Joseph's Deconversion Story

For sometime now a blogger named Joseph (aka Jospeh) has been visiting DC and commenting. I asked him for his story. Here it is:

I was raised in a strict fundamentalist home by my dad (a minister) and mom (an anti-feminist homemaker). My grandfather was an evangelist and preacher in the churches of Christ. My dad followed in his footsteps and I in his. Three generations steeped in the dogmatism and confident swagger that is so characteristic of those belonging to "the true church." Growing up, I heard hundreds of sermons which "exposed" the doctrinal falsehoods of "denominationalism." I learned to "speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent," and to have a Bible passage to back up every belief I held. To top it all off, I was homeschooled from 5th grade through high school and became quite familiar with the curriculum of Bob Jones and Bill Gothard.

I was baptized at right before my 13th birthday (incidentally, against my mother's wishes, who thought that I should wait until I was an adult). Shortly after I was baptized I felt the calling to preach. The pulpits in the churches of Christ, as you probably know, can be quite dry and didactic. As I begin to delve into the Bible for myself, I felt that it could be made more practical and accessible to the average person. My parents happily schooled me in the art of public speaking. I read several standard books on the doctrines and teachings of the church, but found that my sermons were more issue oriented. I admired preachers like James Kennedy and Chuck Swindoll who told it like it was and saw my own ministry headed in that direction. My radical mother supported me as I began speaking out against rock music, dating, and the separation of church and state and for homeschooling, courtship, and America's Christian history.

By age 16, I had read the Bible through multiple times and believed that I understood what it was all about. I had an answer for every question, a comeback for every objection, and a reconciliation for every discrepancy found in Scripture. My doctrine was well-contained in a nice, neat, little box that remained relatively undisturbed for the first 7 years of my Christian walk.

At one point I remember being disgusted with the whole sin problem and I said to myself, "You know what, this is ridiculous. There is no reason for me to go one sinning against God any longer. I'm just not going to sin anymore." That lasted for about 30 seconds, but the experience planted a nagging doubt in my mind. Why was God allowing sin to have such a stranglehold on my life? Why wouldn't I, through his power, be able to overcome anxiety, fear, loneliness, depression, and sexual temptation? And why didn't I always sense the presence and approval of God in my life?

Nevertheless, my passion for preaching continued. Wherever my dad's ministry took the family, I believed that my purpose was to bloom where I was planted. Usually that meant "livening up" small, struggling congregations across the south, mid-west, and northwest. Like many fundamentalists, I came at it from the perspective that I was there set other people straight. Meanwhile, the silent doubts about my faith continued--doubts which I successfully pushed to the side for a time, but would one day come exploding to the surface.

Some may assume that my faith was superficial and, looking back, in some ways my understanding of biblical theology certainly was. But my conviction was rock solid. I was ready to die for Christ and his principles. As long as I stayed sheltered in my own family and church community, my faith remained strong and stable.

It was not until I joined the military that my world was shaken. For the first time I was exposed to people from all walks of life--including other denominations. I saw the best and worst of humanity. During this time, I also went through a serious physical trial. I felt abandoned by God and trapped in my situation with no particular end in sight. For an entire year, I didn't pray or read the Scriptures. My spiritual life was drying up and cracking, but my spiritual identity was not gone completely. As I hit rock bottom, I realized that I was truly saved and could never leave my Lord.

When I got out the military I found a wonderful church home and became a minister there in a number of capacities. It felt good to be back in my groove, teaching multiple Bible classes, leading youth group meetings, conducting Bible studies, and preaching several sermons a week. I devoured the apologetic works of Norm Giesler, the creationist writings of Henry Morris, and every John MacArthur book I could get my hands on. I happily shielded myself from books and television promoting different points of views (my only exposure to skeptical points of view was by way of Giesler's "When Skeptics Ask").

Ten years into my ministry, however, the doubts reappeared and started to chip away at my faith once again. Some doubts were little ("Why did Abraham, Moses, David continue to sin when they had experienced first hand the power and presence of God in a way we can only dream of?") and others great ("Why does a loving God allow terrible, tragic things to happen to people?"). The atrocities recorded in the Old Testament ( e.g. the Israelite conquests) impacted me in a way they never had before. Suddenly, I saw clearly: there was a huge discrepancy between what evangelicals of every stripe professed and what the Bible taught. I awakened to the vast difference in character between Yahweh and Jesus. I realized that if an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God existed he would do something to clean up the evil in his world--since it was quite obviously more than the church could handle. On an intuitive level, things just didn't make sense.

I began surfing the net to read unorthodox opinions about Christianity. I stumbled across DC and my world was changed. My paradigm was shifting and along with it, my identity. Everything I had been so sure about was fading away. For those who have never struggled with their faith, I cannot put into words the awfulness of the feeling. When the rug is pulled out from underneath you, it's not such a great thing. Believe me, I would have never chosen the path of unbelief had not my honest, intellectual and intuitive search led me there.

Where do I go from here? Well, I will continue to keep an open mind. Yet, I have a new found boldness that has allowed me to question things like never before. It is completely refreshing to be able to speak out in a forum like DC or in my conversations with family member and friends without the fear that God is looming over me, waiting to strike me down for even the hint of unbelief. And, by the way, I still attend church. Why? Because there are good people at my church doing a good work. I have yet to find another organization of people who can replace the family spirit and warm encouragement that the church gives me. On the other hand, there are some things about the church that are ugly and hateful and if that ever outweighs the good, I will probably leave for good.

For now I am like a sponge, learning all I can about the faith that I have left and my understanding of life and the universe grows exponentially from week to week. I now proudly fix myself to ranks of the freethinkers and am grateful that there are other people like me who are willing to call it like they see it and engage in honest dialogue.

