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Janie B. Cheaney - Quitting Christianity


WORLD Radio - Janie B. Cheaney - Quitting Christianity

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NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

You’ve no doubt heard about de-conversion—Christians renouncing their faith—their videos are all over the internet.

EICHER: Yes, they are. Very simple search turned up result after result on YouTube. Here’s a quick sample.

AUDIO: Where did I come from? How I was raised as a Christian, sort of how that developed? And then how eventually, you know, it just stopped working for me. I don't believe it.

How is it possible that someone who built her entire life and identity around her faith, just walk away from it all? Never could I have imagined back then, that someday I would ever reach a point where I would no longer consider myself to be a follower of Jesus.

I think the biggest change that has happened to me is that I've lost my appetite for certainty. I think Christianity, my struggle with Christianity, for me, a big part of it was I had to keep aligning my thoughts and being certain and kind of re-driving my faith in why this was reasonable, and being sure about this and knowing exactly what was going to happen when I die and all this stuff.

But when I was like, I don't think I can be certain about these things. I lost my appetite to be certain.

Other people have made it a point not to deconstruct their faith, but to scorn the “church.”

But even that really misses the crucial point as WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney will explain.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Anne Rice passed away on December 11 at age 80. This wildly popular author of paranormal and erotic fiction fell in love with Jesus in 1998 and publicly dedicated her craft to him. It seemed an improbable conversion, but most of her life was spiritual pilgrimage. Returning to the church of her childhood wasn’t the final step, however.

On a 2010 Facebook post, she announced, "Today I quit being a Christian. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.”

Shortly after Anne Rice’s death, an author I know posted that she, too, now scorned the name “Christian.” Instead, she wrote, “I call myself a woman of faith.”

In the final chapter of Acts, while under house arrest in Rome, the apostle Paul reached out to the local synagogue leaders, who were eager to respond. They had heard the news about Jesus of Nazareth and his followers, but, quote, “we desire to hear from you, Paul, what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

But wait—back in the early days, in Acts 2, the followers of Jesus were “finding favor with all the people.” What happened?

These synagogue rulers had likely received an earful from the Judaizers, Jewish believers who insisted on keeping Mosaic law. But another reason for Christianity’s bad press was probably Christians.

We idealize the early church, with reason, but the biblical record is far from spotless. Some Christians were hypocrites, like Ananias and Saphira. Some were libertines, like the gluttonous Corinthians. Others were legalists, like the Judaizers. Some preached Christ out of selfish ambition, and some made shipwreck of their faith.

And the rest, in spite of their failures, took the gospel into all the world and changed it forever.

Scorning the church for her checkered past and conflicted present harms the soul in two ways: it makes flawed mortals the arbiters of holiness, and it deprives them of sanctification through love for the unlovely. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul contends for the church as E Pluribus Unum, building to his great prayer in chapter 3: “. . . that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth—to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”

We can’t comprehend the love of Christ individually. There may be a time to leave the local congregation, but never a time to leave the church. I’ve compared her to an ugly bride, stumbling down the aisle toward glorification. That’s me, and that’s you.

Who beautifies her? In his honor, we glory in the name “Christian.”

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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