How can we proactively prevent de-conversions?

Hi friends :grinning:

This article caught my attention today because its subject is one that I’ve been reflecting on recently as it’s directly relevant to the area of ministry that God has called me to. It’s also personal. I was raised in a Christian home, on a good understanding of God and salvation. Between the ages of 8-13 I went to the Christian camps, and evening teen services. I remember Holy Spirit encounters. Looking back, I went for the experiences, rather than the knowledge. From age 14 onwards, I lost interest. For some reason, it didn’t hold securely in my heart, and I pursued my own agenda for many years. It was in my 20s that God lovingly drew me back to him and started to rebuild my relationship with him on solid foundations. The article articulates well what I went through: an individual “spiritual journey” that lacked substance. It wasn’t enough to keep me faithful. I feel that the poor choices I made brought heavy consequences in my life that God has had to heal me from .

The phrase “spiritual journey” assumes a kind of individuality: we are not in a transcendent story so much as we have (and star in) our own. By contrast, God’s people throughout Scripture didn’t see themselves only as individuals participating in a faith community. Their “spiritual journey” was the exodus—a departure en masse—and their individual stories were seen in the context of that community God was redeeming.

If anyone has time to look through the article and consider my questions I’d be grateful.

I feel compelled to understand this area more deeply, so that I can nurture children and teenagers into a place of maturity in Christ.

  • As an adult watching your church youth, what might be the signs that Christian children and youth are living for the spiritual experiences rather than the relationship based on correct doctrine?

  • whilst we try and engage young people with the catchy tunes and fun activities, where do we as churches often miss the mark in teaching sound doctrine?

  • if you see a young person walking away from their faith, how can you re-engage them effectively?

  • are there any good resources for training children in doctrine? I have ‘The Case for Christ - for kids’ by Lee Strobel so far and am looking to expand resources.

Thanks :blush:

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I have noticed that many young people prefer feelings over doctrine. They view Christianity as me-centered vs. God-centered. Sin is often minimized and viewed as a natural flaw. Do they pay attention to preacher’s/leader’s personality or the doctrine. How often we hear; I liked the message the preacher was great.
Another point of view: growing in faith. Bible compares immature believers to slaves and weeds. If they don’t grow in faith how are they different from the world.

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Thank you Alison for sharing your struggle with this issue of de- conversion. It truly is a tough thing for us to watch and face as a caring person not wanting anyone to turn back from faith in Christ.
I have children who fit into that category that transpired after leaving home and moving on with life college, career, and family. We did our best to prepare them for life after youth, adult groups. Becoming unconnected after being connected and comfortable in who they are with thier ,friends, leaders etc.
There in is the problem they first became unconnected in a new world a new environment and found other worldviews that had an appealing nature to our flesh. Outside the umbrella of Church, family. Christian friends they become fair game for the Enemy to attack from all sides. For most establishing new real Christian relations is a daunting task.
The key and I always go back to Christs examples of finding common ground with people, being open and honest with them. About our struggles in life, so they will be open and honest about theirs. One mistake I certainly made was not wanting them to grow up. Speaking the truth in love about life and its pitfalls to come is needed and necessary though most say I got this they really have no idea. I didn’t and life hit me hard.
Navigating life as a teenager, young adult has it’s own pitfalls.

Fellowship. Friendship, bringing Christ back to center, in the moments we have with them, being vulnerable, realistic, and genuine as He demonstrated in the word.
I feel your heart for those falling into this and just to encourage our God has your best interests at heart for those you see and care about.

Do they engage outside of Church activities?
Is there evidence of genuine fruit outside of thier time in Church or in the group?
Are they in a click that is part of the group but separate outside the group?

Hope I shared truth that helps.
Mike

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Hi Alison :blush:

Really great questions. I don’t think there is an easy answer as many youth fall away from church even in those denominations that are more rigid in their doctrinal teaching. There still has to come a point where the child makes the faith of the family or church their own personal faith.

