The Exvangelical Community: The Unexpected Twitter Swarm

Introduction

My heart breaks when I think about people I personally know who once claimed to be Christians that have fallen away and swerved from the truth. People who used to sing songs next to me in children’s church that now reject Christ and have nothing to do with Him. You can probably think of people in your life that have fallen away from the faith or perhaps you have fallen away.

I have written several articles (here, here, and here) about the Ex-Evangelical phenomenon and have sought to explain how exactly we have gotten to where we are today with the mass exodus from churches and from orthodox Christianity. My short explanation is that this exodus is the result of bad theology and hypocrisy in the American Evangelical church over the past 60+ years.

This article explains how I discovered the Exvangelical Community on Twitter and how I became the target of the swarm.

The Background

I created a Twitter account back in 2013 but didn’t really understand how to use it. I stopped using it for several years but then I began to use it again in late November 2017. I was new to the Twitter world and I frequently engaged in Twitter debates. The Andy Savage scandal broke out in January 2018 and as it goes with every controversial news story, people (including myself) shared their opinions on Twitter.

My tweet:

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I think some clarification is needed for this tweet. Every time there is a story about a Christian (whether it is a pastor, leader, or a Christian radio DJ) committing a particularly heinous sin like sexual abuse or marital infidelity, there are people who use these cases as examples of why Christianity is wrong and why you can’t trust pastors. I’m not saying that you should just blindly follow pastors. What I am saying is that while there are bad “pastors” out there, there are also good pastors. There are pastors that don’t engage in sexual abuse that faithfully preach the Word and the gospel.

I also am not saying that we can’t ask questions to Christ about these kinds of atrocities. I find nothing wrong with asking God questions and seeking to understand how the existence of evil and suffering relates to God and His sovereignty. However, I believe that God gives us answers to these questions about suffering in His Word. We may or may not like the answers He gives us though. Also notice that I acknowledged the importance of holding pastors accountable. I repudiated these “Christian” men that take advantage of women (I would have included minors too if I had more characters). Men need to act like Christian men. There is no excuse for sexual abuse. It is a sin and it grieves God. These were the thoughts that were in my mind but I had a limited amount of characters to use to express them. I also didn’t know you could make tweet threads (don’t laugh…okay you can laugh, I don’t care).

The Irish Atheist

A Twitter user named The Irish Atheist saw my Andy Savage tweet and either commented on it or quote tweeted me. Quote tweeting is when someone retweets (shares) your tweet (a tweet is a post on Twitter) on their Twitter timeline. They have the option to comment on your tweet or simply share it directly to their followers. The Irish Atheist is the person who introduced me to the Ex-Evangelical Community. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I decided to engage him.

I have since learned that a primary tactic of Ex-Evangelicals on Twitter is to swarm people through the use of quote tweets. An Exvangelical will quote tweet your tweet to their followers. Then their followers respond to the quote tweet and they also respond to your original tweet. Then the followers of the original person who quote tweeted you quote tweet you and/or the quote tweet of your tweet to their followers. They sometimes tag other Ex-Evangelicals (that usually have a larger following) in response to your tweet or the quote tweet of your tweet. The quote tweet swarming continues until the Ex-Evangelicals eventually decide to move on to a different target or topic. This is usually after they’ve made their point by making a full mockery of you as well as letting everyone in the Ex-Evangelical Community have a chance at it. This is a very connected and united movement and they are able to get their ideas and tweets out to many of the Ex-Evangelicals very quickly through this process of retweeting and quote tweeting.

I am missing some of The Irish Atheist’s tweets but here are my interactions with him in chronological order:

1. The tweet below was my response to The Irish Atheist’s quote tweet of my Andy Savage tweet. I unfortunately did not save his tweet and I couldn’t find it when I searched for it.

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I use presuppositional apologetics as opposed to the more popular classical apologetics. Sye Ten Bruggencate is an apologist that influenced me and you can clearly see that showing in my tweets to the Irish Atheist.

2. The Irish Atheist quote tweeted my tweet but I didn’t save it and I can’t find it. This was my response to him:

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I used the Transcendental Argument in this tweet. For more information on that I recommend that you check out this site.

3.

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This is a great example of fallacious logic and unfortunately this fallacy is used on Twitter all the time. His tweet contains a faulty comparison. He makes a false comparison between the moral failing of specific Christians that covered up the sexual abuse and that gave Andy Savage the standing ovation to my epistemological claim that Atheists steal morality from Christians and makes it look like there is a contradiction. There is no contradiction. I would ask how The Irish Atheist could claim that abuse is objectively wrong without appealing to an objective standard of morality. It is simply his subjective opinion that abuse is morally wrong. Christians believe that abuse is wrong because the holy objective God declares abuse to be sin. God commands us to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31, Leviticus 19:18) and abuse is certainly a violation of that command.

4.

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I responded to the Irish Atheist with the basic gospel message. I gave the bad news and the good news. The bad news that we are sinners. The bad news that we deserve judgement and separation from God for our idolatry. Then I gave the good news that God showed us grace through Christ. (Ephesians 2:1-10, Titus 2:11-14, and Colossians 2:4-15).

5.

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I hope you realize that I was not calling for his actual execution and I realize that there are places today where Homosexuals are executed. That may have been a poor word choice on my part. The main point I wanted to emphasize was that we all deserve judgement for our sinful rebellion against God (Romans 1:18-32). Romans 8:7 says the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.

6.

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The Irish Atheist quote tweeted this tweet and tagged (included) an Ex-Evangelical named Christopher Stroop.

Christopher Stroop

Christopher retweeted my tweet so naturally I thought I would respond to his statement. This was a trap. He (like many other Exvangelicals) quote tweets in order to hand you over to the Ex-Evangelical hornets. Here is our exchange:

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He makes the strawman statement “the negging pickup artist in the sky god of Evangelicalism and Catholicism”. Notice that his tweet got ten replies, nine retweets, and fifty-one likes. He also calls my tweet spiritual abuse which is completely ridiculous. Jesus Himself says that it is wrong to love family more than God (Luke 14:26). I am not advocating that people actually hate their families. I responded to him by quoting two bible verses because I wanted to let God speak rather than speak with my words.

2.

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Christopher accused me of having an authoritarian persecution complex and told me that I was sharing Bible verses with people who already knew them. I responded by genuinely asking him if he understood them and believed them and pointed him to Scripture.

3.

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This tweet is filled with assumptions. I share the gospel with people out of love for them not because of my supposed insecurity or because of my ego. I engaged Christopher because I had empathy for him (not pity, empathy). I grew up in Evangelical Christianity like him. I experienced many of the things that Ex-Evangelicals experienced. I don’t identify as an Evangelical. I think the label has become poisoned and that it needs to fade out. My story is not welcome in the Ex-Evangelical Community because I proselytize and because I still hold to orthodox Christianity.

4.

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He is right to say that I don’t get to determine whether or not he was religious in his childhood but that wasn’t my intention. I was not gaslighting him and I did not want to frame his story for him. I did not seek to invalidate his childhood experiences in Christianity. I was challenging the beliefs he holds now. He rejects Christ and I was trying to direct him to Scripture. God’s Word is the standard of truth not my word.

Ex-Evangelical Hornets

Here are some of the many responses I received as a result of the Irish Atheist quote tweeting me and take notice how most of them are logical fallacies:

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I tweeted this to someone and got a bunch of nasty replies:

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Here are some of the responses I received as a result of Christopher retweeting me:

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Conclusion

This all happened in January 2018 so why am I posting this now? My primary purpose in writing this article is to document my experience with the Exvangelical Community and to warn others so they don’t fall into the same trap. This Community is thriving and growing and not many people are aware that it exists.

 

The Exvangelical Community: How Did We Get Here?

The Ex-Evangelical Community

This is the introduction to my series of articles on the Ex-Evangelical Community.

We are facing a problem in the West, specifically here in America…many people have left or are leaving churches, especially millenials. Consider what Ken Ham writes in his book, “Ready to Return“:

Today, few Americans are aware of the spiritual epidemic that wiped out the land of our Christian forefathers. Even fewer are aware that the same epidemic has reached our own shores, spreading like a virus.

American Christianity could in a sense become almost extinct in less than two generations — if Christians in this country don’t act quickly and decisively. Respected pollster George Barna was one of the first to put numbers to this epidemic, finding that six out of ten 20-somethings who were involved in a church during their teen years are already gone. Since that research was published in 2000, survey after survey has confirmed the same basic trend. Many of the 20s generation are leaving the Church in droves with few returning.” (1)

Rachel Held Evans (someone who I would classify as an Ex-Evangelical) mentions the exodus from churches/Christianity as well in her book, “Searching for Sunday“:

In the United States, 59 percent of young people ages eighteen to twenty-nine with a Christian background have dropped out of church. Among those who came of age around the year 2000, a solid quarter claim no religious affiliation at all, making us significantly more disconnected from faith than members of generation X were at a comparable point in their lives and twice as disconnected as baby boomers were as young adults. It is estimated that eight million young adults will leave the church before their thirtieth birthday. (2)

It’s a fact that we have lost many who were raised in the church and/or in a Christian home. Many Ex-Evangelicals come from fundamentalist backgrounds. If it wasn’t for the grace of God I would probably be an Ex-Evangelical myself. I’ve lived through the American fundamentalist Christian subculture. I know the good aspects and the many bad aspects of fundamentalism. Many of the churched (people raised in the church or Christian homes) who have left Christianity or abandoned orthodoxy (is there a difference…I don’t think there is) have been through very confusing, hard things and many have been hurt in the church.

