Season: 3 Episode: 034
Why are high profiled Christian leaders renouncing God and the church? Shanda shares some foundational truths they wrestle with and the key things you need to know so you don’t follow their lead.
“You must know what you believe and why you believe it.”
“Being raised in church doesn’t ensure your salvation.”
“Does the decline of Christianity in America affect your response to current events?”
“Does what other say about Jesus effect your response to Him?”
“When you only know what you believe … that’s knowledge. When you don’t know why you believe it … there’s no understanding of that knowledge.”
“If you don’t know the elementary principles and grow in the faith, your world could be rocked when well known Christian figures in the spotlight renounce their faith.”
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Hey everyone! Today we are talking about Renouncing Jesus and why some are leaving the church. I am really excited about this episode and I want you to know I have been praying for you as you listen to this podcast.
My desire is that God takes you into deep waters with Him and you hunger for His truth. I know we’ve been tackling some hard truths lately and I got to admit … we aren’t done yet.
Last week, I talked about why God created hell, and this week I am going to share with you why some high profiled leaders in the church are renouncing Jesus.
It almost seems to be a trend lately.
The reason this episode is important is because one of the reasons given by the latest man to renounce the church is because he didn’t understand why God created hell if indeed God is good.
These kinds of questions posed by former Christians annoy me more than they do questions posed by unbelievers. Now, if you really don’t know why God created hell, go back to episode 33 and listen to that.
The reason they annoy me is because if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time and you don’t know why God created hell, why “good” people don’t go to heaven, and why God allows evil things to happen in the world, you don’t understand the basic fundamental truths of your religion.
I tell my boys this all the time .. you can’t only know what you believe. You have to know why you believe it. My first podcast episode “Find your purpose in the why not the what” explains why people can always tell you the what … they have a much more difficult time telling you why.
So, if you don’t believe in God because you can’t move past foundational truths, you never believed in Him anyway. Boom! I said it.
So, in May of this year, John Steingard, the singer of Drops in the Ocean and lead singer for Hawk Nelson renounced his faith.
He said, “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.”
This guy grew up in the church. He was a pastor’s kid. So, any misconceptions out there about being raised in church guarantees your belief in God is blown out of the water with this.
I’m going to give some reasons on why we could be the next ones to renounce our faith if we don’t learn some lessons from people like John Steingard.
How did he get to this point? I mean the man is 37 years old and he is renouncing his Fatih and leaving Christian music where he made a living.
In 2019, Joshua Harris, author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” renounced his faith in God. Harris is a former pastor of a mega church and now says he is not a Christian.
Then there’s the Hillsong worship artist Marty Sampson who has not renounced his faith but said he’s on shaky ground. This was in 2019 so I’d love to see where he is now.
He says, ”If most of humankind had a choice, would we not rid the world of the scourge of cancer? Or sickness and disease? Why doesn’t God do such a thing? Of course there is an answer to this question, but the majority of a typical Christian’s life is not spent considering these things,” he said. “Questions such as these remain in the too hard basket.”
So again, I ask: how did they get here?
What led them to their doubts and then disbelief in God? And how do we ensure we do not follow suit?
The issues we need to tackle today will no doubt lead us to a solid understanding on why they renounced their faith.
We are going to talk about:
- Why what you believe isn’t enough. You have to know why you believe it.
- There must be a growth process to our faith. We cannot remain on milk only.
- God is not afraid of your questions. And yes, there are some that do not have an answer. What does that mean for you and me and our faith?
Why is what you believe not enough? Why do you have to know why you believe it?
I was raised in church. If you’ve been listening to me long enough, you’ve heard me share that. However, as a church kid, I am much more aware that being raised in church does not in any way guarantee my salvation.
Knowing that, I stress to my own boys that they have to come to the knowledge of the truth. They cannot believe just because I do. So, I test them by asking them why questions.
Why do you believe in Jesus?
Why do you believe the Bible?
Why do you go to church?
I can tell right away if they truly understand what they believe when they give me their answers.
Let me also throw this in … if you are a parent, it is your job to train your child up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Teach them His word. Your kids are learning. The question you must ask yourselves is who is teaching them and what are they teaching them?
That’s your job as their parent because God has made you a steward over them.
You see, every one of us will have to face the question: Who is Jesus to you and why do you follow Him?
Matthew 16:13-20 tells the story of Jesus and His disciples as they were on their way to Caesarea Philippi.
And He asked them two questions:
- Who do men say that I am?
