Former Pastor Says He Lost Faith After Staff Member Beat Spouse, Faithful Mother Lost Baby – and Some Sanctimonious Christians Are Sitting In Judgement Of This Guy
I appreciate this pastor’s honesty in why he’s left the Christian faith.
Some excerpts from his story, which I’ll discuss below the excerpts:
Excerpts (written by Leonard Blair):
Jim Palmer, a former evangelical pastor who once served in ministry at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and went on to preach the power of faith to hundreds as lead pastor of his own church in Brentwood, Tennessee, is now the vice president of the Nashville Humanist Association, which promotes humanism and a secular state.
Palmer, 53, (Link): told The Tennessean that his journey away from faith in God was triggered about 20 years ago by two devastating events. He said his faith was shaken when he learned that a church staff member was beating their spouse.
It then suffered another blow when a woman encouraged by his sermons believed her unborn child diagnosed with a fatal disorder would live. The mother blamed herself when her child died soon after birth.
“That triggered, ‘How can I preach this stuff?'” Palmer said. “Beneath the appearance and the surfaces of people’s lives there was a level of suffering and brokenness for which my theology did not touch.”
In his journey away from faith, the former pastor also lost his marriage.
I saw this article Tweeted a few days ago on the Christian Post account, and I glanced at a small number of replies to it, as well as to the replies people left under the article on the Christian Post.
As to be expected, the Christians who left comments below the tweet questioned the guy’s reasons for finally rejecting the faith, some of them quite snotty about it, as well.
Here’s a sampling of comments Christians left below the article; many I saw were quite judgmental and un-empathetic:
COMMENTS LEFT UNDER CHRISTIAN POST ARTICLE VIA FACEBOOK:
by Anita Fuentes
So…. he placed his faith into the very thing that caused him to lose it – man? If it didn’t take him far with God what makes him think it will take him far without God? ….
by Janine Marie Henschel
This man was a christian in WORD but NOT in Deeds for no true pastor would leave
the faith if he was truly born again when trials come your way, he didn’t know the Word enough to explain why that baby died then he shouldnt have been preaching at all…
by Dan Hochberg
Not really good reasons given for tossing faith in the wastebasket
by Robert Fritzie Strong ·
Palmer probably became “convinced” to be a Christian, but never truly converted to a new and abundant life in Christ, never able to say “I know whom I have believed”, though I’m sure he knew about him enough to preach to others. If he was truly born again, he cannot become ‘unborn’. Sad.
by Julie Taripo Shedden ·Cleaner at CITV
If his faith was shaken easily by these 2 events in his life then his faith in God was never really rooted in Jesus Christ. We should never put our faith in man cos he makes mistakes, God doesn’t.
Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
I did agree with this reply to Julie Taripo Shedden:
by Mandy Boudreaux
How judgmental of you [Julie Taripo Shedden] to assume that you get to declare that his faith wasn’t “real” because you’ve decided that what he experienced wasn’t traumatic enough. In case you’re wondering, you’re the type of christian that pushes people away from your own religion.
I agree with Boudreaux.
To the Christian who is “still on fire” for Jesus and convinced the faith is all 100% true,
- and who has never experienced deep disappointment with God, or
- who has never experienced moments where God was silent in their pain or in the life of someone else they were praying for,
there will never, ever be any reason good enough in their view as to why someone would leave the faith.
Regarding the remarks by Anita Fuentes: no where did the ex- pastor say he “put his faith in man.”
It’s quite simple: the Bible does in fact say if you are a believer and have faith in God, that God can and will do the impossible in your life, including healing.
I’m not a Word of Faither, so don’t mistake what I’m saying here.
I don’t blame the ex- preacher for being upset when instead of experiencing a healing, the baby of the mother in his church died.
Either you believe the Bible’s claims about God being able and willing to heal and help people… or you don’t.
If you don’t believe the Holy Spirit helps people today, including using supernatural means, (Link): you’re really a deist or a practical atheist yourself, so where do you get off criticizing this ex- pastor?
I was a Christian my whole life, too. There was nothing fake about my conversion as a kid.
I’m in my 40s now and am (Link): doubting the faith myself.
I mentioned this in an older post on this blog, but one reason I am loathe to get specific with Christians about my reasons for being on the borderline of possibly leaving the Christian faith is that they question and nit-pick every reason you cite.
They turn into Pharisaical little jerks who think they can sit in judgement of the reasons you cite for your own personal, and often, very painful reasons.
Christians are also confrontational about this issue. They are very sensitive about it, and maybe that’s why they come up with such mean-spirited or snarky come-backs.
Maybe such Christians do not want to accept that God or the faith failed, and did not work, for some people.