A point I would just like to add is that I don’t think it is the responsibility of the church to teach sound doctrine, but more of the parents. The father is meant to be the spiritual leader in the home, and the father and mother together are to model true Christian doctrine, which ultimately is to love with Christ’s love. Children are to grow up and see the consistency of the faith of their parents, especially in how the father and mother love each other, and so, interact with each other, and of course also in how they love the children. This helps to create stability in the home. Part of the confusion for children is that they hear one thing of what they should do and believe, but then they don’t necessarily see it actually enacted. This definitely can be even more confusing for children growing up in households where one parent is not a Christian. In my experience, many people I have met later in life who walked away from the church had one parent who was not a Christian, and more often than not it was the father. It is very difficult for divided households to stand.

I am not saying by any stretch that this is the only reason. It is more an observation that parents have an important role in making sure that they themselves are growing in spiritual maturity so that true Christian doctrine is modeled. I think this is more in answer to your second point about where do churches miss the mark in teaching sound doctrine- help to lead the parents to grow in spiritual maturity and in an understanding of their roles as parents, and in how they can nurture their children most effectively.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

I hope that is of some help but some really good questions Alison and I hope others with more experience than myself will be able to speak more into this interesting discussion that you have raised :slightly_smiling_face:.

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Thank you for your story and the article. You remind me of my daughter who is in her late 30s and her experience was similar to yours. We failed to nourish her in the faith because we assumed someone in the church would do that and disciple her. 2 Timothy 2:2 It doesn’t work that way in real life especially in many churches. It takes people who are willing to give up their time and energy to help someone grow and mature. So to your question, if you see a young person walking away from their faith, how can you re-engage them effectively? I would say, just being a friend and a point person or point man is how it would be defined in the military. A point man is a person who is exposed first to combat. It takes courage to expose yourself to a person who is walking away from their faith. They may be hostile towards the church in general or they may see the hypocrisy among Christians. In a way, it is exposing yourself to be vulnerable to any person you may want to help. If you can win a person’s trust, and be willing to expose yourself, you should be able to re-engage and connect with them. People are attracted to the language of love, any kindness you can show will stand out.

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Hello Alison,

Your post was well written and articulate. The subject matter is profound, and the Church is losing ground in this post-modern age. Thanks for the article you cite, I feel it has some valuable points, but I believe it’s missed one of the primary root-causes of de-conversion, which the Church has failed to redress. I believe one of these very serious issues is not moving from doctrine (as the article suggests) but rather embracing dogma impolitically and non-thinkingly.

What I mean by that is most of us Christians devote far too little time to the study of theology. Instead, we just accept what the preacher says, what elders say, or what other authority figures have told us. But much of what we’ve been told is not robustly sustainable under criticism (even moderate criticism). We Evangelicals condemn the Catholics for such practices as elevating dogma (Church teachings and traditions to the level of Scripture), yet we do the same. An example is YEC (Young Earth Creationism)–we accept and admit it because we adopt a literal hermeneutic, all the while ignoring exceedingly strong scientific evidence to the contrary.

To wrap up my premise, when Christians face credible challenge from the outside world, they frequently are incapable of a cogent justification or argument, thus leading to a crisis of faith–do I be honest and give up an incoherent and unwarranted belief or do I close my eyes and mind to evidence and believe what I know I can’t justify. So, many leave the church because they have no credible argument for their belief, because the church has not provided them one, the church has largely ignored the secular challenge and promoted that it’s faithful membership just adopt indefensible premises on faith.

The sad aspect of this is that there are indeed very good apologetic arguments reinforcing theism, and specifically Christianity, as a coherent, rational, and warranted proposition. The problem is that the church is intellectually lazy and has not learned these arguments, and what it has not learned it cannot pass on to its members. So, intellectually honest (but lazy) people de-convert. It’s sad, it’s pathetic, and it’s why we’re all here at RZIM, to learn and help educate the church–even if that is threatening to the church and narrow minded believers focused on preserving dogma rather than finding and sharing truth.

Bottom-line, I posit that the Church is shrinking because we’re intellectually lazy and undisciplined. We don’t have solid arguments so the secular side dominates, and when challenged our shallow faith therefore fails us and in order to maintain a semblance of intellectual honesty we defect.