Jesus knew they heard other people’s opinions of Him. Some said he was a prophet. Some said He was a good man. Other’s said He was the Messiah.
There is always going to be an opinion about who Jesus is. Lee Strobel wrote The Case For Christ with evidence upon evidence on why Jesus is the Son of God and truly existed.
He used archaeological evidence, eyewitness evidence, other historical documents not included in the canon, and many other findings to support Jesus’ existence on earth.
Then you have die hard atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris who say there is no God and sway many others into believing the same thing.
I already shared that in a pew reach study, 17% of the American population claims atheism, no particular religion, or anything other than Christianity, and those numbers have risen drastically in the last several years.
Christianity in America is quickly declining and cultural Christianity has no impact.
The biggest question I have for you is this: does what others say about God and who Jesus is effect your response to Him?
Does the decline of Christianity in the American culture effect your response to current events?
My mom believed in God and took me to church. It didn’t matter. Because in the end, God came to me and asked the second question He asked His disciples:
2) But who do you say that I am?
This is one of the most important questions in the Bible because it is universal. Everyone is faced with this question at some point in their lives. Everyone, even the atheist. Do you know why? Because the atheist has to outright deny God and in denying Him, he rejects Him.
The Bible says everyone sees the evidence of God but some suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
(Side note: look up Rom 1:18 and you will see why the atheist has to suppress the truth that there is a God, therefore this proves he denies God outright).
But back to this question, “But who do you say that I am?”
I shared my testimony on my podcast “Meet Shanda”, but just so you know in case you haven’t listened to that episode, God met me at high school my senior year.
Out of convenience and routine, I prayed and pray and ended it with “I love you, God.” That’s where everything paused for me and I was confronted with the question, “Do you really love Him, or are you just saying that because you were taught to say it?”
I only said, “Jesus is the Son of God” because that was what I was told to say.
If someone would have asked me, “What do you believe, Shanda?” I would have said, “Well, Jesus is the Son of God, of course!”
But here’s where I would have gotten stuck: “Why do you believe He’s the Son of God?”
I knew what I should believe, but I didn’t know why I believed it.
When you only know what you believe … that’s knowledge. When you don’t know why you believe it … there’s no understanding of that knowledge.
So, how do we know what we believe and why?
Here’s the difference: Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
The reason we know Peter wasn’t repeating something he learned and he knew God for himself is because Jesus said this in response to Peter’s confession, “Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Only God can reveal Truth to us. He is the one who will confront you and me with the question, “Who do you say that I am?” If you can answer like Peter, you have your what and your why.
If you cannot, you are repeating Truth you’ve heard, but not Truth that’s been revealed.
There are countless other examples in the Bible that show us why we need to not only know what we believe but why we believe it.
2) The other thing I want to talk about is the growing process of our faith.
There is a verse in Hebrews (the author of Hebrews isn’t mentioned. Some think it could be Paul, we just don’t know). But in 5:12 it says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Verse 13: for everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Verse 14: But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
The reason why teaching was expected of them is that they had been Christians long enough to have acquired sufficient basic understanding to be able to pass it on to others.
The word “ought” in this verse means an obligation. They had an obligation to teach others but they couldn’t because they were not growing in the word themselves.
Now, that doesn’t mean you are supposed to grab your bible and preach a lesson. What it’s saying is that the older, more mature Christians are obligated to teach the less mature christians.
These church goers had a need of their own. What does Hebrews say they needed? To be taught the milk of the gospel all over again. They, like those who renounced God these past couple of years, were asking questions like “Why did a good God create hell? Isn’t that so mean?”
They should know these things already. Why didn’t they know them? Because they weren’t growing?
Someone once told me, “Well, Shanda, we’re not all called to teach people about God.”
I beg to differ. What’s the great commission about? Who was the great commission given to? Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Think of this as the ABC’s of Christianity.
If you were in the 3rd grade and still struggle with your ABC’s would your parents be OK with that? What if you were in the 11th grade still struggling with your vowel sounds?
If you still struggled with your ABC’s in the 2nd grade, let me tell you, you could not handle 2nd grade curriculum. You wouldn’t be able to read at a 2nd grade level. You wouldn’t be able to write sentences, let alone words.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the spiritual parallels the physical in our lives. If it doesn’t fly not to grow and learn in the physical, why are we so complacent and dismissive with it in the spiritual?
Hebrew 6:1 says, “Therefore, let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity; not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death and of faith in God.”