44 comments:

Dan Marvin said...

"the doubts reappeared and started to chip away at my faith once again. I saw clearly: there was a huge discrepancy between what evangelicals of every stripe professed and what the Bible taught."

This was the same thing that happened to Dan Barker 'Losing Faith in Faith"

We are tempted YES. that doesn't mean we feed those temptations. (remember the three monkeys)

We don't bring a sex addict to a porn shop, we don't bring a alcoholic to a bar and we don't feed the doubt we must continue in FAITH.

"I began surfing the net to read unorthodox opinions about Christianity." like bringing a alcoholic to a bar.

"Everything I had been so sure about was fading away." You broke your promise to God, dude. Remember step 5 (5. Remain faithful to the Covenant you have made with God.) (2 Thessalonians 2:8-11; Romans 1:18-32)

"Where do I go from here?" Get back on your knees with a broken and contrite heart and ask for forgiveness for doubting, which is sinful and bad fruit if you haven't noticed by now.

"For now I am like a sponge, learning all I can about the faith" I hope you mean by reading God's word.

You are what is called a false convert and you can read about it in my blog comments. It is titled "What fruit will grow in a True Christians life:" Read the 6 characteristics of a False Convert: and see if it doesn't fit your scenario.

Remember what Ephesians 2:8 and 9 tells us, "For it is by grace you have been saved THROUGH faith...

I will pray for you Joseph.

Stargazer said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. Every time I read of someone else's experience in this area, I feel it gives me a little more courage in my own.

My greatest difficulty lies in the fact that all my relationships are connected to the church in one way or another. Most of my family are firmly ensconced in the evangelical world, I work for a ministry in a mainline denomination, my friendships are nearly all with people who profess belief in some form of traditional Christianity, ranging from the more conservative to the more liberal theological understandings. I have only two people with whom I have felt free to even begin to broach the subject. And there, most carefully.

For those of you who have read Valerie Tarico's book, that probably is as close a picture to my own early experience as anything else I've read so far. Replace Wheaton College with Houghton College (a "sister" college to Wheaton in the Christian College Consortium), and the stories are nearly identical.

While I am experiencing more freedom, more awe, more excitement internally than I have in many years at the prospects of freedom opening up in my life, at the same time I dread the idea of hurting those who love me and who will seriously believe that I am lost eternally. And when all of your friends and work colleagues are part of this belief system, how do you find support for this new way of seeing?

Again, many thanks for sharing your journey.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Joseph,
thanks for sharing.
Like dorothy you've awoken to find your friends standing around you.
Welcome to the bright side of life.

1 Thes. 5:4
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;
for you are all sons of light and sons of day We are not of night nor of darkness;
so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

Dan Marvin wrote:
"We are tempted YES. that doesn't mean we feed those temptations."

Tempted, yes. Tempted to think, to reason, to pay attention to what the Bible actually says instead of what the preachers say that it says, tempted to look for truth and goodness where we have been told it would be found.

"Hunger and thirst after righteousness"; remember that beatitude? Trouble is, it is not to be found in the Bible.

Dan Marvin said...

Now come on Lee, why would you take verses out of context for your gain? Lets look at it in context, Paul was addressing the assembly of believer of Christ Look what it says in...

1 Thessalonians 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

He was addressing believers vs your non believer adaptation.

Hmm reminds me of someone once said (oh yea just yesterday on this blog):

- People "remember the hits and forget the misses". People are naturally terrible at perceiving and interpreting probabilistic data.
- People are more likely to believe a story if it fits with what they already believe or want to believe.
- People will change their evidence based viewpoint if it contradicts the viewpoint of the group.
- People look for confirmation of what they already believe and disregard things that contradict.

"Like dorothy you've awoken to find your friends standing around you."

- People are more likely to believe a story if it comes from someone they like.

You are helping Joseph go strait to hell, what kind of friend is that?

Joseph said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for NOT listening or trying to understand. I hope that someday when you have honest doubts you know what it's like to get the cold shoulder like this. No, actually, I hope you find other people--like the good men and women of this forum--who are willing to lend you an ear and encourage your to courageously face your doubts WITHOUT fear or condemnation.

You said, "We are tempted YES, that doesn't mean we feed those temptations." Sounds like perfect reasoning...for a cultist. "Never question." "Your doubts are the devil whispering in your ear." "If you doubt maybe you aren't really saved." "You just need to pray more." Sorry, it takes more than childish scare tactics to shake me these days. I'm all about bringing our beliefs out in the open where we can examine them honestly and thoroughly in the light of day, not clinging to them out of fear of an angry thunder god.

You said my willingness to listen to other points of view was "like bringing an alcoholic to a bar." LOL! Say what?!? Nice use of a pejorative! Ever watch those movies where a person sees a crime, but everyone else is telling them they really didn't see it, that they're actually crazy? That's kind of how I feel when I talk to my fellow Christians about my doubts. It's always MY fault. Let me ask you, Dan, if you never question yourself, your theology, or your faith, how do you really KNOW that you're right? Your faith is not truly yours if you aren't willing to ask the hard questions. Why would you condemn me for doing so?

"You broke your promise to God, dude." No, I didn't. I have honest doubts and last time I checked, the Bible never condemns anyone for that. In the story of Doubting Thomas, did Christ jump all over him (like you did me) or did he patiently show him the nail prints in his hands? That's all I want God to do for me.

