Falling Away from False Faith
As a famous contemporary Christian artist, a cultist rejects Christianity in favor of atheism...
This is a transcript from Lord’s Army Radio Dispatch 47. You can hear the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts or here:
Thank you for listening. Today we’re going to examine and interact with a very popular and very sad video on YouTube. It’s a BuzzFeed video with nearly 2 million views entitled “How I Lost Faith in the Mega Church.”
Now, it’s interesting to me that BuzzFeed would even do a video like this. At the time of this writing, the most recent video from them is a group of clowns playing “Have I ever.” Just a few videos ago was a video comparing who has the greatest french-fries between the US and Canada. It’s a YouTube station that appeals to Generation Z.
For those of you who don’t know, Generation Z is probably the group you think of when you think of millennials. In truth though, millennials are now over thirty. They’re homeowners, small business owners and well into a young family.
Twenty-somethings are actually Generation Z. This is the generation that doesn’t remember a time without a cell phone. In fact, they barely remember a time without smart phones. This is a generation that is hyper realistic and fairly positive, compared to millennials. They share everything on social media, and have been doing that forever.
And so it’s into this space, amid the celebrity gossip videos and eating contests that we find the video of discussion today.
The title itself is interestingly framed. Again, it’s titled “How I Lost Faith in the Mega Church.” Now, the journalist in me cringes at a headline like this. First of all, it’s ambiguous. Is the headline saying that she lost faith in the mega church, as in this woman no longer believes in mega churches? Or, perhaps it’s saying that it was in a mega church that this woman lost her overall faith. That ambivalence in language, however, is intentional.
The look of the video is also rather plain compared to most of the BuzzFeed videos. It’s a simple tripod shot of a young blonde woman in her early thirties, sitting in a very softly lit living space. There’s a dollhouse just to the woman’s left, and a large yard in view in the window behind her.
The video starts out like this.
If You Have Doubts
Wait, what?! Tribes? A dangerous person for having doubts? Surely this woman is not talking about Christianity. Indeed, she’s not although she thinks she is, and the reality is that the majority of the viewers of this video believe she’s talking about Christianity too.
That’s really the main point I’d like to leave you with today. Almost always when a person tells their testimonial of how they left the faith, it becomes clear that whatever faith he or she is walking away from is not Christianity. Let’s continue.
Intro, Crazy People
Notice that she refers to herself and her spouse as “two young kids.” Remember, she’s a solid decade or two older than the majority of the viewers of this channel. The subtle implication is that if someone is still holding on to their faith, then that person is simply less mature than she is now.
And what about that church service she’s describing? People are “running around and acting crazy”. She may have loved it, but I’m immediately worry about a church with a worship service that could be described in this way. After all, 1 Corinthians 14:40 says that “All things should be done decently and in order”… I’m not sure this church meets that criterion.
Transactional View of God
Did you catch the foreboding phrase? The phrase that is absolute linchpin of this whole interview, actually it’s the linchpin for this woman’s whole spiritual life. She said that she and her fiancée avoided sin because they had a “transactional view of God.”
You see, a transactional view of God is incompatible with actual orthodox Christianity. Imagine putting a filet mignon in front of a rabbit. The rabbit is not likely to be intrigued by the thing. Why? Is the rabbit showing constraint? Is the rabbit concerned about his or her blood pressure and so it’s avoiding red meat? No, the rabbit is uninterested in the filet mignon because that’s not what rabbits eat.
This is how it is with Christians. A Christian is a new creation, with a new heart. Once we are born-again in Jesus Christ we are given a new heart, one that desires to please God. Jesus has paid the fine for us, and so we do not avoid things like cursing and fornication because we are trying to get on God’s good side. Instead, we avoid sin because we have no desire for it. Our greatest desire is to do the will of God, and that’s how we can know for a fact that we are saved.
The transactional view of God, however, is standard works righteousness. It says that we should avoid this laundry list of things, and by doing that we can call ourselves Christians. But the reality is that this kind of system is unsustainable. As the Bible makes clear, we all sin. And so, inevitably, if someone is trying to please God through their own actions rather than the righteousness of Christ, then they will fall away.
Not How Life Is
Just like we saw in the last radio dispatch, the framing of this narrative is key. This small town American goes oversees and gains perspective. Her new, more global and well informed opinion is that Christianity is just not possible given the new perspective she’s gained. I have no doubt that it’s unconsciously done, but this is an old-school sales tactic called feel, felt, found. It goes like this “I totally understand how you feel, I felt the same way, but then I found…”
This sales tool may be an old one, but it’s effective. As in, “I understand how you feel as a Christian, and I felt the same way, but then I went overseas and found out that evil happens in the world.” Of course, for orthodox Christianity, evil in the world is exactly what we should expect to find.
She then begins to experience personal trials.
Here, she lays out fully her false theology. If she is good enough, then she will receive blessing. Then she says, “That’s not how life works.” To that, I say amen. She’s exactly right. That’s absolutely not how life works. It’s also not how Christianity works.
Karma says the world works that way. New Age Spirituality says the world works that way, but Christianity says that we live in a fallen world. Moreover, we ourselves are fallen. So not only do we have horrible things happening in the world around us, but also we can never be “good enough” ourselves. That’s why the Cross is our only hope.
We, as humans, either stand before God and say “I’m good enough” or we will say “I’m not good enough, I am unworthy- so wash me in the blood of Christ that my sins may be imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to me.” If you think you’re good enough, or even could be good enough, then you’re missing the whole point of the Cross and the whole point of the Christian faith.
So, here we have a woman who does not believe in Christianity, but rather she believes in a false religion based on works righteousness. She believes a faith similar to Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism- faiths that are built upon our actions rather than the actions of God. And she’s finding out that “life doesn’t work that way.”
Freedom in Atheism
Here’s another narrative. This young exciting couple begins a brand new journey of faith, or lack thereof. They head off on adventure discovering what it is like to be free from that old time religion. It’s all happy and joyous and exciting, and they finally get their child, and the only thing even somewhat holding her back is her desire to get her husband to believe a certain thing. She just hasn’t quite let go of religion enough yet.
Pain and Trials
This is the part of the interview that I feel genuinely sorry for this woman. Ultimately she was failed by her church. She was attending a church that told her they were Christians. They taught her a works based religion that is actually opposed to Christianity, and then as she began to reject this false faith they pushed her out. This happens every single day.
Then, of course, there’s her personal struggle with a child with health problems. She’s been taught that these things won’t happen, and so when they do… it’s the final straw in severing her ties with her church.
No More Us vs. Them
The idea that there is no “us vs. them” outside of religion, I can tell you, is completely untrue. I was an atheist, one who actively engaged in public debates against Christianity. Unfortunately humans always look for people who disagree with them, and look down on them.
Because we are Christians, however, we must never do that. We cannot listen to an interview like this and think ill of this woman. The simple reality is that the religion she ultimately came to reject is one that is worthy of rejecting. The Christianity she was taught is a false one, one that should be abandoned. She came to the right conclusion about her religion- it’s a bunch of nonsensical hogwash that ultimately leads to disappointment.
What she needs is someone to preach the Gospel to her, perhaps for the very first time. She needs to hear about what Jesus has done for her and what the implications of that are. This should always be our attitude towards the lost.
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Here's the full original video discussed in this episode: