master of arts in biblical studies and theology from a large Evangelical seminary, and a master of divinity from another large Evangelical seminary.


I was ordained by a church full of believers and other ordained ministers who "recognized the work of the Holy Spirit in my life." After many prayers from many people, I was given a grant by a well-known Protestant denomination to plant a church in my area.

My leaving the faith was a long, involved process. My "salvation" and my "apostasy" were both birthed in tears. I didn't want to leave my faith. I enjoyed it. I loved the church. I loved preaching. I loved prayer. At times I still miss all of them. I can't explain it any other way than that my faith simply left me unwillingly. I just couldn't believe it anymore, as hard as I tried. The atheistic worldview was too convincing, too closely related to the reality I daily observed.

For the Christians who read this blog, I know that it is your theological belief that I never really believed ("They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us." 1 John 2:19). If I had been "saved," then I would have been "kept" [Jesus could lose nothing the Father gave him, right? (John 6:39)].

All I can say to you is that if mine wasn't true love for God, then I utterly fooled myself. Times without number, I knelt, wept, and cried out, "More love to Thee, my God, more love to Thee!" I "felt" intimacy with my God. The thought of Jesus' death for my sins brought misery to my soul--"Why, O Lord, would you endure pain for me?!" I wanted nothing more than that the glory of the Lord would be revealed in my life and in the world around me. This was the driving passion in my life. It drove me to Christian college, seminaries, ordination, preaching, church planting, ad infinitum. I was not driven by religion, I was driven by my love for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My faith consumed me. I honestly felt God's intimacy. I felt that I was his child.

I went through many stages in my Christian life. In the early stages of my faith, I was an Arminian. I later adopted a "robust" Calvinism--I referred to "4-point Calvinists" (i.e. those who believe in unlimited atonement) as "inconsistent Arminians." Before I left my faith altogether, I considered myself a very liberal Episcopalian.

Concerning apologetics, in high school, I started out with the Josh McDowell Evidence that Demands a Verdict stuff. As a Calvinist collegiate, I was drawn to presuppositionalism (this was, however, before Greg Bahnsen died and before anyone else (like Frame) had come on the scene; my sole exposure to presuppositionalism was through Bahnsen's lecture on Van Til's Presuppositional Apologetic and through his debates with Stein and Tabash--I listened to all of these tapes until they were worn out--I say that to concede that I am not "up" on contemporary presuppositionalism). While still a Calvinist (but at this time a seminarian), I found myself taken by Plantinga's "reformed epistemology" [I liked that he seemed to take the statement, "This is my Father's world," very seriously; in reformed epistemology, the non-believer is placed squarely in "God's world" and must give an account for himself; other apologetics seemed, to me, to give "God's world" over to the non-believer (a concession I was unwilling to make)]. As my faith became more liberal, apologetics became less important to me.

I have been married to the most wonderful woman on the planet since 1996. As of this writing, I have no children. I am currently pursuing further graduate studies in the field of philosophy.

I look forward to engaging in future dialogue, here, as much as my time permits. Because of time limitations, I will probably shy away from point-by-point debates in the comment sections of my posts, but will choose to wait until I have heard all of the opposing viewpoints and, then, create another new post addressing those concerns when I have more time.

---------------
Edited by John. Ex-believer was a student of Dr. James White. See Dr. James White, How do You Like Me Now? and A Response to Dr. James White

18 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks for coming on board. You have quite a story, and as we've discussed before, it is one that we share on many fronts.

Those who have recently seen you argue already know they have their hands full when it comes to dealing with your arguments. I'm just glad you're on my side!

exbeliever said...

Those who have recently seen you argue already know they have their hands full when it comes to dealing with your arguments.

Well, that's sure to fire them up! ;-)

As far as I can tell, though, they don't think so highly of my abilities.

Paul Manata said...

EB: "As a Calvinist collegiate, I was drawn to presuppositionalism (this was, however, before Greg Bahnsen died and before anyone else (like Frame) had come on the scene;"

PM: Welcome, maybe we'll start seeing something with susbatnce now?

Anyway, you've shown that you are also ignorant (like John) on these issues. Frame taught Bahnsen in Seminary. Also, Frame had written presuppositionalist literature *before* the Bahnsen Stein debate.

So, Frame was on "the scene" before Bahnsen was.

Btw, "ignorant" was meant to be a technical term for: not well informed. So, I hope you don;t take it as a slam.

exbeliever said...

Paul,

You wrote: "Anyway, you've shown that you are also ignorant (like John) on these issues. Frame taught Bahnsen in Seminary. Also, Frame had written presuppositionalist literature *before* the Bahnsen Stein debate."

I stand corrected again. Thanks.

The Jewish Freak said...

Welcome. I eagerly await your words.

streetapologist said...

Exbeliever-

I am interested in one point, you say you went from enjoying Plantinga to liberal Christianity. It seems you omitted some of the story. Is this because of time or for some personal reason?