Lebanon Churches

You might think people leaving the church is mainly a problem in the big cities or the postmodern, post-Christian beacons of the country (West Coast, New England). On the contrary, it’s happening minutes away from me in “religious” Lebanon County:

More funerals

The number of American adults who attend church regularly is declining and weighted toward the elderly, with people born before 1946 far more likely to attend church on a weekly basis (51 percent) than millennials (27-28 percent), according to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center.

Despite its reputation as a religious community, Lebanon County is following the trend, said Lebanon Valley College Chaplain Paul Fullmer. One reason for the attendance decline may be that people no longer feel an obligation to darken church doors unless they truly want to.

“I think there is a growing social acceptance of agnosticism and atheism,” Fullmer said.

Christ Church UCC at 200 S. White Oak St. in Annville still has about 80-90 attendees, but the congregation is aging, pastor Don Mason said.

“We’ve had a lot more funerals than we’ve had people joining the church,” Mason said.

The congregation is battling secular activities like sports leagues and television shows that compete for potential attendees’ time, the attractiveness of concert-style worship services offered at many megachurches, and negative views of church among millennials, he said.

Modern feel

Since many young people did not grow up attending religious services, churches often struggle to attract them if they do not make their worship experience understandable and familiar, Fullmer said.

Lifeway Church certainly meets that requirement. It worships in Regal Cinemas at the Lebanon Valley Mall, and uses movie theater seating and a portable stage that is installed each Sunday for the service.

Pastor Jimmy Nimon had 66 congregants when it started in September 2015 as a church plant of Ephrata Community Church, and it now has about 225 — enough that he’s scrambling to train other leaders to help minister to the congregation. Most of the attendees are either people without a church background or who were already unengaged in church because they had been hurt at a previous church, he said. (3)

Problems

You’ve got a problem if 75% (or higher) of attendees at your church are over 60 years of age and you don’t have many new attendees under the age of 40.

You’ve got a problem if you have more funerals than new people joining the church.

We’ve got a problem if people are being hurt in churches.

We’ve got a problem if agnosticism and atheism are rising and orthodox Christianity is on the decline.

Why the Church Lost Millenials and Many Others

I want to share why I believe we have come to our current situation of people leaving the church in droves before I begin to analyze and critique the claims of Ex-Evangelicals. I’m a Millenial. I was born in 1991 and have always been raised around the church, Christian subculture, and Christianity. I’ve lived in the very religious and conservative Bible belt Lebanon County, Pennsylvania most of my life. I’ve been actively involved in the church all my life. I’ve gone to Sunday School, Children’s Church, and VBS (where I walked up the aisle at least two years in a row because I wanted to go up to the front like everybody else…I didn’t actually know what I was doing when I went up front).  We have so many churches in the area that some kids would go to multiple Vacation Bible Schools over the summer. I went to AWANA and youth group. I’ve volunteered at AWANA and VBS.

I’ve seen many fall away throughout my time in the church. I can think of hundreds of people I personally know that had gone to some church activity, their parents were Christian, or they were involved in the church that now have no interest in God and many openly reject God altogether. I’m sure you can think of at least a few people who have left Christianity. We have to wonder how it could be that so many have turned away from the truth? Why are so many de-conversion stories being shared on and off the internet?

Jesus tells us why people depart:

As a large crowd was gathering, and people were coming to Jesus from every town, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some seed fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the sky devoured it. Other seed fell on the rock; when it grew up, it withered away, since it lacked moisture. Other seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew up with it and choked it. Still other seed fell on good ground; when it grew up, it produced fruit: a hundred times what was sown.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.”

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. The seed along the path are those who have heard and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the seed on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy. Having no root, these believe for a while and fall away in a time of testing. As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, produce fruit. Luke 8:4-8, 11-15

Specifics

While Jesus gives us the basic reasons for why people leave, I believe it is important to look more specifically at why so many today have left and are leaving. I believe there are many Ex-Evangelicals in the U.S. today because these things have happened over the past 60+ years:

1. Parents more and more relied on the church to teach their kids about God. Many kids were not well-trained by their fathers (or the church) in presuppositional apologetics, discernment, critical thinking, biblical hermeneutics, theology, and doctrine.

   I think one of the saddest passages in the Bible is judges 2:10-12, “And all that generation were also gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel. . .abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them.”

   After Joshua and all the first generation of parents who entered the Promise Land died, the next generation served false gods! It took only one generation to lose the spiritual legacy that should have been passed on.

   What happened? In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, God had given clear instructions to the fathers: “These words that I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

    Obviously, the parents in Joshua’s day did not teach their children as they should have — and in one generation, the devil had those kids! While it’s ultimately a matter of God’s grace that anyone is saved, God has given parents an immense responsibility to do their part. Over and over again, the Jewish fathers were told about their crucial role but they shirked it (see Ps. 78).

   Sadly, this same situation already has occurred or is happening now in Western nations once influenced by Christianity. Many fathers today are not carrying their God-given, God-commanded role to be the spiritual head of the house and to take the responsibility for training their children in spiritual matters. (1)

Or the opposite happened, fathers/mothers rammed the bible and theology into their children’s minds and did not allow critical thinking or questions. Cruel, authoritarian parents that used fear to instill Christianity into the hearts and minds of children. Paul gives fathers a wise admonition:

Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

2. People were taught bad/poor/watered down theology and/or they were taught false teaching in the church and at home. I will briefly share examples and plan to examine them in more detail in future articles.
Examples (there are more but these come to my mind):

  • A pastor telling you that you have anxiety & depression because you are harboring sin in your life, or because you have a demon.
  • Hyper calvinism:

Most Calvinists reject as deplorable the following hyper-Calvinistic and destructive beliefs:

– that God is the author of sin and of evil

– that men have no will of their own, and secondary causes are of no effect

– that the number of the elect at any time may be known by men

– that it is wrong to evangelize

– that assurance of election must be sought prior to repentance and faith

– that men who have once sincerely professed belief are saved regardless of what they later do

– that God has chosen some races of men and has rejected others

– that the children of unbelievers dying in infancy are certainly damned

– that God does not command everyone to repent

– that the sacraments are not means of grace, but obstacles to salvation by faith alone.

– that the true church is only invisible, and salvation is not connected with the visible church

– that the Scriptures are intended to be interpreted by individuals only and not by the church.

– that no government is to be obeyed which does not acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord, or that Biblical Law is its source of authority

– that the grace of God does not work for the betterment of all men

– that saving faith is equivalent to belief in the doctrine of predestination

– that only Calvinists are Christians (Neo-gnostic Calvinism) (4)

  • Poor teaching about the “unforgivable sin”. This leads to or has led to some Christians living with anxiety and fear about whether or not they committed the sin.
  • Christian camps similar to what you would see in the documentary Jesus Camp. I didn’t go to Christian summer camp. I’m sure there are some good ones but it wouldn’t surprise me if most are bad.
  • Churches poorly addressing homosexuality. Actual homophobia (I don’t agree with the claim it is homophobic to call homosexuality a sin. It’s not the only sin and it isn’t the root sin. The root sin is unbelief) …hating LGBTQ people. Calling them abominations and sodomites. Anti-LBGT preachers that end up actually being caught in homosexual activities (a simple web search will give you plenty of examples but Ted Haggard is a notable example). Conversion therapy and “Praying the gay away”:

When I was 12, I knew I liked boys. One day I was watching Six Feet Under on HBO and saw David and Keith kissing. This was the first gay couple I’d ever seen on TV and it was in that moment I realized, “Well, shit, I’m gay.” At this point I was still heavily involved in the Baptist Church. Growing up with a single mom, I had to go to daycare so she could work and support our family. I went to the church’s preschool and daycare every day after school until I was 13. I was taught that choosing to be gay was wrong, vile and against God: “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” When I had this epiphany that I was one of these people I had been taught to hate, I wanted my feelings to go away. I cried and prayed for God to change me, taking this sinful carnal need away.

The next week at Sunday school, the youth worship group was advertising a summer camp to “renew your personal relationship with God.” I took this as a sign—an answer to my prayers. I asked my mom if I could go to camp, telling her I wanted to go to be with friends and be with God. So I raised the money through fundraisers and set off to for the mountains.

When I arrived, I was shown my cabin. Our days were spent at daily services and Bible study groups, broken up by activities and days at the lake.  Pamphlets shared guides to passages in the Bible for sins that afflict human nature.  I focused on why it was wrong to be a homosexual, searching for advice to transform myself. I flipped through the pages of scripture, highlighting and underlining passages, hoping to learn, see, and be enlightened. I questioned if this is what I believed—was it even what Jesus would have believed?

Soon after I came out, I left the church, abandoning my faith.  I no longer felt welcome or accepted in the space I’d spent much of my childhood.  My friend Ryan said that when I left, the other kids gossiped about me, saying, “Thomas is gay now! He stopped coming to church and isn’t a Christian anymore.” The final service I attended was during the same week as the vote on Prop. 8, the decision for marriage equality in California.  The pastor talked about needing to save the sanctity of marriage at all costs, advocating against supporting gay marriage.  He even said, “The church shouldn’t help find a cure for AIDS. We should just let them die from it.” These words dripped from his mouth like venom off the fangs of a snake. (5)

Rachel Held Evans shares a similar account from someone named Andrew:

“What sort of church did you grow up in?” I asked.

In response, Andrew pulled out his smartphone, scrolled through his pictures for a moment, found what he was looking for, and then handed his phone to me. On the cracked phone screen was a picture of the editorial page of a church newsletter. As I zoomed in closer, I could see the article was about the same-sex relationships, which the author described as sickening. To the left of the headline, a silver-haired man in a suit and tie looked back at me with eyes that looked familiar.

“That’s my dad,” Andrew said. He’s a pastor and he published this right afte I came out.”

