Closeted atheists pastoring Christian churches

ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer aired a segment last night about two pastors over Southern Baptist churches who have lost their faith.  The segment was reported by Dan Harris and the two pastors remained anonymous with their voices altered and faces in the dark.

The first pastor who was interviewed claimed that he lost his faith in God after reading the Bible.  He said that the Bible had stories which he just found to be unbelievable and the Bible left him with too many questions unanswered.  The fact that he was now an atheist is something he has hidden from his family, his friends, and his congregation.

The second pastor said that he lost his faith after reading books by well-known atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.  His original plan for reading the books was to look at their arguments in favor of atheism so he could tear them down.  But reading the books ended up converting him to atheist views.  He too has hidden his atheism from everyone around him.

Both men said they only preach to their congregations the parts of the Bible they agree with.  They also mentioned they are holding on to their positions until the economy improves and they lack the skills to do other types of work since they only attended seminary.

I have to admit I was disgusted with several things in this segment.  Firstly, I would have felt better if a Christian news program had reported the story since the secular media loves taking potshots at Christianity.  I don’t think it was just coincidence that the pastors interviewed were Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

Secondly, I was disgusted at how selfish these men were.  So selfish that they didn’t want to reveal their identities so they could continue deceiving the people who give their hard earned money to help pay these pastors’ salaries because they believe these pastors are looking out for their best interests.  They are also so selfish that they weren’t actively trying to find a different place to work.  It also seemed that they were full of self-pity as if they were the real victims.

Thirdly, I was disgusted that these men just went with their “feelings” instead of doing more thorough research to try to resolve their doubts.  For instance, the first pastor said he couldn’t see how the story of Noah’s ark could be true.  But if he had done his due diligence, a simple Google search could have led him to websites with rational explanations about how believable a worldwide flood is and how the ark Noah built could withstand the harshest conditions and that its proportions as mentioned in the Bible are the basis for all modern day ocean vessels. 

There are also television programs on the NRB network that address many of the skeptical arguments brought up by atheists and evolutionists about the Bible.  The bulk of this Christian apologetic programming is on from Monday to Wednesday of every week.  But I guess these men were too busy nurturing their feelings, having their own pity parties, and were too lazy to get off their duffs to surf the web,  go to their local Christian bookstore, or hike it to the local public library to do some serious research.

But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by all of this.  We are warned time and time again about the great falling away in the Bible.  Paul even gathered up the church elders at Ephesus in Acts 20 and wept over the fact that “after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”  When I was in college in the late 80’s to early 90’s, I became friends with a minister who was attending seminary in Chicago who told me with great disappointment that many of his classmates in seminary didn’t believe in Jesus or the Bible and they thought pastoring a church was just like any another vocation.

The admission of these pastors also illustrates why there is so much division in churches and denominations sparked by church leaders and congregants who don’t want to recognize what the Bible calls sin as really being a sin.  All of this serves as a stark reminder that a Christian’s complete faith and trust should be only in the Lord, because sooner or later humans will let you down. 

Those of us who have pastors that go the extra mile and genuinely show God’s love and display the fruits of the Spirit with genuineness should thank God for them and make sure we show them the love and encouragement they deserve.

For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD… [Jeremiah 10:21]

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves … Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. …Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  [2 Timothy 3:1, 2, 5, 7]

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. [1 Timothy 5:17]

–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–

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