In my conversations with atheists, agnostics, or those who prefer to be called skeptics, I’ve discovered an alarming trend. At least it’s alarming to me. It’s this: A great many that made the “conversion” to the non-christian category, were Christian.
Before anyone responds, “Well, they never were true Christians to begin with,” please hold your breath. That simply isn’t true. And, IMHO, it’s a cheap, lazy way to defend authentic faith.
The follow-up irritated response might be, “A person can believe in God and still not be a true Believer.” To that I simply say, “Although that could well be true, please read my original statement in red letters above.
Cause #1 For Conversion Away From Christianity
None of what I am stating here is meant as “beating up on” my true brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve been there in the stresses of life. But for me, it was a reality check. Hopefully, it will strike you the same way.
The fact is, as Christians (to use the popular term) we are commissioned to represent (re-present) the life of Christ in the earth. Unfortunately, too often we have claimed the doctrines of the Christian faith, but responded to life with the mentality of an atheist. One who doesn’t rely upon God as his/her partner in the dilemmas and decisions of real life on planet earth.
Talking like a Christian and acting like an Atheist/Agnostic/Skeptic under the pressures of normal existence doesn’t display a hope filled example to anyone regardless of their religious or not religious beliefs about life.
Responding to the terrors of our day, whether it be ISIS or Ebola, like our next door neighbor, business cubicle mate, or church pew friend, doesn’t engender the kind of hope that God intends for His people.
Add to that, too often Christians don’t look like Jesus in the way we respond (or don’t respond) to issues of justice in our world. Don’t flip out now, my fundamentalist friend, but I’m going to quote Ghandi in a statement made to Christians, “If you looked like Jesus of the bible, I might be interested in your Christianity. But, you don’t. Therefore, I’m not.”
Cause #2 For Conversion Away From Christianity
Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want your fur rubbed the wrong way…as if it hasn’t been already…then don’t continue reading.
I am convinced that there’s been a great departure from the faith of our fathers because of the fundamentalist/evangelical inflexible attitudes toward what’s “Scriptural,” or “Biblical.”
Second Spoiler Alert: What I’m going to state next would surely get me booted from the pulpit of many fundamental evangelical pulpits. In fact, who knows, when some of my own parishioners read this, they may stop coming to my church, or many of my 50,000+ “podrishoners” per month may unsubscribe.
Here goes: I think we’ve made too big a deal out of a literal reading of Genesis 1 as God creating the universe in 6 – 24 hour days. Here’s my reasoning:
- The Hebrew word YOM translated into English as DAY is not consistent as meaning 24 hours in the rest of Hebrew Scripture. It does mean 24 hours, but it also is used to indicate a variety of time periods. For further study of “YOM” click on this link: YOM’s Meanings.
- 2 Peter 3:8 says, (NIV) “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.“
- The literal, rather than allegorical reading of Genesis 1 – 3, has only been around since the 1700’s. I realize, by itself, that’s not necessarily a strong argument. Justification by faith hasn’t been part of the church doctrinal scene until the Reformation, either. But, when you add it to other arguments, it begins to give more weight to the argument.
In light of compelling evidence, I am always ready to reconsider that position, but in the long run view of things, what real difference does it actually make.
In one conversation I recently had with an Atheist, he threw data evidence at me about the Big Bang Theory…or expanded universe theory. My response was that if I were a fundamentalist, that would mean something to me. However, I started thinking and praying for myself. I came to the same position that many other true brothers and sisters of the faith hold. The Big Bang theory doesn’t nullify the possibility that the creative acts of God were set in motion and maintained by what science has discovered and labeled, “The Big Bang.” I said to him, “You consider the phrase, “The Big Bang” as a metaphor for Atheism. But, respectfully…you guys don’t own it.”
So what’s my point here?
Young impressionable minds grew up in a fundamentalist setting. They were told what to believe and what was scriptural if one is a “true Bible Believer.” They then graduated high school and entered college. In their first biology course, the atheistic professor presented apparent flaws in the 6 Day Creation belief. Whether or not his/her course presentation was truth or not, the seed of doubt was planted. Then other atheistic professors and friends began their process of “pastoring” the young impressionable minds.
The new students were in an atmosphere where they were encouraged to think for themselves. That was a new phenomenon. They grew up hearing sermons where they were told what the “scriptural” way to think was.
Now, their childhood faith was logically beginning to unravel. And, IMHO, this “sharp knife” could have been dulled by…
- Training them to be good Bereans. Teaching them to, as Paul said, “Study the scriptures to see if what I am saying is true.”
- Training them “how” to think for themselves, which includes what is actually important to the overall impact of belief in God and faith.
- Not insisting that the only legitimate Christians are those who believe that the Universe was literally created in 6 – 24 hour days.
There still may have been some casualties of the intellectual war, but the above 3 points would have had the ability to dramatically reduce, and swallow up the impact of skepticism.
So, am I saying that many of the reverse conversions from Christianity to Atheism/Agnosticism/Skepticism rightfully lays at the feet of many fundamentalist church attitudes?!
If you’d care to comment, please do. Nobody is truly hurt by honest discussion.