A Non-Believing Minister!

I received this e-mail today:

As a former fundy (and a currently ordained, although deconverted minister pastoring a church!), I greatly appreciate your honest and excellent writing! I'm very much in the theological closet and wish to remain totally anonymous for now, and I'm sure you can understand that.

I wonder how many other ministers are out there in churches who no longer believe, but who don't know what else to do with their lives?


Stardust said...

The last church I belonged to before admitting I didn't really believe in all that god stuff was a Presbyterian church. The pastor was so disgruntled. He tried to pretend to believe, but his attitude clearly reflected his true feelings. He would make comments like "I am sick of being a martyr for this church!" and "I should just toss in the towel and become an English teacher!" He is now a non-believing English teacher at a high school.

I have always wondered how many people go into the ministry because they don't know what to do with their lives. I have belonged to several churches in my lifetime... 2 Lutheran Missouri Synods, 1 Baptist, 1 Methodist, 2 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America , and 3 Presbyterian and ALL the pastors of ALL these congregations were from farm families of Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and one from rural Illinois. My niece's husband went to law school and failed the BAR and suddenly got a "calling from the Lord" to go into the ministry soon after that. Strange we never hear of people receiving a calling from the lord to go into the ministry who are IBM executives, Microsoft engineers, or NASA employees, etc.

Mark Plus said...

The clergy as a career has lost a lot of prestige in the past few centuries. Until fairly recently, the energetic, capable men had few career options other than the church, the law and the military. Now they can go into science, engineering, business, sports, politics, academia etc. Becoming a pastor falls way down the list of desirable occupations these days, so it doesn't surprise me a lot of disgruntled men who couldn't hack it in real jobs wind up behind the pulpit.

Travis said...

I don't think I can recall any atheist philosophy professor I have ever had who wasn't equally disgruntled. And isn't a podium in a classroom essentially the same thing as a pulpit of a church?

Stardust said...

And isn't a podium in a classroom essentially the same thing as a pulpit of a church?

Not really because we can discuss and argue in a classroom. In the classes at the university I went to, I didn't see everyone sitting there nodding in agreement with everything the professor said. There was a lot of debating, arguing and exchanging of ideas going on.

Jenny said...

There was a lot of debating, arguing and exchanging of ideas going on.

Ideally, that's the case in universities. It depends on the quality of the instructor. But you're right in that most universities at least try to maintain the pretense of encouraging independent thought.

Stardust said...

jenny -
I think it also has a lot to do with what type of university it is, where it is and like you say...WHO is teaching. Here in chicagoland we have universities where a lot of debating goes on with lots of viewpoints and discussions can get pretty intense. I had a Chinese-American professor who taught Bible as Literature in a Social Context class who we all thought was an atheist right up till the end of the semester. Turns out he is a Catholic! He also teaches Philosophy and Ethics and I had him for those classes also. In those classes he was also completely neutral and only a few of us knew he was Catholic because we had had him before. Most of my professors were like that.

Edward T. Babinski said...


In the 1600s in France, Jean Meslier served for 40 years as a priest of a small country parish, keeping his atheism (and presumably his 'proto-communistic' political views, and even his vegetarian diet) to himself.

But he did allow himself to write about religion, politics, and the suffering of women and animals as he say them in his day--composing a thousand page book of which he made four hand-written copies and gave to trusted friends for safe-keeping before he died.

A generation later, Meslier's private work was read by a young Voltaire among others who had heard rumours about such a book and sought it out.

Meslier's book influenced a host of people whom history regarded later as being quite influencial during the Enlightenment, even afterwards, right up till the 20th century. For a semi-garbled English translation of a recent article in French about Meslier, google:


Below are some excerpts from that article (that I hope I have ungarbled) that sum up a few of Meslier's religious observations:

"[Meslier pointed out that] this God wants us to love him, but he never manifests himself. A straightforward, clear and incontestable appearance ought to be in his power.

"And how can we love a power that we fear, a power that makes himself dreaded, and that we finally come to detest--so great is His cruelty manifested upon the most innocent people who bear the blows of fate.

"He wants obedience, but never makes his will clearly known.

"Meslier puts into perspective the pagan texts and the holy texts, then shows that miracles abound in each category as in the other.

"Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana [with its many tales of miracles] is as valuable as either the tales of the Gospels or tales in Catholic books about the lives of saints. [Interestingly, Bart Ehrman, a MODERN DAY biblical scholar, mentions on his tape series, "The Historical Jesus," that there is evidence that followers of Philostratus came into contact with followers of Jesus and argued with each other over the relative merits of the miracle-men/philosophers whom they each followed.]

"This man [the Son of God] pretends to come to earth to 'redeem' it, but regardless of such boasting nothing appears to have been redeemed in any clear and definite sense, for he himself suffered a horrible fate, dying after great agony, while the world itself continues to suffer ever afterwards.

"Moreover, Jesus's prophecies [about the near final judgment, promise of redemption and the kingdom of God] were never fulfilled. Such failures may flow from a disorderly human mind, but not from a son of God!

"On the supposed supernatural mystery of the consecrated Catholic host, the Middle Ages abounds with texts of philosophers and theologians giving long, laborious and unsmiling dissertations--all washed away in a single sentence by Meslier, who
defined the host as 'an idol of paste and flour'--equally as 'pagan' an idol as those of iron, wood, stone, gold, or silver, adored by the most backward people of ancient times. What folly! Jesus never asked to be worshiped in this bakery form. In no part of the Gospels can this stupid superstition be proven or deduced.