My heart sank. For every teenager like me who knew only love and acceptance growing up in church, there were teenagers like Andrew who felt like strangers even in their own homes.

The sixth of seven children, Andrew grew up in a small, fundamentlist Presbyterian church in the South where his father served as a pastor. There was much Andrew loved about his tight-knit faith community—its emphasis on Scripture, its commitment to evangelism, its familylike atmosphere—but as Andrew approached his teenage years, he found himself at odds with some of the church’s more legalistic teachings, particularly his father’s ban on contemporary Christian music and insistence that only the King James version of the Bible be used in church and study. While his father emphasized reverence, righteousness, and self-control, Andrew had always displayed a tender, open spirit and an emotional connection to God. He scribbled endlessly in prayer journal during his father’s sermons, conversing with God as a close friend.  Though he occasionally rebelled (the first time Andrew saw a movie in a theater, he was eighteen years old, and he snuck out with friends to catch The Hunger Games), Andrew loved Jesus deeply, passionately.

Which made his secret all the heavier.

About the time his friends started talking about girls, Andrew started noticing boys. Having been raised to believe that sexual orientation was a choice and that same-sex relationships were an abomination, Andrew feared his impulses were a result of sin, sin he begged God to purge him of night after night and day after day.

A 2012 entry from Andrew’s prayer journal reads:

I’m so scared. I don’t want to be an outcast . . . do you care what I’m going through, God? Why did you make me this way? What are you trying to teach me, God? I lift my hands to You. I’m in Your hands . . . Give me faith! Please! I can’t hold on much longer.

But no amount of prayer or Bible study, or self-discipline could change Andrew’s orientation. Finally, after struggling with bouts of depression and despair, Andrew came to terms with his sexuality. He left home to attend college in St. Loius and he found a new church that accepted him as he was. His new faith community even arranged for him to be baptized, an experience Andrew had longed for since childhood.

“I was always denied baptism and communion growing up,” Andrew said. “My dad always told me I wasn’t manifesting enough fruits of the Spirit in my life. He wanted me to wait untill I was good enough, holy enough.”

Andrew formally came out to his family on the Thanksgiving break of his freshman year. It didn’t go well. Now Andrew lives in his dorm room, cut off from his family and working to pay for his education on his own. The last time he spoke to his father, Andrew was told he was going to Hell. (2)

Stories like these make me sad and angry. Yes, homosexuality is a sin. However, I don’t believe that same-sex attraction is a sin. So many in the church have treated it as a sin that God takes away if people try harder, pray harder, and read the Bible more. We then have teens (and people of any age really) who realize that they are attracted to people of the same sex and they are told that the way to stop those feelings is to do something on their own power. A works based solution instead of a grace based solution. Churches have told them to muster up faith and stop the feelings by their own effort instead of telling them to look to Christ and His finished work on the cross. Many churches give them the law and no gospel.

There is a difference between someone approaching a pastor and saying “I realize that I am attracted to people of my sex, what should I do? I feels like it’s sin but I can’t stop my feelings” and someone who says to themselves “I am actively engaging in homosexual activities and I don’t want to give it up. So I will find a church that accepts my lifestyle so that I can continue in sin and not be obedient to God.” A pastor needs to respond to the doubter with care and with truth. Don’t call the person who says they struggle with same-sex attraction an abomination. Point them to the truths of Scripture. Pray with them. Be real with them.

Thomas ended up leaving the church altogether. Andrew found a church that accepted same-sex relationships and continued in a homosexual lifestyle. That’s what happens when the church poorly addresses homosexuality.

  • Modesty Policing. By this I am referring to women that were told that they needed to be modest so that they wouldn’t tempt men with their bodies. If they were sexually abused and dressed immodestly they deserved it because of how they dressed. Certainly I believe modesty is important to some degree…but this takes it too far. The fact is, a man doesn’t need to see a woman who is dressed immodestly in order to lust. He can undress her in his mind and she could be as modest as a nun.
  • Marital infidelity and abuse. Pastors that don’t or didn’t take abuse allegations seriously. Pastors that tell wives to submit to their abusive husbands and that the reason their husband is abusive must be because the wife is committing sin of some kind. “Christian” husbands that abuse their wives mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually. Spouses that wreck their marriages and the family by following their lusts and having affairs. The fact that these kinds of stories exist really hurts my heart and makes me righteously angry.
  • Purity Culture. Purity rings. Shame. Believing that losing your virginity before marriage is the one sin you can never truly be clean from and that if you are virgin you deserve to marry a virgin and marrying someone who isn’t a virgin is selling yourself short. Soul ties…that if you have sex with someone (consensual or nonconsensual) you are bonded to them for the rest of your life. Feeling completely dirty and used because you were sexually abused. Now you are considered “used goods” and what Christian guy wants to have used goods? Bouncing the eyes. Consider what Rebecca Lemke says about Purity Culture:

Purity Is Good, But Not Puritanism

In the 1980s and ‘90s, several organizations and figureheads within conservative Christian circles, like True Love Waits and Silver Ring Thing, rose up. Literature like “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” brought an increased awareness to no-touch courtship and strongly advocated for young people to stay virgins until marriage. This was in response to the secular culture’s obsession with sexual perversion brought on by the Sexual Revolution and rising teen pregnancy rates. This push for purity was a good thing, at least in theory.

There is more to leading a life of sexual purity than waiting until your honeymoon to have sex, and proponents of the purity movement began addressing this as well, arguably very poorly. To say they went a little overboard would be an understatement.

In their efforts to promote purity, they endorsed no-touch courtship, a relationship in which affection of any sort was strictly reserved for the altar and beyond. Not only did this forbid kissing, hugging, and holding hands, but in some cases, it also outlawed private conversations between couples and even having a crush to begin with. The essence of the rules could be boiled down to two beliefs: that attraction was a sin and sexuality was dangerous. If one transgressed Purity Culture’s boundaries, they were said to have “given their heart away” before marriage.

Violating any of these “rules” of Purity Culture made a person the spiritual and sexual equivalent of “chewed gum,” “spit-in water,” and “a de-petaled flower.” If you committed any kind of sexual impurity by the movement’s definition (even if it wasn’t included in the Bible or was a non-consensual sexual encounter), you were “damaged goods.”

While sexual purity is a good thing and something the Bible asks us to strive for, Purity Culture does not advocate for it. Instead, it advocates for a one-size-fits-all model for handling dating and affection. It is a lazy, convenience-based solution to a complex spiritual problem, one that has cost many their mentalphysical, and spiritual wellbeing.

This model for achieving sexual purity neglects the work of the Holy Spirit to convict on spiritual decisions that are within the realm of adiaphora (a matter that is neither commanded nor forbidden by Scripture). This leaves many to rely on behavioral modification rather than acting out of love for their neighbor.

We Cannot Make Ourselves Perfect

The problem with the convenience of Purity Culture is this: it puts the focus on how sinful human beings can avoid sin. This is a hopeless endeavor because we will never be perfect, even without the extra rules of no-touch courtship and purity culture. The shame inherent within the movement hinders the ability of survivors to bond with a healthy community and God.

While Purity Culture graduates continue to pay the cost of convenience through spiritual degradation and dysfunction of the body and mind, the solution is, and has always been, available to us. The problem of sexual impurity was resolved by paying the highest price that can be paid, the life of an innocent: Christ’s life.

Purity Culture glosses over one very simple fact: We aren’t pure because of anything we do. We are pure because Christ made us so in his death and resurrection. Our worth is not found in what we have done, but in what he has done for us. (6)

  • Pastors that create theology from quoting Scripture out of context. Pastors that twist the Word of God (Your typical TV Evangelist, prosperity gospel huckster, or word-faith teacher)
  • Any church where pastors or leaders cannot be questioned and/or demand loyal devotion.
  • A church culture that looked down upon or discouraged asking questions about God or theology.
  • Being taught that it is up to us to evangelize other people. Evangelism that was based on how many people you were able to convince to follow Jesus. If you didn’t get high numbers of salvation prayers you were shamed or felt like a failure. After all…those were souls headed to Hell and you probably didn’t articulate the salvation message well. Now you have to live with the guilt that others were going to Hell because you couldn’t convince them to follow Christ.
  • Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these: 1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.” 2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” 3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about ones self.” 4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.” 5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.” (7)

  • Being a Christian is about “doing the right and moral things”. WWJD. Veggie Tales theology. Being a Christian means that when you pray for God to take a sin away from you that He will do that immediately and if He doesn’t, and you still struggle with a sin (like masturbating, same sex attraction, lust, anger, etc.) it means you are not saved or in danger of losing your salvation.
  • Terrible Contemporary Christian Music with vapid platitudinous lyrics. Over-emotional, sensational, “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. Rock show or hyper-emotional worship where you sang theologically barren me-centered songs with a chorus that you repeated 20 times. Youth conferences that gave you a spiritual high that was gone two days after you came back. Oceans.

Getting a Spiritual Buzz

In the aftermath, I would feel warm and spiritually buzzed. I felt drained, spent, and yet so very, very happy. In those moments I felt close to God. When people said “The spirit really showed up” I couldn’t help but echo that statement, as I knew exactly what they meant. I remember being a teen and later a young adult in a church which had a very talented worship team, and while perhaps not to the same degree as the big conferences, they were usually able to match the intensity and whip me and my friends up into a frenzy. More often than not all they needed was the right Hillsong song and we were good to go.

But those moments of being buzzed and feeling close to God did not last too long. When we would have youth on Friday, I was high all night. That feeling would wane a little on Saturday, got a small uptick on Sunday, sag on Monday, and then by Tuesday it had all but dissipated. I did not feel close to God. I did not feel spiritual. Half the time I didn’t even feel like a Christian.

