Were We Former Christians? It Depends...

We have people who visit us here at DC who haven’t read previous discussions where we have each claimed to be former Christians. Christians who come here deny that we were ever Christians. We deny this. Since this particular question comes up so often, I am creating this Blog entry on it, so I can merely refer Christians here rather than continually arguing over and over about the same question.

At one time we were all members in different churches, from various denominations (anyone who doubts this can check our respective church registries). At one time we had a former member of the World-Wide Church of God here at DC. I am not opposed to having anyone who claims they were a former Christian to be a team member here, whether Catholic or Jehovah’s Witness, or Seventh Day Adventist. As an atheist I no longer make judgments about whether someone was a Christian. If they say they were one that's good enough for me. Judging whether somone is/was a Christian is something Christians do, not me. If you think other groups who claim to be Christians are not really Christians, then start a Blog called, “I know who the real Christians are! I know what they should believe! I know how they should act and vote!” Then provide us the link so that we can sit by and watch the ensuing debate….and laugh (sorry, but that’s exactly what I would do).

I am a former member of the centrist Christian Churches/Church of Christ (not the leftist Disciples of Christ, and not the right-wing non-instrumental Church of Christ). Some Christians think my former church group is a semi-heretical sect, and the reason is because of their view on baptism. But not everyone within Church of Christ circles adheres to the strict interpretation of Christian baptism being “necessary for salvation” (there is a swelling movement otherwise). I was personally let go of my teaching responsibilities at Great Lakes Christian College, Lansing, MI, for a couple of essays on Christian baptism, so maybe this helps Christians who visit here decide about me, if it matters at all.

And to a large degree it doesn’t matter whether Christians who visit here think we were former Christians, although we think such a view is very ignorant. They still have to deal with our arguments. So if you’re a Christian and you think we were never Christians in the first place, don’t harp about it. It’ll do you no good. It’ll just produce tension and frustration between us. You see, we know differently. It'd be like us claiming you really do not believe as a Christian. Who am I to make that judgment?

Christians who think this way about us are deluded, and that's only one of the delusions they have. Many of the other things they believe are delusions too. Maybe they ought to begin interpreting the Bible in light of the evidence instead of interpreting the evidence in light of the Bible? For starters, maybe Calvinistic theology is wrong? Many Christians reject such thinking. Start there.

I'll tell you what, for those of you who think there is no such thing as an ex-Christian, start a Blog and argue for Calvinism, or the once saved always saved doctrine. Invite Arminian Christians to debate this with you. Then when you all come to an agreement about this issue come back and tell us what it is. I just let Christians debate this issue. Don’t ask us how the Bible is to be interpreted here, and don’t quote a Bible verse to us that is interpreted differently by Arminian scholars. Instead go debate other Christians who disagree with you. We do not believe the Bible. So quoting a Bible verse will not show us otherwise. Again, since we are all former Christians we know otherwise. We have personal experience that the once save always saved doctrine is false, okay? You will not convince us otherwise, so don’t even try. Keep it to yourself if you believe otherwise, okay?

Your interpretation of the Bible on this issue needs to consider the evidence of every member here at DC as well as everyone mentioned in the almost encyclopedic link here. It’s very interesting to us that Christians will reject our personal testimonies to the contrary and at the same time believe the personal testimonies of ancient superstitious people in the Bible who claim to have experienced miracles, even though their testimonies are all contrary to our experiences in the modern world, where there are no miracles happening today on the same scale.

Christian, you can always investigate our claims. You can talk to people who know us (including past preachers and teachers, parents, siblings, friends, and people we ourselves converted to the Christian faith!); you can listen to our sermons; and you can read our Christian writings.

So, to answer your specific question, were the team members here ever really Christians? Well it depends on the particular perspective you want us to respond to.

