ABC News recently ran a story about two pastors who have become atheists–living a lie, although nobody knows their secret. They spoke of their struggle in leading their congregations–one has been a Southern Baptist pastor for more than 20 years, and the other one is on the pastoral staff of a small evangelical church in the Bible Belt. In order to better understand their situations, let’s take a closer look at some of their comments.
– “The more I read the Bible, the more questions I had.”
Well, I’m a believer, yet I often feel this way myself. If we are to remain intellectually honest, how can we help but question things? It is an unreachable goal for mortal man in a temporal state to try to attain the mind of an infinite God in eternity. I believe that, as we grow in the faith, we must expect to have answered questions replaced (and perhaps even multiplied) with unanswered ones.
– One of the men said that he became bothered by “the improbability of stories like ‘Noah’s Ark.'”
Isn’t it just as improbable that a sinless man would give up His life for someone like me? Neither can be “scientifically proven.” The Bible hasn’t changed since this man became a believer.
– One man was uncomfortable with the attitudes expressed in the Bible regarding women and their place in the world.
Who cares whether he’s comfortable or not? His level of comfort has nothing to do with the truth.
– “Reading the Bible is what led me not to believe in God.”
Actually, although this is an interesting claim, isn’t it an oxymoron? If one doesn’t believe in God, then there was no God to inspire the writing of the Bible, so it is just a collection of writings by men in primitive times, about whom history offers little or no insight. What influence should such men have on whether or not to believe in God?
– On his difficulty in continuing to work in the ministry, one man said, “I just look at it as a job, and do what I’m supposed to do. I’ve done it for years.”
Maybe therein lies the problem. He just looks at his ministry as a job. It’s not something that God called him to be a part of, so it’s no different than any other job–just a source of livelihood and money. In fact, since he’s deceiving all of those under his leadership, his job really has less credibility than most. Due to his deception and lying, his job is really more like the kinds of “jobs” that violate other standards of morality–like maybe a bookie, or a pimp.
– One man said that his initial doubts about God came as he read the work of the so-called New Atheists–popular authors like the prominent scientist Richard Dawkins. He said the research was intended to help him defend his faith.
Ephesians 4:14 says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
– “My thinking was that God is big enough to handle any questions that I can come up with, but that did not happen.”
Well, that makes me wonder what the question was that was too big for God to handle.
– “I realized that everything I’d been taught to believe was sort of sheltered, “and never really looked at secular teaching or other philosophies. … I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. Am I believing the wrong things? Have I spent my entire life and my career promoting something that is not true?'”
It sounds like man didn’t have enough training. Perhaps he never took any seminary classes on world religions and philosophy.
– This man said that he feared for his salvation and soul. “In that point where I realized I was losing my faith yet I still feared for my own salvation, I asked God to take my life before I lost my faith.”
It must be quite painful and frightful for one who doesn’t really know what he believes.
– He now considers himself to be an “atheistic agnostic.” “I don’t think we can prove that there is not a God or that there is a God. I live out my life as if there is no God.”
He thinks that we must be able to prove scientifically that God exists. This is contrary to what the Bible teaches–salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
– Both men said that when speaking to their congregations, they tried to stick to the sections of the Bible that they still believed in–the parts about being a good person. Both said that they would like to leave their jobs though they can’t afford to.
So, they’re not really preaching the Bible. They’re just picking and choosing which parts they want to teach on. Yes, they do need to leave their jobs immediately, whether they can afford to or not; i.e., if they have any integrity, or any sense of morality. Then they need to apologize to their congregations.
– “I want to get out of the position that I’m in as quickly as I can because I try to be a person of integrity and character. “With the economy the way it is, with my lack of marketable skills other than a seminary education, it has me in a tough spot.”
Oh, really? What kind of integrity and character does it take to deceive his entire congregation? He should be less concerned about the poor economy, and more concerned about the lives of the people that he promised to shepherd.
– One of the men said that his secret left him feeling isolated but that he would certainly lose a lot of friends when he professed to no longer being a Christian. His wife doesn’t know and he said it was possible he could lose her as well. “It’s going to be very confusing for her. “It’s going to be very devastating and it’s going to take us a while to work through it.” The other man said his wife knew that he was struggling with his faith but not that he had lost it completely.
Well, I’m guessing that both wives found out when they read the news.
– “It’s a very tough situation to be in. I can’t think of another career that is so dramatically affected by a change in one’s opinions or thoughts.”
Again, that could be the problem: Thinking of a life in the ministry as just “another career.”
We need to pray for these impostors, and for the congregations that they should be shepherding.