You said:
"I didn't want to leave my faith"

Why would you then? You said how much you loved the church,praying, preaching etc. but yet you weren't finding fulfillment in this? I ask you in all humility are you willing to admit that you were indeed fooling yourself or do you really equate this transformation to the strength of the atheistic worldview? Are you now enjoying the solice that you were longing for? or are you once again being deceived by feelings.

exbeliever said...

streetapologist,

You wrote: "I am interested in one point, you say you went from enjoying Plantinga to liberal Christianity. It seems you omitted some of the story."

I only intended to give a brief summary here. There was a lot that was omitted. The journey from Plantinga to liberal Christianity took about 6 years and it was an accumulation of things.

You asked, "I ask you in all humility are you willing to admit that you were indeed fooling yourself or do you really equate this transformation to the strength of the atheistic worldview? Are you now enjoying the solice that you were longing for? or are you once again being deceived by feelings."

My faith had always been a comfort to me. It was sad to leave it.

I don't mean to trivialize your faith at all here by this analogy, but I compare it with the enjoyment I had when I believed in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy.

When I was a kid, I loved thinking that a big fluffy bunny came into my room and left a basket. I loved the magic that the world held.

It would be nice to live in a world of magic. It would be wonderful to believe that after this life, I would never die and spend an eternity with my wife and friends in bliss.

But one day, when I got a little older, I figured out that there really was no Santa Claus or fluffy bunny bringing me a basket. I would have loved to have continued in that belief because it is a very nice belief. I just couldn't anymore.

Again, I'm not saying that your belief in a god is like a belief in Santa Claus. I'm just trying to relate to you the similarity of the feeling.

I can't believe in your god anymore than I can believe in Santa Claus. I'm just not capable of it anymore.

Atheism is not nicer or sweeter than theism, it's just (in my mind) more realistic.

I do lead a very happy and fulfilled life. I have a wonderful wife, family, and friends. I enjoy my work and my education. I enjoy having "conversations" with nice people like you and John Loftus. Atheism does not provide this for me, but it does not detract from it either.

streetapologist said...

EB-

Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I do understand the analogy (with Peter Cottontail and SC)although as you know we must agree to disagree as far its relation to the existence/nonexistence of God.

I am curious, as an ex-believer if you were to look at the first chapter of Romans what would you make of it today? Secondly,do you now deny the historicity of Jesus' life or just the resurrection? And finally what do you make of the willingness by the disciples to commit (with their very lives) to something that I assume you believe either didn't happen or was a legend? I know we have switched gears from Presuppositional apologetics to a more evidential one but I am curious what you do with the evidences?

exbeliever said...

SA,

I'll have to deal with the issues you raise in subsequent posts.

I'm really behind on homework! :-(

streetapologist said...

EB-

I can identify, I am also finishing a degree.

I will look forward to seeing your treatment of the issues raised.

Steven Carr said...

What evidence is there that the disciples would risk their lives for something (I grant that they risked their lives for fishing, but that is beside the point)

Galatians 6 makes clear that Christians were persecuted on the issue of circumcision, not resurrection, and that Christian leaders would compromise their beliefs to avoid persecution for the cross (NB not resurrection) of Christ

streetapologist said...

Steven-

You said:

"What evidence is there that the disciples would risk their lives for something"

I assume you mean, what evidence is there that the disciples risked their lives? Otherwise, I am not sure I understand the question.

Assuming the latter meaning, I would say that there is ample evidence. All but John were martryed for their faith.

In response to your other statement, I would point you to the fourth chapter of Acts in particular the 2nd verse.

My questions were actually directed toward EB, due to the fact that he was a former believer. I am admittedly not an evidentialist, however I was interested in knowing what he now thought of evidences that he likely once accepted.

I am not sure of your background so it would be hard for me to presuppose how you would interpret any amount of evidence regardless how strong it is.

Anonymous said...

How easy it is for anyone; an atheist, a scientist, so called theologian, so called ex-Christian to post whatever he wants on this site.
If any of you had any even a stain of your so called intelligence, education, whatever, you would at least know that only someone as dumb as you guys would beleive all this garbage you posted here.
I am a Christian and know many other Christians and we know that if one meets Jesus Christ, his life will never be the same.
I met Jesus and he is in my heart to say.
If this asinine site wasn't so stupid, I would laugh, but I can only shake my head at such ignorance as is on this site.

Daniel said...

Anon,

Oooh, oooh, let me play your game:

How easy it is for a "so-called Christian" who knows many other "so-called Christians" and they all "so-called KNOW" that when one "meets Jesus" (a man who died approximately 2000 years ago) that their lives will so-called "never be the same".

If these Christians had even a "stain" of their so-called intelligence, education, whatever, they would at least know that only someone as dumb as them would beleive[sic] all this garbage.

Dead men are in the grave, and there to stay.

If these asinine commenters [anonymous] weren't so stupid, I would laugh, but I can only shake my head at such ignorance as they display in believing that Magic Men can die and live again, and float up to the sky, and they can sit and wait for them to reappear for 2000 years!! How dumb!!

see how easy it is to insult

By the way, I really felt the love of Jesus when you wrote that. Let me know if Jesus ever does come back.

