“You were never a real Christian!”
That’s been the constant mantra in my life since 2001. Well, to be more precise, it’s never been my mantra; it is the mantra I hear from the mouths of innumerable zealots who feel duty bound to harangue me about my apostasy.
If I had ever been a “true Christian,” I was told for the thousandth time in a recent argument over the phone with a relative, "it would have been impossible for me to have every left the fold."
Conveniently, for the Christian, there is Biblical support for the “no true apostates” position. The writer of I John emphatically declares,
“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.” – Chap. 2 v. 19.
In other words, anyone who leaves the church was never a real born again, blood bought believer.
Of course the writer of Hebrews didn’t see it that way. That writer states quite clearly that “Those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit…” (Chap 6, v 4) can most certainly later on decide that Christianity is not for them.
"If I had ever been a true Christian, it would have been impossible for me to have every left the fold." Obviously there has been considerable disagreement among Christians over how to deal with apostates, clear back to very the genesis of the Jesus cult.
My purpose here isn’t to discuss which is the best Biblical interpretation, however. My purpose here is to illustrate the gross contradictions Christians embrace when it comes to dealing with the existence of ex-Christians.
Many Evangelical Christians insist that God holds freewill in the highest esteem. Evangelical meetings are all about enticing people to “Make a decision for Christ.” Christians constantly insist that it is the unbeliever’s God-given right either accept or reject the gospel message. The offer is made, but it is up to the individual to turn toward or away from Jesus. These zealots insist that God Himself won’t override a person’s freewill when it comes to letting Jesus come into that person's life.
Once HE has set up shop, though, apparently freewill is over.
Think about it! If no “True Christian™” can ever turn away from Christianity, then what happens to freewill? Do Evangelicals mean to suggest that only the godless possess freewill and believers are stripped of that nicety?
If believers retain full possession of freewill, then believers most certainly have the capacity to change their minds about… well, anything. Right?
Wrong! Believers who state there are no ex-Christians are claiming to be bereft of the ability to leave Jesus. Their wills are held captive and “No one can snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:28.
Once HE has set up shop, apparently freewill is over. Freewill is a right so precious that supposedly even God refuses to violate that right when it comes to deciding to become a Christian, but once a person bends and bows, the right to reject His son is forever denied? In fact, the believer is not only denied the right to change his or her mind, the potential to even consider changing his or her mind is permanently removed?
“For if they had belonged to us, they would have REMAINED with us.”
Clearly, freewill believing Christians have no comprehension of what freewill really means. How could they? Once they were free, but now they are in bondage.
And how was their freewill removed? Why how else? Magic!
The magical power of the Holy Ghost, that same spirit who inseminated a virgin with a male-god version of Himself, is now invading the bodies of believers. While residing there, He so rearranges their genome that deciding to leave Christianity is no longer a possibility!
Yeah. Sure. Whatever.
Here’s a thought. Perhaps the reason the writer of John wrote his scathing denunciation of apostates is because there were so many people leaving his little cult that it was creating consternation among the remaining faithful. The loss of numbers is not something any cult leader wants to see. In just a few words the writer of I John not only marginalizes those deceptive apostates, calling them antichrists, but he bolsters the pride and confidence of those who remain as the “True” and “Faithful” and “Elect of God.” This John guy could have had a nice career in corporate public relations.
Well, if a person is able to make a decision for Christ based on currently available information, then that same person can come to a different decision when more information is acquired. There is no question that people can believe things with heart, mind and soul, devote a lifetime to a cause or two, and then one day figure out that some beliefs were based on erroneous and false information. It happens all the time. It is no different for Christians.
Believing in things that don’t exist or aren’t true are part of being human. Religious belief in all sorts of nonsense is part of being human. The reasonable human is willing and able to admit the possibility of being deceived, mistaken, or just plain stupid. The rational human can decide to be a Christian, decide to remain a Christian, or decide to cease being a Christian. The true human never loses freewill.
If we accept the “no ex-Christian” rhetoric as fact, then the only decisions a true Christian can ever make once having said the “sinner’s prayer” are those you’d expect of a mindless automaton.
What do you think?