Let's say I do somehow find my faith again. If the parable of the Prodigal Son is right, the father will be awaiting me with open arms if I come back, won't he? Danny boy, you're response reminds me of the spoiled, selfish son who doesn't think his Prodigal brother is deserving of the fatted calf. The God painted by the New Testament (not the Old) is a gracious God, so I'm sure if he exists he's more that willing to help me through my doubts. Besides, according to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 God is supposed to be able to preserve me blameless until Christ returns. I didn't want to fall away, believe me, I just reached the point where I couldn't believe anymore (at least not believe and keep my brain at the same time!) So why didn't God keep me from falling?

"I hope you mean by reading God's word." I read it quite often, as a matter of fact--now from a refreshingly different perspective. Oh yeah, and I listen to Christian programs on the radio constantly as I'm traveling for business, seeking to understand why I once believed so sincerely. The more I listen, the more convinced I made the right choice to walk away. Evangelicals can barely agree on anything outside of the atonement (and even that they can't completely agree on!).

"You are what I call a false convert." Dan, forgive me, but you are a moron. You know nothing about me or my spiritual history, much less my heart, so kindly piss off. You are the stereotypical self-righteous Pharisee. Your judgmental stance does no favors to the evangelical movement.

As for your simplistic 6 characteristics, none of them describe me! I have been a dedicated Christian for 20 years who has always taught and lived grace through faith. The problem, is, if I examine the Bible for what it is, without any vested interest in proving it to be true, I see it for what it is. It is a collection of ancient writings that are confused and contradictory. Writings that cannot even hold together a coherent picture of God! And your theology, sir, barely hangs together by a thin string of circular reasoning. You need the writings of Calvin, volumes of commentaries & devotionals, and the loud, boisterous preaching of a Chuck Swindoll or E.V. Hill to give it the semblance of a viable belief system. If a person were stranded on a desert island with just the Bible they would never come to a systematic view of it. The book just cannot stand on its own without some serious props.

"I will pray for you Joseph." Yeah, right. Sure you will.

Joseph said...

stargazer, thank you for your warm and empathetic response! Please feel free to email me through as you struggle through your faith (John has my email address, if he doesn't mind giving it to you). I have no pat answers, but there is no shame in following your suspicions and exploring your doubts. If the Bible and the Christian faith is true, then it should hold up under such scrutiny and your faith, theoretically at least, should be stronger for the journey.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Dan Marvin,
Its called irony.
Its a literary device.
here is a link to answers.com that describes it.

I posted the rest of my response in my article, since that portion of your comment more appropriately belongs there.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Dan Marvin:
I want to thank you for your response to Joseph. I am unaware of any post made here that so certainly displays the total intellectual (and moral) bankruptcy of your type of evangelical Christianity as did your increibly obtuse comments. (they are so perfect I can only suggest that Lee turn them into a post -- called, maybe, "An Evangelical Replies to a Doubter" and link to it in the FAQ.

Everyone who has read Joseph's series of comments here has been impressed by the essential goodness of the man, and has watched him struggle as his conscience and intellectual honesty has forced him to confront a belief he wanted desperately to hold on to, a belief that had ordered his life, that had been handed down from his parents. And he knew the cost -- not just your 'threat of hell' -- but the personal cost accepting his unbelief would make him pay. His friends, his family all would be shaken.

You could have attempted to answer his questions and challenges -- perhaps badly, but you could have tried. You could have showed some understanding for his struggles. Instead what you said, in effect, was 'if your mind leads you to sin, cut it off.' You said 'if your honesty forces you to doubt, better be dishonest and saved than honest.' You said 'if your conscience makes it impossible to profess a belief you no longer hold, then do not listen to your conscience.'

And the mad irony in your statement is that you, yourself do not follow your words. You challenge his statement 'there was a huge discrepancy between what evangelicals ... profess and what the Bible taught.' But I know the differences between evangelicals, and know that if I put you in a room with five of them of different churches, there would be at least two or three that you would argue profess things the bible doesn't teach.

You describe doubting as sinful, but as an evangelical, your whole purpose is to make people of other beliefs doubt those beliefs. If you met a Muslim who told you that the Qur'an was dictated by God through an angel, you would tell him "Doubt it!"

If I were still a Catholic and told you the Bible showed that Christ instituted a Church to protect his message, that salvation required works, not faith alone, you would do your best to make me doubt it.

I don't know how you stand on 'the Rapture' -- that absurd invention of the 19th century preacher, Darby -- but if you met some evangelical who took the opposite view, you'd thunder "Doubt it"

And when we tell you that all of science, all observations, all evidence supports evolution, supports an earth that has been around for billions of year, you scream we should DOUBT athe evidence, the observations, and instead accept the writings of a book written when people believed the world was flat.

(And when we study that book, and find its sources, find the threads that are woven into the Pentateuch, find how the gospels that were accepted conflict, and see the gospels that were rejected, you tell us to get down on our knees. close our eyes (and keep them closed) and pray, pray that this knowledge will depart from us.

Thank you Dan. Joseph has already showed how strongly you confirmed his decision. I hope many others will read your words when the doubts begin for them.

GordonBlood said...

"Everyone who has read Joseph's series of comments here has been impressed by the essential goodness of the man, and has watched him struggle as his conscience and intellectual honesty has forced him to confront a belief he wanted desperately to hold on to, a belief that had ordered his life, that had been handed down from his parents."
While this is no place to question one's theological beliefs in the sense that we can never know for sure, im pretty sure Joseph had more-less lost his faith before he came to DC. I am not going to (as so many people do both who are atheists and Christians) question why he has become agnostic or whether or not he was a "true" Christian because those terms usually just seep things in extreme relativism. Do I think Joseph has misunderstandings, misunderstanding greatly propagated by arrogant preachers like James Kennedy? Yes. But ultimately it is his choice and noone but him can make it. Christians shouldnt be absolutely amazed about things like this considering how clear Christ makes it that some people would reject him and others wouldnt. As for Dan Marvin and while I dont want to engage in a mud-throwing contest (and wont be checking this post again anyways) I think he is being borderline heretical in saying that we should just believe in faith or never question things. He may very well be a Christian, but Christ-like he certainly wasnt.