Hebrews is telling us to move past the basics of Christianity. Not ignore them. Not push them to the side. Understand them, accept them, and build on that foundation of your knowledge in Christ.
The Hebrews struggled with the crucifixion. They struggled with circumcision of the flesh verses circumcision of the heart, and they had a hard time moving past Judaism and accepting Christianity.
They kept revisiting and relaying the foundation of Christianity and never grew.
It’s no different with those who struggle with free will verses predestination. Or why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Why are we asking the same questions over and over?
Guthrie, D. (1983). Hebrews: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 15, p. 137). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
I use Logos software for my studying and it is a plethora of information and commentaries. One of my commentaries said: Ignorance leads to immaturity.
First, we must establish ourselves in the elementary doctrine of Christ and then acquire an appetite for the more solid food (5:12) of other aspects of Christian teaching.
Brown, R. (1988). The message of Hebrews: Christ above all (p. 105). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
If you want to know what some of the elementary principles of Christianity are, you can go back to episode 31 “What’s shaping your worldview” and answer those 8 questions. Let me just tell you that you should answer yes to all of them, but go check that out if you haven’t yet.
As I typed this script, my husband showed me a YouTube video by officer Tatum where Don Lemon was talking to Chris Cuomo and said Jesus wasn’t perfect.
The man can’t possibly read his bible. If he does, he doesn’t care what it says because that is not true at all.
Jesus being sinless is one of the elementary principles of Christianity. If He wasn’t, He would not have been a perfect sacrifice.
My point … if YOU don’t know that and you listen to people like Don Lemon, you will be rocked. If you don’t know the elementary principles and grow in the faith, your world could be rocked when well known Christian figures in the spotlight renounce their faith.
So, please … grow by reading your word. Study it. Seek God and have a relationship with Him. If you need resources, as I always say .. message me.
3. God is not afraid of your questions. And yes, there are some that do not have an answer. What does that mean for you and me and our faith?
Let me remind you that Genesis means “The beginning”. But it’s not God’s beginning, it is our beginning. God gave us His word and in it He gave us everything we need to know.
God is, was, and always will be. It is going to be difficult for a finite being like you and I to understand an infinite God. How can something have no beginning and no end? I don’t know, but He does because the Bible says He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is from everlasting to everlasting.
But, there are no new questions being asked.
The ones people struggle with are usually the things about God they oppose or can’t understand and so they dismiss God altogether or claim agnosticism.
We don’t know how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before they ate the fruit and were driven out. But that does not change the creation, fall and redemption story of mankind.
We don’t know how the animals in the flood dispersed, but we do have some pretty solid theories based on other bible events that give us some insight into likely possibilities.
We don’t know why God created Lucipher, knowing he would rebel.
God is not afraid of our questions, but know this: God owes us no answers.
In Job 38:1-4 it says, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.”
God goes on to question Job in the next few chapters, and His point is this … there are things that you don’t know and will never know because you are not God.
And Job was one who was good and bad things happened to him. He didn’t deserve it. He lost his home, his business and his children.
The enemy inflicted him with such severe affliction, Job longed for death. His friends didn’t recognize him. They came and gave unwise council and wondered if maybe Job sinned and this was his punishment.
For those who wonder why bad things happen to good people and cannot move passed that question in order to serve God, you don’t understand that Bible.
And after Job questioned his condition, his life, his commitment to God … God spoke and questioned him.
And this is Job’s response, “I know you can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
Let me also say that you do not have to feel bad for having doubts, but you must wrestle with them and seek wise council. Key word: wise council.
Do not adopt someone else’s explanations or beliefs. Search it out for yourself. Ask God for the understanding and if you truly long for truth, trust me when I tell you that God will reveal it to you.
If you truly seek to know God, Jeremiah says “On the day you seek Me with a whole heart, I will be found of you.” God desires a relationship with you. He could have given up on all of creation in the garden, but before the foundation of the earth was laid, Jesus decided to go to the cross to take on the wrath of God so you and I wouldn’t suffer it.
And even though some questions don’t have answers, we can trust that many, many of them are in the word of God.
The crazy thing about learning the Bible is that you will only have it revealed to you by the Holy Spirit. I can explain it to you, but I can’t give you the revelation. Only God can do that.
And that is what I pray for you. I pray God opens up the eyes of your understanding and reveals His good word to you. If there are questions about God and the Bible that you struggle with, shoot me a message and ask me. I’d love to help you find the answers.
And I may end up making it a podcast episode with a panel of experts. Until next time, read your bible, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for resources and questions and I will catch you on the next one!