"It took Aristotle's distinctions, utilized by Christian philosophiers to establish the host's so-called philosophic legitimacy. Scholasticism, with its categories of 'substance, accidents, genera, and substantial forms,' is the sole authorization of this ontological three-card-monte that affirms bread and wine are transubstantiated into God 'in reality,' not 'symbolically'--'literally,' not 'figuratively'--and to argue as Thomas Aquinas did, that the body of a man dead two thousand years ago is identical with the wine originating in French vineyards, real blood of the same man."


ED: I had never heard nor read about Meslier before. But then if you dig through history, you will often uncover amazing characters you don't hear much about today.

For instance, anyone here heard of Musonius Rufus? Google:

"On Musonius Rufus: a Brief Essay"

"According to the Christian scholar Origen, popular sentiment held that the very best men in history were two in number: Socrates and Musonius. This was indeed a common sentiment, and his fame and reputation were astonishing." (Google the article on Musonius for more info!)

One last thing, the author of the article on Meslier is Michel Onfray, whose own works promote atheism, and continue to rise in popularity, especially among young readers in Europe where they are best sellers. Onfray's works have been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Greek, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. While an English translation of Onfray's best selling, Traité d'athéologie, should be in English within a year. But if you can read French and would like to learn more about Onfray, his 30+ books, and his Université Populaire, visit Onfray's website at http://perso.wanadoo.fr/


I was very interested to come across this website/self help group for those with no invisible means of support. I can see from some of your posts that you all seem so encouraged by ex ministers and present hirelings writing and shoreing up your nagging doubts that that there is no God and that the Lord Jesus is not His son which of course would make him God incarnate. just like when the apostle Paul encountered those stoic Greeks on Mars hill I can see that you love qouting the wisdom of this world and like them have no time for the unknown God.So as a saved man like Paul let me appeal to you for i know that God has set eternity in the hearts of men and that men have no excuse for thier unbelief as it states in the first chapter of Romans...dont let your athiestic wisdom make fools of you and be lost for eternity. Ebmrace the real pearl of wisdom THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE who paid a great price for those who will repent of thier sin and turn to him For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever belives on him shall not perish But have eternal life

Bahnsen Burner said...

Double edged sword, some points for you to consider:

1. Do you think it’s wrong for the members of this blog to be “so encouraged” when they find other people who, like themselves, awakened out of the delusion of god-belief and chose an honest path in life? I don’t.

2. Why would men need to “have... time for the unknown God”? If this god is thought to be immortal, eternal, indestructible, etc., it couldn’t need our time in the first place. So what’s the problem here?

3. “Unbelief” needs no more “excuse” than does honesty. Men need not apologize nor feel ashamed for choosing to be honest.

4. You speak of a “great price” which was allegedly “paid... for those who will repent of their sin...” This characterization of the gospel story has always seemed at best an overstatement if not an outright misreading of the story’s own outcome. The “great price” presumably refers to Jesus’ death on the cross. But according to the gospel story itself, what did Jesus really give up? The story says he came back to life three days later, so whatever he is said to have “given up” he got right back, and then some, if we take the NT’s accounts as our source. So really it appears that Jesus took a refund rather than paying a “great price.”

John W. Loftus said...

DOUBLE EDGED SWORD, spam like sermons are usually deleted. See "Our Policy Here."

You may directly respond to points made by others though. Try again.

Double edged sword said...

Mr loftus the book that I have given some scripture references from is a book that you now deride as false and irrelevant. as you will have observed i covered mr burners comments point by point The bible is my only frame of reference to your blog and lets face it you wouldnt have a blog if it wasnt for the bible what are you so frightend of? is it that someone may be converted by the truth of Gods word on your website let others decide if it was spam if you are the confident atheist you profess to be.

Mr loftus


(pardon the pun)

Daniel said...

God's ambassadors are a sorry lot, aren't they? Always representing this kingdom, they assure me, but one that they prove time and again to be undesirable, should it exist in the first place.

Steve said...

to non-believing minister. All the things I used to say such as, "God bless you! Keep the faith. God understands. I'm praying for you." have long sense ceased to be true, so what do I have left? I believe it is something even better - empathy. Thank God (oops! make that ex-wife) I am no longer a minister, but a happy ex truck driver (18 wheel cross country stuff) turned teacher. As a minister suffering deep depression from "suffering for Jesus", I prayed like hell and still lost everything I had. Although I don't have the courage to come out of the closet as an atheist, I am happier than I have ever been. I really believe that I can feel your pain. Before you do anything, line up a good job and then be concerned with saving yourself rather everyone else.

DBULL said...

I'm not surprised at all. The pastoral system that exists throughout today's apostate christianity is idolatrous. For anyone to expect the Lord I worship to bless, or be present in a system that He hates is crazy. Today's pastors deny that they are "intermediaries" between God and man, yet the system they serve makes them exactly that. There is no other intermediary between God and man but Jesus Christ. In the book of revelation, I believe 3 times it states that Jesus HATES the practices of the nicolaitins. Nicolaitin translated means "conquer the laity". I don't think Jesus hates the "laity" so what's left in the nicolaitin equation for Jesus to hate?......Every true believer is a priest and has direct access to the Creator, through Christ. We don't need any "laity conquerers" aka pastors to get in touch with our God. Look at some of the mega ministry pastors, if you think many if not most of the "laity" in those congragations don't idolize their rock star pastors, think again. I could go on. Bottom line is, I can rip apostate christianity from here to eternity, does that mean the true body of Christ and the real Jesus do not exist? Far from it. Once you've tasted the real thing, you can spot a fake from a mile away. Today's fakianity makes me sick to my stomach. You boys and girls should keep searching for the real thing, it's out there. Once you've experienced the real thing, nobody can argue you out of it. Cheers~D