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@IrinaPG @a1781 Thankyou, Irina and Abraham, for your thoughts. What I took from both of your responses is the role of feelings in the faith journey. I believe that our secular culture in the last decade or two has rectified certain issues on acknowledging people’s feelings when dealing with life. Where feelings were once repressed, a sort of ‘stiff upper lip’ approach (at least in Britain where I am), we’ve been able to move 180 degrees and acknowledge how people feel as part of helping them process and heal. However, I sometimes wonder if we’ve overstepped the mark there, and now find our feelings are the dictators of all we do in life. We get the message ‘if it feels good then it’s fine’ and ‘follow your heart’ I wouldn’t be surprised if that is part of our church culture these days. The trouble is, we forget that we’re told that “the heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17:9. Irina, what you say here is reflects this:

They view Christianity as me-centered vs. God-centered.

The positive place for feelings, though, is as Abraham pointed out:

In a way, it is exposing yourself to be vulnerable to any person you may want to help. If you can win a person’s trust, and be willing to expose yourself, you should be able to re-engage and connect with them. People are attracted to the language of love, any kindness you can show will stand out.

Being sensitive to the feelings and need of the person in question may be the factor that helps draw them back if they’re showing signs of wandering away. Jesus’ demonstration of this shows us how he responded to people with sensitivity but didn’t allow them to wallow. He quickly drew their gaze to him, rather than to the self.

The last few days, I’ve had the scripture repeating round my mind:

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

I believe this is the essence of what we need to be teaching to our young ones in church and at home.

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@mgaplus4 @Brian_Upsher @klineeric Thanks, Mike, Brian and Eric for your valuable thoughts. You all conveyed the importance of the parent’s role in the child’s upbringing in the faith, and have given me much to reflect on both as a parent, a teacher and a member of the church.

Mike, thank you for your honesty:

The key and I always go back to Christs examples of finding common ground with people, being open and honest with them. About our struggles in life, so they will be open and honest about theirs. One mistake I certainly made was not wanting them to grow up. Speaking the truth in love about life and its pitfalls to come is needed and necessary though most say I got this they really have no idea. I didn’t and life hit me hard.
Navigating life as a teenager, young adult has it’s own pitfalls.

My children are still young, but I recognise the need to be honest about challenges in life, and yet there’s a part of me that just doesn’t want my children to know. I’d love to keep them in their little ignorant bubbles, because right now, their minds are pure, and I love that. However, both at home and in the church, I believe that to help our teenagers navigate life, we need to equip them with knowledge, forearmed with solid Biblical teaching before they get to that stage. It feels gritty, and it will only be with the power of the a Holy Spirit that we can do this with wisdom.

Interestingly, since I posted my question, I also came across this about practices that help kids flourish as adults, also from the Gospel Coalition:

The biggest factor was Bible reading. Children who regularly read the Bible while they were growing up were more likely to have a vibrant spiritual life once they became adults. This statistic doesn’t surprise me. God’s Word is powerful. The Bible lays out the great story of our world and helps us interpret our lives and make decisions within the framework of a biblical worldview. Bible reading is a constant reminder that we live as followers of God. Our King has spoken. He reigns over us. We want to walk in his ways.

I absolutely admit this needs to happen more in my home and in my church. After all, Hebrews 4:12 says “ For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Brian, what you say really is incredibly important:

It is more an observation that parents have an important role in making sure that they themselves are growing in spiritual maturity so that true Christian doctrine is modeled. I think this is more in answer to your second point about where do churches miss the mark in teaching sound doctrine- help to lead the parents to grow in spiritual maturity and in an understanding of their roles as parents, and in how they can nurture their children most effectively.

This is what making disciples is all about. I am witnessing a current tension in parents who may be new to the faith who don’t understand that a culture change is necessary when their heart changes. They strive to continue to live the busy lives they were previously leading, without making room for quiet times with God, regular attendance to church meetings or small group meetings. I don’t know, but my guess is that the church may not want to seem legalistic or constricting, so it doesn’t emphasise the importance of these things enough. Perhaps this must be our initial focus but I’m not sure how this can be done, yet.

Eric, what you say was true of my life:

To wrap up my premise, when Christians face credible challenge from the outside world, they frequently are incapable of a cogent justification or argument, thus leading to a crisis of faith–do I be honest and give up an incoherent and unwarranted belief or do I close my eyes and mind to evidence and believe what I know I can’t justify. So, many leave the church because they have no credible argument for their belief, because the church has not provided them one, the church has largely ignored the secular challenge and promoted that it’s faithful membership just adopt indefensible premises on faith.

