Farewell, Joshua Harris

Farewell, Joshua Harris July 26, 2019

Joshua Harris, famous for writing “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” on the courtship model, announced via Instagram that he is no longer a Christian. In it, he explains his “deconstruction” of a biblical worldview and further expresses remorse for many of his previous beliefs. Inevitably, what this portrays of Joshua Harris is that he went down a road seeking to “repent of his wrongs” in advocating for what can only be construed as biblical conservatism, yet came out on the opposite side of that journey as an unbeliever.

For Joshua Harris, this journey didn’t lead to an embrace of Progressive “Christianity”–not yet at least. In the end, it looks much the same, sans the false notion one can deny the text and remain a Christian. For that, I earnestly think he is more forthright than many of his predecessors who have left the Evangelical world. His embrace of the sexual anarchy that is homosexuality, departure from men’s roles in ministry, etc., is but the cherry on top of his apostasy. Surely, if one departs wholly from “all the measurements [they] have for defining a Christian,” it is little wonder they would likewise depart from the biblical sexual ethic, or any biblical ethic.

Nevertheless, it is an incredibly sad thing to witness. Here you find a man married for twenty plus years announce his divorce amicably, as if the separation of what God joined together is as low-key as returning an unwanted grocery item to the store. Just a few days later we then find the stoic picture by a serene lake and scenic mountains, announcing his departure from the faith. Truly, it is a breathtaking view of the handiwork of our Creator and one who stands before it as if to say, “It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

I look upon it, read, and grieve for how casually he has thrown away the preciousness of the gospel. Here we have the opposite of Matt. 13:44-46, where a man experiences the blessings and benefits of living amongst the wealthy sojourners who sold all they had in order to gain riches eternal, all the while not tasting the goodness of Christ. He may have chewed upon it; his mouth may have even salivated–yet he spit it out, all the while never tasting of it. He labored, toiled even, for years–yet never for the sake of the gospel or out of a love for Christ.

This is where it gets particularly difficult for those who remain as they reconcile with the fact that the worst part about being deceived is that the deceived are never truly aware they are deceived. They acted like a Christian. They looked like a Christian. They did and said Christian things; and yet the apostle John just simply says of them, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19, NASB). Surely, they might, “…feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful,” yet they are dead, sleepers, and without any hope at all.

If you’ve never witnessed someone apostatize firsthand, this episode involving Joshua Harris is but a minor twinge of sadness. Surely, we can grieve from afar–but none will grieve as much as those close to him who will continue on in Christ. We can lament the fact that he dangles over the pit of hell by the slenderest of threads, held only by the stablest of hands in the Sovereign One. We can contemplate the significance in the difference a single breath can make, as it is but one breath to the next that holds the distinction between salvation and damnation. But we will never contemplate those truths with as much gravitas as the young man who looked up to Joshua Harris as his pastor, or the blossoming young couple he led through pre-marital counseling, or the elderly widow he took the time to speak to on Sunday mornings prior to service.

There is a vast difference between knowing of the apostate and knowing the apostate–and these are those whom should be the focus of our prayers. If you didn’t know, these are the same people who dealt with the fallout of sexual abuse amongst their midst, under the leadership of CJ Mahaney. Mahaney caught the most media attention for these scandals, but as many have come to reveal years afterward, former leadership is likewise culpable for mishandling abuse victims (and criminals). Pray for these people. They have surely endured the crucible in many ways and this simply piles on top of an already burdened people. Nonetheless, we still need to be in prayer for others under his influence, that they do not follow in his example of making a shipwreck of their faith.

We need to be reminded of the fact that men are fickle, fickle creatures. While some might be tempted to blame this on New-Calvinism, the reality is that sin wreaks havoc in every tradition, whether strictly confessional or not. This is not to say creeds and confessions are worthless barometers of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, but that they shall never prove one’s genuineness. They shall never measure the state of their heart before their Creator and reveal their love for Christ. Indeed, there have been many, are many, and will be many who hold to the most lovely and elevated concepts of God and articulate rich, historic doctrines with theological acumen, who have no love of Christ. This is a particularly frightening thing for all who love theology.