Dan Marvin said...

"Let me ask you, Dan, if you never question yourself, your theology, or your faith, how do you really KNOW that you're right?"

I will say it again. A mother tells a child not to touch that hot Iron and the kid listens and believes his Mom. As soon as the Mom leaves the room the child touches the Hot Iron and gets burned. He just went from a belief the Iron 'was' hot to an experience that the Iron 'is' hot with 100% assurance. No one can come and tell him otherwise because his experience tells him different. He is 100% certain the Iron is hot and he has the burn to prove it.

Well I have felt the Hot Iron of God's hand on me and cannot be persuaded otherwise because I have an experience that removed ALL doubt, I am 100% certain there is a God. God will manifest himself to you as promised in John 14:21

"I have honest doubts and last time I checked, the Bible never condemns anyone for that.." Oh really?

Deuteronomy 28:66 "And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:" Matthew 14:31 "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Luke 12:29 "And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind." Romans 14:23 "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."

The Bible is clear that if you are not of God then you are of the Devil. Doubt does not = faith. How can anyone doubt God is beyond me there is evidence but it is your presupposition that keeps you from the truth. In 2 John the 7th verse it is clear "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."

The Bible describes hell as unquenchable fire,(Mark 9:43) outer darkness,(Matthew 22:13) a furnace of fire and a place where people wail and gnash their teeth,(Matthew 13:42) and a lake of fire.(Revelation 20:15) where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched,(Mark 9:48) and where people are in agony in flames.(Luke 16:24) Perhaps the most terrifying passage in the Bible describing hell says that men will "drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night." (Revelation 14:10-11)

"did he patiently show him the nail prints in his hands? That's all I want God to do for me."

Remember rich man and Lazarus . God said If they don't believe The Bible, neither will they be persuaded with anything else.

A sinner without being washed of those sins can not be in the presence of God because he would burst into flames. (Genesis 32:30) You want to see proof but as sinners you would all perish so God stays away, for your own good. Look what happened to Saul (now Paul) he was blinded by God’s holy presence of light.

So why didn't God keep me from falling?"

You mean like Adam or the people making the golden calf when Moses came down from the mountain or countless others. Dude, it is called 'free will' for a reason. You have the choice to sin but there are consequences. Mankind made cars and alcohol and you have the choice to drink and drive but that does not mean you will not go to jail when your caught.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said... "If I were still a Catholic and told you the Bible showed that Christ instituted a Church to protect his message, that salvation required works, not faith alone, you would do your best to make me doubt it."

The Bible says to evaluate everything to see if it is of God by its fruit, good tree = good fruit; a bad tree can never bear good fruit. We don’t even have to address the Catholic Church and the mass pedophiles, and the crusades to determine the fruit, it is obvious.

GordonBlood said... "I think he is being borderline heretical in saying that we should just believe in faith or never question things. He may very well be a Christian, but Christ-like he certainly wasnt."

Phil. 1:15-18 "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."

Here is a quick witness:

God came as a man here on earth to pay for all your sins. By sins I mean breaking the Ten Commandments which are God's law. The law was made as a mirror for us. In the same way, we don't realize what a bad state we are in until we look into the "mirror" of the Ten Commandments. Have you stolen, lied, dishonored your mother and father etc. then you broke his laws, and the penalty is death. Revelation 21:8 says all liars have their part in the lake of fire. But God doesn't want that to happen to you, nor do I.

Jesus died on the cross so that he took the punishment for the sins of this world for your sins and my sins; he was being bruised for our iniquities, the Bible says. He was paying our fines in his life's blood so we can leave the courtroom on the Day of Judgment. He rose from the grave and defeated death. What we have to do is repent, which is turn away from sinning and trust in Jesus, that He died on that Cross for your sins and put your faith in him. Let him lead your life, then you will be forgiven of all your sins and have eternal life. Isn't that great news!

God's word declares that this is God's plan of salvation; 1. Hear the WORD of God. 2. Believe that Jesus is the Messiah. 3. Repent of your ways that are contrary to God's will. 4. Be Baptized INTO Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 5. Remain faithful to the Covenant you have made with God.

John W. Loftus said...

Dan, just do a search on this site for things like "Hell" "Atonement" and "Adam and Eve." You make reference to so many things that are easily disputed.

I'm trying to figure out if you are just plainly ignorant of these things, or if you're blinded by a supposed religious experience--an experience that different religious believers also claim as the foundation for what they believe. Describe this religious experience of yours. Can you distinguish this from a feeling of joy? Do you realize that feelings of joy can be had by people who believe incorrect things? What does this experience actually teach you to believe? Are you correct on every doctrine in the Bible, even on minor things? How do you explain any minor change in your views as a Christian if you had this experience which confirmed everything you believe about every doctrine? How is your experience distinguishable from what other religious believers claim to have?

Dan Marvin said...

I can explain it this way:

What fruit will grow in a True Christians life:

1. Repentance - A 180 degree turn away from sinful behavior and towards Godly behavior.

2. Thankfulness - A thankful heart that is grateful for what God has done... and shows itself in a cheerful disposition.

3. Good Works - A life that becomes others centered (helping the aged, feeding the poor, teaching children, etc.) Not self centered (all free time consumed in personal hobbies and interests)

4. Fruit of the Spirit - An ever-growing capacity of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control in the life of the believer.