I think I first closed my eyes and mind to evidence before giving up faith in pursuit of what made more sense to me for a number of years.

What initially led me to study with the RZIM Academy was reading Nabeel Qureshi’s book ‘Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus’. In it, he outlined the Muslim upbringing he’d received in his home by his family, supported by his mosque. His parents were faithful to teaching him the Quran, teaching him to memorise scripture, learning parts of the Injil (Gospels) so he could counterargue against Christianity, and generally being aware of different sides of the argument (as far as they could be from one viewpoint), being prepared to engage in conversations. My reaction to this was: why do I not see this happening in Christian households?if the Word of God is so precious, why am I not memorising this, as Deuteronomy says, so that it’s bound on my mind and heart? Is it again a fear of seeming legalistic after we’ve criticised other denominations for this, as you mentioned?

“My people perish for lack of knowledge” Hosea 4:6

My personal response has been to start learning these things, so that I can teach them to my children. I would love to see these things taught in the church more.

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Hi Alison

I just thought I would post this link to the effects a study found on what reading the Bible multiple times a week has on people. The big finding was that reading the Bible more than 4 days a week had the biggest positive effects on people’s lives and ministry. I heard it referred to in a church service so I don’t know the ins and outs of the study but thought it may be of interest to you and others :slightly_smiling_face:.

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I taught in Christian schools for 25 years before becoming a pastor. I saw many homes that ran a “tight ship” and brooked no dissent and made children tow the line in word and deed.

I agreed that children needed discipline to be protected from their own immaturity - and Proverbs repeatedly confirms this is true.

But I think that not allowing children to express their honest thoughts so they can be honestly dealt with simply encourages “underground counterfeits” who will act and say as they must until they are free to act and say as they really felt all along.

But in order for parents to have the liberty to do that, they need to be equipped with better answers than, “because I said so!”

That’s one of the things I appreciate about RZIM - it helps provide leaders, including parents, not only the answers they need for their children’s honest questions, but also the spirit for dealing with a questioner that allows him the liberty to not hide what he’s really wrestling with.

But parents and churches that never allow dissent to be honestly dealt with - who never employ what the Quakers once called “friendly persuasion” - are left wondering in the end where they went wrong. After all, didn’t they try hard to keep a tight enough ship?

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Alison, I wish you the very best as you help those who are struggling in their walk. A good verse that has encouraged me over the years is Psalm 32:8 I’m sure you know this verse. May our Lord Bless you in all things.

Abraham

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Thank you for your responce.Alison. Your detail is much appreciated in sharing with all of us. i will be praying that your children would fully comprehend the love and admonition of the Lord.
Mike

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This is a wonderful and convicting question, and I’ve done a bit of self-reflecting myself.

What if you let the youth lead here? Gathering them together and brainstorming the apologetics questions they’ve been secretly harboring may let them know they’re not alone. Maybe they’ll take ownership of their faith by researching answers, too. (I stumbled because I was scared researching would show Christianity was fake.)

Recently, I was chatting with an older Christian woman who had returned after leaving the faith. Unfortunately, no one even reached out when she stopped going to church. I was convicted of the impact just meeting for coffee could have instead of assuming poor attendance was laziness.

I appreciate how this article encourages being deliberate in each activity, even the most long-held tradition. And the book “Abandoned Faith” by Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez highlights some of the cultural assumptions younger and older generations make about one another - sometimes at the risk of younth’s church attendance.

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Alison, your post has been on my mind these last few days. This is indeed something to consider and I have decided to just give you some of the main points from my thoughts. I have read most of the replies here and think everyone is making some very good points. Here are my thoughts:

  1. One question I kept asking myself is: what makes anyone decide to follow Christ wholeheartedly? Everyone’s story is different, but we can learn from them when considering why anyone leaves the faith and how to help bring others truly to the Lord.