The volume of celebrity pastors, leaders, musicians, etc., departing from the faith or even falling away in incredibly devastating ways is an indication of the whole; think of how many unknown, small-town pastors are doing the exact same thing. How many men who have no genuine love for Christ are preaching each Sunday, only because they have no viable source of income that will stream in from the book deals, interviews, and so forth, when they depart from the faith? How many unknowns are doing much the same? Worship leaders, bible study leaders, community group leaders, etc. How many are serving–not the church, nor Christ, but their true father, Satan?

The difficulty with Joshua Harris Instagraming his way out of his marriage and subsequently, the faith, is that it is so apropos a metaphor for our generation. We are a trite people, who think trite thoughts, and display our triteness for the world to consume in equal measure–all the while fancying it is something of intrinsic worth when our lives are but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. For that reason, social media is the perfect representation of mankind in all its grandeur. It gives a soundbite generation the ability to showcase their cleverness, tolerance, inclusion, love, and whatever else they desire to highlight as virtuous before the eyes of men. What shall be laid bare though before the Sovereign is the heart, revealed precisely for what it is through the very Word of God, which is able to pierce to the innermost part of man and judge its thoughts and intentions.

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  • Paul Douglas

    Maybe he woke up one day and simply realized there was no actual, verifiable, replicable evidence for his god. That he had never really examined or challenged what he had been indoctrinated in by his family. It appears that he was firmly ensconced in a religious bubble for his entire life. Maybe he decided that truth was more important than his social or financial security.
    Once you’ve opened that closet door, it’s impossible for an honest man to go back in.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Well, that’s a rather convenient way of looking at it until you get to people who were former atheists raised as “religious nones” – and he will do surprisingly fine financially. There are always book deals available for disgruntled, exchristians.

      • Ficino

        I would have thought the reverse, that ex-atheists who become Christians become lionized and can often monetize their conversion or reconversion. Which ex-Christians have raked in significant dollars from becoming atheists?

        • Gilsongraybert

          Bart Ehrman is one I can think of quite easily off the top of my head. Granted, he’s taken a much more arduous role in that and further built his credentials to do so, but he had nonetheless survived his departure and has been able to write on both the popular and academic level. ExChristian musicians are generally successful in their enterprises in secular music, as the Christian music scene is easier to break into and gain traction than the broader secular scene. Prog. writers have probably the easiest time in making headway in publishing deals. The point I’m making is not that is doesn’t involve some prior level of skill – but that it quite easily happens. You are also correct in the opposite being true (I genuinely think the celebrity culture aspect of Christianity is a large issue here as well; better to be steady for a long season than given notoriety simply because of an exciting conversion story.

          • So you really don’t have any evidence supporting the claim that ex-Christians can strike it big by trash talking your religion. Okay. I hope you will be withdrawing that assertion.

          • Gilsongraybert

            Bart Campolo, John Loftus, Robert M. Price, and Burton L. Mack are all self-professed skeptics/atheists who were former, “bible-believing Christians”. The point I made is that there is obviously a market for it, not that every single person can and will do it. That’s not a scandalous assertion or a rule to prove all rules, but it is one that has obvious merit. If he desires it at some point, he can do it – he is already a skilled writer.

          • swbarnes2

            As far as I can tell, 3 of your 4 names are academic scholars. Josh Harris is not. He won’t have the draw that they do. His best chance to make a name publishing as an atheist would be to share evangelical dirt. Given his lofty connections, he very well might have lots to say in that vein.

          • That wasn’t your claim. Your claim is that there’s some kind of big incredible opportunity for ex-Christians. There isn’t. When pressed, you sure can’t find a lot of names. Exactly ONE of those people you named makes a big screaming deal about his past as a Christian (Loftus), and maybe Campolo. Considering the millions who’ve left your religion, that sure doesn’t speak to an overwhelming abundance of opportunity– Ah, never mind. You’re hooked on the idea that ex-Christians have some kind of cushy future ahead, when the opposite is the case. And I already know how very difficult it is for Christians to admit they’re wrong.

          • Gilsongraybert

            I’ve tried actually dialoguing with you and representing a claim that there’s an obvious market for it. I gave you a list of names off the top of my head – I’m sure more can be found via google, if one were so inclined. You do know there are even people on this very hosting site who do much the same, no..? Regardless of any of that, you seem to be being deliberately obtuse. I truly just don’t have the bandwidth to deal with people like that, especially when we both know you came here for no other purpose than to shove my face in virtual excrement. My time is much more precious than that.

