Some of My Thoughts Regarding ‘Why do evangelicals lose their faith?’ – Podcast by Unbelievable
The other day, I posted this (part 1 to this post):
I have re-listened to the podcast this evening and wanted to comment on some of what I heard.
In the program, there is a guy named Rodney who was once a conservative Christian, who drifted into liberal theology, and who now says he has a “deistic philosophy” and he says he is “agnostic about most religious questions.”
He says he has same sex attraction, and was put off to Christianity for (among other reasons):
How American conservative Christianity tends to over-identify with, or promote, the Republican Party (right wing American party), and that some preachers are too condemning of homosexual persons.
Rodney also says he does not accept the notion of an eternal Hell.
A few times, Rodney mentions that he has a deist- like view of God. He thinks all of us humans are rats, the earth is a big laboratory, and God is a scientist in a white lab coat observing us all but not intervening.
Rodney thinks if God is involved with human life, that God should do things like cause all members of ISIS (terrorist group) to drop dead of heart attacks. He does not believe that God helps people to pass school tests, find parking spaces, or cures diseases.
The show had a Christian author and guest on named Os, who replied to some of Rodney’s points.
_Some of my thoughts on the show and the topics Rodney raised._
1.) Politics and Liberal Vs Conservative Christianity
I am right wing politically and have been a Republican (GOP) my entire life.
I have very large misgivings about the GOP the last few years, though, so I’m not totally sure where I stand politically, though I do not ever see myself becoming a liberal or a Democrat.
I do agree with Rodney that too many conservative Christians conflate Christianity with the Republican party.
But then, a lot of liberal Christians or liberal Christian denominations entwine a lot of liberal beliefs and causes with the faith too, (such as support of abortion, the Democratic Party, liberalism, and homosexual marriage).
I do think conservative Christians (and liberal ones) need to maybe detach the faith from politics and maybe social concerns, or tone it down.
Rodney seemed upset that Os (Os being the Christian author guest on the show who was on the show with him) said in one of his books that there is bullying by some homosexual advocates against Christians.
I happen to agree with Os on that point (if in fact Os did make this point; this seemed to be what Rodney was saying).
Remember, Rodney identifies as homosexual or someone with SSA, and he brought up the homosexuality topic several times over on this program, so it must be one of his hobby horses.
Part of me does not personally care if two men want to have a sexual or romantic relationship with each other (though I don’t necessarily approve of it or agree with it, and my understanding of the Bible is that God does not approve of homosexual behavior).
However, I do very much see progressives and homosexual advocates as bullying anyone who does not agree with or approve of homosexuality or homosexual marriage, and their most favorite target to go after are Christians who believe in “traditional” marriage or who think that homosexuality is sin.
This is one area where I cannot take left wingers (who support homosexuality) seriously.
Left wingers tend to be very hypocritical in this area. They are extremely intolerant and hateful towards people who do think that homosexual behavior is immoral.
I mean, a conservative person cannot even hold a stinking OPINION on the topic without being harassed. Holding an opinion will get you harassed.
If you have traditional values and thereby disagree with homosexuality, but you’re not out there beating homosexuals over the heads with baseball bats for being homosexual, you will still be shouted down very rudely by homosexuality supporters on various blogs and sites.
Then, those who support homosexuality are intellectually dishonest and deny that they are at times the bullies; they forever like to depict themselves as being the victims.
I couldn’t quite tell where Rodney stands on this, on what I describe next – Rodney seems to feel that any Christian or preacher who quotes the Bible’s commentary explaining that God is not accepting of homosexual actions is being mean and hateful.
I possibly have misunderstood what Rodney was trying to communicate when he was talking about preachers who are “condemning” about homosexuality.
My take: a preacher saying from a pulpit, or on a blog or radio show, that the Bible defines homosexual behavior as being sin is not being “condemning” any more than it would be for that same preacher to remind hetero persons that hetero fornication or adultery is sin.
It alarms me that homosexual behavior is forever trumping and taking priority over people’s religious views and practices in the United States, and there are some people who are fine with this.
Christian florists, bakers, and photographers are regularly sued out of business, or harassed in the media and social media, because they don’t want to use their skills in a homosexual wedding ceremony. This concerns me.
I do sometimes see stories where religious rights trumping secular rights or views concerns me too.
