There are a lot of Bible verses about falling away from the faith. Sometimes lately with many Christians questioning their faith, or saying they’re no longer believers, it seems as if the falling is becoming a lot more common. I heard the other day that yet another Christian musician (front man for the Canadian group Hawk Nelson- Jonathan Steingard) took to his instagram account to tell fans that he can no longer consider himself a Christian.
“After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word ‘Christian’ in front of most of the things in my life — I am now finding that I no longer believe in God,” he wrote.
“Praying in public always felt like some kind of weird performance art. Emotional cries such as ‘Holy Spirit come fill this space’ always felt clunky and awkward leaving my lips,” he said. And describing when he was encouraged to sign a pledge at a youth conference vowing to “date Jesus” for a year, he said, “It felt manipulative and unsettling to me. I didn’t sign it.”
As an adult, he began questioning what he saw as contradictions within his religion and wondered why there is so much evil and suffering in the world if God was truly “all loving, and all powerful.”
Unfortunately Jonathan is not the only one who’s experienced or experiencing serious doubt and questions. While I love church, and have tried to raise American Boy up in church, some of the things about the way some Christians ‘push’ kids bothers me. I know it comes from a zealous and hopeful heart that parents and church folks want to see children ‘saved’. I understand that. But over the years of seeing how many church raised kids fall from the faith once they get out of high school (especially if they were home schooled) and then enter university or college (even some Christian ones) they fall from their faith.
Questioning faith is natural, and all Christians have doubts now and then. Many who are raised in secular Christian homes question the faith once we get older, trying to find truth on our own journey. But falling from the faith, especially when one grew up in the church, or like Jonathan and others like him, who were “PK’s” Preacher’s Kids, is sad and should be a huge wake up call to the church.
It’s not that sound doctrine may not have been taught, or that kids are necessarily pushed or expected to grow in the faith when they grow up in the faith of their parents, but it could be that they feel pressured enough not to question anything that they’re taught, or want to please their parents/teachers/leaders.
I’ve been a proponent of ‘apologetics’ for young adults for a long time. When the pastor of my old church asked people to suggest classes for church, I suggested an apologetics course for teens/young adults getting ready for college. A mix between defending their faith, and having ready answers for why they believe. I think it’s important that Christians of all ages know WHY they believe, because it seems that too often, they believe because their parents did, or grandparents, or because they grew up in church. That is a ripe plan for losing their faith when life gets tough, and professors/classmates and friends begin to mock them or put hard questions to them of their faith.
I’m not going to judge Jonathan or any other Christian for falling away, as I have in the recent past, because while the Bible says it will happen, it shouldn’t and doesn’t mean it has to be for many of these people, if someone could give them solid answers and they really think about what God they are turning away from. Is it a god of their own ideas, or the Biblical God?
One thing I’ve noticed from many of the recent people falling away is that they bring up the same points that Jonathan did, as to the “Why’s”, and what is the purpose of it all.
I have to admit, I’ve wondered often what is the purpose. Not just things gone on or going on in my own life, but in so much in the world- it’s hard not to question that sometimes. But thank God literally, I know He is in control, and while I don’t understand a lot, He does. I don’t have to understand it- because I know His ways and thoughts are beyond mine. He’s a big God after all, not One we can put in a box.
I’ve had my ideas of God in the past, even after being born again. I’ve had too many Christians bash me over the head with an all consuming, wrathful and judging god, and had too many friends come at me with a fluffy, all loving, “aw that’s ok I still love you anyway” god. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the God of the Old Testament, ordering Israel to destroy whole nations of people, and the God who sent His only begotten Son to the cross because He loved the world that much He was willing to pay for our sins.
Not enough pastors teach a solid, accurate and complete description of God. More liberal churches tend to make him out some all loving, but removed from our lives god who will let us live our own ways and then welcome us all to heaven with open arms whether we believe on the Son or not. Others again describe him as a jealous and righteous judge who will judge us all because of our depraved minds.
God is love, God is righteous and Holy. He loves us, but He is pure and perfect. Not enough pastors explain the fall, that when man fell, so did all of creation. They don’t explain that nature is groaning as much as everything for Him to make it right again. They don’t explain enough about what sin caused, and that the ramifications are always going to be present until Jesus comes and makes things right again.
We’ve posted about the “why’s” here before, and tough questions. But we can’t always answer all the questions and that’s where faith comes in. Some folks just haven’t been able to develop a healthy faith again because of teaching. Some churches use faith as something to exercise for financial wealth, health and the (what they call abundant) best life now. Others use faith as a measuring rod- if you’re sick or diseased, financially strapped, you don’t have enough faith. Biblical faith is hard to find these days- Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Those common tough questions are enough to show that a part of the problem is that too many people don’t read or understand the Bible enough, aren’t taught it completely, and question the claim that it’s God breathed, Holy Spirit inspired and inerrant.
So what can we do? Unless we know folks who are falling away, there’s not much except the power of prayer. Pray that they will find the truth, have people placed in their lives that point them to the answer, and that they will come to know the Lord in a real way. It’s too easy to judge them, claim they were never saved to begin with, and think they’re on their way to hell, so why bother.
They are worth bothering about, praying for and hopefully they, like the prodigal son will find their way back.
If anyone has doubts and questions about suffering, and the ‘why’s’, these videos might help in answering some of them.
Have a blessed day all.