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From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader (Heroes of the Left Alert
NYT ^ | 8/22/2012 | Robert F. Worth

Posted on 08/22/2012 3:14:56 PM PDT by mojito

Late one night in early May 2011, a preacher named Jerry DeWitt was lying in bed in DeRidder, La., when his phone rang. He picked it up and heard an anguished, familiar voice. It was Natosha Davis, a friend and parishioner in a church where DeWitt had preached for more than five years. Her brother had been in a bad motorcycle accident, she said, and he might not survive.

DeWitt knew what she wanted: for him to pray for her brother. It was the kind of call he had taken many times during his 25 years in the ministry. But now he found that the words would not come. He comforted her as best he could, but he couldn’t bring himself to invoke God’s help. Sensing her disappointment, he put the phone down and found himself sobbing. He was 41 and had spent almost his entire life in or near DeRidder, a small town in the heart of the Bible Belt. All he had ever wanted was to be a comfort and a support to the people he grew up with, but now a divide stood between him and them. He could no longer hide his disbelief.....

As his wife slept, he fumbled through the darkness for his laptop. After a few quick searches with the terms “pastor” and “atheist,” he discovered that a cottage industry of atheist outreach groups had grown up in the past few years. Within days, he joined an online network called the Clergy Project, created for clerics who no longer believe in God and want to communicate anonymously....

DeWitt began e-mailing with dozens of fellow apostates every day and eventually joined another new network called Recovering From Religion, intended to help people extricate themselves from evangelical Christianity.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; Religion & Culture; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology
KEYWORDS: atheism
So a preacher who couldn't find it in himself to pray for a man who may be dying is now a hero of the left.

I hope this former preacher is pleased that although he's abandoned God, he's found the New York Times.

1 posted on 08/22/2012 3:14:58 PM PDT by mojito
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To: mojito

Wow. The full sweep. Just skip agnosticism, DeWitt. And forget as to physics you’re more likely wrong.


2 posted on 08/22/2012 3:28:52 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: mojito
It is hard to mature and not notice that what God has been saying for thousands and thousands of years is the Truth.

Certainly any violation of the 10 Commandments brings a rasher of trouble...but disobeying each and every clarifying command of Yeshua (even those spoken to one's heart but never explicitly written down) brings a seemingly endless parade of pain and disappointment.

I have known pain and disappointment (as result of my own stupidity). And I know the Way out of it.

I know of only one way to the Truth.

This minister has obviously never established a one-to-one relationship with God. If he had...he would never doubt the truth.

My prayer for him is that he may simply ask Yeshua to show him the Way.

3 posted on 08/22/2012 3:41:46 PM PDT by RoosterRedux (Obama: "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.")
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To: RoosterRedux
He seems to be a very confused, but rather likable fellow in many respects.

He read a couple of books by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and they made a big impression on a too easily impressionable man.

I have a strong suspicion that Mr. Dewitt will find his way back to the Lord after a couple of years in the wilderness, and he'll regret his foolish ways.

4 posted on 08/22/2012 4:01:28 PM PDT by mojito
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To: mojito

I hope and pray that you are correct!


5 posted on 08/22/2012 4:07:09 PM PDT by RoosterRedux (Obama: "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.")
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To: mojito

Just a couple comments . . .

1. This guy was 41 and had been in the “ministry” for 25 years. That makes him 16 years old when he began his “ministry”. Bad wrong. Even Jesus was in his early thirties and fully mature.

2. The notion that people have a personal desire to serve people qualifies them to be in the “ministry”. Bad wrong.

3. Ignoring Biblical standards for [C]hurch offices leads to non-Biblical outcomes. This clown is a prime example. Hopefully, he won’t come out of the closet and announce that he was an oppressed gay all the while; in that case, he should look into all the apostate churches out there - they readily accept gay “ministers”.

So, I guess we’re all supposed to throw down our copies of the Word and surrender to the obvious secular lock on truth and irrevocable hypocrisy of the [C]hurch? Thank God that there is truth these people know nothing about.