          • Do you actually know what a “dialogue” is? This wasn’t a dialogue. It was you making a baseless accusation in trying to make your enemies look bad, me (and some others, I notice) bringing your attention to a mistake you’d made. Now you doing your level best to avoid retracting and apologizing for something you got wrong. When I make a mistake, I welcome correction, apologize, and amend my ways. I guess I was expecting you to at least manage that little.

            I wasn’t “shoving your face in virtual excrement,” Gilson. You said something that wasn’t true and I asked you for some receipts, which you categorically didn’t and still don’t have. That mischaracterization reveals quite a lot about how you operate. How’s that Great Command thingie working out for ya, or is your pride still completely getting in your way of all that boring stuff Jesus told you to do? You know, only returning love for stuff you think is hate, forgiving seventy times seven, turning the other cheek, and all that jazz? I guess your time is too precious for all that too? Why is that so hard for you?

            It’s incredibly sad to me, I mean genuinely heartbreaking in a way, to see how poorly Christians fare when pressed in even the most reasonable and civil ways. Your system has produced you–and countless others like you–who can’t even be bothered to uphold the most basic parts of their own religion. You should be thanking me, Gilson, for helping you correct an error of yours and for holding you accountable for what you say, not insulting me. We probably shan’t talk further, but please know: this did not go well for you.

          • LastManOnEarth

            Although Erhmanis an atheist (I think he prefers ‘agnostic’), I wouldn’t consider his books to be about atheism or his deconversion. His textbook and books for general audiences are pretty much mainstream NT scholarship.

        • jc

          Which atheists have raked in dollars from becoming Christians? Outside of Lee Strobel.

          • Sarah Flood

            C.S. Lewis is probably the most famous one. Kirk Cameron claims he was an atheist before converting to Evangelicalism. Ray Comfort claims he was given no religious instruction as a child and was an atheist before his conversion.

      • Book sales are something that could actually be measured, instead of speculating why don’t you do a real study and tell us which is more lucrative, being an ex-Christian atheist author or an ex-Atheist Christian author?

      • jc

        Truth. The world is hungry for stories of people who have left the faith, because it comforts them and shores up their belief that they are right and that they can continue to live life on their own terms and not worry about the consequences. The population of unbelievers is much greater than that of believers.

    • LT

      How did you conclude that “there [is] no actual, verifiable, replicable evidence” for God? (Unless be “his god” you mean some false god unique to Harris). It would be an amazing feat to examine all the evidence that is, ever was, and ever will be. How did you manage to accomplish that? Furthermore, it would be a very bold claim that you have properly understood and interpreted all the evidence. So I wonder how you did that?

      I have no idea what happened with Harris, though I have a few suspicions, but here it is your claims that are of interest to me.

      • Somehow this doesn’t sound like a sincere question. If it is, then here’s a good guide that’ll show you how people test claims and figure out what’s objectively true and what isn’t. Everything Christians claim can be tested, from prayer to miracles to the existence of an afterlife or supernatural boogeymen. They just don’t tend to conduct those tests in honest ways because nothing in the real world supports literally anything they claim. I can’t speak for Josh Harris, but that’s why I’m not Christian anymore. HTH

        • jc

          Oh, Captain, the opposite is true. No, you cannot prove the existence of God, but you can prove so much. There is way more proof of what is in the Bible than, say, evolution, but, if you actually took the time to research, did so with a pre-determined conclusion. However, I suspect that you, like so many others who say that nothing that Christians believe is true, simply took other people at their word and contrasted those lies and deceptions with God’s truth. It is easy to contradict anything, if the truth doesn’t matter.

          • heleninedinburgh

            There is way more proof of what is in the Bible than, say, evolution,

            This is incorrect.

          • So succinct! Loved it. I don’t think the Christians talking like that even halfway understand what evolution even is. There’s no way they can know what it is and still think that! Or maybe that’s just me being a sweet summer child again. I’ve been accused of boundless optimism before.

            FWIW, I think Christians cheapen their religion when they try to find PROOF YES PROOF of it being literally true. It’s like they’re missing the whole point of whatever they believe. It just becomes a big yardstick-waving contest at that point. It’s okay for a religion to be metaphorical and for believers to find great value and beauty in it, as well as instructions for life and functional relationships. I was pagan (Hellenismos) for years and perfectly happy that way. But literalism creeps me out in whatever religion it appears. It seems impossible to be a decent human being AND a literalist at the same time. That mindset just draws some awful people to itself.