I just saw a story recently about a woman who had her third baby delivered at a Catholic hospital, and the doctors there refused to perform a tubal ligation on her at her request, because of their religious views.
I’m not what sure what the solution to this topic is. It’s a tricky dilemma.
I’m okay with the idea that there may be a literal Hell where people are tormented for all eternity – at least concerning the Adolph Hitlers and child rapists, and so on, of the world.
I really don’t have a problem with child rapists, serial killers, and animal abusers and other scum bags rotting in Hell for all eternity. They are getting their just desserts, as far as I am concerned.
Where I feel sad are the “Average Joes” who aren’t incredibly evil (by human standards) who simply end up in Hell for their ordinary sins / rejecting Christ.
One atheist on another podcast I listened to on “Unbelievable” said he’s not comfortable with Christians depicting this situation as atheists “choosing” to reject God and therefore going to hell.
Whatever your reason for not accepting Christ, you are, it seems to me, in a round- about- way making a choice on the matter. You’ve heard the Gospel but are deciding not to accept it or embrace it.
Like when a woman is dating a man, and the man won’t commit to her and she wants him to, but he keeps saying, “I can’t decide if I should marry you or not.”
Let me tell, you not deciding is a decision: he’s in effect saying “No, I will not marry you.” It may not be clear cut, but there it is. Not choosing for the woman is choosing against her in that scenario.
I don’t know about every atheist out there, but I’ve seen enough online, on atheist blogs and forums, who say if the God of the Bible is real, they don’t like him.
I doubt such atheists would want to spend all eternity with a deity they say they hate, should he be real. So, the God of the Bible is not going to force them to live with him. They really get what they want, if you look at it that way.
I know I have often referred to myself on this site as a quasi-Agnostic the last year, but I’ve started to wonder – I don’t know exactly how many months ago – if I am actually a Deist.
I’ve started to swing around to the view (at times, this fluctuates) that I think maybe there is a God, but he doesn’t seem to care about humans, or does not care about all of us equally, or doesn’t care about the small details of our lives.
I wonder if there is a God, but one who walked off and left us.
Rodney was saying he finds the idea of the biblical God, one who intervenes in human affairs, to be cold. It brings him no comfort, because he doesn’t understand why a God who cares does not intervene and stop suffering.
He was wanting to know why such a God does not strike all members of ISIS (terrorist group) dead with heart attacks.
Rodney finds the idea that God helps find praying, believing Christians parking spaces in a store parking lot ridiculous or unlikely.
Even though I’m going back and forth like a ping pong ball on this issue myself, I can’t agree with Rodney that a deist God is the easiest or most compassionate view or type of deity.
I find the idea of a God who stands off at a distance, who does not see me specifically, nor care about my problems and heart aches, very depressing.
I can’t agree with Rodney’s wish for God (if he exists and cares) to personally intervene in every instance of evil and suffering, because this would make every person’s free will and choices moot.
I would think it would create utter chaos the world over if God supernaturally stepped in at every point.
I like the fact that God respects people’s choices.
And note, I am not a Calvinist. I believe people have free will, not just the free will to do evil, as Calvinists define it.
There is an expression that we all are “God’s eyes” and “God’s hands.”
That means if Rodney wants ISIS members dead (a fine wish and goal, as I think ISIS are a bunch of sick, deviant monsters), Rodney should petition Obama to ask the U.S. Congress to authorize the use of the American military to kill ISIS overseas.
There are times when YOU are the answer to a suffering person’s prayer and problem. (Even secular Hollywood grasps this concept, just watch the movie “Bruce Almighty” the next time that is on cable TV.)
God does not always supernaturally intervene and wave his magic wand to alleviate some problem or another.
Even though I’m struggling with this topic myself, I am reminded of certain biblical passages which show that God does in fact care and about each person individually.
Scriptures that would seem to disprove a Deist position
First, the Bible claims that God became a human in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. That is God personally intervening.
If God did not care, why bother to take on a human form and walk among humans, and subject himself to the same pain and heartache we all deal with? (Unless Rodney wants to deny the divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth?)
As Jesus, or in the form of Jesus, God healed the sick. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus, which would indicate God does care.
Jesus said this (from Matthew 10), which sure sounds to me like God cares about each person, down to minute, trivial details, like how many hairs are on their heads:
- …29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
- 36 But when He [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
- Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
- 14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.
