Previously, I wrote how Christians fall away (“Slowly to Oblivion: How Christians Fall Away from the Lord, Part 1“). In doing so, I realized I erred by focusing on one type of falling away solely: Phariseeism.
In truth, more than one way exists.
If you missed the intro explaining the idea of falling away, rather than rehash it here, please see the previous post.
Here is another pathway to falling away. Some will contend it afflicts you folks in the younger generation more so than older folks who are so susceptible to the other type of falling away.
Another way in which some Christians fall away from the Lord…
Faith is one thing, but when you repeatedly parade your doubt before your Christian friends, you show how cool you really are. After all, the sword swallower and fire-eater in the circus side show are the real attractions, aren’t they? Talk about doubt all the time. Love doubt. Write poems and hymns about the wonder of doubt. Make sure you sanctify that doubt, too, by dredging up historical references to Desert Fathers and Ancient Patricians who doubted all the time, like some type of Old Timey Doubt Machines.
Embrace appealing causes.
Get on board! You know which causes people are talking about most. Make sure you like that cause’s Facebook page. And don’t forget to buy the T-shirt. Wear it proudly so others can see how committed you are—until a hotter cause comes along.
Take the temperature of the times and adjust your beliefs accordingly.
What does the culture say? What’s society’s scuttlebutt? If you don’t already know, find out. Then open your Bible—if you still have one—and find a way to make the words in it conform to whatever the trend gurus say. Truth is flexible, right? A living document should change with the times. So be the one who changes it! Or find a pioneer or two who have already done the flexing for you and parrot everything they say. Besides, that pioneer is surely popular. You have his/her/its T-shirt and iPad app by now, don’t you?
Pick fights with the unenlightened.
Find a deeply held belief in someone else? Challenge it. Especially if it conflicts with your cause or the temperature of the times. Jesus challenged people all the time, so you’re just imitating Him. Convince yourself this makes you look more like Him. Remember, there’s a solid biblical precedent to ask questions that start with “Did God really say…?”
Talk in riddles and circles.
What is the sound of one hand clapping? That is the sort of thing Jesus would ask because He liked to unsettle people. Make statements that don’t say anything concrete. Ask questions you never plan to answer (which is a great way to allow for plausible deniability should the temperature of the times change). People will see you are spiritually deep if they can’t make sense of what you’re saying or pin you down. Clarity is so 2002.
Endorse other religions while making sure everyone knows the evils of your own.
Make sure other people know that Christianity is messed up, terribly. Apologize for being a Christian to anyone who will listen. Talk about how truth can be found in so many other religions. Read just enough about those other religions to be able to talk about them with likeminded people over a biscotti and fair trade mocha grand latté with organic soy milk.
Proudly avoid church.
Church? “Old and busted indoctrination factory” is more like it. And while you’re not attending church, make sure other people know your reasons. The reasons are always good, especially if you own a T-shirt that explains them.
Nothing says you are sanctified better than showing that you can sin as much as the next guy and not be affected by it. Nike said it best. And the founder of Lutheranism, Martin Luther King.
Read the right pseudepigrapha.
You have read the gospels of Judas, Marcion, the Four Heavenly Realms, and all the rest. Of course you have. Wisdom right there, ladies and gentlemen. John Shelby Spong says so.
Hate whatever is the new hate.
Point out that some Christians are really haters in disguise. Ensure other people know you hate that. While you’re at it, hating yourself in a meta sort of way can give you street cred (see Endorse other religions while making sure everyone knows the evils of your own).
Look at those fundamentalists. Morons. Pretty much everything bad in the world can be traced to them. But not you. You are soooooooo much smarter than they are.
Sarcasm isn’t pretty, but then neither is the kind of delusional thinking depicted above. Yet it is very common among people who once started in the Faith and then kept pushing past the limits God set.
While the above may seem like caricature, I wish it were. I’ve met folks like this, though. They seem to be the reverse of the Pharisaical type mentioned in the previous post. They have pushed so hard not to be seen as a Pharisee, they have become one, albeit of doubt rather than faith. Sadly, their nonstop questioning only leads them to faithlessness and ruin.