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Monday, June 22, 2020

A Crying Shame

And another one’s gone. At least for now. Another faith dropout who leaves most in the faith community of Christ followers shaking their heads.

Like me, they’re not dissing the soul of the doubter. It’s more the deep wondering of how the richness of an abundant life and an eternity with a loving God loses its appeal after one spends years in the trenches of faith. And when the doubter has served as a frontman for a Gospel preaching popular Christian music group, it punches the gut a bit harder.

Jon Steingard has been the lead vocalist for a Christian rock band known as Hawk Nelson. I saw them perform in my area a few years ago. They’ve had their share of popularity.

Jon “came clean” recently in saying, “After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word ‘Christian’ in front of most of the things in my life—I am now finding that I no longer believe in God.”

Adding to his public confessional, he wrote that his “belief in God truly began to unravel” when viewing various versions of Bible stories. Said Jon, “Once I found that I didn’t believe the Bible was the Perfect Word of God—it didn’t take long to realize that I was no longer sure he was there at all.”

Steingard is not a single strand in the doubter category. Adam Tucker from Southern Evangelical Seminary listed several notable faith departures in recent years, including Rhett and Link (popular YouTube comedians and former Cru staffers), Marty Sampson (Hillsong worship artist), Michael Gungor (lead singer for the Christian duo Gungor), and Joshua Harris (a man in his former life an extremely popular Christian author and pastor.)

Some have renounced Christianity outright. Others are the doubters. Add to that list several well known Christian leaders, authors, and musical artists “who are drifting, or have drifted, from biblical Christianity to a more liberal/progressive version of ‘Christianity.’”

It would be no surprise to any who know me to hear that I have a generalized disgust for the liberalization of the Christian church. I’ve interviewed many hundred faith leaders over the years. Quite a few have compelling stories of coming from “lives of quiet desperation,” as Thoreau put it, and then discovering beauty in the redemptive life of Jesus.

The public doubters do a disservice to the works of great men like Chuck Colson and Ravi Zacharias and former atheists Lee Stroebel and Josh McDowell—all of whom invested their lives to clearly show that faith is a thinking man’s (and woman’s) endeavor. There are countless others in their camp.

And let’s not forget the martyrs. I’m not talking about the kind that blow up other people because of some bizarre religious belief. I’m speaking of those who are so convinced (as were Jesus’ disciples) of the reality of their faith that they yielded up their lives at the hands of murderous haters. As many of them still do today.

How should we who hold to the faith respond to these departures? Fellow Hawk Nelson band members told People magazine that, “God is still for Jon and he still matters,” and “that truth doesn’t change just because we question it.”

And they haven’t given up on their friend. The three men who remain in the group said in a statement, “We are called to love one another unconditionally, as God loves us…Ever thankful and grateful for how God has used this band, the music and the relationships, and how he continues to do so.”

I put forth two takeaways from the faith departures. First, Jesus' early disciples followed Him at His request. Did they choose Him? In John 15:16 we read these words of Jesus, “You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last.” It is God who initiates the call to us.

Second. “saving faith” is one that endures. Hebrews 1:23 states, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

God has given us all we need to truly believe. To walk away from His great salvation is a crying shame.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

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