5. Fruit of Righteousness - Doing the right thing according to the way God defines it in his word. Not according to the way man defines it in his own mind.

We are here to get fruit bearing Christians not decisions for Christ to fill pews.

If we understand the parable in Mark 4:3-13 then it unlocks the secret to all parables: Foolish virgin=false convert Wise virgin=Genuine conversions. The good fish, the bad fish. The man who built his house on rock and the man who built his house on sand. The one who built his house on sand is the one who hears the word of Jesus but doesn't keep them. False Convert.

6 characteristics of a False Convert:

1. Mark 4:5 - Lack depth of understanding. Immediate results impressive changes occur quickly then false convert will fall away from their faith over time and the results and changes disappear.

2. Luke 8:6 - False convert lack moisture in other words they lack the life-giving and life-sustaining power of God's word. To a false convert the Bible is dry and uninteresting and struggles with daily devotions.

3. Matthew 13:6 - False convert have no roots like a plant that dries up when the heat comes because it's roots aren't deep enough to reach water to sustain it. So is the false convert who's faith dries up where persecution comes his roots of faith don't run deep enough to reach the life sustaining water of God's word and Holy Spirit.

Mark 4:16 - False Converts receive the word with gladness. Hears the gospel message with gladness and really seems to latch on to it. He may express, for example, with tear filled eyes of joy. How this is the answer he's been looking for. When any test or trials comes his way, excuses become his trademark he falls away from following Jesus.

5. Matthew 13:20 - Repeats that same point false convert receive the word with joy (at first)

6. Luke 8:13 - Because they do believe for a season this is the one that fools the most people because they do believe, for a short time, the Gospel message. These false converts walk and talk a very good game. They often sincerely believe the Vital truths. That Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death and rose from the earth and that he was fully man and fully God. they believe those things in their mind. When it comes time to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus into test and self sacrifice the false convert displays, slowly but surely, the truth that they never believed in their hearts. Never made that commitment to Christ and eventually becomes distracted by the worries and opportunities of life and lives for himself not Christ.

Let me guess 6th one discribes most of you?

John W. Loftus said...

Dan said...6 characteristics of a False Convert:

1. Mark 4:5 - Lack depth of understanding.


Hmmmm. By your own standard it seems you are a false convert, sorry.

Shygetz said...

Ummm, Dan, all of your "fruits" are all different fruits coming from three different accounts of the SAME PARABLE!

You're saying that Jesus told one story about a seed falling on rocky soil, which was put in the Bible three times in three slightly different versions, and it means SIX ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS!?!?

I think you are reading from the Book of Dan.

And shame on you for taking Romans 14:23 out of context. It has nothing to do with doubting faith; it has to do with going against your conscience and the conscience of your fellow Christian, regardless of what is permitted by the law. You probably know that, but have no problem Lying for Jesus. That kind of attitude makes me sick.

"God came as a man here on earth to pay for all your sins. By sins I mean breaking the Ten Commandments which are God's law."

Unless you are a Messianic Jew, the Ten Commandments have nothing to do with you. In the Jewish tradition, you are/were bound by the Noahide laws. Get your covenants straight.

Dan Marvin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Marvin said...

Shygetz said... "It has nothing to do with doubting faith; it has to do with going against your conscience"

Umm, going against your conscience is not doubt? ok? BTW Con= with science=knowledge, God burned Commandments into the conscience and if you lie you know you broke God's law. I digress.

Shygetz said... "Unless you are a Messianic Jew, the Ten Commandments have nothing to do with you. In the Jewish tradition, you are/were bound by the Noahide laws. Get your covenants straight."

Oh really?

1 Timothy 1:9-10 "Knowing this, that "the law" is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;"

Romans 3:19 "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."

2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine."

Hebrews 10:31 "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Romans 7:7-8 "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead."

2 Corinthians 5:11 "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences."

2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

Don't make a god to suite yourself that is breaking the 2nd Commandment. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Stu said...

I love the way the definition of a "false convert" basically means anyone who shows signs of being a convert but then falls away after a period of time. And how long is this period of time? What if a person shows the 5 fruits you described for 20 years and then falls away? How do you know you're not a false convert, Dan? How do you know in 10 years you're not going to fall away? I'm sure Joseph 10 years before his deconversion didn't think he would fall away. I certainly didn't. If you do fall away in 10 years, according to your definition, you never were converted in the first place. Do you feel like someone who was never converted? What makes you think that Joseph never felt like you do now?

Dan Marvin said...

God’s word declares that this is God's plan of salvation; 1. Hear the WORD of God. 2. Believe that Jesus is the Messiah. 3. Repent of your ways that are contrary to God’s will. 4. Be Baptized INTO Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 5. Remain faithful to the Covenant you have made with God.

You must remain faithful and keep your covenant with God. Did you get baptized? Wasn't that a public declaration that you proclaim Jesus is Lord?

If I were to be a Christian for 20 years then get a bug and say to all can hear that I am an atheist then yes I would be a false convert. You must have a broken and contrite heart, (Psalm 34:18,Psalm 51:17) when you aproach God to have salvation. He wants your heart and soul, give it all to Him it is His anyways. He will manifest himself to you as promised (John 14:21), just on His terms not yours. You must bow to His athority, for some that is a hard one to do. THere is no doubt in my mind that GOd exists. My presupposition is that Jesus is Lord and there is nothing that will convince me otherwise, I do not put my faith in man, i put 100% of my faith in Jesus. God bless

Bloviator said...