   I found myself longing for that spiritual high that I felt.  Instead of basking in it, I found myself chasing it. Needing it. Coveting it.  I found myself counting the hours until Friday would come, so that I could worship and get back those feelings that I had lost. On Friday I was loved by God and I knew he was happy with me — on Monday I was depressed and sensed his disapproval. On Friday he was pleased with me — on Monday his disappointment was tangible.  Because, after all, if God and I were tight then I wouldn’t be feeling so disconnected from him. I would feel the same way I did during worship.

This was, upon much reflection, a very strange time.

Worship as a Weapon?

Yet in the years since then I have learned some valuable lessons. Chief among them is the realization than an emotional high is no substitute for true spirituality. No one tells Church-kids that, but its true. I’ve learned that absent knowledge, even the worship of Christ can be used as a weapon against me. When we treat the worship-high like heroin in an addict’s hands, people are going to get hurt.

I’ve learned that often worship music can be little more than manipulation and is used that way to varying degrees consciously or unconsciously. I’ve learned that most variations of the expression “the holy spirit really showed up” in particularly intense worship session is a Christological joke and is theological poison.

I’ve learned that a kid can attend youth group, spend two hours in heaving sobs while on her knees with hands raised, and not once have tasted anything close to a true, legitimate encounter with the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned those experiences can mess her up, and that same kid can, after youth is over, smoke a joint and have sex with her boyfriend, the last two hours seemingly forgotten.

 I’ve learned that the point of worship can be not to teach doctrine and to deepen our knowledge of God, but rather to recite silly and shallow lyrics about nothing.

I’ve learned that chasing the emotional high can crush a soul. That it makes people think such experiences are normative for the Christian life. When they fail to experience it consistently, they grow bitter and disillusioned. It can foster depression and angst and whets the sharpening stone for the knife that slaughters the sheep. Instead of developing depth it breeds shallowness, immaturity, and confusion.

I’ve learned that because worship can become the biggest draw for the church, worship nights will steamroll over Bible studies and adult Sunday school. That a church oftentimes will pour much more resources, energy, thought and time into making a killer worship service than they will into developing deep, thoughtful, meaty, mature, theologically precise and provoking Bible studies.

Warning: Worship in Progress!

I’ve learned that parents and pastors will send their children away to youth group and conferences without ensuring that they have solid teaching on what worship is, how it functions, and how it relates to the gospel and God’s pleasure with you. There are no warnings of “Don’t mistake the spiritual high for biblical sanctification. Its not real!” but rather they will tacitly endorse that sort of confusion. They’ll let the seedy underbelly of mainstream evangelical goofiness swallow up their kids and spit out the bones. Then they’ll wonder why their sons and daughters leave the Church after high school.

   I’ve learned that there are tons of people out there like me who have been burned by this sort of thing — who have been beat up and are fellow bruised reeds — victims of men and women with good intentions but no discernment. They thought they were doing us a favor but should have known better. (8)

  • The influence of Charles Finney. Altar Calls. Sinner’s Prayer. Asking Jesus into your heart. Legalistic obsession with the sacred and secular divide. KJV Only. Cultural Fundamentalism such as not being able to listen to “secular” rock music. Claiming that songs like Highway to Hell by AC/DC and Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden are satanic (Hint…they’re not satanic. Just look at the background to the writing of the songs). People who see evil symbols everywhere. I personally remember reading some article saying that the symbol on Monster energy drinks represents the number of the beast (666). Kids not being allowed to play Pokemon because it promoted evolution and was influenced by the Egyptian book of the dead (I experienced this one).
  • End-times obsessed Christians that use fear mongering about the rapture. Left Behind. Thief in the Night. Omega Code. This:

Charles Anderson - Rapture - 1974. Commissioned by Leon Bates of the Bible  Believers' Evangelistic Association (Texas). Over 3 million reproductions have been distributed.

  • Evidential/classical apologetics. I’m not intending to say that the classical apologetic method is sinful or false but I believe it is ineffective. I grew up with classical and have tried using the arguments from evidence in the past. However, when I learned about presuppositional apologetics (Are You Epistemologically Self-Conscious?  9), I realized the ineffectiveness of classical apologetics. I was intrigued when I read what Jerry Proctor wrote regarding his de-conversion and apologetics:

Faith was a beautiful thing, and I miss it sometimes. I finished my degree in Evangelism with a concentration in apologetics twenty-two years ago. I learned to read the New Testament in the original Koine Greek. I served as a missionary in China and Mexico. I’ve done street preaching, and I’ve walked up to perfect strangers and asked them if they know Jesus.

I now identify myself as an agnostic. It’s been fourteen years since I left.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Youth pastors and well-meaning friends said, in matters of religion, it’s best not to think too hard. When I showed an interest in philosophy and apologetics, some shrugged, and said, “Well if that is where God leads you.” My motives were pure. But it’s an open secret that many who delve into theology and the science of answering doubts and arguments with an apologia seek to convince themselves. Many of us aren’t successful. Even those who remain sometimes use convincing others as a means of avoiding their own questions and doubts.

Apologetics are a dangerous terrain for faith. When most people think of the subject, they think of CS Lewis, Josh McDowell, Francis Schaeffer, Ravi Zacharias. You have a doubt or a nagging question, or some quandary that won’t go away. Then, someone hands you a book, or sends you a Youtube video where someone answers that question. Your faith is renewed. We know how to handle these things in the church. Get some extra rest, read this book, and call me in the morning.

The truth is more complicated.

Why are apologetics so dangerous? Is faith something we can only murder to dissect?

For many questions, there are no easy answers.

This seems obvious to me, now. But as a young theology student, I had the confidence of youth combined with a toxic inexperience of the questions mature people really ask. You can blow through the major arguments for the existence of God in an hour. But as a student of philosophy, I know that philosophers have been tearing down and reconstructing the ontological argument, the teleological argument, and the cosmological argument for thousands of years. That’s not even addressing modal or symbolic logic. The only way to use those arguments to convince anyone that God exists – especially your particular God, out of all the possible choices – is to hope they haven’t delved too far into the matter. Go for the low-hanging fruit. Hope that you planted seeds with the others.

If you read C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity carefully, the first half of the book could be titled Mere Theism. It could just as easily be used as a preface to Judaism or Islam, or any monotheistic, morals-based believe system. At some point in the book, Lewis does a little two-step shuffle and starts talking about Christianity. But wait a minute? Even if I grant that my morals point me to a Moral Giver, how did we arrive at the conclusion Christianity is true? That’s an awful lot of baggage someone snuck in the door.

There are so many questions. Why does God allow suffering? More specifically, why does God allow suffering in my life? Which inevitably leads to a story about death, or pain, or events like the Holocaust or the slaughter of various peoples during Christian conquests. Maybe a loved one who died. The answers I was trained to give, like the free will defense, tasted like sand in my mouth. I found the most useful tool often wasn’t any of the clever arguments I’d read, but shutting up and listening.

But why should I continue to believe this stuff, if the answers it gives are so unsatisfying? Listening is a human response. It’s not uniquely Christian. Listening certainly wasn’t a skill they taught in my classes. The danger of listening is that you may realize the question the other person is asking is superior to any answer you have to offer. That’s what happened to me. (10)

Proctor very rightly sees the flaw of this method of apologetics when he says that the Christian God is not proved by the existence of a Moral Giver. It’s true…there is a very big difference between believing in the existence of a god (a Moral Giver) and believing in the God of the Bible. The problem is that you can’t convince anyone that God exists. The reality is that everyone already knows God exists but they suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-32). The problem isn’t lack of compelling evidence…the problem is rejection of the truth and rebellion. In the Classical method of apologetics, evidence is viewed as neutral ground: “I have my evidence and you have your evidence. We will debate and see whose evidence is more reasonable to believe.”. I think of the movie God’s Not Dead, when the main character says to the class,”We’re going to put God on trial”. In reality, there is no neutral ground. The unbeliever knows God exists but suppresses that truth. God is not to be put on trial. God is the judge. Therefore we must expose and refute their inconsistent worldview and point them to the gospel truths of Scripture (http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/ 11).

  • Jack. Chick. Tracts.

Page 2

I might just have to write an article in the future about the Fundamentalists and the fear of Halloween. Parents not letting kids go out for trick-or-treat night because of potential openings for demonic forces. But at least some of us had a fall frolic or trunk-or-treat.

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Yuk

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This one makes me laugh. “Bye”

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Welcome to the Abyss…

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WELL THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY quickmeme.com

Page 10

Scary. Can you imagine reading something like this as a kid?

Page 11

This is actually pretty scary stuff but I can’t help but laugh at Satan saying “Welcome to the Abyss, Timmy.”. He’s such a gentleman for being the Prince of Darkness.

Page 12

If he had just listened to his mom’s warning to not go out for trick-or-treat Timmy wouldn’t be dead.

Page 13

He refused to repent of his sins and he quit Sunday School.

Page 14

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“Bobby, that decision caused your friend to be sent to Hell forever!”

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I mean, he does get this right at least.

Page 18

Again, this is true.

Page 19

If only Timmy accepted God’s “love gift” (which is a phrase I’ve always found to be odd) of Jesus Christ. If Timmy just mustered up enough faith and made a decision for Jesus then he would have gone to Heaven. “But he turned the Lord down…”

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This kind of evangelism often yields false converts. I’ve never understood the phrase “Please come into my heart”…where is the Scriptural support for Jesus coming into someone’s heart? It makes zero sense. Wow, look how happy Bobby is immediately after asking Jesus to come into his heart! He feels so safe. He KNOWS he will go to Heaven when he dies because he prayed that prayer from his heart and truly meant it. Let’s see how Bobby fares when he deals with some real life problems like addictions, disappointments, same-sex attraction, betrayals, lust, divorce, war, poverty, reading atheists blogs on the internet.

