Updated: Oct 22, 2021
Yesterday I listened to a podcast episode in which the host declared for the first time publicly that he was no longer a believer; no longer a Christian.
Here is my interpretation of what he said. He has witnessed many horrid atrocities performed by Christian leaders. For years he has been looking for authentic Christianity, and the harder he has looked, the more illusive it has become.
So that’s it? Because so many so-called Christians that you know are really, really bad at Christianity, you are no longer a Christian?
I wish this fella’s story was an anomaly. It’s not.
It is actually very popular right now for former “Christians” to leave the church, leave orthodox Christian doctrine, and leave the Biblical Jesus. They call it “deconstructing.”
I’m not here to mock them. I am here to say that this is nothing new. The label might be current and cool, but the path is as old as Lucifer.
It’s properly called apostasy.
You may have read about those who “fall away” from God. Why do they fall away?
Well, the short and easy answer is that they were never true believers in the first place. Judas didn’t become a child of God and then get kicked out of the family. His discipleship was always superficial. Never mind whether or not he was sincere, he was wrong. Jesus said, “Have not I chose you 12, and one of you is a devil.” Not, “One of you will become a devil.” No, “One of you is a devil” (see John 6:70).
Judas is the quintessential apostate. He is called the son of perdition. Even though he was a disciple, a follower of Christ, an apostle; he was never a member of the family of God. He was not destined for glory. He was destined for damnation. He was always on the road to destruction. His profession was never a possession. And so, it eventually came out. His true identity was manifested.
And so it is with those who are deconstructing. They are deconstructing a faith that was built by them on a foundation of sand. If their faith had been a gift from God, standing on the Rock of Christ, then it would last. They would persevere. They would overcome. The work in them would be the work of God and He would complete it, as He always does.
But again, that’s the short and easy answer. They fall away because they don’t belong in the first place.
But there is a deeper answer too. Or at least a more practical one. And that is what I want to address.
It is recorded in Luke 17:1 that Jesus told His “disciples, ‘It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!”
Think about the reason given by the podcaster I mentioned earlier. Immoral Christian leaders have failed him repeatedly. It hurt. He quit.
Well, of course we can point out that his faith should be in Christ, not in the men who claim to speak for Christ. But wait, Jesus still said, “Woe to the one who causes the offense.” It may be true—and I contend that it is—that this man’s unregenerate state (if such he is) was inevitably going to be revealed anyway. But the catalysts of his doubt are still in a heap of trouble. The failing Christian leaders who precipitated the demise of this man’s hope will answer to God for their serious failures.
This man (by the way, his name is Eric Skwarczynski) had misplaced faith; at least apparently. If the failures of men has caused Him to doubt Christ, then his relationship was with men, not with Christ. Not that I’m his judge. He answers to Christ, not to me.
But I do answer for myself. And so do you. So what impact does your version of Christianity and mine have on the people around us? Do we reflect the glory of Christ? Or, do our lives cast blemishes on the name and reputation of Jesus?
The men and women whose immoral decisions and abuse of power contributed to Eric’s departure are certainly to blame and are surely in much trouble with their Maker. But how about the people who are watching us?
It is said that the majority of our children who grow up in our churches will eventually drop out of church. Why?
Doubtless there are many reasons. But among those given is the very legitimate claim that the church members were hypocritical: saying one thing while doing another.
Christians claim that God is love, that the Bible is true, that the gospel changes lives, and that sin is to be avoided (among many other claims, of course). But many Christians fail to demonstrate the love of God, fail to live in line with the Bible’s doctrine, fail to share the gospel or demonstrate that they have been changed by it, and seem to sin as much or more than the unbelievers all around them.
When our children grow up witnessing this incongruence, it naturally causes them to doubt the veracity of our faith, of our fellowship, of our system of doctrine, and ultimately of our Christ.
I have not been an intimate witness of many deconstruction stories. I usually only get to see the initial departure or I may get to catch glimpses of the deconstructionist’s journey away from Christ. But these people seem to be quite confident in their escape. They are the enlightened ones; the awakened ones—at least in their own eyes. “You poor duped sheep, following your abusive cult leaders.” That’s how I would describe the demeanor of the one’s I’ve noticed along the way.
But ultimately, their new perspective doesn’t even matter. It doesn’t make a hill of beans difference whether a person turns to atheism, universalism, hinduism, or satanism. If they turn from Christ, then there is no hope for them. Read Hebrews 6 & 10. The only hope anyone has is Jesus Christ. Literally ANY other option is equally damnable. Some are more palatable and popular, but all are wrong.
