Skip to comments.Abandon all hope, Christians [an open letter from "Losing My Religion" author William Lobdell]
Posted on 03/10/2009 12:31:41 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
Imay be the most prayed-for atheist in America.
Since my memoir, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace, was released last week, Ive received scores of emails and phone calls assuring me that God hasnt given up on me and that Ive been put on various prayer lists around the world. So far, its not working.
Losing My Religion details my journey from a gung-ho evangelical Christian who became a religion reporter for the Los Angeles Times (I thought God had answered my prayers) to a reluctant atheist because of what I saw in eight years on the faith beat. Because the book isnt a rant against religion its more a story of a love found and lost Im seen by many as re-convertable. And if I returned to the fold, my testimony would be a valuable commodity within the evangelical community. Several Christians boldly predict that my next book will be Finding My Religion Again, or something along those lines. To that end, Ive been sent a small mountain of Christian books, pamphlets, DVDs, CDs and workbooks that the senders promise will hook me back up with God.
To save everyone time and effort, let me tell you what absolutely wont work.
Sending me scripture verses
This super-popular approach is problematic. First, Ive studied the Bible quite a bit, so its not like theres a passage I havent read that will instantly restore my belief in God. And more to the point, I no longer believe the Bible is the Word of God, so passages of scripture no longer hold supreme meaning for me; theyre fascinating from a sociological or literary perspective, but theyre not history. Sending me a Bible passage would be like a Latter-Day Saint sending you an evangelical Christian a passage from the Book of Mormon to prove Mormonism is true. It just doesnt work.
Handing me a book by a believer
As a Christian, Ive spent two decades reading the best Christian works throughout history. Like you, I hope, Ive read Augustine, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Aquinas, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, G.K. Chesterton, St. Theresa of Lisieux and others. If those giants cant convince me God is real, no other author will.
Threatening an eternity in hell
This is another standard tactic, filled with Christian love. The emailers are usually succinct, writing something along these lines: I hope youre prepared for an eternity in hell. Im not sure whether Im headed for hell, but do know that someone cant magically believe in Jesus just because they are threatened.
Giving me a Christian movie
Left Behind. Facing the Giants. One Night with the King. Do you understand how awful popular Christian movies are? Any film in that genre would tend to reinforce my atheism. Stop sending them to me.
Asking me to have lunch or to attend a specific church It took me four years of investigation, study and internal struggle before I could finally admit to myself that I had lost my faith. Ninety minutes over a cheeseburger with your pastor isnt going to bring it back.
Debating the truth about Christianity with me
Look, Christian apologists (defenders of the faith) can be very intelligent. So can Christian critics. Generally, debate in this area changes no ones mind. Having read the arguments on both sides, I put in with the critics. For me, theres no point in rehashing it all unless someone comes armed with a new argument or evidence.
Perhaps you can sense a double standard here. An army of Christians is trying to pry me away from atheism by any argument necessary, with no invitation or apologies. (An email just landed in my in-box with the subject line: I have all the answers to your questions.) But you wouldnt expect to see a high-profile Christian bombarded by atheists trying to ruin his faith. Unless provoked (conservative Christians influence on politics and society sparked the recent New Atheist movement), atheists have a live and let live mentality. Christians can learn from them.
But wait, my Christian friends say. We believe Jesus has commanded us to bring lost sheep back into the fold. Its our duty. If thats the case, Id suggest you follow the words of St. Francis of Assisi: Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.
In other words, make Christianity attractive to outsiders through your actions. And retire the rest of your conversion material.
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I haven’t read the article yet, but it sounds like he lost his faith in humanity.
What a wimpy Christian to have caved to the LA Times! I guess it doesn’t take burning at the stake or getting in the arena with hungry lions for the insipid 21st century “Christian” to renounce the Faith.
This underscores Jesus’ words, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it is granted him from the Father.”
The man tried, and couldn’t find repentence even with tears because, “... Jacob I loved and Esau I hated.” We should let him be.
As an atheist, I don't see the efforts of Christians to convince me as a bad thing, as they seem to want to save me from burning in Hell or something. But this is a weird kind of article--he spends a lot of time telling people to stop trying to convince him to be a Christian. And that line above is a dumb inclusion if he's trying to be serious, not funny if he's trying to be humorous--I happen to agree with his assessment, but who cares?
Since my faith and beliefs are based completely on the thoughts and opinions of man I have now been converted by this man. I can be manipulated and convinced by the serious reasoning of an intellectual arguement. (Sarc. completly and totally intended)
Ah... I see the problem...
If you join forces with satan's army -- you might not come out unscathed (unless you are prepared and are wearing the Full Armour of God)...
“Him who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15
Prayers up for this man.
Freewill is the ability to choose life or death, and he has made his choice.
The live and let live argument is poor. They want freedom from religion, and are pretty militant about it.
To these cases I apply the parable of the seed. Some lands on rocky and thorny soil, springs up and withers away. Sad, but it is what it is, and if it couldn’t happen, it would not have been pointed out.
Many struggle with their faith through many adversities. Some will not make it, its a fact.
I’m not an atheist, but I gotta admit that “Left Behind” was really really bad.
That is to say, atheists are "provoked" by the existence of those who disagree with them. Now what other religion does that sound like? (Hint, another one that kills a lot ...)
what planet has he been on?
I wouldn’t waste five seconds trying to convert this guy back. In a free society, he is free to believe or not.
Plus, this is considered by some to be the “unpardonable sin”. To believe and then renounce God. So he may have blown it anyway.
I was thinking rocky soil too. But I was also considering Wolf out of Sheep’s clothing...
He's right about Christians quoting Bible verses though.
I've never understood how Christians hoped to convince people with verses from a book that non-believers don't hold as the word of God. You and I have read the Bible and found it to be the work of man; you must admit that no single verse is going to change our minds.
That's (in part) because the Left Behind series was heavily padded to increase its length after the first couple of volumes came out. It was originally intended to last for only six books, not the sixteen+ that it ballooned into.
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