Tuesday, February 6, 2018

De-conversion

.... De-conversion stories are designed not to reach non-Christians but to reach Christians. And their purpose is to convince them that their crusty, backwards, outdated, naïve beliefs are no longer worthy of their assent. Whether done privately or publicly, this is when a person simply gives their testimony of how they once thought like you did and have now seen the light. ....

Modern examples of those in the de-conversion business are well known: Bart Ehrman, Rob Bell, Peter Enns, and (as we shall discuss below) Jen Hatmaker.

Of course, each of their stories are different. Ehrman moved from fundamentalism all the way to agnosticism, with no desire to retain the label “Christian.” In contrast, those like Bell would still consider themselves “Christian” in some fashion, maybe even an evangelical of sorts.

But what all these folks do share is the same background. They were all once what we might call traditional, evangelical Christians and have now come to see the error of their ways. Whatever they embrace, it is no longer that version of Christianity. ....

...I was particularly reminded of the power and impact of de-conversion stories when I listened to last week’s podcast of Jen Hatmaker being interviewed by Peter Enns....

And the title of her interview fits this de-conversion theme perfectly: “Changing Your Mind about the Bible: A Survivor’s Guide.” As many know, the main issue Hatmaker changed her mind about is that she now fully affirms the LGBQT lifestyle as consistent with biblical Christianity.

But, Hatmaker’s journey in this interview is not as original as it might first appear. In effect, she simply follows the same basic playbook used by Rob Bell, Bart Ehrman and others. The details may be different, but the overall point is the same.
Kruger describes the steps the "de-converted" seem to go through, using the Hatmaker interview, and responding to her comments. The steps:
  • Step #1: Recount the Negatives of Your Fundamentalist Past
  • Step #2: Position Yourself as the Offended Party Who Bravely Fought the Establishment.
  • Step #3: Portray Your Opponents as Overly Dogmatic While You Are Just a Seeker
  • Step #4: Insist Your New Theology is Driven by the Bible and Not a Rejection of It
  • Step #5: Attack the Character of Your Old Group and Uplift the Character of Your New Group
He Concludes:
In the end, there’s no doubt Hatmaker’s de-conversion story will be persuasive to our postmodern world. And I am sure some will adopt her newfound theology as a result.

But, upon closer examination, it is rife with problems. While claiming to be non-judgmental, she declares the fruit of those who believe in traditional marriage as “rotten.” Despite her insistence that the Bible should be read without certainty, she offers all sorts of dogmatic claims about what the Bible teaches. While claiming her views are due to a deep study of Scripture, she offers only simplistic (and even irresponsible) explanations for the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality, while disregarding 2000 years of church history.

Yes, we should not settle for pat answers. But, sometimes the Bible does give clear answers. And when it does, we should be willing to listen and receive them.