It always amuses me how atheists love to say “I’m no longer a Christian” or “I’m an ex-Christian.” It’s like they get a rush thinking they’ve “come out of the closet” of unbelief. I’ve seen so many posts on forums and blogs about this, and it always pains me to know another soul is potentially lost. In fact, I’ve recently been discussing this very issue on a forum.
I’ve even heard that there are entire “churches” made up of deconverted people.
And while I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, I’ll do it anyway: If you left Christianity, you were never a Christian in the first place. You were always an unbeliever at best, or a devilish Judas Iscariot at worst. I know some will violently disagree with that statement, but it’s true.
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
1 John 2:19
And remember what Jesus had to say about Judas, who was never really one of them:
Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”
You Must Be Born Again
The Bible plainly teaches that when you truly trust God, you become born again. You are now born of the spirit, not of the flesh. When Jesus told Nicodemus about this, it puzzled him. “How can a man be born again?” he asked. It seemed so silly to Nicodemus. But Jesus, the master teacher, explained the mystery to him.
True Christianity, by Biblical definition, is placing your total faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Let me repeat that for some who have the crazy idea that they used to be a Christian.
True Christianity, by Biblical definition, is placing your total faith and trust in Jesus Christ. If you can ever walk away from Him, you never totally trusted Him in the first place. If you ever deconverted, you never were truly converted in the first place.
Or let me phrase it another way: A true Christian is a person who becomes a Christian for eternity. Did you deconvert? Then by definition you never were one.
Once you go Christ, you never go back. Period. Impossible. Ain’t gonna happen.
You can take the man out of the church, but you can’t take the church out of the man.
But I Used to Be a Christian, Really!
I think the reason so many atheists say this is because this world defines Christianity differently.
That is why I almost never believe in any so-called “Christian studies.” Anytime I hear a study that says, “50% of Christians _______,” I immediately tune-out. Who is a Christian? How did the person performing the study know if a person was truly saved? They can’t, so any study involving Christianity is futile. Even if the person professes to be a Christian (like so many do), it doesn’t mean they are actually a Christian.
What is most amusing is that 99% of the time, when you come across a blog or forum where someone says they are no longer a Christian, they always follow that with the classic “sales pitch” showing you just how Christian they used to be. Things such as…
- I attended church weekly, I was even a deacon/pastor/elder!!
- I sang in the choir
- I tithed 10% of my income
- I read the Bible every day
- I witnessed to people and even helped convert people
- I was a missionary for 10 years
- I believed in Jesus and prayed 10 times a day
- I blogged about God, wrote a book, or even wrote music for Him
- I fainted from experiences and cried tears of joy
There is only one problem with all of the above: None of those things can ever make you a Christian, any more than being in a garage makes you a car. And let’s not forget that Judas himself could have boasted, “But I prayed, ate, and lived with Christ. He trusted me with the finances!”
But for some reason, people want to relate Christianity to being some form of a club. As long as you “go through the motions,” you’re a Christian (or so they think). It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. It is total trust and dependency on Christ–nothing more, nothing less. Judas went through the motions, but he never truly trusted Christ. Judas died an unsaved man.
Even Dan Barker, the prominent atheist (who is such a “nice and tolerant guy” that he spends his time and his energies trying to take down anything to do with Christ on government property)–loves to say in debates, “Oh, I used to be a Christian. In fact, if I wasn’t a Christian, then no one is a Christian.” Nice try, Dan. I’m not buying it.
I’ve known some Christians, and they looked a lot different than Dan Barker. They were willing to die for their faith, and many in the Bible alone died horrific deaths on account of Christ. They never left the side of Jesus, because it is literally impossible to do so if you are truly saved.
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).
Oh sure, a Christian may lapse into sin, or even lose the joy of their salvation for a season. But if you are truly saved, then the Holy Spirit has invaded your life, and He will convict you of sin and lead you to repentence. You cannot be removed from the tight grip of Jesus Christ, and the Bible teaches that the Father has placed you in His hand. When a true Christian acts up, Jesus just tightens His grip on them.
Why Do Most Stop Being a Christian?
Again, by very definition, you can never STOP being a Christian. Think about it: How can you be unborn once you are born again? How could you ever stop trusting something you totally trust? If you do, you never really trusted it. Nevertheless, they still have their deconversion stories (everything from a bad experience, to “evidence”, or whatever).