There are other passages like the following which seem to show God knows and cares about each person on an individual basis:
- You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. (Psalm 139:2)
- For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
Exodus chapter 2:
- During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.
- 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.
- 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
Genesis 16 (link so you can read the following in context)
- 13 She [Hagar] gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
2 Kings 20:
- 20 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’”
- 2 Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying,3 “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
- 4 And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 5 “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord.
- ….for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.
I sometimes get frustrated when I see these cheery Christian testimonies on Christian TV where someone says they were sick (or in poverty or whatever), but they prayed to God for help, and five seconds later, God instantly healed them (or sent them a job, or money, or fixed their horrible marriage, or whatever).
I sit and watch those testimonies and wonder, why is God helping these other people but not me? What about all the years I prayed to God for X, Y, Z to come to pass or to heal my family member of W, but I never got a response on any of this?
I do wonder if God plays favorites.
My thinking then goes like this:
Maybe there is a God, and maybe he does sort of care about SOME people and THEIR problems, but He doesn’t care about everyone’s pain and problems – not equally.
Some of the Christians in the testimonies say, “if God did it for me, he’ll do it for you too!” I’d like to believe that, but my experience has not borne that out.
So I find passages like this a little frustrating:
- For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11)
- Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34)
Rodney thinks the way Christians can win over Ex Christians or Non Christians is to show love to each other as well as to those outside the faith.
He doesn’t think mega churches with their rock- concert- like venues and shows, or the very judgmental, critical type of Christians are going to win anyone over.
To an extent, I see his point and sort of agree with him.
However. One of the reasons behind my drift away from the faith, one reason of several, is that most American Christians today are precisely these non-judgmental, wussy, refuse- to- preach- biblical- values- strongly wimps because they are so afraid of offending homosexuals, pro-choicers, hetero fornicators, and all other types of sinners.
I do concede there are some churches who are legalistic and judgmental, but I see an awful lot of preachers, Christians, and churches who refuse to call a sin a sin and who refuse to condemn sin in the pulpit, or in their books, TV shows, etc.
Many Christians and churches today are very politically correct on sin issues; they are afraid of offending or alienating anyone on anything, especially concerning sexual sin (hetero or homosexual).
My whole blog here has been detailing the last few years how most Christians today, even the conservatives do NOT support adult virginity or adult celibacy. And, in turn, churches do nothing to assist or encourage adults who are living celibate lives.
No, most churches today are busy publishing blogs posts patting the homosexual and hetero fornicators on their backs, reassuring them their sexual sins won’t ultimately mean anything to God, so don’t worry about it.
Most Christians today are too wishy washy and lax on sexual ethics and other topics, which is one factor of why I am frustrated with the Christian faith.
So I have the opposite situation here from the Rodneys of the world. Rodney thinks churches are too mean or judgmental about sexual sin, where-as I think they are not mean or judgmental enough.
Churches today make an absolute joke out of the devotion of adults such as myself who have lived celibate lifestyles.
I am not seeing a large scale idolization of sexual purity, virginity, or celibacy that so many liberal Christians claim is taking place in American Christianity: I often see the direct opposite.
I am not seeing a large scale, consistent vitriolic reaction against homosexual behavior (which seems to be Rodney’s main concern), outside some very fringe kooks, such as, by guys like Kevin Swanson and the occasional Independent Fundamentalist Baptist kook preacher on You Tube.
I do think there should be a fine line Christians need to walk – doctrine is, to a degree, important, so it should not be watered down to make the Bible or the faith more palatable to Ex Christians or Non Christians. However, how you treat people is also important.
____Edit. Additional thoughts.____
Following Jesus Is Not Producing Positive Change In Those Who Claim to Follow Him
The Christian guest on the show, Os, kept saying to Rodney that he agreed with Rodney’s criticisms of other Christians.
But, he said, the reasons Rodney gave are not good reasons to reject the Christian faith.
To a point, I see what Os is saying and think he’s partially correct, but I’m a little more sympathetic with Rodney on this.
This is something that people in a faith crisis have a hard time articulating to people who are still happily Christian, such as Os.
