Skip to comments.Former Pastor Decides To Spend A Year Without God
Posted on 01/12/2014 4:02:50 PM PST by nickcarraway
Former Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Ryan Bell made an unusual New Year's resolution: to live for one year without God.
He used to lead a congregation in Southern California, but in March, he was asked to step down after voicing some of the doubts that led to this decision to "try on" atheism.
Just a few days into the new year, after announcing his resolution, Bell was asked to leave the teaching positions he held at the Christian Azusa Pacific University and Fuller Theological Seminary.
Bell spoke with NPR's Arun Rath about his flirtation with atheism and how he arrived at the decision to put his work as a religious leader and follower on hold.
On the expectations of belief for church leaders
My entire adult life, I've been a leader in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And I think the expectation of church leaders is that they would have fewer questions and more answers, and that the members or seekers or people that come to the church are the ones with the questions. And I can't remember a time that I wasn't wrestling with my faith. I think faith is one of those things that people wrestle with.
On experiencing doubt
When things start to come unwound, sometimes they unwind all the way. And then, you know, perhaps you can wind it up a little bit again later who knows? But I feel like I lost my church leadership position and then I really didn't have any compulsion to go to church internally, like I just didn't feel like participating in church. I tried a number of times.
And it woke me up to the kinds of things people had been saying to me all these years, like, "I love what you're doing at the church, but church just isn't for me." ...
So I just decided not to fight it. I just decided to say, "Well, let me just give church a rest." And as I did that, I just began to wonder about the very existence of God.
On how members of his congregation have responded
Some people have been encouraging, some people have just been silently watching. Some are a little heartbroken. It's almost like people respond as though I've lost a loved one and I'm going through a deep grieving process and doing strange things as a result. Some people have just tried to talk me off the ledge.
Others have said, "I have these same questions. I'm really glad that you're doing this, and I'll be following along. Maybe I'll figure some things out along the way, too."
I'm not saying to my former members, "Follow me out the door." Nothing like that. I don't want them to do that. I want them to be on their own journey authentically.
On the reaction of the atheist community
Some people are, in a way, gloating. They're like, "Congratulations on coming to the other side" ... But other people are skeptical. There are a lot of atheists who are really not sure what I'm doing. So they say, "You are either an atheist or you're not. You can't be 'a little atheist,' like you're 'a little bit pregnant.' "
In a way, what I hear them saying is, "You're not authentically atheist" ... And my internal reaction to some of that is to say, oh, I was a Christian leader for a long time. I heard that argument on the other side, as well: "You're not properly Christian. You're not a Christian in our way of being a Christian, so you don't really fit here." And my response to that is, I'm used to not fitting places. So that's fine with me.
You either believe or you don’t.
Pastor quits while NPR licks their chops.
I don’t get it, is he going to go back to God after the year?
Exactly how does someone spend a year without God. I get not going to church for a year - decades actually - but it is impossible to go a year without God.
Oh dear God. That is very dangerous. I hope and pray that he does not die during this stupid stunt. He is in need of some serious prayers.
NPR Not a Pastors Recource
If a former atheist decided to become a Christian for a year, do you think he’d get this much coverage? Not likely.
He’d better hope that nothing happens to him that year.
How many stories of atheists becoming Christians has NPR run?
My guess is zero.
Yet, when a Christian experiences doubt, NPR and NPR’s Arun Rath get wet and can’t wait to get it on the air.
I used to listen to NPR all the time. But, it became unbearable after a while. This crap is an example why.
This jackass can go as long as he wants without God for his new BFFs down at the taxpayer subsidized NPR. However, God will still be here if and when he decides he’s had enough of his “15 minutes”. God isn’t going anywhere.
The only “proper” way to be a Christian is to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Once you have become one of his, you can’t change your mind. If you change your mind, you were never saved to begin with.
Calvin would be happy with your assessment.
You fool! This very night your life will be required of you!
I could see taking a break from church duties and activities but going away from God what can fill the inner hole left in the spirit?
He probably never did. I’ve had pastors tell me that a large percentage don’t.
Wow. He really likes attention.
A perfect illustration of the "No true Scotsman" logical fallacy.
I'm surprised someone hasn't come up with a reality show where an atheist and a christian trade places for a year.
Hey look! NPR doing a story on a Pastor.
Pathetic b7stard fishing for money more like. Atheists have donated thousands to this guy’s ‘cause’. Total fraud, just like the lesbian waitress.
One question for the former pastor, “What is her/his name?”
“Some are a little heartbroken.”
I’m a tad devastated.
Just a wee bit destroyed.
My life is slightly ruined.
Is it just me, or is anyone elses’ gaydar going off just a smidge ?
Jonah tried that. So did Judas.
God is not spending a year without him.
1. Who knows?
2. Who cares?
3. God DOES know but I doubt that even HE cares.
Of COURSE it's impossible to go a year without God. This minister REALLY needs a LONG trip to his local seminary to REVIEW what he is about.
Npr.... always on the look out for mainstreaming the weird and advancing weird provocative meek language.
So the pastor has decided to pollute. I thought we always were away from God.
Hasn't accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior always been the definition of a Christian? Of course, I happen to be a Catholic but I ASSUME that's true. It's what I was brought up with.
Indeed...plus the presumption that he always was with God..... this is a play on narcissism.
I pray he finds his way back to God, Who will be patiently waiting for him.
How about he decides to become a cat for a year and live in alley in the Bronx.
I wasn’t trying to make a logical argument.
What I was trying to say is when we are saved, we are sealed by God and indwelt with His holy spirit. We may wander away from time to time, which will grieve the Spirit, but the Spirit still lives in us.
I’m not sure, but it may be possible for a person to willingly give up his salvation. But God has promised us he will keep us until the end.
If we can wander away with no consequences, then the Spirit was never in us, otherwise He would be grieved and we would know it.
Ephesians 4:30 And do not bring sorrow to Gods Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Gettin’ warmed up for eternity.
Didn’t Jonah try that?
God just might allow him to spend eternity without God...
Future Darwin Award nominee?
i can’t do anything without God. He sustains us every second, that enables us to do whatever we want to do.
Sounds to me more like he wants to spend a year away from the Ten Commandments.
He’d better pray that God doesn’t decide to live a year without him.
A thousand years is like a single day to God.
Hey, you got in there before I did! My instant thought was, “Why, that’s perfect! It’s the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy!”
See my post 37
"But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22)
Could be this——’Bell was asked to leave the congregation a week ago(April 2013), not by its members, but by the governing bodythe administration of the Southern California Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Churchafter his theological and ideological convictions were deemed inconsistent with the trajectory of the Adventists.
When asked if he saw the termination coming, Bellan LGBT ally and marriage equality advocate...’
Former Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Ryan Bell made an unusual New Year’s resolution: to live for one year without God.
He may think he is living a year without God.
God unlike man does not abandon his children.
God will be there at all times.
Silly human being...........
Sounds like a very strange SDA-er. According to his beliefs, homosexuality is OK but non-kosher diets and worshiping on Sunday instead of Saturday are sinful? :?
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