Yes, the sad ending of the story is pretty typical. Most atheists will finish their “sales pitch” of “I used to be a Christian” with…”But then I read Richard Dawkins”, or “attended university,” or “I found out my pastor was just a hypocrite” or whatever.
Errrt. Stop right there: If a simple argument from a book or a class at university (with some puffed up professor, no doubt) deconverted you from Christ, do you call that total trust in Him? If you left the faith because your pastor sinned or was a fake, does that mean you had faith in your pastor or in Jesus Christ?
You never believed on Jesus in the first place! If you are even remotely open to the possibility of Christianity not being true (which is a prerequisite of leaving the faith), then you DID NOT have total trusting commitment to Christ.
Oh sure, many non-Christians believe in Jesus, and no doubt many who enter the gates of hell will believe the man Jesus lived and died on a cross. Some may even acknowledge the possibility that he rose from the dead. Again, Satan knows all of this to be true, and yet the smoke of his torment will go up “forever and ever.” Even the demons believe in Jesus—and shudder!
But the Bible says to believe ON Jesus. The Greek word literally means to trust, to commit, to recline with your full weight on him. It’s a total surrender. Not mere intellecutal belief, but total trust.
I’m committed to my wife, and there is not one shred of possibility that I can ever leave her, or be with another woman. It’s “till death do we part.” I’m also committed to Jesus, for better or worse, rich or poor, jail cell or mansion.
If I lost it all—my health, wealth, and family (much like poor Job), then I would be devastated. I would be wounded beyond measure. I’d be depressed for a time. I may cry out to God “Why, Lord?” But never ever will I leave Him.
I can’t do it. I have been CHANGED. Eternally and gloriously changed by His grace and mercy and love.
I can say that, with all of the uncertainty and indecision I have in my life, I am 100% CERTAIN I will die a Christian.
How Do Non-Christians Respond?
Of course, non-believers who claim to have been a Christian will not respond favorably to you pointing this out. Some will argue that “No seriously, I really was a Christian.” No, you weren’t. Not according to the Bible definition, which again, is that if you were “of them” you stay “with them.”
They like to throw up the “no true Scotsman fallacy.” Anytime you point something out to a skeptic and they can’t answer, expect them to name some flimsy fallacy by name (which in most cases is erroneously applied to the argument anyway). My response to that is:
1. The Bible itself, as I’ve pointed out above, defines Christianity in this way. It is a total and eternal change. You go from life to death, from flesh to spirit, from unbelief to total trust and faith. Once you are one of them, you stay with them. It’s a fact. If you leave it, you were never one of them. It isn’t a “no true Scotsman fallacy” if the requirements set forth by the actual documents aren’t met by the person. Sorry.
I can claim I am a president of the United States, but unless I meet the actual requirements, I am just under a delusion. Likewise, you can call yourself a Christian, but if you don’t meet the guidelines, forget it.
2. The “no true Scotsman fallacy” was, coincidentally, a term coined by a vicious atheist named Anthony Flew. The irony here is that Flew himself renounced his atheism before he died, and said there must be a God to explain the complexity of life. So using Flew’s own arguments doesn’t exactly help an atheist’s position. And unlike Christianity, atheism has no official tenets regarding conversion. There is no eternal change. You simply “don’t believe in gods.” So you can deconvert from the atheistic religion to Christ. I know I did.
But never can a true Christian deconvert from the Lord.
How To Find Jesus
If you think you’ve “left the faith,” I’d like to alert you to the fact that you aren’t convincing anyone here, and I certainly hope you aren’t convincing yourself. You never were of the faith. Not according to the scriptures.
You went through some formal motions, may have been baptized, maybe sang in the choir, prayed diligently, had an emotional experience, or whatever. But you never really totally trusted Christ. You never surrendered your life to Him. The first time you were tempted or tested, you fled the faith.
I’d like to tell you that He will change your life if you let Him. There is no other way to eternal life than through the way of the cross.
God will always forgive you of your sin if you humble yourself before Him and repent.
To repent means to change your mind. You change your mind about sin, about God, and about you. You turn from reliance on sin to total trust in the saving blood of Jesus Christ.
Will you do that today? Will you give your life to Christ? I pray that you will.