Leaving the Faith

By Robin Schumacher

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Originally posted at The Christian Post

I got an email from a friend the other day asking me if I'd seen a blog post by the daughter of a prominent Christian leader who has renounced her Christian faith and now claims to be an atheist. While I do remember hearing about it, I hadn't read the full description of the account.

Pastors and Christians in general oftentimes wrestle with the question of why some people who profess to be believers walk away from the faith. Some of them depart from Christianity in just a short period of time while others take much longer to leave their supposed convictions by the side of the road. But regardless of how long it takes, when you read stories like the one my friend forwarded to me, the theological reason as to why they do becomes quite clear.

Simply put, it's what they want to do.

Don't misunderstand that minimal statement; there's actually quite a lot of theology packed in there.

Salvation is About More Than Bible Knowledge

In the blog post, the young woman references how well she understood Christian terminology and how easily, due to her father's training, she could answer complex theological questions.

While I certainly believe in strong Christian education where the Bible is concerned, such knowledge doesn't automatically equate to a person being right with God.

Remember that when Herod asked the Jewish religious leaders where the Messiah was to be born, they had the exact answer (Matthew 2:4-6). When Jesus disclosed He was the Son of God during His trial and quoted a section of Scripture that pertained to His deity from the book of Daniel, the chief priests knew the exact part of the Old Testament to which He referred and what it meant (Matthew 26:63-66).

The point is that having all the right Bible answers doesn't mean a person has been born again. Those who would have won every Old Testament trivia contest back in Jesus' day were the ones who received Christ's sternest rebukes including: "you serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?" (Matthew 23:33).

Salvation is About More Than Evidence

The young woman's post also details how she could stand with the best Christian apologists where refuting atheists and skeptics were concerned. While I am all in favor of apologetics training for every Christian, knowing Christianity's solid evidential arguments backwards and forwards doesn't mean there's a real belief in them, or a love for the God who is behind them in the heart. Unfortunately, people are able to easily dismiss evidence and act contrary to what's true all the time.

The religious leaders saw Jesus heal physical infirmities multiple times, conquer countless demons with His own word, and bring people back from the dead including Lazarus who had been dead four days. Further, they knew how such acts dovetailed with prophecies about the Messiah.

But what was their response to the evidence before them? They dismissed it, committed the unpardonable sin of attributing Jesus' work to Satan (Mark 3:22-30), and actually planned to murder Lazarus in an effort to stop Jesus' growing popularity (John 12:10-11).

In addition, let's not forget their reaction to Jesus' resurrection and the report from the mouths of their own guards about what they had seen: a bribe, a cover up, and a dismissal of the evidence that could be confirmed with just a short walk down the road.

Salvation is About More Than Zeal

Christians struggle especially hard with those who once seemed to have had a great zeal for God (evangelizing, serving, etc.) but now want nothing to do with the faith. How could they have appeared so committed and now live as if God doesn't exist?

We have to remember that real salvation is about truth and more than initial enthusiasm. Jesus once referenced the Pharisees who had great passion and would "travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte" with the end result being that their convert was made "twice as much a son of hell as yourselves" (Matt. 23:15). Moreover, Jesus spoke about people who "immediately receive it [the gospel message] with joy" but then fall away because of a variety of personal concerns or desires (Matt. 13:2022).

Salvation is About Real Freedom and Holy Desires

In her post, even though she does her best to make the case that she couldn't believe something because of feelings alone and that unanswered questions drove her away from Christianity, she either knowingly or unknowingly admits why she really left the faith: the "freedom" to participate in a non-Christian lifestyle that she desired.
Freedom is my God now, and I love this one a thousand times more than I ever loved the last one.
In other words, she left Christianity because she loved something more than God. Unanswered something you think isn't true...all these things really had nothing to do with it. She wanted to be "free."

Continue to Page Two

Image Credit: Josh Clayton; "Walk Away"; Creative Commons

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Published 7-28-14