Page 22(12)

The choice is yours. Choose Jesus or Satan. Choose life or death. Choose an eternity in Heaven or eternity in Hell. It’s up to you. Better make sure you really mean it when you pray. You don’t want to backslide and have to recommit your life to Christ several times in your life. It’s dangerous to scare people into believing Jesus.

One more. This one is worse.

Page 2

The Green Angels is a pretty lame name.

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Let go and flow.

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Gotta love the dated slang here…”let’s see the bread”.

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Are you a “solid” Christian? No, you say…how about liquid? Gaseous?

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Mr. Siffer: “Yeah…just sign this contract…in your own blood.”

Bobby: “That’s really gross.”

Tom:

Image result for meme dangit bobby

Mr. Siffer:

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Apparently music is the devil’s masterpiece. If you don’t want to listen to music you are welcome to avoid it but please don’t say that all Christians should avoid music.

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‘Killer Rock”. I definitely would agree that you shouldn’t be pulling your theology from the Beatles but I don’t see anything wrong with listening to a Beatles song for entertainment.

Page 12

I’ve never really been into KISS or Motley Crue but I do like Black Sabbath. I think Jack Chick was a little paranoid (I couldn’t resist) about Rock Music. Now country, classical, and soul are of the Devil? Satan started Christian Rock…what? The music itself is sinful? So it doesn’t matter if the lyrics are written by Christians or not…the sounds that are made by the instruments are sinful? Ridiculous…but not the most ridiculous thing you will read in this tract.

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I like metal music. I guess that makes me a rock-a-holic zombie. He’s got the souls of the whole world dancing to his beat.

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Some deep lyrics right there. I love the serpent/bat/demon hybrids. Brace yourself…the next one is terrible. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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I really don’t understand…”Then I’ll give you a little wedding present…some AIDS.” Why? Just why?

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Fundamentalist Christianity capitalizing on the AIDS hysteria and using it to bash rock music. This is nothing but manipulation and fear tactics.

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These tracts are depressing. Thank the Lord that little girl slipped a Jack Chick tract in his pocket.

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Get it…Lew Siffer.

ZAP!

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Some music should be avoided but Chick is way off here. Some who are weaker in the faith should probably avoid certain bands or songs but I don’t believe that applies to every Christian.

That’s it? I just have to die to self and burn anything I have associated with rock music and I’ll be set free? This was popular before my time but I had heard about it happening. Bonfires where you would bring and burn all your rock merchandise. This is nothing more than legalism. It does not save and has probably pushed some away.

Page 23(13)

And now for something completely different…please read a few Dilbert comics to recover from those two terrible comics.

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

This might be favorite Dilbert single strip comic.

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

  • Seeker sensitive/church growth movements which had come under the influnce of Charles Finney and Peter Drucker. Purpose Driven Life.

In this article I will show that Warren’s book teaches an approach to the gospel that is not Biblical. His teaching is in keeping with popular, American, evangelical pietism so it is no wonder most evangelicals cannot see what is wrong with it. It comes from a stream of theology that can be traced back to Charles Finney who popularized a methodological “how to” approach to the gospel that puts spiritual revival in the hands of man to work at will. In doing so neither the message nor the method of Jesus Christ and His apostles is followed. To help show the difference between Warren’s method and the gospel message I will cite John MacArthur’s book Hard to Believe which explains the unadulterated gospel better than any book I have recently read.2There is a chasm between the teachings of Warren and those of MacArthur. They cannot both be right. Let’s begin. (14)

  • Running the church like a business and using marketing strategies to meet the felt needs of people. Vision casting. Making church for the unchurched. Rock show worship. Sermons that are 99% personal stories and 1% Scripture. Positive thinking Chirstianity.
  • Hyper-Charismatic Christianity, Seeing demons everywhere and in people. Slaying in the Spirit. Fake faith healers. Holy laughter. Prophetic words. Breakthrough. New Apostolic Reformation, Bethel Church, Jesus Culture, YWAM, IHOP, etc.
  • Hyperpatriotic Christians. U.S.A. idolatry. The belief that the U.S. is God’s chosen nation (quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 out of context).

3. People saw hypocritical Christians in the church and at home.
Examples:

  • Either having experienced sexual abuse by a “Christian” or having heard about sexual abuse perpetrated by “Christians”.
  • Moral failure of (popular) Christians like Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, and most recently Andy Savage (I’m sure there are many others). Moral failure of parents who claimed to be Christians. Moral failure of local church pastors and/or leaders.
  • Strict parents who imposed strict moral rules on kids. Often parents lived hypocritical lives.

There often is a blending of bad theology and hypocrisy, of which the effects are catastrophic to people and to the image of the church/Christianity:

  • Think Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen and word-faith/prosperity gospel hucksters living lives of luxury, profiting off of and deceiving people. They peddle false teaching and live hypocritical lives.
  • Abusers that quote Scripture and say God told them to abuse. Abusers that “God is happy when you do X for me”.

4. The church for too long has had a reputation of not being willing to talk about the real difficulties of life. Church is a place where “good” people go. People are fake. People don’t open up. You exchange the cliche greeting:

“How are you?”

“I’m good” (when, more often than not…you’re not good. In fact, you are miserable. You are depressed and doubting your faith. But people don’t expect that as an answer)

You don’t talk about sex. You don’t talk about doubts. You don’t talk about your depression. And you hear from the pulpit and from parents that doubts are sinful, that homosexuality is an abomination. This especially happens in your more fundamentalist churches.

5. Outliers. Now, certainly there are outliers. Those who had perfectly fine parents and grew up around good doctrine and theology that simply did not believe. It’s easy to grow up in Christianity and think you are saved when you might not really be a genuine believer. It’s almost better for someone to be converted from a non-Christian background than it is to be raised in Christianity.

The Church Needs a Reformation

Bad theology and hypocrisy results in people getting hurt in the church. Many who have been hurt reject anything related to their previous experience in Christianity. For example, you have people who have been badly burned by their experience in fundamentalism and purity culture and they now see God as abusive and doctrines like original sin and total depravity as abusive. Thus we have the rising community of Ex-Evangelicals online and offline. They can see the bad side of Christianity and to that end they are right in being angry about these kinds of things. Where they err is in their rejection of God based on the bad theology and hypocrisy they have experienced. They reject God’s authority and make their own moral autonomy the supreme authority for their lives.

We’ve got a big problem. There are many people leaving Christianity and we have a Church littered with false teachings. We need a return to the Bible. We need a return to fathers instructing their children in the faith. We need pastors who preach the Word faithfully (expositionally). We need humble shepherds to watch over the flock rather than take advantage of congregants. We need leaders to equip the saints for ministry. We need young and faithful leaders in our churches. We need a biblically literate church. We need congregants that are discerning truth from error. We don’t need to change the culture…we need change within the church. We need to hold fast to Scripture and grow every way into Christ.

Lastly, don’t blindly believe what people say (especially on the internet). Be a Berean. Compare what people say to the Bible (in the proper context). It’s easy to read an article, especially an emotional story and just accept it as true without doing any research or critical thinking. I especially don’t want you to just believe what I say. I want to point you to the truth of Scripture. I want to point you to Jesus.

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be[e] in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation. Righteous Father, the world has not known you. However, I have known you, and they have known that you sent me. I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them and I may be in them.” John 17:20-26

Sources

  1. Ham, Ken, et al. Ready to Return: Bringing Back the Church’s Lost Generation. Master Books, 2015.
  2. Evans, Rachel Held. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church. Thomas Nelson Inc, 2015
  3. Walmer, Daniel. “How Lebanon County Churches Are Growing.” Lebanon Daily News, Lebanon Daily News, 25 Mar. 2016, http://www.ldnews.com/story/news/local/2016/03/25/how-lebanon-county-churches-growing-good-shepherd-missionary/81650050/.
  4. “Hyper-Calvinism.” Monergismcom Blog, http://www.monergism.com/topics/hyper-calvinism.
  5. High, Thomas. “I Went to Church Camp to ‘Pray the Gay Away’.” OUT, Out Magazine, 9 June 2017, http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2017/6/09/i-went-church-camp-pray-gay-away.
  6. Lemke, Rebecca. “Purity Culture Isn’t Wrong For Loving Chastity, But For Weaponizing It.”The Federalist, 12 July 2017, thefederalist.com/2017/07/12/purity-culture-isnt-wrong-loving-chastity-using-weapon/.
  7. Mohler, Albert. “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion.” AlbertMohler.com, 11 Apr. 2005, albertmohler.com/2005/04/11/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion-2/.
  8. Blankschaen, Bill. “How Worship Music Destroyed Me: From Bitterness to Blessing.”FaithWalkers, 28 June 2013, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithwalkers/2012/07/how-worship-music-destroyed-me-from-bitterness-to-blessing/
  9. Lisle, Dr. Jason. “Are You Epistemologically Self-Consious.” Jason Lisles Blog Are You Epistemologically SelfConscious Comments, http://www.jasonlisle.com/2013/09/06/are-you-epistemologically-self-conscious/.
  10. Proctor, Jerry. “Apologetics and Deconversion: How We Murder to Dissect​​​​​​​.” Fundamentally Free, 7 Mar. 2018, http://www.fundamentallyfreeblog.com/read/2018/3/7/apologetics-and-deconversion-how-we-murder-to-dissect.
  11. http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/
  12. Happy Halloween, http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0032/0032_01.asp.
  13. Angels. https://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0034/0034_01.asp
  14. The Gospel: A Method or a Message?: How the Purpose Driven Life Obscures the Gospel, cicministry.org/commentary/issue80.htm.