          • Absolutely nothing you just asserted is objectively true.

            You can’t support any of it, which is why you didn’t even try.

            Instead, you simply lied about me and made wild assumptions about me.

            Just saying you have all this PROOF YES PROOF doesn’t fly if you never actually pony any of it up. And it is 100% your problem to pony it up, not mine to do your work for you. If you think that a god exists or whatever else, then it’s 100% on you to demonstrate that point with credible, objective support based in reality. If you cannot do that, then you can’t expect anybody to believe you.

            If you have updated research then you should provide it–unless you already gained your jollies by just pretending to be superior to me. I suggest you also send that updated research, in the wild event you possess it, to the relevant regulatory bodies of all Christian churches, because literally nobody has ever found anything credible in the religion’s entire history to support its adherents’ claims. I’m sure it’ll be big news and you’ll win a prize!

        • LT

          It was a sincere question, albeit with a point as many questions are. He claimed there was no evidence and I wanted to know how he determined that there was “no” evidence. What is his level of exploration and his standard of judgment by which he determined that there is no evidence. That seems like a really broad claim that would involve knowing absolutely every thing in the world and accurately interpreting it. What if the evidence for it is something he hasn’t considered yet because he doesn’t about it? Or what if he misinterpreted the evidence?

          The bottom line is that from a logical and argumentative standpoint, there is no way he can declare that there is no evidence. At most, he can say, “I know of no evidence that convinces me …” That is a much more reasonable claim. The claim that “There is no evidence” is a staggering one and unprovable.

          I think the evidence for the existence and involvement of God is overwhelming. It’s the only reason why you and I can have a rational and intelligible conversation. There is no explanation for anything apart from God. But even apart from that, there are many reasons to believe. I have often said that I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. There are far too many leaps of faith and rejections of the obvious to deny the existence of God.

          You talk about claims being tested. I agree for the most part. I also agree that many are not testing them in honest ways. But you are evidence of that. When you say, “nothing in the real world supports literally anything they claim,” that is a false statement. There is a lot that supports what Christians say. Declaring the opposite won’t make it so,

        • LT

          It was a sincere question, albeit with a point like most questions are. To cut to the chase, this guy would have to know everything in the world to know that there is no evidence. That would be impossible. The most he could legitimately say is that he has found or seen no convincing evidence, which then leads to a different discussion. But like so many (you included here), he makes bombastic statements with no grounding in reason.

          You talk about those who do not conduct tests honestly. Isn’t that what you did? When you say “nothing in the real world supports literally anything [Christians] claim,” that is verifiably false. There is plenty of support for Christian claims, beginning with the existence of anything and the ability you and I have to communicate rationally. Then we can add on to there a great deal.

          So my plea is to be more measured and rational with the statements we make. One might disagree, but that doesn’t mean there is no evidence or support. It might mean you have misread the evidence or missed it altogether.

          • fractal

            Who taught you this weak argument?
            I bet you read it out of some Christian apologist book.

            There is no rational way to prove the existence of Goddess; that doesn’t mean no one has experienced her—it is simply not a matter for science or logic, and trying to shove that square peg into a round hole makes you look ignorant.

            The only way to really know Goddess is thru direct experiences with Divinity, and there is no way to quantify that, much as Evangelicals would like to try.
            Doctrine and Holy Books are a losing proposition when trying to justify belief—belief is simply a deeply cherished opinion.

            Each person’s connection with Goddess is her own, and need not try to prove anything to anyone else—their “salvation” is none of your business.

          • LT

            What weak argument are you talking about? And who is “Goddess”? Did you mistakenly respond to the wrong comment because I have no idea what that is about.

            If you get a chance, please respond to my comment.

            I am not trying to prove the existence of anything nor to appeal to experiences (whether quantified or not).

          • fractal

            Do you think “God” is a man?
            Or do you think “God” is beyond gender?
            If “God” is beyond gender, then what is the problem with referring to Her in the Feminine?

            Does that make you uncomfortable?
            It is just pronouns and your own mindset which promotes that Goddess is somehow heretical.
            We are talking about Divinity here; God/Goddess, He/She—same Goddess, just a different perspective.