When you start laying out all these reasons for why you are leaving the faith, or might leave it, including the hypocrisy of self professing believers, so many Christians are quick to tell you, “don’t blame God and leave the faith for the terrible actions of those who claim his name.”
I don’t know how to explain this, but – I see Rodney’s concern.
It’s rather hard to keep clinging to a faith when you see so many of those who follow it are not taking it seriously, who don’t bother to live out even the most basic of its teachings, and so on.
I am not seeing lives transformed by Christ most of the time.
I’m sure you can hold up the occasional case, but by and large, it doesn’t seem to be happening regularly.
Christians claim that accepting Christ as savior will and can produce positive change in a person’s life.
I would therefore think that one should expect to see people claiming to be Christ followers living godly, clean life styles more or less –
-but when I look around at like, I don’t know, 98% of American Christians, I see hypocrites, selfish jerks who take advantage of others (such as mega church preachers who are financially exploiting their flocks), Christian husbands who are having affairs on their wives, and on and on.
I am also aware that Christ taught that not all who claim his name are true converts.
At any rate, I’m not seeing much evidence of changed lives from a lot of people who follow Jesus Christ.
If Christianity were true, if it really, really worked, if God really transformed people who accept Christ, would we not be able to consistently see this reflected in more self professing believers? But it doesn’t appear so.
I see this as being a very big indictment of the Christian faith, but it’s all to often easily dismissed by those who are still happy and content being Christian.
Those content with being Christian will wave away the hypocritical Christians you mention to them by arguing such were never true Christians to begin with, or don’t condemn the entire faith over the few bad apples and the idiots.
I’m having a hard time reconciling that a faith that claims to be life changing is not changing most lives of those who say they believe in it.
What is the point in following the teachings of someone (ie, Jesus) if most of the others in the group of adherents aren’t also following them, and if following these teachings, and having the Holy Spirit within, doesn’t produce change?
In one way of speaking, the teachings of Christ, the Bible, have produced a lot of bad fruit. You have a lot of people out there (I’m talking about Christians) twisting and distorting the Bible, which can and does hurt a lot of people. (I’ve actually thought of making a blog post about that very topic, I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to it.)
At this stage, I’m not terribly won over by the Os (Christian) response that we should judge Christianity by the truth of it, and not be so concerned that those who claim the faith are acting like jerks or hypocrites.
Jesus did say you can and will know his followers by the love they have for one another, and as Rodney pointed out, some of the most hateful, nastiest people he comes across online – when he checks out their Facebook page- often claim to be Christians and Republicans.
I will also say, though, that I’ve seen a lot of very nasty, hateful atheists, ex-Christians, Democrats, etc, online too. I think the jarring thing is that one would hope and expect a Christ follower to show more decorum or class on the internet than the average cranky atheist or liberal Democrat, maybe.
I think that the Os’s of the world under-estimate how powerful actions are. They want to intellectualize Christianity and tell us to only regard the truth claims of Christ.
That would be all fine and dandy, but even Jesus says (to paraphrase) “by your love for me and for one another will others know Christianity is true”.
The Apostle Paul said in the New Testament if you have correct doctrine but lack love, your faith is a waste of time and pointless.
The Bible also tells Christians to show – to demonstrate the truth of the faith – by their actions, not just with their words or intellectual truth claims.
For example, I believe it’s the book of James which says if you come across a hungry man, do not just tell him “be warm and well fed” but get off your ass and hand that man a sandwich.
The Bible explains that if you are a Christian, you are to show through your actions that you care – do not just SAY SO and expect non-believers to accept you at face value.
It’s rather hard for myself and people like Rodney to believe that the Christian faith is true or that following Christ is worth the effort, when so many who claim Christ’s name do not go beyond defending the faith intellectually in books and blogs but to actually showing kindness to other people, not just online, but in concrete ways in real life.
Those are some of my thoughts on the podcast so far.
I am still working through some of these subjects myself, so my views may change in the months or years to come. I am especially still grappling with the Deist stuff.
If any other thoughts occur to me about this program, I may want to edit this post to discuss them later.
(Link): Pastors avoid ‘controversy’ to keep tithes up, author says – Confirms What I’ve Been Saying All Along, Re: Churches: Contrary to Progressive Christians, Churches / Christians Do Not Support or Idolize Sexual Purity, Virginity, or Celibacy – they attack these concepts when not ignoring them