When I first went online I was repeatedly told by Christians that I was never a Christian. At first I got upset because it was personal with me. In my mind it was as if they were calling me a liar. I answered pretty much as former pastor's wife Theresa did right here, by trying to express my devotion to Christ and his church. Over the years I have developed better answers. Here are the five definitive answers to such drivel:
Take note of how emotional Loftus' response is on this. He interprets the very idea that maybe he was never a Christian as a personal attack. It isn't. It's either true or it's not. If you once believed and then decide you don't believe it shows that you have not been born-again. In John 3, Jesus tells us that becoming one of His followers is like being born as second time. Just like natural birth, being "born from above" cannot be undone. Once you are born, you can die but you cannot be unborn. Same thing when you become a true Christian. There are so scriptures to back this up. Many of them will be coming up in this post.
1) What does this have to do with my arguments? If was never a Christian how does that affect your judgment of them? If some skeptics were never Christians does it mean you don't have to take their arguments seriously? If you must do so with them, why is this an issue when it comes to me?
If you don't want the validity of your conversion to be questioned, then don't use it to explain why anyone should listen to you about why we should leave God. I mean really think about it. Loftus and others use their past experiences in Christianity to give their arguments weight that they know what we believe and why we should not believe it because they once believed it too. This is a really a terrible argument. Atheists really should not use it. If you want to argue that a skeptic who becomes a Christian was never a skeptic, fine,. The Bible teaches Predestination. Therefore a true Christian was called to be a Christian when God created everything.
2) If you think this of me then that's just one of the delusions you have. There are many others. ;-)
True. I have many delusions So do all of us. That is why we need Jesus to help us. Get help;
3) So let me get this straight, your God promised to save me if I believed, and I did, and he didn't keep his promise? What does that say about your God?
A better question is what does it say about the apostate? God promised that if we believe that God will save us. If God did not save the Apostate, maybe the Apostate really didn't believe. You only thought you believed. The parable of the sower (Matthew 13) really is applies here.
3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” - Matthew 13:3-9
Maybe Loftus and other apostates are rocky places, shallow soil, or had no root.
4) I actually don't think any Christian has real faith, so at least I honestly admit I'm a non-believer.
So Loftus is agreeing that when he was a "Christian" he didn't have real faith.
I said before in a letter to Christians who claim that deep down I really believe:
You think you believe but you really don't. You see, your behavior itself tells on you. You don't live every waking hour of every day the way you would if you truly believed. I don't even have to know you, but if you're a man you probably peek at pornography on the web--say it isn't so? You don't give your money to Christian causes like you would if you truly believed. You don't pray enough. You don't read the Bible like you should, or evangelize as you should. You're not truly grateful for the purported sacrifice Jesus made for you that saved you from hell. Nor do you really care about the fate of unbelievers who are heading to hell. If you truly believed unbelievers will be eternally punished for their unbelief then your whole life would be radically different. So your behavior tells on you. You do not believe. Underneath all of the protestations to the contrary you simply do not believe. You are in denial. You deny that you are an atheist.The bottom line is that there are people who claim to be Christians but don't do live up to what the Bible says we should. So what? That does not describe all Christians at all. There are some people doing all the things that Loftus says that Christians don't do but should do. God is not holding you accountable for what anyone else did. You aren't going to hell because of the sin of someone else. You have more than enough of your own.
You probably have someone in your life that rubs you wrong—a relative?—that you simply cannot forgive, and you may even dislike someone to the point where you may even hate them. Some Christians are even having extra-marital affairs right now, or they are pilfering from the church treasury, or beating their wives. Are you? You have guilt running through your veins for all of this and yet you claim that you stand forgiven in the eyes of God—is that not a contradiction?
You claim to believe you should or should not do this or that, and you even claim there is a Holy Spirit who only helps Christians, but you continue to behave as you actually believe, which is not much better than non-Christian neighbors you know.
If I believed there was a brick wall in front of me, I wouldn't walk into it. But your life is nothing but walking through your self proclaimed wall of beliefs. You daily walk through that wall because you really do not believe there is a wall where you claim it is!