  2. As others have mentioned, the influence of parents who love the Lord with all of their heart and show that love to their children speaks volumes to a child. The example of the parents is such a strong foundation. In this podcast I listened to yesterday Tim Tibow shares his experience with becoming a Christian and the role his parents played in that decision. He even mentioned that going to church didn’t do a lot for him in that regard. Not all kids have the advantage of saved parents but the influence of other Christians who are solid in their walk are to be an example of Christ’s love to them.
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/rzim-just-thinking-broadcasts/id1173580980?i=1000467840145

  3. God does not need to depend on us to reach the lost. I believe that wherever we fall short God picks up the slack, so everything that we do to try to reach others is as much for our own benefit as it is for others. It is for our relationship with God and with everyone we reach out to, as well as for their relationship with God. Our example of love and teaching others about God is part of the intricate sanctification process, and God uses that to speak to the lost and anyone who needs edification. That being said, let us not forget that the Spirit is ultimately in charge of conversions and that it is through His wisdom and strength that we are useful to bringing others to Christ.

  4. I heard a sermon by Tim Keller the other day about different types of false Christians. I grew up in very conservative churches and have observed others who did and we all learned so much Bible knowledge but missed out on the heart of the entire message. We were legalistic and critical and our mission was to convert others from their wrong way of thinking to a correct way of thinking. On the other hand I am sure we have all seen the super spiritual types of Christians who don’t seem to understand a lot of “why” when it comes to their relationship with God and rely too much on their emotions without much actual wisdom and knowledge. Balance is important. At the church that we currently attend, there is a lot of emotional experience for the youth, but they also speak truths that I believe come from the Spirit. The leadership is dedicated to only moving forward with guidance from the Spirit. But I think in order to prevent kids from having a shallow experience with God it is important for them to have relationships away from that environment on Sundays that are sincere and challenge them to live out in the Spirit what they profess to believe. I think that seeing faith in action every day helps us to allow it to enter our hearts rather than just being feelings we experience when hyped up on Sundays. Essential to any real conversation is the Holy Spirit. We need to allow Him to guide us and teach others how they can also allow Him to lead them in their walk.

Here is Time Keller’s sermon that I mentioned:

I am sorry if my thoughts are sort of random, but I do not feel very adequate right now to doing any better. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I liked the article you shared as well. I hope you feel inspired by the various replies to your post. :blush:

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@Brian_Upsher @jlyons @Brittany_Bowman1 @gchop I’m so grateful for each of your responses and resources that you’ve included. Each one of you have added another layer for me to pray about as I intentionally plan to give children a chance to form their own relationships with God. I’m inspired by the articles I’ve read and I’ll listen to the podcasts and sermons this week. I pray for my own children that I’m bringing up, and for the others that my ministry will bring me alongside.

James, you summarised my fear of ‘underground counterfeits’ well as that was me by age 14. That only leads to what Brittany described of individuals walking away. It breaks my heart that so many people quietly slip away and no one in the church lovingly chases after them. What a cup of coffee and a loving conversation can do to remedy this!
Carrie, your thoughts weren’t random :blush:, they really spoke to me, and THANK YOU for the reminder that ultimately, it’s the Holy Spirit who works and moves in people’s lives, praise God.

All we can do is as Paul said, to pray in the spirit on ALL occasions with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18.

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@klineeric, could you please give some examples of this : “But much of what we’ve been told is not robustly sustainable under criticism (even moderate criticism).”
To what are you referring? Thanks