6 posted on 08/22/2012 4:08:18 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (I'm for Churchill in 1940!)
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To: mojito

P.S. I seriously doubt that this man ever knew God in the first place. The probable truth is that his self-service desires are simply out of gas and he’s tossing off his notion of God as false.

In some ways, this is a good thing. The lines are becoming clearer and these heretics and apostates are defining themselves as they reject the god they never knew. Denominations are doing the same, en mass.


7 posted on 08/22/2012 4:11:14 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (I'm for Churchill in 1940!)
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To: mojito
Modern day Nebuchadnezzer....mad in the head and driven to live amongst the beasts.

Maybe; hopefully, this man will achieve Daniel 4:34 -

"And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation"

8 posted on 08/22/2012 4:14:20 PM PDT by Repeat Offender (While the wicked stand confounded, call me with Thy Saints surrounded.)
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To: Repeat Offender
Yes, the story of Nebuchadnezzar is very apt here.

Thanks for that quote.

9 posted on 08/22/2012 4:26:03 PM PDT by mojito
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To: mojito
What enrages me is the idea that they need help to “extricate” themselves from evangelical Christianity. Really, we know those crazed Christians routinely hunt down apostates and kill them. (Sarc)
10 posted on 08/22/2012 4:34:03 PM PDT by wbarmy (I chose to be a sheepdog once I saw what happens to the sheep.)
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To: mojito
From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader (Heroes of the Left Alert)

ELMER GANTRY ALERT!!

Today, the money is in atheism.
To paraphrase a famous dialog,

Why did you switch to atheism?
Because that's where the money is!

For being such a minuscule part of our Christian country and society, they sure make a lot of noise, don't they.

They can't accept a simple deal : We will never try to convert them, and they can STFU!

11 posted on 08/22/2012 4:43:20 PM PDT by publius911 (Formerly Publius 6961, formerly jennsdad)
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To: mojito; RoosterRedux; WorkingClassFilth

In reading the article, and wondering what may have been left out, the former Pastor did not apparently have a mentor or close minister friend with whom he could go to when he had that reaction to the phone call. He also appears to be self-taught in his theology beyond what he was raised with. I wonder if he went to any works like those by Chesteron, Brown, Graham, in his studying to improve his understanding the basics of Christian faith? It appears that he felt that self-doubt meant disbelief, and in reading the authors mentioned, he when to those most focused on increasing his disbelief. Hopefully and prayerfully, he will find a way back to follow our Lord.


12 posted on 08/22/2012 5:00:07 PM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: publius911

What are the prayers of the atheists? What are the atheist prayers for the sick, the dying, the downhearted? Where are the prayer warriors?

What the hymns or praise songs of the atheists? Where are the atheists that go into the jungles as missionaries?

Who do they get down on their knees to? Karl Marx? Bertrand Russell? Richard Dawkins? Do those men hear their prayers?


13 posted on 08/22/2012 5:08:31 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: mojito

Sounds like the guy had been winging it far too long, and after a while you become confused as the tired old prayers that helped in the past don’t seem to cut it any longer. Too bad he didn’t reach for his Bible, instead!


14 posted on 08/22/2012 6:00:51 PM PDT by Shery (in APO Land)
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To: mojito

When you quit turning your back on God, you always find him right there next to you.


15 posted on 08/22/2012 6:10:08 PM PDT by dangerdoc (see post #6)
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To: mojito

I suppose this is a bit of a “man bites dog” story, hence its newsworthiness...such as it is.

Perhaps it would be best to simply keep one’s religious views to one’s self rather than trumpet them to the high heavens...so to speak.


16 posted on 08/22/2012 6:47:47 PM PDT by Joseph Harrolds
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To: mojito

I you leave you never were a part. IOW, this guy never was a believer. The Apostle John says so below.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.


17 posted on 08/22/2012 6:54:01 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True supporters of our troops pray for their victory!)
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To: HKMk23; Monkey Face

This article brings to mind the UT exchange about religion and philosophy. I was thinking about both your comments, because Catholic priests have to take three years of philosophy education in college, followed by three years of theology; along with those, they study public speaking, counseling, a bit of business management, and so on.