Christians have a very difficult time accepting that someone was once a sincere, devout, genuine Christian but became an atheist (or agnostic), or that someone is thinking about, just merely considering leaving, the faith.
Some Christians want to assume any and all reasons you cite for leaving or doubting the faith are stupid and moronic, and boy, are they ever happy to tell you precisely how and why they find your list of reasons for ditching the faith are wrong.
Some Christians want to assume you were “never truly saved” to start with. That is a very popular assertion they make.
Where I lose patience with ‘Christians who turn atheists’ are the ones who snivel and condescendingly lecture everyone else how they de-converted ONLY because atheism is more rational or intellectual than theism.
I don’t buy that and never have.
I think a lot of people (Link): have emotional or experiential reasons for why they leave Christianity (or other faiths, whether it’s Islam or what have you), and I don’t see those as being wholly invalid reasons.
Unfortunately, a lot of people on both sides – New Atheists and Christians – will shame anyone who does not rattle off a list of impersonal, highly logical reasons. Your reasons must be devoid of emotional reasons, or of any pain or times when God failed you or someone you loved.
I really do appreciate that the ex pastor was so honest in his remarks. He said it didn’t compute for him that a God of love who states in the Bible he will do anything for you if you ask in his name, or who will heal the sick, and so on, would turn his back on the young mother in his church.
He pointed out that the faith must be hollow and empty since a man attending his church was abusing his wife.
I too would like to know what is the point in following a God if those claiming to follow him don’t obey his teachings? How is that Christian wife abuser any more holy or good than the average atheist husband out there who is NOT abusing his wife?
You can get into a Truth debate all day and insist that the atheist has no philosophical or moral grounding apart from God to object to wife abuse (which Christian apologists love to bring up)…
But at the end of the day, at least at this stage in my life, I’m looking at behavior, and I’m more interested in behavior, not truth claims.
The non-wife beating atheist is instinctually living out “the golden rule” of “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” while men who sit in church every week, who profess belief in Christ, who are beating their wives, are not living it out.
Ask me which guy I’d rather hang with (hint: it won’t be the wife beater).
(Of course, I’ve run into New- Atheist Atheists who are total, condescending, smug butt-heads online, so no, I am not saying all atheists are wonderful or friendly. )
I appreciate the ex- preacher gave such honest reasons in his interview as to why he departed the faith.
He didn’t get into highly complicated, intellectual arguments involving philosophy, or quote from any Richard Dawkins books, as is the norm with so many atheist or humanists.
He just said that after having been a Christian since his teen years, he finally got to the point in life where he saw some real life examples of where the Bible or the faith were not working the way they claimed they would.
This was disillusioning for him, that his faith was not working in the nitty- gritty reality of life, which I understand.
THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO EX-CHRISTIANS OR THE DOUBTERS
Those are valid reasons for having doubts and wanting to ditch the faith, but look at all the “holier than thou” smug sermonizing Christians did in response to his comments, below the article on The Christian Post site.
The smug little Christian jerks below the article, telling him he must not have had the “right” kind of faith in Jesus… it’s so easy for them to make that snap judgement.
You don’t know what that man went through or how difficult he found it to walk away.
Those Christians leaving the smug comments below the article just airily and easily dismissed the journey he took away from the faith – and it must have been a painful journey.
The ex pastor said he became a Christian while in high school, and I believe he said he entered seminary in his 20s. This is a guy who made a decision for Christ as a kid, and walked that path for two or so decades.
Nobody like that, who invested in the faith that earnestly, for that long, takes it lightly to reject the faith.
You see the arrogant, and un-feeling or simplistic responses the sanctimonious Christians left below the article of the ex-preacher’s interview is one reason I don’t get incredibly detailed on my own blog, or on Twitter, when Christians ask me “So, why are you thinking about leaving the faith?”
I know when or if I answer such a question, I am in for a grilling.
I and my reasons will be put up on the witness box, and I will be grilled by them, acting as a prosecuting attorney.
In such a case, the Christian is already on the defensive, prepared to treat me like a project-
To behave as though the entire exchange is nothing more but a theological apologetics argument they want to win, or, they feel they need to “defend” God, all of which is the entirely wrong way to approach the subject, and furthermore, is only guaranteed to drive someone like me one inch closer to Team Agnostic. It doesn’t make me want to reconsider Team Christianity.
It’s not just the reasons that the ex pastor cites for leaving Christianity (the death of the infant of the mother at his church and so forth) – it’s also the very reactions to his reasons by Christians under the article that also cause some to leave the faith, or push them father in that direction.
Related Posts on this Blog:
(Link): Hyper Sola Scriptura