So don't tell me I really believe. I do not. It's you who are in denial. You simply are going through the motions because of the social benefits of the people whom you respect and whom are your helpers through life. You need some father godlike figure in the sky so you can feel secure and comforted both here and in the afterlife, so you believe this father figure in your mind. But he just doesn't exist, and deep down you know this.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. - Romans 1:18-20
5) But more than all of this I actually agree. I was never a Christian if being a Christian means there is a God, that he sent Jesus to atone for my sins, that he was raised from the grave and that I'll spend eternity in heaven for believing. So as I wrote in more detail:
There are two perspectives to describe our lives as former Christians. On the one hand, from our former Christian perspective, we can describe ourselves as having truly been Christians, in that we experienced salvation, regeneration, the Holy Spirit, and answered prayer. We had accepted Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, and believed he bodily arose from the dead and would return to earth in the parousia. We repented from every known sin, again and again. We confessed “Jesus is Lord.” We prayed the non-Biblical sinner’s prayer (where is that in the Bible?) by inviting Jesus to come to live inside us. We thought we had a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ just like you do now. We tried to live a spiritual life in gratitude for God’s grace by reading the Bible and obeying what we read in it. So we evangelized, tithed, attended worship services, Bible studies, and became leaders in our respective churches.
Some of us were ministers, pastors,and preachers. Others were Sunday school teachers, superintendents, elders, deacons, and/or Bible study leaders. I taught people who are now in ministry at a Bible College. There are at least three men presently in the ministry because of my influence.
More is necessary. You can lead people to God and be used of God but you yourself can be lost.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. - 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
Simple answer: I do know apostates. I pray for them. I continue to love them. I continue to live after the calling that God has on my life regardless as to if they abandon theirs.
For you to reject our testimony you will probably have to reject the testimony of someone you know right now in your church whom you look up to as a Christian who may reject Christianity in the future. The problem is that you just may not personally know someone like that. But the chances are that you will. Then what will you think?
Or you just traded one delusion for another.
On the other hand, from our present skeptical perspective, the Christian faith is false and based upon ancient superstitions. We believe we were deluded about it. We were never true Christians in the sense that there is no truth to Christianity. If being a Christian means that we had a personal relationship with God-in-Jesus Christ, then we never had such a relationship, for such a supernatural being is based upon non-historical mythology. There is no divine forgiveness because there is no divine forgiver. There was no atonement because Jesus did not die for the world’s sins. There was no God-man in the flesh to believe in. Our petitionary prayers were nothing but wishful hoping. And we believe this is true about your claim to be a Christian too. You are not a Christian, either, because there is no Christ, no Messiah, no God-in-the-flesh, no Holy Spirit regeneration, no devil and no heaven to go to when you die.
I have an additional answer to this question that some others don't have. Discounting the potential slanderous accusation that William Lane Craig levels at me in this video excerpt, he thinks I was a Christian because he still has hopes I'll return to the fold. Since he thinks real apostasy is impossible, by saying my rejection of Christianity is only temporary he's saying I was a Christian at one time. So let him be my witness against anyone who claims I never believed in the first place. Take it up with Craig if you think that. He knew me when I was a believer and his testimony is that I really believed. The problem is that if anyone has ever committed the unforgivable sin then I have. I wrote a detailed post on the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit about six years ago. According to Jesus I can never be saved now even if I did turn to him in faith and repentance.
I think this pretty much covers it. Q.E.D.
I think William Lane Craig is correct. Maybe the Holy Spirit revealed to him that God will call Loftus back from his backslidden condition. Loftus does not know what blaspheming the Holy Spirit means just like he does not really understand the Bible. I've seen God do this very thing in other people's lives. I hope Craig is right then Loftus will not be going to hell and maybe used by God to turn others to God. He has a lot to make up for. We all do.
This will help to clarify things.
Debunking Christianity: Five Definitive Answers When Christians Say We Never Were Christians