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Atheists in the Pulpit by ALBERT MOHLER/8/29/2012, (why do we not see these people if they are on our pulpits?)
“It is hard to think of any other profession which it is so near to impossible to leave.” That is the judgment of Richard Dawkins, perhaps the world’s most famous living atheist, as he welcomes unbelieving pastors to join the Clergy Project, a group designed to help unbelieving pastors make their way out of the ministry.
He explains that the Clergy Project “exists to provide a safe haven, a forum where clergy who have lost their faith can meet each other, exchange views, swap problems, counsel each other. More precisely, they want to use the existence of unbelieving pastors to embarrass the church and weaken theism.
This past Sunday, The New York Times Magazine told the story of Jerry DeWitt, once a pastor in DeRidder, Louisiana and later the first “graduate” of the Clergy Project. He is now the executive director of a group known as Recovering from Religion, based in Kansas. DeWitt told the magazine of his struggle as an unbelieving pastor. “I remember thinking,” he said, “Who on this planet has any idea what I am going through?”
The magazine also told of Teresa MacBain, once a Methodist preacher in Tallahassee, Florida and now another trophy of the Clergy Project. MacBain first told just about everyone but her church of her atheism.
“I am currently an active pastor and I’m also an atheist,” she said. “I live a double life. I feel pretty good on Monday, but by Thursday — when Sunday’s right around the corner — I start having stomachaches, headaches, just knowing that I got to stand up and say things that I no longer believe in and portray myself in a way that’s totally false.”
Of course, she didn’t have to say such things at all. She could have resigned and spared herself and her church the hypocrisy. MacBain told NPR of her experience with mounting doubts, and then of her “eureka moment” when she realized, “I’m an atheist. … I don’t believe.”
On March 26, 2012, she stood before the American Atheists convention in Bethesda, Maryland and told the 1,500 attendees, “My name is Teresa. I’m a pastor currently serving a Methodist church — at least up to this point — and I am an atheist.” As NPR reported, the crowd hooted and clapped for more than a minute. MacBain presents herself as unnerved by the fact that her church fired her and did not appreciate her declaration of atheism behind their backs at a convention hundreds of miles away.
They spoke openly and in considerable detail about their unbelief, with the ministers explaining how they had abandoned any confidence in biblical Christianity.
Why didn’t they just resign? Most shockingly, some openly spoke of losing their salaries as the main concern. So much for intellectual honesty. Many liberal ministers hold to no supernatural beliefs, but they also tenaciously hold to their pulpits without admitting atheism.
The Clergy Project is a magnet for charlatans and cowards who, by their own admission, openly lie to their congregations, hide behind beliefs they do not hold, make common cause with atheists, and still retain their positions and salaries.
Ministers struggling honestly with doubts and struggles are in a different category altogether. Doubt will lead to one of two inevitable consequences. Faithful doubt leads to a deeper embrace of the truth, with doubt serving to point us into a deeper knowledge, trust, and understanding of the truth. Pernicious doubt leads to unfaithfulness, unbelief, skepticism, cynicism, and despair. Christians — ministers or otherwise — who are struggling with doubt, need to seek help from the faithful, not the faithless.
Christianity is being attacked by all sides. Maybe the true believers will not be fooled but what about the new Christians that are listening under one of these pastors? Emerging church leaders like Rob Bell have large followings. The virgin birth is being questioned as a myth. Along with the OT prophets. I see so many that profess to be believers but do not know the essentials/basics of Christianity. We have one leader in our church that constantly brings in books like the Shack and uses the Message Bible for his personal use. At this point, he has little influence that I can see, but for how long?
IMO our society is in the last days that is so well described in our Bibles. OT and NT. What can we personally do to warn anyone? I did and our last pastor ignored it. I know it must be hard for a pastor to talk to someone about their erroneous beliefs when he comes into a church with a members that was in good standing with the previous pastor and one that all of us love. I have been going to church so little lately because of health reasons that I am afraid my voice will not be heard. This new pastor seems solid in church beliefs. He is trying to build our church back after many left when we took months to find a new pastor.
What is the solution?