Truly, it is a conspiracy. Not a human conspiracy, but a satanic one. Concerning deconstruction, it has been said that “…its ultimate motivation is often not to understand, but to undermine” (gotquestions.org)—which is the only strategy the devil ever employs. He can’t create anything. He can only cast doubt and undermine what God has created.
Isn’t it ironic that infidels are called unbelievers? Their very identity is wrapped up in their position as it relates to the claims of Christ. They do not like to retain God in their knowledge (see Romans 1), yet His name surfaces repeatedly even in their rejection of Him. The most hostile and defiant among them pay homage to His greatness inadvertently by the very curses with which they defame Him. The most educated among them pay homage to Him by measuring their cognitive power by their ability to argue against His existence. The most moral and compassionate among them pay homage to Him by justifying themselves according to His code of conduct.
It’s ridiculous really. It only proves over and over the validity of the claims of Christ. And His recipe is so very simple: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Look to Jesus. Don’t look to the sinners Jesus is saving. They (we) are not saviors. There is but ONE Savior. Look to Him and to Him alone.
At the time of his arrest, all of the apostles forsook Jesus. Even the apostles were not always faithful. They could not always be trusted. At times Peter was a racist, Paul was stubborn and judgmental, and Thomas doubted and denied. Study the problems of the early churches. They were almost all horrible messes. Some of them even practiced sins that were unacceptable by the secular culture of their day. But their Savior was impeccable. He only is to be worshiped. And, He only is to be trusted.
David wrote, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8). That’s the understatement of the ages. As George Duffield Jr. wrote (in the hymn, Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus), “The arm of flesh will fail you. Ye dare not trust your own.”
So for sure, make sure your faith is in Christ, and in Christ alone. But then also consider the faith of others. Is your testimony and reputation such that your claims about the sufficiency of Christ are validated? In the eyes of others, does your behavior match your beliefs? If not, Jesus made it clear what you (and I) are good for.
He said that it would be better for us if we had a millstone tied to our neck and that we be cast into the sea than that we should cause a brother to stumble, or to lose faith.
Sadly, I know that I have disappointed many of my own parishioners. Many, many there are who departed from our congregation pointing an accusing finger my way. Many of them were justified in doing so. I’ve been guilty of failing to show enough interest, compassion, care, and involvement in people’s lives. I don’t know of any who have left the faith altogether as a result of my weaknesses, but that’s doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.
Of course, others have left because they simply wanted a kinder, gentler, more tolerant version of Christianity. They wanted to be able to do as they please without rebuke. And there are many who have left for a variety of other reasons, both good and bad.
But we should live our Christian lives in such a way that the gospel is complimented, enhanced, adorned by our association with it. Never should our attitude and actions give others an excuse to walk away from Christ. So-called Christians may still deconstruct and self-destruct. And, they may try to blame us for it. But their claims should never be legitimate.
Read Titus chapter 2. Regardless of what category you are in by reason of age, economic status, or any other defining characteristic, our lives must vouch for the gospel, not detract from it.
By the way, there are those who want to sweep the failures of Christian leaders under the rug so as to protect the reputation of the church and of Christianity. That is unreasonable and unbiblical. We are told to rebuke guilty leaders publicly so as to put the fear of God in the rest of those in leadership. There is pollution in every element of society, but we are called on to decry its existence wherever it manifests. That includes in our own circles. In fact, it especially includes our own circles. Judgment is to BEGIN at the house of God. We should be an example of intolerance when it comes to (for example) the abuse of power, the abuse of women and children, the abuse of financial resources, etc. It will always exist everywhere. As long as men are sinners they will keep sinning. But as believers we should be quick to protect victims and to execute justice agains the perpetrators among us.
Eric (the podcaster) has been privy to an unusually large number of horror stories about evil done in the name of religion and in the name of Christianity. What a tragedy! As the Spirit leads you, pray for him. But pray also for yourself. Pray that your faith will remain strong and your conscience pure before God. And pray for those who are hurting; who have been hurt and who are being hurt. Pray that the love and truth of Jesus Christ will prevail. And pray that HE will return soon to put all of His enemies under His feet, and to deliver His children from the evil one; the tempter and accuser of the brethren.
But in the meantime, “Walk worthy of God, who has called you unto His kingdom and glory.” (1st Thessalonians 2:12).