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@artownsend, great questions. When we talk about De-conversions I would like to suggest that the terminology does not fit the description. if as you say and I do believe and agree with you that conversion real conversion is in the hands of God alone, then in the nature of the case it would be more than just a mental assent 2 a set of beliefs, it would involve regeneration. The apostle Paul talks about two different kingdoms 1 kingdom the rule and reign of sin which is passed down from Adam to us leaving us slaves to sin. It’s uncomfortable to think of our kids or young people as being slaves to sin especially when they grow up in the church but according to Paul that would be their condition until they are regenerated and then he clearly puts it they become slaves or Bond servants to righteousness. Now having said that it is God who does that work it is also our responsibility as stated by you and others to disciple. If all our kids have is an experience without an understanding that they’ve been rescued from a hopeless situation by God (who loves them perfectly) then what they really have is an emotion or a mental assent that is not stronger then the power of sin in their lives, I believe this is why we see so many walk away. I mean we need to ask ourselves what are they walking away to? Are they walking away to a better truth? Are they walking away to something more appealing? Or are they walking away because they want to? You see in the end it really does come down to the simple fact that they are in God’s hands. My own son whom I led to the Lord at the age of five had a clear understanding as much as a five-year-old could have that he had a sin problem and he needed God’s righteousness so that he could be with God. I am convinced that his conversion was real and by that I mean emphatically that the Holy Spirit moved in, because the next day we were at the church helping the pastor put in a new lawn and out of the blue he turned to me and he said Dad tell pastor Larry how to get God’s righteousness. I said what? he repeated with emphasis and concern tell pastor Larry how to get God’s righteousness I said Chris he already has it and he said okay good. Now here comes the difficult part my son has for all intents and purposes walked away from the faith but he is the most miserable person you would ever meet. he puts up a good front, he likes to party but when he’s talking to somebody that’s not me, he says I’m empty inside. This is a case of backsliding. an unregenerate human being will not be miserable over their sin they like it but I believe not because I his father but because Romans says so, that the Holy Spirit lives inside of him convicting him every time he’s still enough to hear.
I have to continually remind myself that God knows what he’s doing. I love the questions that you’re asking and by no means am I saying I have all the answers I don’t think anybody on this thread would say that but We can do more than pray but not until we’ve prayed. Praying that our children would come to know the savior Himself (and showing them that God’s way of thinking brings meaning and value and intelligence to our life here on this planet IE discipleship) for He is the most beautiful awesome one that has ever existed and everything else pales in comparison to HIS love, Justice, Mercy, Wrath, I know we don’t like that word but it’s there and if we were to have a more honest discussion about the Wrath of God we would understand his love even better. Blessings to you and I hope this helps in some way.
After posting this I thought I would add this encouraging poem I heard a while back.
“Love divine has seen and counted all the tears it caused to fall
And the storm that love appointed was its choicest gift of all.”

For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.

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@rpage, thank you for your insight here. You are right, some one can’t truly de-convert if they’ve had a real transformative encounter through God’s Grace. I’m taking my time to think through the points you’ve made. What struck me though was your comment here:

If all our kids have is an experience without an understanding that they’ve been rescued from a hopeless situation by God (who loves them perfectly) then what they really have is an emotion or a mental assent that is not stronger then the power of sin in their lives, I believe this is why we see so many walk away. I mean we need to ask ourselves what are they walking away to? Are they walking away to a better truth? Are they walking away to something more appealing? Or are they walking away because they want to?

I know everyone is different but this caused me to reflect on my own choices when I was younger, and it leads me to wonder if my reasons might be common to many. For me, walking away was an equal choice to following God. I therefore lacked an understanding of who God is, and what my sin was. I hadn’t seen the ‘darkest of evil’ in my sheltered upbringing and was at the same time unaware that my own sin was as evil. I didn’t know Gods holiness, so it was easy to turn my back.

I have to continually remind myself that God knows what he’s doing.

As to this, in recent months, I have spent more time thinking about how God is outside of time, and has already seen the end from the beginning. He’s seen our whole lives, he has plans and promises for us and his word never fails. So when I watch loved ones who don’t seem to ‘get it’ or pursue God as I pray they would, I know that God has seen the bigger picture already. And I love those verses at the end of Job when God says “where were you when I formed the earth…”. Wow, what a reminder of who He is!

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Hello Rodney,

Thank you for the question. I did cite one example of non-critical acceptance of dogma in both the Catholic and Protestant Churches (general in the Catholic case, and more specific in the Protestant case, namely Young Earth Creationism (YEC)).

Looking into YEC a bit more, prior to about 1900 there were good reasons to admit and adopt a YEC position, but science has gradually/progressively altogether eliminated a young Earth and a young universe as possibilities. Thus, reading Genesis literally leads to serious and significant error. Learned Christians, Catholic and Protestants, have developed a couple of theories to attempt to reconcile scientific evidence and Genesis (e.g., Gap Theory, etc.), but the one I adopt is the one rendered by Huge Ross of Reasons to Believe. He reads Genesis allegorically equating “day” (“yom” in Hebrew) to epochs or ages.

Another example that equally applies to both Catholics and Protestants is salvation itself. Since that is God’s and man’s aim, you’d think we might understand what it is and how it comes about. The sad truth is that the majority of Christians (maybe none of us) know what salvation is. We most often conflate salvation with justification, failing to realize that salvation consists in justification, sanctification, and glorification. There’s too much “topic” to handle even briefly here so I’ll just leave it.