Side Quest Discussions: David

Side Quest Discussions is my series of articles in which I interview people and we have a discussion about theology.

By God’s providence I met David on Twitter and he has become my good friend. He loves the Lord and loves digging into the Word of God.

David was an Atheist for a year but he eventually came to know and believe the gospel. We discuss apologetics and we refute common objections that are made by self-proclaimed Atheists (according to Romans 1:18-21 there is no such thing as an Atheist…everyone knows God exists but they suppress that knowledge in unrighteousness) and other opponents to orthodox Christianity (Ex-Evangelicals).

The background to our discussion is that a conversation with an angry Atheist on Twitter led to me being swarmed by more angry Atheists and by Ex-Evangelicals.

It is my hope and prayer that our conversation will edify you.

Ricky: It is sad to me how it seems that so many today reject God. Atheists are so angry about God. Who knew a simple tweet would lead to an onslaught from angry atheists against me. Just have to pray for them and continue sharing Christ. God’s Word is right when it says unbelievers hate God.

David: Yes I know brother all too well…I grew up with a cousin we are almost like brothers. He became an atheist a while back. At first it was so upsetting and still is disappointing, he is a pastor’s son. I have had many debates with him and I learned something. About 97 percent of atheists are atheists because of emotional issues not intellectual ones. They are angry apparently about something that doesn’t exist. Makes no sense.

R: Hey, I was wondering what your story is…how long have you been a Christian?

D: Well, I grew up in a Christian home. Mainly my Mom was teaching me about the word of God. Unfortunately the only thing I knew growing up was TBN and the prosperity Gospel. After my mom died when I was 14 I felt free to go to church if I wanted to or not. My dad didn’t go so I didn’t feel I had to go. I started working with my dad in construction and we came along a Peruvian man who picked up scrap metal shared the Gospel with me for the first time in my life. It was bittersweet but I decided to go with him when he invited me to church. I went and I heard things I never heard before in those megachurches. A Pentecostal church with loving people and I felt like family for the first time in my life. I looked to have many friends to fill the void of being attached to the body of Christ. There was good preaching but no apologetics and very little teaching. I was in love with the Lord. This was August 2007 by the way. Then seven years later I had doubts about my faith and had conversations with atheists and I had no idea how to defend my faith. Besides a few scriptures. I gave in and became an atheist for about a year. Looking to destroy others faith as well. I challenged the Lord if he was real to strike me down. Why would I ask something I believe didn’t exist to strike me down? Simple answer: atheists suppress the truth. I remember it was a Sunday night when I challenged him. Well he answered. That week I got MRSA and was sent to the hospital. I was afraid, I never have been at a hospital before. I reconciled with God. In January 2015 I made a decision to study the Christian faith and never be decieved again. Long story short here I am to this day by God’s grace

R: What do you think about President Trump? I personally didn’t vote this past election but I know a big argument coming from Ex-Evangelicals is that because “white evangelicals” voted for him that was the final straw. “How could Christians vote for a racist sexist homophobe” is the argument. What is your view of him and this accusation? I also personally believe as Christians our main focus should not be politics but Christ and the gospel. I think the Christians that see trump as our savior are in error but I don’t hate Trump and I’m not convinced he is a racist sexist. I think he is immature and speaks too much and in an unchristlike manner.

The label “white evangelical” is so dumb in my opinion. I’m white and I’m a Christian…I don’t identify as a white evangelical. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I don’t think the older generation is aware of the impact of social media, forums, the internet and how easy it is for doubting Christians to be mislead.

I went to community college after HS and that was my first major experience with other worldviews especially new atheists and LGBT. I honestly didn’t know how to engage them. I was taught arminianism/synergism and classic apologetics where you debate and argue but now as a presuppositionalist and calvinist/monergist I see how unprepared I was. It’s such a relief knowing it’s not up to me to convince people to follow Christ…that is the Holy Spirit’s job. My job is to spread the gospel and be a witness not change people. That revolutionized my interactions with others.

D: My opinion first of all what you said is very important, our place is not politics but it’s proclaiming the Gospel. My honest opinion about the whole Trump ordeal doesn’t effect me much. I agree with him on certain issues such as pro life. Let’s be honest he is not regenerate believer in Christ like you and me. Therefore I don’t find the need to defend any of his accusations true or not. White evangelicals is a term created by the left. Pre supposing the body of Christ is mainly white. They are so ignorant when it comes to the church because it wasn’t built on race it was built on the cross. I would rather educate the non believer on what the church is and it’s purpose. As well, I despise the term homophobe it’s a word that’s always used out of context. I always ask people who use that term to define it then define phobia. If you are debating leftists it’s always great to ask for definition of terms. They always trip over their own feet. I don’t hate Trump either. The scripture tells me to pray for him so that’s what I do.

The only label we share that matters is brothers in Christ.

Definitely Ricky it’s easy to be misled on the internet. There is no filter to what’s true and false.

That’s why it’s necessary to do our research diligently

I would have to agree that presuppositional apologetics is the way to go. Nothing against classical apologetics it’s just very easy to get carried away from the true message.

R: Yeah, I disagree with the classical apologetics approach. I was in a young adults small group (with 4 or 5 attendees) the person leading said when we do apologetics we shouldn’t use the bible. This person doesn’t deny that the Bible is true, but he believed that we should avoid using the bible when defending the truth against atheists/unbelievers. The thought is that since they don’t believe the bible is true then they will write you off because you believe the bible. But that misunderstands the fact that God is judge not man. God is not on trial…God is the judge. God is God whether or not you believe in Him.

Also I agree with something that Dr. James White often says…if you can convince/reason someone to the faith then they can be reasoned angry convinced out of it.

D: I think his point was they don’t believe in the Bible so don’t use it. I think contrary to that statement if anything it’s a good way to start. The unbelievers hatred for scripture should be highlighted. They need to know they are totally depraved and God hating sinners. That God will be merciful in showing them their wickedness so they might repent. Agreed God is God, like it or not he is the unshaken established truth.

R: So I guess you would be an Ex-Ex-Evangelical then?

D: I guess so. I have been given so much Grace by a forgiving and patient God.

R: Yeah, that’s what all our testimonies should be…it’s not only amazing that God gives grace to undeserved sinners he then desired that they enjoy life and the blessing he gives on earth.

D: God’s grace is truly divine because it has the power to do what no man can.

R: What was your view of the Word of God when you were growing up and then when you were an Atheist?

I think that is the main attack of Atheists and even some who claim to be Christians…they get you to doubt the Word of God. If they can convince you that there is error in the bible then that is enough to send doubts and lead someone away from the biblical Christ. Even “friendly atheists” cast doubt on the Word of God. They use their reasoning that God gave them to critique Him. They hate the God they claim doesn’t exist.

D: The word of God was just a moral guideline for me growing up. As an atheist it was just some book written by crazy men who wanted either attention or power. A subjective set of rules by an ancient people. Once you do the research you find out that’s not the case.

This is the thing about new Atheist’s and other opponents. They think by driving us away from faith they are sincerely doing you and society a service. Rude or not their motive is to deconstruct your belief system. They believe if religion was destroyed that they would get rid of most of the hate and evil in the world. Most Atheists were poorly taught Christians that never understood the doctrine of total depravity. Most Atheists never studied the Bible in detail until they were Atheists. Unfortunately not in it’s appropriate context.

R: New atheism really makes no logical sense and it takes the work of God to reveal that to people. Seriously how can you justify any claims or arguments if you have no moral grounding or basis for reasoning? If there is no truth then why do they vehemently oppose God and Christians…because as Romans says they know God exists but suppress the truth.

What was your view of God? The “vindictive genocidal maniac sky god” that commits moral atrocities and sends “good” people to hell?

The making of human minds and borrowed from pagan religions?

As well as your view of Jesus?

D: Atheism doesn’t make sense but the emotional anger and bitterness always seems to shadow your rationality and logic. They oppose the church for the reasons of all the dastardly things so called Christians do such as rape. Well when you are an atheist you fit in your head there is no God. So your presupposition is you have to find your own moral basis and have to craft it over time not realizing it’s already been established.

Truth for them is an illusion lost in many perspectives

R: They are outraged mostly by bad theology and hypocrisy…and that led to doubt of Scripture and to doubts about God which led to anger towards God.

They lump all Christians into the mold of what they believe Christians are like.

D: My view of God was some careless father who neglected his children if he did exist. He had the same attributes as us if he did exist. I thought even if anyone proved he existed he couldn’t prove that he loved us. We look back at all the times we felt unloved and we remind ourselves how much God let us down. A stubborn brat who just wanted his way. I was ignorant to the true attributes about God.

The borrowing from pagan religions is enticing and fits an atheistic narrative. Once you do research and dig deep it’s just foolish myths that Christianity borrows from other religions.

You hit the nail on the head with bad theology and hypocrisy.

R: But the thing is most churches didn’t teach us about those kinds of attacks. A Christian would be taught the basics and then go on an Internet forum or to college or workplace and see atheists talking about Jesus being derived from mithra and other cults and then seeds of doubt are sowed. Or that the Bible has contradictions and is made up by men.

D: As an atheist I had no problem with the person Jesus he was like mother Theresa to me. Once someone tried to claim he was divine I would be enraged. I knew other Atheists that would deny his existence all together to kind of get him out of their minds. Don’t think about it or talk about it.

Satan has definitely taken advantage of some Christian leaders to get into the mindset of educating God’s people is taboo and unbiblical, but the Bible states that a people is destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.