            Why do you think you have been brainwashed into thinking you aren’t supposed to imagine Goddess as the Divine?

          • LT

            What do you mean? God isn’t a man. He is God. “Beyond gender” has no real meaning at all. That’s not a category at all. God has revealed himself as a father. I assume he would know better than you or I.

            It doesn’t make me uncomfortable in the least. It appears to make you uncomfortable. We are talking about God and he has revealed himself to us. I have to wonder why you think you can declare that to be different. You don’t get to make that up.

            Why do you think you have been brainwashed into thinking you get to make up reality rather than accept reality as it is?

          • fractal

            “God has revealed Himself as a Father”.

            The Men who wrote the bible did that; they chose the pronouns and gender based on their own biases.

            Who taught you that pronouns are “reality”?
            OR that every word in the bible must be taken literally?

            Your first paragraph is full of inconsistencies and contradictions.

            If God revealed himself as a Father, doesn’t it follow that he does have a gender? And if God doesn’t have a gender, then why do you insist on using only one gender to refer to Her?
            Are you SURE Goddess has never revealed Herself as a Mother, and perhaps the guy who wrote it all down just couldn’t stomach the thought?

            You refuse to look deeply at this issue, and your answer is trite and superficial.
            The damage done to women by being refused inclusion into the “power icon”, is profound.
            All you are doing is prattling what you have been taught; I have heard that smug answer too many times from Christians who have been spoon-fed it since they were itty-bitty.
            In fact, it was fed to me; Thank Goddess I dumped the propaganda.

            Get over your brainwashing, and think for yourself.

          • LT

            The men who wrote the Bible were inspired by the God who cannot lie. Therefore, it is true. There’s nothing inconsistent in that at all.

            God has revealed himself as a Father..He has never revealed himself as a mother. There’s no debate about that . You refuse to look seriously at this issue. Your answers are trite and superficial. You have yet to make one serious contribution to this discussion. You appear to be a troll who has no contribution to make.

          • fractal

            Don’t make me laugh…

            How do you know that Goddess hasn’t revealed Herself as a Mother, also?
            If She had, do you think that revelation would have ended up in the Bible?

            Tell me,
            If you had a religious experience, and grace was flooding your heart with love and light—and Goddess revealed herself in her Divine Feminine form—would you be convinced?

            Or would you explain it away?

          • LT

            Yes, that revelation would have ended up in the Bible. That is where God has revealed himself propositionally and it is sufficient for that purpose.

            As to your question, what kind of religious experience would reveal something that isn’t true?

            Again, I don’t get your approach here. You seem to think you can define reality by your own standards and ideas. How so? How are you exempt from living in the real world?

          • fractal

            Do you know what a circular argument is?
            Because that is what you are making.

            How do you know that ALL spiritual truths are in the Bible?
            Are you saying that God has no intention of EVER giving another revelation?
            Are you saying the Bible is completely and utterly free of error or omissions or mis-translations?

            Are you SURE, or is this simply something someone taught you?

          • LT

            Yes I know what a circular argument is. In one sense all arguments are circular. Yours are more circular than mine are by a long ways, if your comments can even be called an argument at all. You are appealing only to yourself. Talk about a small circle.

            The Bible actually gets us outside the circle. We know all spiritual truths come from God because he said so. I believe that God will one day give more revelation and he has told us how he will do that. The Bible is completely free of errors in the original manuscripts.

            Of this I am sure as I can be. I have found nothing else that can explain the world as we know it.

            BTW, have you noticed how many things you don’t know? That is odd for someone who is so dogmatic. Usually, you would wait until you know more to be so dogmatic about stuff.

          • fractal

            “Of this I am sure as I can be”.

            I’ve got some land in Florida to sell ya…

          • LT

            Don’t need any land in Florida, Instead, give me an explanation that makes more sense. Show me how to make sense of life and the universe in a better way.

          • fractal

            Show you how?

            A good start would be not to take a compilation of stories written by bronze age goat-herders, as the literal truth.

            Step two would be to take Logic 202 at your local community college, along with Sociology 115, Zoology 260, Comparative Religion 155 and Astronomy 144.

            I would tell you step three, but you would not believe me.

          • LT

            Show me how to make sense of the world.