There are two perspectives to describe our lives as former Christians. On the one hand, from our former Christian perspective, we can describe ourselves as having truly been Christians, in that we experienced salvation, regeneration, the Holy Spirit, and answered prayer. We had accepted Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross for our sins, and believed he bodily arose from the dead and would return to earth in the parousia. We repented from every known sin, again and again. We confessed “Jesus is Lord.” We prayed the non-Biblical sinner’s prayer (where is that in the Bible?) by inviting Jesus to come to live inside us. We had a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. Like you do now, we tried to live a spiritual life in gratitude for God’s grace by reading the Bible and obeying what we read in it. So we evangelized, tithed, attended worship services, Bible studies, and became leaders in our respective churches.

Some of us were ministers, pastors,and preachers. Others were Sunday school teachers, superintendents, elders, deacons, and/or Bible study leaders. s burgener taught Greek at his church! I taught people who are now in ministry at a Bible College. There are at least three men presently in the ministry because of my influence.

For you to reject our testimony you will probably have to reject the testimony of someone you know right now in your church whom you look up to as a Christian who may reject Christianity in the future. The problem is that you just may not personally know someone like that. But the chances are that you will. Then what will you think?

On the other hand, from our present skeptical perspective, the Christian faith is false and based upon ancient superstitions. We believe we were deluded about it. We were never true Christians in the sense that there is no truth to Christianity. If being a Christian means that we had a personal relationship with God-in-Jesus Christ, then we never had such a relationship, for such a supernatual being is based upon non-historical mythology. There is no divine forgiveness because there is no divine forgiver. There was no atonement because Jesus did not die for the world’s sins. There was no God-man in the flesh to believe in. Our petitionary prayers were nothing but wishful hoping. And we believe this is true about your claim to be a Christian too. You are not a Christian, either, because there is no Christ, no Messiah, no God-in-the-flesh, no Holy Spirit regeneration, no devil and no heaven to go to when you die.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding, and in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths

Tom Bailey said...

I disagree with quite a bit of content on this site. Why have a blog like this? What are you trying to do here? Read my latest entries and you will see some of the potential reasons.

http://sms100.blogspot.com/

Trinity said...

People think in different ways. Some people feel more comfortable viewing the world in a black and white way. The brand of Christianity that poses this “argument” caters to black and white thinkers. They simply cannot grasp any idea containing an ounce of ambiguity. Our attempts to argue with them will always be futile.

However, there are certain scenarios which I think their view point is correct. Many of us became Christians by default. We grew up in Cowpoke, USA, and never knew there were other options. It was only later as we saw outside our small community that we fully realized our folly. In this case we probably were never true believers in the first place.

At any rate, I don’t understand why they keep coming here and beating the same dead horse. If they truly believe in their god, let HIM judge us in His own time.

Anonymous said...

"Why have a blog like this? What are you trying to do here?"

To debunk Christianity.

If Christians are to preach, the freethinkers have their right to debate.

Anonymous said...

what anti-christian literature did you get your ideas from. Not to mention you're using circular reasoning since you read some anti-christian literature written by one a fallable author with bad reaserch and claim it is the truth. How do you know the anti-christian literature you got your ideas from is true?

John W. Loftus said...

Well, that anti-Christian literature is something that I personally wrote, for one. ;-)

Anonymous said...

john and your ideas are nothing new. You read them in some other literature that you use for your circular reasoning.

Tommy said...

No James, it is the authors of the various books of the Bible who are fallible.

John W. Loftus said...

James_so, what do you have against reading? Oh, it's anti-Christian literature you're against, right? But if you never read the opposing side, then can you truly claim to have an informed faith? How do you know if you're correct in your beliefs if you never take the time to seriously consider the views of those who disagree?

valuablecrop said...

Could you please reply to this post because I'd really like to know the answer :

The way Christianity has been historically understood is that we are *justified by faith alone* but *NOT by that faith which is alone*. This is crucial

What I mean is that although *faith alone* is all that's necessary for justification. If you profess faith, or even if you *believe* you have faith, that is NOT enough.

John MacArthur once said "What's your profession of faith worth...Absolutely NOTHING!"