R: Hypocrisy runs rampant in leftist circles too. You have adoration for rappers like Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, Tyler, the Creator, Eminem, etc. that talk about getting rich and mistreating women but then outrage over hollywood scandals…they pick their morality to suit themselves.

D: As I stated before they look to structure their own morality. No matter how illogical it is.

Depending on their emotions it dictates their morality. However they are feeling at the time it dictates their view of morality at that point in time.

R: What were some the ways or arguments you would use to try to create doubt in Christians?

D: One that I used and many others attack as well is the account of Genesis. Our mindset is if we deconstruct the need for a creator we don’t even have to worry about the rest of the Bible. I would think if we could prove Genesis false the rest would fall like dominoes. Science is the god of Atheism. Use it against them. Not knowing that sound science went against everything I believed as an atheist. Atheists commonly love the god of the gaps argument. Science can disprove the Bible. There are so many different arguments I used. Saying the authors of the Bible weren’t credible. The main thing I did to try and make doubt was through speculation on every single point the biblical worldview offered. To make others seem intellectually inferior no matter their educational status.

R: Also I think atheists know more about what the Bible says than most Christians even though they don’t understand it because as Scripture says in numerous places:

1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16

18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent. 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Boasting Only in the Lord 26 Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world ​— ​what is viewed as nothing ​— ​to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one may boast in his presence. 30 It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us ​— ​our righteousness,sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness,in fear, and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. 6 We do, however, speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory.8 None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.9 But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him. 10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone.16 For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced secret and shameful things, not acting deceitfully or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by an open display of the truth. 3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Many that claim to be Christians don’t read the Bible and don’t know the bible.

Total depravity…can you share what you thought of it as an atheist and then now as a Christian why it actually makes sense according to Scripture?

D: First of all Atheists can have a basic knowledge about the Bible but not have the discernment to understand which the Holy Spirit gives to the children of God. Most of the time Atheists are looking for errors not to correctly read into the context. Hardly any Atheists look for Truth when they open the Bible.

It’s like me reading about how life is in Pennsylvania. I can’t possibly know more about Pennsylvania than someone who actually lives there.

Same with Atheists trying to interpret the Bible.

D: I didn’t really believe in total depravity growing up or as an atheist. Always this feeling that deep down we were all good people. We just let our bad side show more at times. After leaving Atheism I really got into hermeneutics. Trying to understand scripture more precisely. As I read the Epistles I realized there are no good people. There is not one good as stated in Romans by the apostle Paul. The only way to be good is through Christ dwelling in us. Any good work we do is of the Spirit not our own doing or will power. I questioned myself and said if we are good then why did Jesus come to die for our sins? If we are self sufficient as we presuppose. Why do we sin. Without the doctrine of total depravity we would never see our need for Christ.

Another thing we have to understand as Christians is that Atheists look for reactions. That’s why they joke and be sarcastic. It’s all part of the intellectual superiority that they think it’s ok to make light of others they deem inferior to their intellect.

If they get a reaction from us. They say see you have no grace and love that your savior had. They always work that angle

R: They probably hope to get Christians to make an emotionally charged rebuttal and just add that to the list of attacks against them and Christianity. What about the wrath of God. Atheists think God’s wrath is just evil and wicked.

D: Yes that’s what I used to look for, emotional reactions. To discredit any rational argument presented. Atheists play the victim card as well that they and the whole world suffer because of God and religion. For them, God’s wrath is uncalled for and spiteful. When it comes to God, justice is an illusion but when it comes to social justice they seem to be the front-runners which is very strange.

Since Atheists claim to have their own moral compass they have the authority to pick and choose their own systematic justice.

R: In their worldview it just cannot be possible that God is loving but also wrathful. They don’t understand the attributes of God. They make the claim that Christians claim God is loving but then use the reality of God’s wrath to create a supposed contradiction in the character of God.

D: Exactly. As a former Atheist we have a huge problem defining terms such as love. Confusing love with tolerance is normative for Atheists. They don’t understand what true love is.

R: There’s also the arguments they use against Christians that refer to the OT laws like eating shellfish. They see the God of the OT as a vengeful God that inflicts wrath on people and commits atrocities.

They don’t realize the purpose of the laws. God’s law was and is intended for the good of His people. So when Jesus talks about the two great commandments those are the commands we should follow if we want to live a good life. And sin stems from not loving God with all our hearts soul mind and strength and loving ourselves more than loving others.

D: Leviticus is the Atheist’s favorite book. Where everything is easily twisted. As I said before they don’t really care for the context. It’s all about cherry picking.

R: Did you ever use “hypocrisy of Christians” arguments? You mentioned attacks on the faith regarding “so called Christians that rape” earlier…any other examples you used or that you would say atheists try to use?

D: Yes many of times. I used mainly the argument that you guys are preaching the same Gospel you violate. In other words, held Christians accountable to their own beliefs. When they strayed from the biblical worldview I pointed out that they had a broken belief system. Christians are hypocrites, therefore Christianity is false or at least broken was my mindset. I also used all the false pastors who divorce and run off with women. The fact the church is run more like a organization instead of a biblical view of the church.

R: How have you handled the fact that you tried to mislead people and may have misled people? Did you try to shake the faith of Christians in person as well as on the internet? Did you experience any guilt?

D: Well mostly it was my co workers I was around most. Didn’t talk too much about it with my family because it would have stirred up alot of trouble at home. In public I shared my views as much as possible. My daily life is me trying to evangelize to whoever I can. Social media, street evangelism, it seems to be a lost work in the church. More than trying to convince Atheists Christianity is true. I provide the evidence and let them decide. The evidence is so overwhelming it speaks for itself. I try to study as much as I can. Scripture first, apologetics second, and theology as well. Become as educated as I possibly can to educate others. That the truth of the Gospel be known. I was shaken with guilt for about 6 to 8 months after leaving Atheism but it was good and it motivated me. Yes, I constantly tried to shake the faith of any religious person. I felt like I was saving them from themselves. Almost like an intervention. I don’t know why but on the internet you are not face to face you feel the freedom to be more rude and disrespectful. The evil of your heart seems to spill out over the internet as an atheist. It seems almost therapeutic all the rage inside is let go on unsuspecting strangers on the internet. Thank God I didn’t convince many to be Atheists.

R: Reading the Word is the most important thing we can do as Christians. All of the Word, not just pick feel-good verses and motivating thoughts that are pulled out of context. How many self-proclaimed Christians do you think have read Obadiah or Haggai? I would argue there is a very small minority. That’s all we are called to do, speak the truth of the gospel and let the Holy Spirit change people. We all have to watch out for the temptation to be rude and disrespectful on the internet. Christians need to be aware that atheists don’t hold back. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to win a debate that we forgot we are talking to real people. Christians do this too. Indeed, I’m thankful as well.

D: I agree, the word of God should be read as a whole. You are right, not many people read the minor prophets besides Daniel and Jonah. The minor prophets have amazing messages. Well I saw study last year don’t remember the name of the person who conducted this study. He stated about 70 percent of Americans claim to be evangelicals but only 10-20 percent are biblically literate.

At first it was hard because I tried to convert every Atheist on the internet. I was so ambitious to spread the Gospel and deconstruct Atheism. I realized two things: only through the work of the Holy Spirit can people see the beauty of Christ. As well I didn’t need to deconstruct Atheism as if it was this big monster. It constantly refutes itself. When you come to logical conclusions, Atheism has no feet to stand on. God has helped me speak to others on the internet the same way I would speak to them in person. That is something God changed in my life. I may press someone for an answer. If there ever was a time I would be rude or disrespectful I would give public apology as well as personal apology. There is nothing wrong in admitting we are wrong sometimes. We keep moving forward. Excellent point, I’ve seen many try to win the argument and I use to try to win the debate instead of winning the soul.

R: It’s probably very difficult for an atheist to have their mind changed through a Christian on the internet. What do you think about that idea? It seems they are so hardened to the gospel it almost that fruitless to engage them. Did you ever consider anything Christians said back to you in their responses or did you pretty much just ignore them or mock them back? You were an atheist for a year and Christians probably used bible verses and shared the gospel with you online and in person. The Holy Spirit worked in you when you got MRSA. Does that mean all online interaction and in person gospel sharing is fruitless?

It probably is wise not to spend too much time engaging atheists online but I won’t limit God and say that He couldn’t use an online debate to open the eyes of an Atheist to the truth of the gospel.

Also, you’re a stranger on the internet…they will most likely just ignore anything you say. Seeds may be planted. Yet it seems the opposite for Christians. Many Christians are persuaded to forsake Christ through atheist arguments on the internet.

D: This is our problem as Christians and something we struggle with. We want them to accept Christ, or at least some of our arguments. Reality is they will probably try to throw down every argument. That doesn’t mean it’s fruitless, we don’t know the work the Holy Spirit is doing in this individual,  that is if he was one of the elect. There are so many walls that God has to break to break the person’s will power. The sad reality we have to know and accept is that there are reprobate Atheists that will never come out of their delusion. We have to be diligent in prayer and keep sharing the Gospel to whoever is willing to listen. We are not called to convert just preach and teach the word of God. God needed to break me in order to see my need for Christ.

