I just listened to John Loftus on the podcast Unbelievable? With Justin Brierley (from 2008) where he gives his Atheist “testimony.” Here it is:
He was a passionate Christian who loved C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaefer, and Josh McDowell and even studied under William Lane Craig (He actually took a very similar path to Paul Copan, whom he considers a friend), and later became a pastor and leader in his church. Then he had an affair with a woman, but when he broke it off, she ruined his life by contacting everyone he knew and telling them that he had raped her. This crushed him and so he moved churches to try and get help, only to have the lead paster tell him he couldn’t be there because he was afraid he’d try to take over the church. At the same time he had a cousin who gave him books and articles on evolution, which he devoured. After about 6-8 years, he became an atheist. At first, he says, he was very content with living out his atheism personally, but soon a minority of Christians began basically bullying him verbally, where he finally got fed up and started a website called http://www.debunking-christianity.com/?m=1
I believe we as Christians can learn a lot about John’s story. The Church needs to hear this story because we need to correct our tendencies as Christians to look at sinners (like ourselves) with judgment and condemnation. One thing in particular that John says in the podcast is that he sees Christians having to hide our sins so that we can keep up our “light” in the eyes of others. Church should be the place to go when one needs help or is struggling with sin, not a dreaded place to go if others were to catch wind of your hidden secrets in your heart. God sees us all for who we are, yet he doesn’t turn away.
What your thoughts on John loftus’ story? What can we learn from it? How could can we as Christ’s body do better within the Church to mirror Christ’s example? What can we all work on to make the Church a welcoming place?
I remember hearing a talk by a pastor who got a letter by a woman who was a nonbeliever but had gone to a church service at his church. She told him that for the first time in her life, she was beginning to think that there might be a God because she said that his church was the only church that she had been to that was sinner-safe, meaning it was safe to admit openly that we are sinners who struggle every day. Shouldn’t that cause us to pause? I stopped in my tracks when I heard that. That is something we all need to hear more often.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I know this is a weighty issue, but it needs to be brought up. Thank you