Religion in Society

Atheist: Am I Truly Ignorant About Christianity?

| by John W Loftus
Many believers have said I'm ignorant, not only here at DC but on other Blogs I visit, and via email. It's a common complaint against former believers who leave the fold who then argue against it. Since apostates are seen as such a big threat against Christian theism believers must try to find a way to discredit the force of our testimonies. If they can do this it makes them feel better about staying inside the fold.
After all, surely God would not allow us to walk away once he's gathered us up under his wings like a mother hen does to her chicks; surely if we just properly understood the Christian faith we wouldn't want to do so; and surely if there are good reasons to believe we couldn't turn around and subsequently reject our faith. Right? There must therefore be something wrong with us. What could that be? Perhaps we never had a personal relationship with God in the first place? Perhaps all we did is have some sort of mental assent without a heartfelt faith? Perhaps we never properly understood the Christian faith? Let me answer such nonsense...

Here are two comments left on an unnamed blog about me:

Well, from the sampling of John Loftus’ views on this blog, he does not know much about Christianity. He seems no more than an average atheist who sets up and argues against his own misguided and uninformed notions about Christianity. That will convince no one but other atheists. --MGT2

Actually he is an ex-Evangelical Protestant Christian & he took courses from William Lane Craig at one point. However based on my reading of his writings I would amend your statement to say he is limited to his former American Evangelical Protestant view of Christianity & seems to be ignorant of Christian history and other than Evangelical expressions of Christianity as well as other philosophical schools of Theism in general. --BenYachov

Now isn't it interesting to learn that the first person quoted is an evangelical while the second person is a liberal. You see, they both feel compelled to say I am ignorant about their particular faith. For if they can conclude I'm ignorant about their particular faith then I never rejected it since I was uniformed about it.

Here's what I wrote in response:

Now here's something very interesting to me. I'm ignorant, it's claimed. One says I'm ignorant about conservative Christianity while the other says I'm ignorant about liberal Christianity. What leads you to that conclusion? I studied with the best and the brightest evangelical professors, as well as several liberal Catholic professors at Marquette University. In fact I was a liberal Christian for a few years before becoming an agnostic and then later an atheist. I was a respondent at the annual Society of Biblical Literature's meeting last year to Harvard and Sheffield University professors. So here we have two people making snap judgments about me without needing any facts. Facts will confuse you, right?

Facts. Those damned stubborn things. Who needs them when you have faith? My informed opinion is that people who are so willing to make these snap judgments to buttress their faith cannot really think they have investigated their faith properly. It seems to me that if one's judgment is so easily made with me then one's judgment about his or her faith is on the same or similar par.

Just because I aim my arguments at evangelicals this means I don't understand the liberals, eh? Hmmm Okay, I guess.

You see, as an unbeliever I have changed my mind about Christianity. I think differently about it. I argue against it as a set of beliefs without any actually existing supernatural beings (God, angels, demons, spirits, and so forth). While I was a Christian I would have said I had a personal relationship with a gracious redeeming God. Now I don't think so at all. So I argue against it as the set of unfounded beliefs that it is. But because I do this Christians will say I never properly understood it.

Recently I provided a link to a Diary of a Beleaver who claims he was "a former Christian College professor and writer for Christianity Today." But because he or she argues from a new perspective as an unbeliever Christians claim this person was never a Christian professor in the first place. Why? Because he (?) argued that if Christians were consistent they would be like the obnoxious Fred Phelps who hates "fags" because God hates them.

Then along comes a conservative Christian to correct him. Lvka said, "God hates homosexuality, but loves all men equally." See how easy that appears? The distinction is between hating the sin but loving the sinner. How could a former Christian professor get this so dead wrong, right? Liberals might equally claim he doesn't know that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, per se, only fornication, rape, inhospitality, pederasty, and gratuitous sexual gratification.

How could a former Christian professor not understand these things, right? He's ignorant. He never left the right fold at all. He never properly understood the Christian faith, right?

I doubt this very much, so much that I'd be willing to bet a great deal of money on it. We'll only know for sure when he announces who he is. Christians will be surprised. That's my bet.

He's simply arguing, as I do, against his former faith. That doesn't make him ignorant of liberal types of Christianities at all. And since he's changed his mind about Christianity there are some other things he rejects that he didn't mention in arguing his case. I'll bet he simply denies that the distinction between hating the sin and loving the sinner can be reasonably maintained. If God hates sins and I'm sinning then he hates me. Why else does he threaten to send sinners to hell? If that's not hate what is it? Oh, but I know Christians say God sends people to hell out of love for them by letting them experience the consequences of their own choices. But that is simply bullshit from our perspective now. If "fags" go to hell then we could rightly conclude that God hates "fags." So Christians will continue claiming that former believers were ignorant about their faith. It soothes their consciences. But it's simply another one of their delusions.