If philosophy isn’t related to religion at all, this makes no sense. However, a good philosophy course will teach a person how to reason - some formal logic, how to weigh the authority of competing claims, a version of the scientific method. When a person has completed three years of philosophy and three years of theology (which program includes all the Bible studies, Patristics, and so on), he’s not going to go into a meltdown when “bad things happen to good people,” or when he learns that archaeology hasn’t specifically verified every darn thing in the Bible, or when he comes across the latest popular atheist screed.


18 posted on 08/22/2012 7:24:43 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall.)
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To: mojito; metmom; boatbums; caww; presently no screen name; smvoice; HarleyD; HossB86; wmfights; ...

This article is a warning.

A difference with Dewitt is that unlike the Hitchens and Dawkins crowd, whose railing against God and equating all Christianity with militant Islam indicates a personal war against the God they deny (and moral authority), having been raised in the Bible belt and been part of it, Dewitt says,

“Religion does a lot of good, especially the loving kind, like at Grace Church.”

The reasons for his decline into atheism is not hard to surmise. It seems the man had a true conversion, and that God was confirming His word thru him with evidences following, but the just shall live by faith, which requires we live in such a way that we must see God act, and it must be tested, and this has two aspects, as seen in Heb. 11:32-40.

The one is believing God for help and deliverance and seeing it many times in correspondence to obedience to the Scriptures, defying in quality or quantity that this is mere coincidence or naturalistic, and the other is enduring in faith when we do not see deliverance as we wish. Some in faith turned back armies, and escaped the edge of the sword, and others had to seek refuges in caves, or were sawn asunder! Both saw deliverance and victory, but the latter must go thru the fire. As must the church of the living God.

And reading Dewitts testimony, i see that part of the problem was the word of faith theology which has no room for the latter, as he relates how one middle-aged woman in his church who was suffering from heart disease asked him anxiously: “How am I going to believe for salvation when I can’t believe enough to heal?”

However, this may simply may have served as a justification for his atheism, which really has it reasons in a spiritual declension resulting from not cleaving to God with purpose of heart, (Acts 11:23) and yielding to other affections,and or failing his own testing of faith when perhaps he did not see God moving as before, or seem as close.

Rather than persevering as seeing Him who is invisibly, as even Job could, and as the hymn goes, “when darkness hides His lovely face, i trust in His unchanging grace,” and taking a stand to trust God no matter what, he listened to the voice of the devil who is happy to give reasons to doubt and reject God, and knows our weakness, and progressively realized an “evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” which the book of Hebrews (3:12) warns, this being the book he needed to esp. heed.

And i speak as one who cannot rationally deny the existence of God in the life of faith, even presently, but whose faith has been and is tested due to the above course, and can see how it can come about, and who must not be double minded but look in faith to the author and perfecter of faith, who shall perfect that which concerneth us(Ps. 138:8) as we rely on and yield to Him, denying self and more completely setting affection on things above.

Let us therefore pray for each other, and “exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,” (Hebrews 3:13) which includes doubt.


19 posted on 08/23/2012 5:20:10 AM PDT by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a damned+destitute actual sinner, + trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: daniel1212

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The word of faith theology is insidious. It does lead to wrong conclusions, as that lady referenced indicated. I’ve had my own similar struggle with that kind of theology and the way that Satan can use it to attack one’s faith.

This poor guy is rejecting the wrong thing. He should not have rejected God because he couldn’t reconcile Him to his theology, but rather rejected the theology because it doesn’t reconcile with God (as revealed in Scripture).

This is what happens when one tries to intellectualize God. God and how He works cannot be reduced to a formula and we cannot force His hand no matter how much *faith* we work up within ourselves, or how much we are convinced that HE HAS to act in a certain way.

The practice of claiming certain verses and demanding that God perform in a certain way because of how we interpret them is doomed to failure and to destroy people’s faith. The main result is usually guilt and condemnation heaped on the person (like this lady) for whom God allegedly did not come through for her as she was told He would.

Name it and claim it theology is nothing but entitlement mentality, It leaves no room for God’s sovereignty. It is essentially self-serving, using God as a sugar daddy instead of letting God be God.


20 posted on 08/23/2012 6:57:35 AM PDT by metmom (For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery)
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To: metmom

Well said, metmom.