Mark my words as I am about to prophesy: Dan Marvin will one day find himself an apostate (just like the rest of us). Here's why: check the history on this site of folks who do drive-bys. The whole tone is different. Dan wants to save us all, if he can. To me, that smacks of psychological insecurity. If he really buys into all the Paul/John crap about salvation through faith alone, which leads quickly to the old adage "once saved, always saved", he would be more smug in tone -- I don't sense that here. Also, after realizing (unless he is mentally impaired) that we are not about to change, would he not have left the site? Still here though. Mark my words...

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

A minor footnote, since Joseph described James Kennedy as one of his early influence. Kennedy died today. His loss, I'm sure, will be, in the long run, much smaller than the loss that we suffered when Pavarotti died.

Joseph said...

Yes, Dan is speaking from the classic church of Christ template that I used for many, many years. As longs as you are shouting red-faced at others, Dan, you can keep yourself from really thinking deeply about your faith. It all fits together perfectly--as long as you stay in that Campbell-Stone template you force upon Scripture. It all makes perfect sense in it's own box. But once you question the template, and think outside of the box, you see that it is a feeble attempt to make sense of the Bible...something I'm now convinced is impossible.

Let me ask you, Dan, why are you on this forum? Are you interested in exchanging beliefs and ideas or do you just want to have a one-way conversation whereby you preach at the rest of us?

Thank you, everyone else, for your kind comments. John has graciously invited me to be a contributor, so I will try to articulate a few of the points I made in my testimony in greater detail.

Jamie said...

Joseph, I like your comments about templates. Shortly after my deconversion, my wife once asked me to read a book on addictions. I couldn't get over how wise the author's writings were within the fundamentalist christian template, but how non-sensical it was if removed from that template.

When I started to recognized that it was a turning point for me, where I started always asking if what I am hearing makes sense outside that template.

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

Joseph,

Your commentary is both intelligent and appropriate.

Though I wasn't raised in a fundamentalist household or church, I hear the things you say. And they make a lot of sense.

I had long ago rejected Christianity (and religion in general), but your "testimony" has helped me realize why I did so.

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

And Dan Marvin's comments (the same he put forth at "The Atheist Experience," from what I can tell) are all recycled from the typical "Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron" school of witnessing.

Bland, uninspired, and intellectually worthless...

Dan Marvin said...

Bloviator said... "Also, after realizing (unless he is mentally impaired) that we are not about to change, would he not have left the site? Still here though. Mark my words..."

That just proved my point when I said “So, I cannot prove anything to you since your presupposition won't allow it. It is limited.” So thanks you agree with my points. Don’t be flattered I am not here for the lost, I am here for the soon to be lost by people reading your dribble. You all publicly declared war on God.

Patrick (The Rev. Jenner J. Hull) said... “from what I can tell are all recycled from the typical "Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron" school of witnessing. Bland, uninspired, and intellectually worthless...”

Then you wrote a personal email to me:

“Greetings, Dan.

I've noticed that you pop up periodically on several websites, and I see that you've found Debunking Christianity recently, and I'm just curious as to why you cut off contact with me. I found our exchange... Interesting.”

Hypocrisy or senile?

For the Record I think Ray Comfort is a Christian who is saved. I like his “Salesmanship” and yes I have quoted him often. I have also quoted Dan Barker, you, various atheists, various Christian apologetic websites, various ministries, Einstein, Jesus and the entire Bible so what is your point exactly?

And you write to be what, pen pals? Give me a brake. If your presupposition changes and you would like help with “your” salvation, I am here to help in any way I can. If you want to push your beliefs then go preach to someone who buys into your vile words. Get behind me satan.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Dan,
let me try to explain something to you about presuppositions.

Presumptive reasoning is what you are talking about. Any reasoning based on a presumption is defeasible, meaning that it is iherently weak and subject to re-evaluation based on new evidence.

Having a presupposition is not bad. However the nature of the presuppostion can make it stronger or weaker than another.

For example, I can presume the sun is going to rise tomorrow because a precedent has been set and I have seen nothing that would change it. In that case it is a reasonable presumption.

In the case of religion, the believer has presumptions that do not rely on strong evidence. Precedents are in place that undermine belief in any religion. They all say they are right, and they all have evidence to back them up. Logically, they seem to cancel each other out in the absence of overwhelming evidence.

So the presupposition of the Atheist, as I understand it, is based on the lack of evidence for any god or religion.

So if you want to change our presuppositions, you need to show that Christianity is the right religion in a reasonably irrefutable way.

Joseph said...

Lee, precisely! Well said. That's why I left my presuppositions rooted in Christian thinking. When I stepped outside "the template" and questioned the presuppositions that held it together, I could not see that they were congruent with reality.

Thanks you, Jamie and "The Rev" for your insights. Dan is like a train wreck waiting to happen. If he keeps up with this intensity he'll have a heart-attack before the rapture! BTW, Rev like your blog--it's a blast!

Joseph said...

The Rev reminded me of another Reverend I know of, that's Rev Brendan Powell Smith. He's an artist who does amazing things with, of all things, LEGO! Check out his bricktestament.com site. He has done nearly the entire Bible in Lego. I used to use his stuff in my sermon powerpoints, until I realized he actually takes the Bible far more literally than most Evangelicals are comfortable with! For example, check out his artistic rendering of the commands surrounding marriage and slavery in "Epistles of Paul." These would make some great coffee table books!

Dan Marvin said...

Lee,

It appears that Joseph loves your explanation but you have a presupposition about my knowledge of presuppositions.

You spewed “let me try to explain something to you about presuppositions.”

Do you feel you know more then me or that you go to Google better then me?

Funny how this website uses your same example, hmmmm wow what a coincidence?