Faith HAS to be accompanied by works. A HATRED of sin, a turning away from the things that God hates and towards the things that God loves, and a desire *not to be like the world* but to *be like Jesus Christ*.

This is very clear from the Bible e.g.

Matthew 7:21-23"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

The above verse shows *professing* believers, people with a *false assurance*, being turned away by Jesus, much to their surprise. Notice he says he *NEVER* knew them. NEVER. Not at any point. They thought they were Christians but they never truly changed their ways. And this is *evidence* that they weren't ever saved. Not *because* of their lack of works, BUT THE LACK OF WORKS *WAS* EVIDENCE.

Sorry for the capitalising and stuff, but it's hard to get this point across.

Bearing the above in mind it doesn't seem unreasonable to think that people who leave the faith aren't Christians. There's a verse that says this exact thing somewhere but I'll have to dig it out. I wonder what you think about this though.... Does this help you understand why we don't think you ever were Christians?

John W. Loftus said...

Valuablecrop, I know why you think the way you do. I just reject it.

If you end up in unbelief someday in the future, someone will say the same things about how you feel now. How will that make you feel for someone to say YOU were never a Christian in the first place? That exactly how we feel.

Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous question. How can you make judgement about who was and wasn't "really" a Christian? And if I may add, who are you to even ask such a question? Did your "God" give you the right to question a person's faith?
Like the bloggers on this site (which is wonderful I might add), I "was" a Christian too, growing up in a Pentacostal Church in Long Beach, CA. I asked Jesus into my heart twice when I was 12, as I was scared that it didn't "take" the first time.
I fully lost my faith around 23, after concluding that if the Christian God makes it *possible* for Adolf Hitler, convicted murderers, priests who rape little kids, Christian KKK members who bomb churches, and everyone's favorite bigot Pat Robertson to go to heaven, then I don't want to go there.
The bar is substantially lowered for these people, and I have no interest in going to a place where they are allowed. I also have no respect for the man who let them in.
For you Christians who are on the edge, don't be afraid to THINK. Don't align yourself with a religion which at it's heart is bigoted and discriminatory.

Wonderful blog you guys/gals have here.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Let me first say that I am a Christian myself. However, I am amazed at the conversation here. I think some of the things you are discussing are very interesting. I like to think of myself as a left-wing believer. I tend to see less black and white than the traditional Christian. I think it is sad that alot of Christians are obviously threatened by your ideas. I will be the first to say that I don't know everything about the Bible, Jesus, God, The Holy Spirit, etc. However, I always found in the past that people get uptight when they don't have solid grounding on what they believe. I hope that people will take a moment to chill and read everything you have to say. If they are not threatened by it, then they will seek out the truth by hearing both sides and make their decision. I just think it is impossible for either side of the discussion to every "win" in a debate. Both have to deal with faith - one, the lack of faith and the other, the denial of faith. Faith is a debate all by itself. I am personally not bothered by your ideas or your personal opinions. I have friends who are preachers and friends who are complete athiest and even a few who have no freakin' idea what they are. Ha.
Anyway, I just thought I would say thank you for letting me have the opportunity to comment. I really had nothing "deep" to say other than communication is where understanding "begins" - not where it ends. I hope that other Christians will read carefully what you have to say and search for themselves. I appreciate the way you communicate your point. I have yet to see anything from you that I felt like was a personal attack on Christians or Christianity - just your thoughts and oppinions based on your personal thoughts, understandings and views. I appreciate your views.
Thanks,
JB

alexrob said...

You are making simple things complicated. The mark of a Christian is not only confessional but enduring. 'Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life'. By all means join the history of attacks on Christ (though you seem to struggle to think beyond the USA) but do not pretend that you were Christian when your blog proves the opposite. If Judas could be so near and yet so far, you most certainly could have been.

Your answer to a similar point above seems to be 'I hear you but reject it'. What kind of rational answer is that? Can you not see that if keeping the faith is a mark of true faith it debunks your debunking? Or rather it simply means that you are an atheist with an insider's insight and a grudge.