21 posted on 08/23/2012 8:26:43 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Holy God, we praise Thy Name; Lord of all, we bow before Thee.)
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To: daniel1212
I think the secret lies in this comment:

When I became a Christian I wasn't interested in comforting and supporting people. Rather I was interested in knowing God. And I would suggest all Christians are like this. It is only through understanding God can we understand the depths of our depravity.

If all this person wanted to do was to comfort people, he should have been a Wal-Mart greeter. That is not the aim of a Christian but is a result of being a Christian. His decline into atheism, assuming he won't repent, is simply because he was never a Christian in the first place.

As John states, it should be plain that he was not of us. If one wonders about testing themselves to see if they are in the faith, all they must do is ask themselves if they believe the promises of God and trust Him to fulfill what He has said.
22 posted on 08/23/2012 5:33:59 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: metmom

>God and how He works cannot be reduced to a formula and we cannot force His hand no matter how much *faith* we work up within ourselves, or how much we are convinced that HE HAS to act in a certain way.<

Indeed, within given parameters God leaves such room that He cannot be boxed in as some do. The book of Acts makes that manifest.


23 posted on 08/23/2012 6:33:19 PM PDT by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a damned+destitute actual sinner, + trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: wbarmy
What enrages me is the idea that they need help to “extricate” themselves from evangelical Christianity. Really, we know those crazed Christians routinely hunt down apostates and kill them. (Sarc)

Thank you! I was thinking the same thing. Now if he was a Muslim minister....

24 posted on 08/23/2012 8:05:47 PM PDT by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.)
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To: dangerdoc
When you quit turning your back on God, you always find him right there next to you.

It's like the story of the husband and wife in the car. He's driving and she's sitting all the way over against the passenger side door. She looks at him and wistfully says, "Remember when we first got married, how close we used to sit?" "Well", he said, "I didn't move."

25 posted on 08/23/2012 8:27:55 PM PDT by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.)
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To: daniel1212
Let us therefore pray for each other, and “exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,” (Hebrews 3:13) which includes doubt.

Amen! And it is a "hardening" that happens which means it is a gradual process. You don't go from exalting in joy in fellowship with your Creator and Savior one day and slip into unbelief the next. The life of faith is an ongoing one that is fed and nurtured just as any other relationship is. A husband and wife, who tend to their marriage through love and self-sacrifice will rarely, if ever, wake up the next day and want out - and that's human to human. We have a Heavenly Father who is always there, always faithful, always loving and always forgiving and, though we may not physically see His face, we see His grace and touch all around our lives. The walk of life, the race we run, is one of endurance through the good and the bad times assisted by God's grace through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us bearing witness with our spirit that we ARE the children of God.

Everyone goes through periods of self doubt - I would question the sincerity of someone's faith who say he hasn't ever weathered them. It is part of being finite, mortal human beings. But, a well-tended garden is one that grows more lush and beautiful as time goes by and being well-tended means that there has to be pruning, as well. Just as gold becomes more pure the more it is tempered with fire:

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:6-9)

26 posted on 08/23/2012 8:52:28 PM PDT by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.)
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To: boatbums

Marriage is a good analogy.

Backsliding reveals itself in an attitude of self-reliance or independence from the Lord. Isaiah 30:1 says, “’Woe to the rebellious children’ says the LORD, who take counsel, but not of (from) Me, and who devise plans, but not of (from) My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.’”

In application: when we fail to resist temptation, when we become bold in doubtful areas, when we approve of things that formerly grieved us: — then we are backsliding! When Christian service becomes a burden, when we show no concern for the lost, when our prayer life and worship becomes a duty: — then we are backsliding! - http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/BACKSLIDING.html

Which i would add. When we do not walk in the fear of the Lord all the day long as we once did, in conscious dependance on Him and out of a desire to glorify God, in heartfelt appreciation for His mercy and grace, but taking such for granted, and chaffing at the yoke.

And when something created is out chief source of security and object of affection, then that is our god, at least at that time. Ouch.


27 posted on 08/24/2012 5:20:23 AM PDT by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a damned+destitute actual sinner, + trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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