We plant seeds of the Gospel through social media. Others through street preaching. Still others have family that evangelize to them. We are seed planters but God gives the life giving water. I mostly discarded what religious people said but there were times I felt open to hear the arguments objectively. Mocking is a sign of insecurity or superiority. Insecurity because when you get stuck in a debate or feel trapped in a corner. I would go on a rant of how religion was evil or ridicule the traits of God. Don’t be discouraged, it’s necessary we be mocked. Jesus said we would. It wasn’t just the MRSA. God was chipping away at my pride. It was a process. Stranger or not, Atheists are in danger of hell. Knowing of the terror to come for those who die in their sins. Christopher hitchens was defiant to God even through his terminal illness. He still didn’t turn to God. Christians are so enticed to turn to Atheism because lies seem more intriguing than truth. Atheists really market the banner of Atheism as the club of the elite. It’s almost like a country club. Come enjoy your self and indulge while you can is their message. Hold dear to the sin you love because sin doesn’t exist in our realities. The Christian message is repent and forsake the sins you love. Run from them. Life isn’t about you, it’s about others. Become selfless. The two messages are polar opposites. Human nature gravitates towards the flesh. Many choose the path of destruction over the path of life.

R: Thanks for the encouragement. I get discouraged easily. It’s especially a problem here in America. We want instant gratification. We expect immediate results. As Christians, we share the gospel and expect people to change right away when as you correctly noted, it is a process. The Holy Spirit draws us to God through the hearing and preaching of the Word. It is easy to slip in to the mindset that if we really preach the truth with passion that people might be more willing listen to us but you’re right, there are some that will never repent.

D: God will show us to be patient and fill us with grace to speak. The greatest preacher and teacher of all time (Jesus Christ) was mocked and ridiculed. Being the only begotten son of the almighty God, he suffered this oppression. Who are we? No student is greater than his teacher.

R: After reading many of Christopher Stroop’s (prominent Ex-Evangelical who primarily stirred up the swarm) articles and tweets, I have come to the conclusion that he was not properly taught Christian theology. He had doubts and questions but it doesn’t seem like people accurately explained reformed theology to him. Then his teenage years were spent in seeker sensitive church growth movement. While that was happening and he was doubting and suicidal, he probably started to become aware he was queer had attractions for same sex. He then chose to reject a theology that would say LGBTQ poeple are sinning. Now he calls Evangelical Christianity abusive and any attempt to share bible verses or say he didn’t understand theology is labeled as gaslighting

Can we say, for example, that someone was pushed away from the faith by being taught bad theology or as presuppositional reformed people do we say he simply chose to love his sin and suppress the truth? Or can we look at what he was taught and make people aware of what was done wrong but also realize that currently Stroop is suppressing the truth?

D: There are many factors here. The seed of doubt can only grow where there is either bad teaching or no teaching. As you noticed most of his analysis is based on emotions not anything of factual substance. Being a PhD in history I’m fascinated he never understood church history. That’s one sign he is blatantly suppressing the truth. He won’t admit because his eyes have been darkened. When speaking about the attributes of God he appeals to emotional arguments. He also tries to wrap up his terminology with his emotions. Which, he is very confusing logically. He deflects questions with “he has already answered a lengthy response”. It’s the same rhetorical tactics to cover up a faulty philosophy. He stated he rejected my epistemology, I find that weird since he was speaking in ontological terms. He didn’t know the difference between epistemology and ontology. It’s very hard to understand ex evangelicals from a rational view point. He was no different than me a couple years ago. His pent up rage oozes through his Twitter page and articles. Yet he wants to be taken serious as an intellectual with horrible terminology and critical thinking.

He states “it’s gaslighting” to cover up his ignorance of the context of scripture. This is common. Ask yourself why do every Atheist/agnostic get angry when we point out their biblical ignorance?

R: His articles are almost all appeal to emotion and anecdotal fallacies. Also uses strawman like: negging sky god. Generalizations like the label “white evangelical”.

His argument is essentially: “Calvinism and orthodox theology are abusive and enable authoritarianism. People use theology because of their persecution complexes and insecurities. They use gaslighting and manipulation tactics. Read my articles where I have explained myself.”.

But he never makes any logical claims. As you said it’s all stories. Many of his followers are LGBTQ also.

D: Exactly! Brother he has so much irrationality in his worldview it’s hard to interact with him. Especially when you try to interact he says this an apologetics plot to make me look irrational. It’s his worldview. When exposed makes him seem ignorant.

R: Also history can be pretty subjective. You almost always have two views of something that happened. If your worldview consists of a sociological lens then you will look at history different then you would with a theological lens.

But as we have stated he contradicts himself so much. He is clearly making truth claims and morality claims but based on subjective morality. Makes no sense. May God open his eyes. He can see the falsehood of prosperity gospel, cultural fundamentalism, and seeker sensitive church growth movements. May he embrace the truth of the gospel.

D: History can be seen through different view points but not all view points can be correct. That’s logically incompatible. Hitler for example, what he did was either justified or condemnable. There is no in between. He as historian should know better. Self refuting statements is usually the best he could come up with.

R:

Screenshot_2018-02-12-11-40-52

Screenshot_2018-02-12-11-18-32

Screenshot_2018-02-12-11-18-47

I don’t have an “obsession” with them. They are making erroneous claims about God. They are essentially blaspheming Him when they say sharing the gospel is abusive. They say that the “god of calvinism is sadistic and irredeemable”. I haven’t seen many challenging their claims so that is why I have taken the time to document what they say. And now it is clear to those with eyes to see that they hate God. They are emotionally angry about the God they claim to not believe in.

D: I learned this from the apologist Jim Warner Wallace ,there are four groups we essentially interact with. Pro Christians, doubtful Christians, doubtful Atheists, pro Atheists. The two groups you want to reach are the ones having doubts from both sides. Not someone who will neither hear or see any proof or evidence for God’s existence. Therefore when I see someone with this mindset, it would be best to interact little and then just not respond if they press issues that don’t exist.

R: Yeah, I agree. So my aim with my writing is to reach the doubters. God will work and save those who He wills. Best thing to do is pray that God would open the eyes of people.

D: Amen. He will open the eyes of any atheist/Ex-Evangelical he chooses. The rest remain in darkness.

R: Let me just point out the irony of this one tweet:

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AnStarfire responded to a screenshot of one section of my article that Chris shared. This person clearly only responded to this out of context screenshot, because if they had read the whole thing they wouldn’t be able to say I was devoid of compassion. The last sentence is absurd. Even if that were so, why would that be wrong? Don’t they believe “their” way is right too? The absurdity and contradictory nature of the anti-Christians worldview is clearly demonstrated in a tweet like this.

Why should someone be compassionate according to their worldview?

That is a genuine and reasonable question to ask…but they would just say: that is a manipulative question. It’s not.

D: I agree, it’s very contradictory how their own views systematically deconstruct themselves. One thing I found out about Atheists/Ex-Evangelicals who are in an emotional uproar is that they tend to ask about twenty questions at a time. This kind of irrational dialogue is not coherent. Someone who is rational would debate on one issue at a time. Then come to a conclusion. I have spoken with many Atheists/Ex-Evangelicals and the dialogue seems to always be the same. Many have different approaches but they quickly resolve to ad hominem attacks once their worldview is exposed. What do most people do when they are exposed? They cover up. The problem with Atheists/Ex-Evangelicals is they are so exposed and there is nothing they can do to cover up their irrationality.

The reason that’s such a good question is that it exposes their lack of substance or foundation to any argument they try to convey.

R: True words brother. Also another ironic thing that I really don’t understand. So in a tweet I said “Ex-Evangelicals don’t want to dialogue with Christians”. I didn’t use a hashtag but some people found the tweet by just searching for the phrase Ex-Evangelical. So someone retweeted me and said she doesn’t mind talking to Christians but that she isn’t willing to be “preached at by bigots”. The irony and hypocrisy. They make claims, retweet you, and then when you respond to them they don’t want to engage you. So I responded to her retweet of me by sharing the link to my article and she blocked me.

D: The internet is quite strange. Social media is probably the strangest. So many illogical arguments and actions. I don’t take anything personal on social media because most people don’t interact with strangers in person as they do on the internet. It would be easy for anyone to insult and ridicule on the internet but not in real life. Even if they do we are hated because they hated Jesus Christ first. Anyone who believes on him and his words are automatic enemies of the world. No matter how nice or compassionate we might be we will be hated. When we speak the truth we believe we are heroes but in reality we are preaching as villians to them. We try to take away their freedom and joy. They have failed to realize their freedom and joy are drowning them. They have become slaves to sin. Claiming freedom with heavy shackles on their wrists.

R: Is there anything else you would like to say? You’ve been very insightful and I appreciate your testimony brother. We go through difficult seasons and God uses our experiences to help others.

D: Lastly always be kind to Atheists. They will automatically shut you off. They won’t listen. They will at least listen when you are calm. Use scripture often. Let the holy Spirit do his work through the scripture. Don’t be discouraged if they disagree, we are being obedient to God by sharing the Gospel. There are still many more people God is going to save. So keep Proclaiming the good news.

R: That might be the most important thing people need to hear. We as Christians are to be kind to everyone. Thank you brother! May God use our testimonies to save some and create awareness in the church.

Speaking the truth in love is the key.

D: Amen brother. That God would do his redemptive work through us and many others. The kingdom will keep expanding despite the enemy’s plan. Let’s speak firmly but with love.

Concluding Thoughts

I hope David’s words have helped you become aware of the need to know your bible and to be prepared when faced with objections. I also hope it helped you to become aware of the different ways people will try to create doubt about the Word of God and doubts about God. A lot of Christians might write off Ex-Evangelicals as whiny liberal entitled millenials but I strongly discourage that kind of talk. The fact is, there are a lot of Ex-Evangelicals and some of them don’t use social media. They are right to be outraged at the ridiculous nonsense that helped turn them away from God but they are people and they need to hear the gospel. I believe Christians hurt their own witness when they say things like:

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May God be glorified, may Christians be strengthened, and may God reveal Himself to Ex-Evangelicals that they would have their eyes and hearts opened to the truth.