Well, I was more of an atheist than you'll ever be, and I'll tell you that the more of it you get the more emptiness you're going to find.

Anonymous said...

Well well well, what have I stumbled onto !? I was an athiest once until God proved me wrong about that. I tried to prove Him wrong but He just kept loving me, as He does you guys, and then, remarkably, He set about forging a real and incredibly meaningful relationship with me. (to my utter amazement). Is this imaginery? Absolutely not. Am I fanciful or reaching out for false hope? Absolutely not. Have I got some incurable fear of hell that keeps me from not believing in God? No, what drives my faith is that each day I discover incredible things about His love for others and His "unfathomable nature". Actually God tells us very very clearly that His nature is actually "fathomable" if we are brave enough to venture out and discover it. The issue of suffering and evil is something I've looked at logically from both sides of the coin. The reality is we live in both a cruel and unforgiving world and we live in an awe inspiring and incredibly beautiful world. My glass isn't half empty so I will always polarise to the latter, however we must never deny the former as it is in this world that if you have a heart to do so, we can affect the most change for the better. You see, whilst we are debating the existence of God and the problem of evil people are starving and people need your help and need to see a practical extension of God's love, in whatever form. (incidently, anyone is capable of doing that, whether 'thiest' or athiest, whatever they may be.) ie: I don't think God pays too much attention to titles such as these, He just loves His people and has layed down His life for them and desperately wants them to 'go and do good, stop arguing and go make a difference!' I said a brief farewell today to some friends who were off to a remote village in The Sudan (a war torn country if there ever was one, with human suffering beyond imagination). The reason for 12 people to spend alot of money each as well as their personal time is becuase they simply want to help create some quality of life to a remote village without easily accessible water and without any real solid building structure. So these people are going there to partner with this particular tribe to build a multipurpose building that will be used for their primary needs. These being education, hospilisation and general health management and worship. Yes, these remote villagers fully believe in the God of the Bible. (and please don't assume they are primitive or uneducated to believe such a thing. This would demean them, they are valueable and terrific people). A well will be dug in time and a rain water tank will be installed alongside this multipurpose building. This village is living in abject poverty and they are deeply moved that a small group of people would be brave enough to come across from Australia and risk life and limb to help these forgoten ones(they have to be on the look out constantly for local bandits, etc). But such is the love of some people for others they have never met that they would in fact do this. Are they 'bleeding hearts' hopelessly misguided? No, they are highly intelligent loving people who know what they want in life. They want to share their resources and skills with ones far less fortunate. They want to share the love of Christ in a most practical way, even if they never spoke a word about Him. Note: They are NOT going there to preach in any way, but to love others unconditionally (and to work incredibly hard to meet a 10 day dealine to get all of this done!).
So why the arguements guys?? God’s really not that interested in your arguments, He’s interested in your hearts. Let's all get a life and go make a difference!

Anonymous said...

I am said to read about you but I am not as said as when I hear that christians convert to islam.In the case of those who prefer islam,I can see that they do not like the freedom of Christian worship,they prefer to be treated like children-to be told what to do such as to pray 5 times a day,to fast during ramadan,to dress a certain style.
In your case-I think it is arrogance.You seem to think you are so wise you do not need God or the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.I am so sorry that you are atheists or agnostics or whatever.I hope God will guide you and bring you back.

Anonymous said...

Although most of us are brought up in Christian homes,unlike islam as adults no one forces us to believe or not to believe.Christianity does not mean anything without the free will and the personal efforts we put to believe in Jesus.We will be judged not by how many times we went to church or prayed or did good to others.God sees through our hearts and of what substance we're made of.So Christianity cannot be indoctrinated period,you are a proof to that.You are fallen into the hands of the manipulative devil-the evil one is not stupid,he plays tricks on your intellect and deceives you.

Anonymous said...