Most Christians can’t cite the essential (necessary) requirements for salvation (this is now a new issue separate from salvation itself). Part of this reason is because the many verses that indicate what is necessary for salvation disagree–some indicate some combination of confession and repentance, others some combination of faith and repentance, still others just faith. Yet still other verses don’t explicitly state requirements but implicitly indicate the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the one true sign. And of course we have the verses that indicate that faith AND works are required. The best treatise on this is (my opinion) from Normal Geisler, but even he (one of the strongest, most respected Protestant scholars of the post-modern world) make an egregious error: he says the one and only necessary requirement for salvation is (in keeping w/the articles of the Reformation (by faith alone) and Romans 5:1,2 and elsewhere in Romans and other writings of Paul) faith AND repentance and this is only one requirement because “repentance is just the other side of the faith coin.”

Ever since Calvin, most of Protestantism had adopted eternal salvation but there are probably more verses that indicate the contrary than agree with Calvin. And there are many more dogmas and doctrines we take without proper criticism and examination. I’ve only cited three very different categories of this, and these are very fundamental to the Faith, so you’d think we could at least get the fundamentals right. But not only do we not get them right, we don’t know we don’t get them right, and worse, we may not care.

So what does all this have to do with de-conversions? It started, at least dramatically, with Voltaire (and the Enlightenment thinkers). His proposition wasn’t related to science and objective fact, but was directed towards philosophy–specifically, whether God was a good and effective moral agent. My proposition is that there are objective (science) questions and subjective (moral and ethical) questions that greatly contribute to de-conversion (there may of course be other factors such as the desire to pursue sin, etc.).

The good news is, the objective frame (science) actually strongly supports theism–conversion of atheists (CS Lewis, Anthony Flew, Francis Collins, others) serve as an example. But many Christians de-convert due to subjective (moral and ethical) questions (Charles Darwin, Fred Hoyle, others). The objective frame is easy and straightforward for Christians to leverage. The subjective frame is difficult, problematic, and fraught with pain. Yet there is an answer, only it’s one we human beings don’t like–trust God with and through your pain and the pain of your loved ones ('cause the pain’s not going away).

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@klineeric, thanks for getting back to me. Due to time restraints in family commitments I will only respond to one thing that I noticed.
(“My proposition is that there are objective (science) questions and subjective (moral and ethical) questions that greatly contribute to de-conversion.”)
There is unintentionally I’m sure a subtle bias at work in the two classifications you’ve made. Here is a definition of science that I got from Dr. Greg Bahnsen, he said “science is a systematic approach to some delineated aspect of human experience aiming to find general laws by which we can explain and predict events”
If this is true then the experiments produce raw data, not questions. It is we the human agent that takes the raw data and asks the questions. The problem with this is that we are subjective in the way we approach the raw data, we all have our own presuppositions and if we’re not careful we will interpret the data to fit our pre conceived notions of how the world works. So science questions are actually subjective not objective. In the second classification that moral or ethical questions are subjective, from a human standpoint in some cases I would agree with you but from a Transcendent revelational standpoint, ie the scriptures the questions that are asked are not subjective but objective. Every worldview has three components 1. Metaphysics or reality 2. Knowledge or epistemology 3. Ethics
I maintain that the only world view that can make sense or provide the preconditions for intelligibility to Life as we know It ,is the Christian worldview. This is why a man like CS Lewis would be converted to Christianity from atheism, he realized at some point that his atheistic worldview could not account for reality. So from a presuppositional standpoint science itself is not the standard. in truth it cannot be the standard by which we judge reality because it only produces raw data. it does not produce questions that require an answer of morality and ethics. Consequently the raw data of science must be filtered and given context bye the transcendent revelation of God’s word which gives us the guidelines for how to do it morally and ethically.
I guess I will touch on young Earth. I think you might be hard-pressed to find a truly neutral interpretation of the data that seems to contradict a literal day interpretation of Genesis. If you let scripture interpret scripture and I don’t know the reference, you probably will. Jesus himself regards Genesis as real historical events.
Thanks for the discussion that’s all the time I have for the moment.
Be blessed my brother and your pursuit of the truth May it always lead us to the source of all truth the Godhead.

Rod

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