Examples of Fair and Unfair Presupposition

“Consider this sentence:

A. 'The sun shines.'

The sentence assumes the existence of an singular object commonly known as 'the sun', and further assumes that one of the attributes of this object is that it shines - and is doing so now by the tense of the verb. By common knowledge and agreement, these facts are 'true', hence the presuppositions made in the sentence are fair, accurate and factual. Now look carefully at this one:”

Joseph applauds your intellect and thanks you based on his presupposition that I am incorrect and follows suite and gets in line behind you.

Remember this, Joseph:

- People like stories and are willing to give the teller of the story the benefit of the doubt about the truth of it.
- People are more likely to believe a story if it comes from someone they like.
- People are more likely to believe a story if it comes from an authority.
- People are more likely to believe a story if it fits with what they already believe or want to believe.

Lee, I appreciate you researching for better knowledge but to put one self higher then others is a character flaw and is a trait that Jesus just can’t stand. (Romans 11:20-21)

2 Timothy 3 talks about the last day’s men shall love themselves more then God. The Bible predicted you, wow 2000 year old writings that describe you. hmmmm wow what a coincidence?

I for one am no better then any other; I am a wretched sinner and deserve hell. I am so grateful for Jesus to take the punishment for me that I deserved so that I can have everlasting peace in Heaven. I am His loyal follower and will stand by Him till the end (without doubt). In the temple he showed me His leadership and I will follow Him even if it meant I would still go to hell. Thanks to Him, that just isn’t the case.

Joseph, as you know, Jesus is the true leader that didn’t belittle others into submission or be a hypocrite. God loves you so much he wants you to choose Him and not force your belief. If you break the law you must be punished and that’s the definition of justice. Are you going to be too proud and take your punishment like a man? Weeping and gnashing of teeth describes your fate in hell.

Lee, repent you wretched sinner! Please, before it’s too late, your soul worries me. I am very concerned for you as well as the others, friend.

Joseph said...

Dan, you're an ASS, plain and simple. Go find another playground to kick sand in.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Dan,
that link you put in your comment was referring to Neuro-linguistic programming.
NLP is a pseudoscience.
from wikipedia
Some psychologists and trauma researchers have criticised the hype surrounding NLP, particularly given its lack of empirical validation, exaggerated claims and continued marketing as a science which are regarded as features of pseudoscience.[8][9][4] There has been some ongoing research efforts and pleas for further empirical research.[citation needed] In contrast, the developers of NLP tend to use analogies to understand and describe their models and tend to rely on intuition, anecdotes and personal experience as evidence as opposed to experimental research. NLP and its related techniques continue to be popular in books and workshops, especially in some areas of psychotherapy, management training, self-help, education and motivational training.

wikipedia on current state of nlp research

the skeptics dictionary on nlp

Dan, you might want to be careful what you put stock into. It looks to me like you are ripe for being taken advantage of. People will take your money, A gullible christians money is just as good as anyone elses. Just ask Tom Haggard, Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, etc.

And I'd like to point out that you put me 'higher' I simply said that my presumption was stronger. There is no higher, lower, sideways, noble, holy, etc about it. There is only, "more likely to be correct".

liniasmax said...

I just submitted a skeletal semi-testimonial over at exchristian.net. But wow! this was a great read and mirrors a lot of what I was feeling. Thanks for posting and thanks to John for asking you to post. What's up with the Six Characteristics of a False Convert? What does that mean? Thanks for this site - it helped me when I needed it...and boy did I need it.

Dan Marvin said...
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Dan Marvin said...
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Dan Marvin said...

Joseph,

You think I am a bully? Do you think I hate you?

Just the opposite I love you enough to confront you with the truth because I care about you.

It takes far more love to confront than to ignore the situation, Perfect love is a constant confronter.

Now I found the verse I was looking for and it is all about YOU!

Hebrews 11:6-7

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Because I care,
Dan

wormburger said...

Hi Dan,

I've noticed on Islamic dissussion boards that whenever someone says something negative about the actions of muslims, someone responds by saying that the people in question are "not real muslims". When asked to define what a real muslim is, they give a definition that said people would claim includes them. It is an excuse - whenever a muslim does soemthing good, Allah should get the credit, but whenever they do soemthing bad in his name, it's "nothing to do with Islam".

I have noticed that some of what you say is similarly circular. Anyone who leaves Christianity wasn't a 'real Chrisitan', even if they belived just as sincerly as you do now.

If there really is such a thing as a false convert, it should be possible to tell differnce between the false and the genuine (if only to themselves), BEFORE they choose to leave.

I find it interesting that when I doubted if I was a real Christian I was always reassured that I was, until I decided to leave - then I was told that I never had been.

The only reason to retrospectivly re-classify someone like that is to discredit what they have to say about their experience of Chritianity - to claim that their experience "doesn't count".

You sas you belive that doubt is a sin - so therefore it follows that taking other people's opinion seriously would be sinful too, since that might give reasons for doubt.

Recently some Jehovah's Witnesses told me that they do not listen to the views of 'mainstream' Christians re: the interpretation of the Bible - because it might casue them to doubt what orgnaisation has told them, and that doubt would be 'wrong'.

Doubt = thinking for yourself

wormburger said...

Hi Dan,

I've noticed on Islamic dissussion boards that whenever someone says something negative about the actions of muslims, someone responds by saying that the people in question are "not real muslims". When asked to define what a real muslim is, they give a definition that said people would claim includes them. It is an excuse - whenever a muslim does soemthing good, Allah should get the credit, but whenever they do soemthing bad in his name, it's "nothing to do with Islam".

I have noticed that some of what you say is similarly circular. Anyone who leaves Christianity wasn't a 'real Chrisitan', even if they belived just as sincerly as you do now.

