Brother Jerry DeWitt has a problem. Since he first felt called to the ministry — a call that came in his teens — he’s been trying to bring about a revival: a gathering of souls that he would lead to Christ. He’s been moving from church to church, building his ministry and trying to get his doctrine right. Nothing seems to fit, and as time passes, it becomes clear to him that the disconnect is less about his failure to find the Word, and more a failure of the Word itself, which contains a myriad of positions that Jerry can’t accept, and contradictions that he ultimately comes to see as lies.
This is the central arc of Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism (Da Capo Press, 2013). DeWitt starts by taking us back to his roots in DeRidder, Louisiana, to a church culture where religion fundamentally reorders one’s priorities, that sees spirituality as its wellspring, and accepts God as the only possible source of hope. These are people who welcome (Christian) preaching in the public schools and call their minister right after dialing 9-1-1. The first two-thirds of the book catalogue DeWitt’s struggles to balance creating a life for his family with finding his way as a young, Pentecostal preacher. The last third tells the story of his ultimate disillusionment with Christianity, his coming out as an atheist, and the fallout, as his professional and personal life disintegrate and he becomes a pariah.
[Click headline for more…] [Read more…]