Best regards,
Daniel

Josh (Joshster@epals.com) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Godschild said...

i was wondering what is so convincing of the athiestic worldview, just wondering, i find it to be the other way around, I find the the Bible to be more real each and everytime I see the way people our today, and how without Jesus their really isn't a purpose or desire for me to live. Please could you elaborate, I would like to see if you make sense to me what you believe.

David said...

Hi exbeliever,

It seems as though your previous faith was one that was immature, and unfortunately you left it before it had a chance to grow.

I want to pinpoint a few passages that you wrote to illustrate my point.

"When I was a kid, I loved thinking that a big fluffy bunny came into my room and left a basket. I loved the magic that the world held."

"It would be nice to live in a world of magic...But one day, when I got a little older, I figured out that there really was no Santa Claus or fluffy bunny bringing me a basket. I would have loved to have continued in that belief because it is a very nice belief. I just couldn't anymore."

"Atheism is not nicer or sweeter than theism, it's just (in my mind) more realistic."


I find it interesting that you compare the Christian faith to a belief in magic, and describe atheism as being more realistic. I find this interesting because in my own personal life, I feel that I had been living a life of illusions and "magic" before finally truly becoming Christian my senior year of college (I had grown up in a Christian church but it wasn't until college that I grew in faith). Here I use the word magic in the sense that I believed that I controlled my own destiny, that I could live for myself and still be happy. And to be honest, in some ways I felt happy because I could depend on myself and feel a sense of accomplishment when I bring home good grades, etc.

When I became Christian though, my worldview became much more mature. I think we need to be careful about saying that Christianity solves all your problems. According to the Bible, suffering actually builds the faith. So basically, when one gives his life to Christ, the result isn't that he feels necessarily happier than before. The result is that he becomes mature in his perspective of the world. He no longer is living for himself, but sees himself as just one person out of 6 billion (what can one really achieve in this world, in his lifetime), yet nevertheless one of God's people (I believe God has a special purpose for me). He feels a sense of responsibility to give himself in service of others.

In fact, as mature Christians we should not be looking for our own happiness in our lives. Once our lives begin in the Christian faith we then realize that we are instruments of God and that He wants to use us to improve the lives of others. To think otherwise is to hold a very immature view of the Christianity- that the point of it is solely to make ourselves happy. The point really is that we should show love to others and to think of ourselves less.

When I realized this idea of Christianity I became drastically mature in my faith. My perspective is always, how can God use me to bring joy and salvation to others? What is his plan for me? It is no longer, how can God make me happy? It is necessary to make that turning point in our faith, or else ours is not a faith at all.

Haven't you heard the saying "ignorance is bliss."?

After becoming Christian the idea of me and my family living eternally in bliss is important to me, but not as important as trying to understand my role in God's plan for the world.

David said...

Hi exbeliever,

It seems as though your previous faith was one that was immature, and that unfortunately you left it before it had a chance to grow.

I want to pinpoint a few passages that you wrote to illustrate my point.

"When I was a kid, I loved thinking that a big fluffy bunny came into my room and left a basket. I loved the magic that the world held."

"It would be nice to live in a world of magic...But one day, when I got a little older, I figured out that there really was no Santa Claus or fluffy bunny bringing me a basket. I would have loved to have continued in that belief because it is a very nice belief. I just couldn't anymore."

"Atheism is not nicer or sweeter than theism, it's just (in my mind) more realistic."


I find it interesting that you compare the Christian faith to a belief in magic, and describe atheism as being more realistic. I find this interesting because in my own personal life, I feel that I had been living a life of illusions and "magic" before finally truly becoming Christian my senior year of college (I had grown up in a Christian church but it wasn't until college that I grew in faith). Here I use the word magic in the sense that I believed that I controlled my own destiny, that I could live for myself and still be happy. And to be honest, in some ways I felt happy because I could depend on myself and feel a sense of accomplishment when I bring home good grades, etc.

When I became Christian though, my worldview became much more mature. I think we need to be careful about saying that Christianity solves all your problems. According to the Bible, suffering actually builds the faith. So basically, when one gives his life to Christ, the result isn't that he feels necessarily happier than before. The result is that he becomes mature in his perspective of the world. H realizes that he is one person out of 6 billion (what can I possibly achieve in my lifetime that is significant?), and yet, he is one of God's people ( I believe God has a special purpose for me). He feels a sense of responsibility to give himself in service of others.

In fact, as mature Christians we should not be looking for our own happiness in our lives. Once our lives begin in the Christian faith we then realize that we are instruments of God and that He wants to use us to improve the lives of others. To think otherwise is to hold a very immature view of the Christianity- that the point of it is solely to make ourselves happy. The point really is that we should show love to others and to think of ourselves less.

When I realized this idea of Christianity I became drastically mature in my faith. My perspective is always, how can God use me to bring joy and salvation to others? What is his plan for me? It is no longer, how can God make me happy? It is necessary to make that turning point in our faith, or else ours is not a faith at all.

Haven't you heard the saying "ignorance is bliss." After becoming Christian the idea of me and my family living eternally in bliss was important to me, but not as important as trying to understand my role in God's plan for the world.