My dear friend,

I am not sure that the term "former Christian" can actually exist. Romans 8:39 paints a wonderful picture for us. Those of us who screw up, those of us make mistakes... It is sometimes referred to as the "golden chain" FOREKNEW, PREDESTINED, CALLED, JUSTIFIED, GLORIFIED. All those wonderful verbs, the even better part is that the noun HE is before all of them. God did it all God saved us from our sin, and all this
is past tense.

Anyway you said no sermons! Verse 39 says ..."nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Once saved always saved so again you cannot shed true Christianity. They type of Christianity that is found in Christ Jesus.

American Christianity... I was born in America, I listen to country music, I go to 1st (insert denomination)church of any town, USA.or the I walked the aisle when I was 2,3,6, and after I smoked dope because I felt bad, Christianity, can be shed like dirty underwear.

So friend if you made a TRUE commitment to Jesus Christ then I am excited to say you are still one and the pretense of you title is non-existent. Although I do have to say that it is catchy.

Like you have asked, I assume, for people to consider your view. I ask you to consider mine. What if I am wrong? Ok so I led a good life, I trusted in something that was fulfilling, and joyful. Something that made overseas deployment in the middle of combat and thousands of miles away from my wife that much easier to swallow.

However if you are wrong there is an eternity waiting for you. An eternity full of punishment... I am sure you have heard all the descriptions.

Anonymous said...

Well I for one have no desire to spend 'eternity' worshiping at the feet of our egotistical creator. I'd rather enjoy myself with the life I've been given to do with as I wish, and bugger eternity to hell. :o)

TEC said...

Dear sirs,

The "once saved, always saved" doctrine is not debunked by the fact that people who once saw themselves as Christians no longer see themselves as such. It simply means that they might not have been Christians to begin with; one may go to church for decades and not be saved.

I hope your questions about Christianity will be answered, as I see that you are voicing your doubts out of a real desire for the truth. However, I also hope that you will weigh the arguments you will encounter objectively and logically. All the best.

Anonymous said...

looks like a slick way to sell your books!

Anonymous said...

Too bad you are prostituting your spirituality for a little fame and $$$. A rather shortsighted investment?

John W. Loftus said...

Why do you feel you have to psychoanalyze me? I could do that with you too. The issue stands or falls on the truth. I really no longer believe, and I am sharing the reasons why I no longer believe here at DC. Deal with the arguments.

Speedwell said...

Anonymous on Jan. 16 says:

I was an athiest once until God proved me wrong about that. I tried to prove Him wrong but He just kept loving me, as He does you guys, and then, remarkably, He set about forging a real and incredibly meaningful relationship with me. (to my utter amazement). Is this imaginery? Absolutely not. Am I fanciful or reaching out for false hope? Absolutely not. Have I got some incurable fear of hell that keeps me from not believing in God? No, what drives my faith is that each day I discover incredible things about His love for others and His "unfathomable nature". Actually God tells us very very clearly that His nature is actually "fathomable" if we are brave enough to venture out and discover it.

I don't believe God actually did any such thing. I think you successfully brainwashed yourself with the enthusiastic help of your Christian friends. If you had any verifiable evidence of a "real" relationship (hint: "real" means "part of reality," not "something I just made up"), you certainly did not present it here.

I invite you to present verifiable evidence that your assertions are true. In the meantime, I will go on assuming you are a pathetic, self-deluding wishful thinker like all other Christians (including myself when I was one).

Michael said...

TEC,

I don't seem to understand you. So if a person goes to church and continually asks to for forgiveness, all the while praying to God for more faith, as he reads and understands the world around him; you would still say that this person is not or was not a true Christian?
What can a person, which God created, do other than ask his creator to anoint him with the blessing of more faith? If I followed your argument, I would say the blame would lie with God as to why these people have walked away. They seek and learn. They fast and pray. They want God to comfort them because they need comforting due to all the doubt in them. If he does not answer that prayer it is in him

Bryan said...

The best debunker of the "Once Saved, Always Saved" doctrine is common sense and logic.
How can you "fall away" from something to which you were never "attached" to begin with?
This peculiar teaching renders Paul's warnings to Christians about apostasy utterly meaningless.
See "Once Saved, Always Saved? Sign Me Up!" www.webspawner.com/users/eternalosas/index.html

Lawrence said...