If there really is such a thing as a false convert, it should be possible to tell differnce between the false and the genuine (if only to themselves), BEFORE they choose to leave.

I find it interesting that when I doubted if I was a real Christian I was always reassured that I was, until I decided to leave - then I was told that I never had been.

The only reason to retrospectivly re-classify someone like that is to discredit what they have to say about their experience of Chritianity - to claim that their experience "doesn't count".

You sas you belive that doubt is a sin - so therefore it follows that taking other people's opinion seriously would be sinful too, since that might give reasons for doubt.

Recently some Jehovah's Witnesses told me that they do not listen to the views of 'mainstream' Christians re: the interpretation of the Bible - because it might casue them to doubt what orgnaisation has told them, and that doubt would be 'wrong'.

Doubt = thinking for yourself

Dan Marvin said...

wormburger said... "If there really is such a thing as a false convert, it should be possible to tell differnce between the false and the genuine (if only to themselves), BEFORE they choose to leave.

What fruit will grow in a True Christians life:

1. Repentance - A 180 degree turn away from sinful behavior and towards Godly behavior.

2. Thankfulness - A thankful heart that is grateful for what God has done... and shows itself in a cheerful disposition.

3. Good Works - A life that becomes others centered (helping the aged, feeding the poor, teaching children, etc.) Not self centered (all free time consumed in personal hobbies and interests)

4. Fruit of the Spirit - An ever-growing capacity of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control in the life of the believer.

5. Fruit of Righteousness - Doing the right thing according to the way God defines it in his word. Not according to the way man defines it in his own mind.

We are here to get fruit bearing Christians not decisions for Christ to fill pews.

If we understand the parable in Mark 4:3-13 then it unlocks the secret to all parables: Foolish virgin=false convert Wise virgin=Genuine conversions. The good fish, the bad fish. The man who built his house on rock and the man who built his house on sand. The one who built his house on sand is the one who hears the word of Jesus but doesn't keep them. False Convert.

6 characteristics of a False Convert:

1. Mark 4:5 - Lack depth of understanding. Immediate results impressive changes occur quickly then false convert will fall away from their faith over time and the results and changes disappear.

2. Luke 8:6 - False convert lack moisture in other words they lack the life-giving and life-sustaining power of God's word. To a false convert the Bible is dry and uninteresting and struggles with daily devotions.

3. Matthew 13:6 - False convert have no roots like a plant that dries up when the heat comes because it's roots aren't deep enough to reach water to sustain it. So is the false convert who's faith dries up where persecution comes his roots of faith don't run deep enough to reach the life sustaining water of God's word and Holy Spirit.

Mark 4:16 - False Converts receive the word with gladness. Hears the gospel message with gladness and really seems to latch on to it. He may express, for example, with tear filled eyes of joy. How this is the answer he's been looking for. When any test or trials comes his way, excuses become his trademark he falls away from following Jesus.

5. Matthew 13:20 - Repeats that same point false convert receive the word with joy (at first)

6. Luke 8:13 - Because they do believe for a season this is the one that fools the most people because they do believe, for a short time, the Gospel message. These false converts walk and talk a very good game. They often sincerely believe the Vital truths. That Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death and rose from the earth and that he was fully man and fully God. they believe those things in their mind. When it comes time to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus into test and self sacrifice the false convert displays, slowly but surely, the truth that they never believed in their hearts. Never made that commitment to Christ and eventually becomes distracted by the worries and opportunities of life and lives for himself not Christ.

Shygetz said...

2 Timothy 3 talks about the last day’s men shall love themselves more then God. The Bible predicted you, wow 2000 year old writings that describe you. hmmmm wow what a coincidence?

Oh god, that was funny! The Bible predicted that some unspecified people at some unspecified time might be perceived as self-involved; what a stunning prophecy!

I predict that, sometime in the future, some unnamed person might be perceived as an asshole. Will your children's children worship me in 2000 years when my prophecy comes true?

Now Dan, you say that in the "End Days" this will occur, and has been fulfilled. How long can the End Days last until they are no longer the End Days, and become the Middle Days?

Dan Marvin said...

Shygetz said..."Now Dan, you say that in the "End Days" this will occur, and has been fulfilled. How long can the End Days last until they are no longer the End Days, and become the Middle Days?"

That reminds me of this guy Shawn that has A simple way to prove the existence of God by asking if he were to give you a Chocolate bar after and infinite amount of time would you ever get the Chocolate?

Shygetz said...

You posted that video before, and I debunked it by pointing out that splitting infinity does not work that way. For example, in order for you to get from your house to work, you must first travel half the distance, then half the remaining distance, then half the remaining distance, etc. etc. etc. So, by Shawn's logic, you can never get to work. Clearly, Shawn is wrong, and Zeno's paradoxes have been addressed since ancient times. Similarly, there is no "we" to go through an infinite progression; no one is waiting for the chocolate bar. Finally, the Big Bang model has time itself starting at the Big Bang, indicating that time is not a constant quality in existence, but is dependent on space (as determined by relativity). And finally, even if Shawn was right (and he's not), he only shows that time is not infinite; quantum mechanics clearly shows that the principle of causality does not hold as a general rule.

Now, quit changing the subject. How long can the End Days be before they are no longer the End Days?

Dan Marvin said...
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Dan Marvin said...

Wow, I just learned a little about Zeno's paradoxes today. thanks lol

How long can the End Days be before they are no longer the End Days?

Isn't that question itself a dichotomy paradox and have been addressed since ancient times. lol

Actually there is an answer for this. According to the Bible the "End Days" are marked by the signs. Until these signs arrive we are still looking for the end days so the answer, I believe, is "soon" because of the signs that are coming true in Revelations in today's time.