Interesting passage I found in Hebrews...
"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, WHO HAVE SHARED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, IF THEY FALL AWAY, to be BROUGHT BACK TO REPENTANCE, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace." Hebrews 6:4-6

luvbeingachristian said...

I am sad for you because you know God says it is better never to have known him than to have known him and left him. You don't know how lucky you are to have a God who would die like that for you, while the rest of humanity is dying to try to get to their gods. The saddest part is whatever happened to you to make you Christ haters won't matter when your soul is hanging in the balance. You look for facts, he see's your faith. Who has bewitched you oh foolish Galatians. The letter kills it is the spirit who gives live. Your brokenness caused you to run away from rather than towards God. If your conversion from Jesus was valid you could have ran alone, but people feel better in a company of miserable people. The best thing is, He'll take you back. So I am going to put my faith up against your facts and one day I will watch you renounce your anti-christishness. The night is far spent and the day is coming. You should take a trip to where I have been and watched Christians die for the Christ who never gave them a car, house, money or whatever your whining about. They died believing just that GOD is and he is a rewarder of them that seek him. You didn't get your way and you got mad, poled. But even spoiled kids come home when play time is over. Will your factual hatred save your family or your children when you need faith. NOPE! He has a way of bringing us back to him. Ill see you in heaven my brother, I believe God for all of your safe returns home.
Ps Satans trying t debunk Jesus for ever dude...he can't do it either and I know he gets frustrated trying. It must suck for satan to be the bastard child now lol...why don't you spend some time debunking him. If you don't beleive in Jesus I dare you to go after Satan, I bet you'll beleive Jesus when he's done with ya'll.

jrcox66 said...

Alright, lol (laugh out loud) this site is definitely one of the most amusing sites i've ever been on. For my entire life I was raised in a Christian home / Christian school. Got through all of that and became a drug dealer. Cut things short I got out of that lifestyle went completely straight and gave my life to God and changed things around. Now I know there is quite a bit of truth to Christianity historically, but I understand all the skepticisms everyone faces. To be honest lately everything has been going downhill and just messing up completely in my life. I have never ever heard Gods voice, and I constantly ask him why the f*ck is my life so damn shitty right now .. and I never get any sort of answer at all. So I guess I believe in Christianity because I have faith and it is one of the most historically accurate books. However I fail to understand how such a compassionate God can allow his children to go through so much BULLSHIT. Right now Im facing so many troubles in my life and I keep asking God for help and I wake up relying on myself because at the end of the day thats all im left with. If my life f*cks up I dont have to worry about God being homeless, its me that has to carry that burden. Everyone says God is there for you, but as the days pass I find that harder and harder to believe. Im sorry if I offend any Christians out there, but I am a self professed full out Christian. Right now though all I do is question myself, and ask if God loves his people so much why does he put them through so much pain.

Brian said...

I don't doubt that some of the people here were probably Christians and fell away, because I do not hold the once saved always saved doctrine. I do however, believe that some of the people here who proclaim to be atheists now, probably were not Christians. I say that as someone who grew up in a Christian home, dedicated my life to God at an altar call, and served in the church and church leadership for 30+ years, but only in the last few years did I truly become a Christian even though through my whole life I thought I was. There is a huge difference between doing Christian things, praying, and leading the church, and actually being someone who has submitted to God's lordship in such a way that He is more important than anything in this world including one's job, wealth, health, and family. To the previous poster, hang in there. A lot of doubt arises in times of suffering, but that is often because people presuppose that earthly suffering is the worst thing you can experience. If your spiritual character which is eternal, is built and refined at the cost of earthly discomfort which is temporary, then it is a favorable working of God.

Anonymous said...

To Brian

How can you even prove the existence of 'god' without any verifiable proof? Don't go putting the 'faith' card on either, as that will not work on me.