            Calling the Bible a “compilation of stories written by bronze age goat-herders” is an incredibly uninformed statement, but given how this conversation has gone so far, it is not unexpected.

            I think you are the one missing the logic and the like. The question is why any of those things are even possible without God. They aren’t. There is no rational explanation that doesn’t involve God.

            As for step three, my guess is that it would not be believed for a very good reason. So far, you have given us no reason to believe you. You can’t assemble a coherent argument, even a simple argument. That would be a good starting place.

          • fractal

            Who said anything about “without God”?
            You assume I am an atheist?

            “God” is just your label for the ineffable.
            I understand you think God and the bible are joined at the hip; not so.
            All this nonsense about a compilation of stories being the literal and inspired Word is silly.

            The insistence that we must Believe and Be Saved, is psychological manipulation by people who want to control tribal politics or large populations.
            It is a hallmark of the Abrahamic Triad and a few of its precursors, especially Zoroastrianism.

            There are many spiritual paths that are not based on assertion theology, threats of hellfire vs salvation of true believers, patriarchal icons, Sin and Satan, and holy books that Must Be The Whole Truth.

            My suggestion is to open your mind and stop supporting the brainwashing you received; there are more paths to Goddess than there are rays of the sun, and She desires us as much as we desire her.

            Understanding the Tao will get you farther than simply following commandments written for a different place and time.

            Experiencing the presence of Divinity moving thru your cells from the inside/out, will explain more about the universe than all your creeds.

            If your faith is completely out of step with the findings of science—it is time to re-examine your faith.

            Faith and belief is unnecessary when you have experienced being “the drowned gnat in God’s wineglass”—and have learned that ultimately, the universe is a very safe place and you don’t need to make sense of it all.

            Put your focus on being open and receptive to grace and inspiration; empty yourself of preconceived notions. Grace cannot inhabit your soul if you are full of laws and judgements and intellectual dicing and slicing of doctrine.

            It is time for a new kind of message; one from the spark of God which is the center of your soul, and brought your heart and mind to this moment.

          • LT

            >>>Faith and belief is unnecessary <<>>If your faith is completely out of step with the findings of science—it is time to re-examine your faith.<<<

            This is exactly my point. It is why I believe the God of the Bible. Science makes no sense any other way. Science doesn't even work apart from the God of the Bible. This is the challenge for you. You have been brainwashed into a position of faith that is irrational. It is, as you have demonstrated here, unintelligible. It doesn't even make sense.

            In the end, you have chosen a path of faith. The question is whether or not it can sustain the reality you live in. I don't have enough faith to believe what you have put forth here. Science and rationality mean too much to my worldview.

          • fractal

            I experience Divinity and Grace.

            I trust the Universe is a safe place.
            I have no “Beliefs” doctrine or dogma; the Sacred is too big and awesome for humans to ever understand fully—trying to just twists one into knots of pretzel logic.

            But you keep prattling on about how I have faith; a perfect example of projection and that pretzel logic. Meanwhile, you ignore every appeal I make to your heart and mind, to love and trust the Sacred Infinite, without having a strangle-hold on your dogma-book.

            Fine with me.
            Bury your head in the sand.
            I get it; once someone has committed their life to something, it takes a long time and a lot of input from many sources to admit they may have been snookered.
            I watch the FLDS on TV programs wrestle with their strange doctrine after they have left their compounds; it takes a while being exposed to a different POV to come down off their propaganda high.

            You can do the same.
            All you need is to open up and let it happen.

          • LT

            Everything you have stated here is a statement of faith. How do you not see that? You are the one with the closed mind, it seems.

            I do love and trust the “Sacred Infinite” though that is not how he describes himself. I am not sure you have the authority to give him a new name, but whatever …

            We all experience divinity and grace. That is one of the core teachings of Scripture .The problem for you is that you stop far too short. You expect too little of yourself in terms of thinking about the world that we live in.

            You have certainly committed your life to something and as you say it takes a long time and a lot of input from many sources to break free of that and admit you have been snookered. Many people around you see it in you, I am sure. The most dangerous position is that you don’t see it yourself.

          • fractal

            You don’t know what you are talking about.
            You have never had a real mystical experience, have you…

            Of course, a mystical experience is perfection itself.

            But some who have experienced it still run afoul because as soon as they step back from it, their minds start churning, trying to fit that square peg of their beliefs into the round hole of the mystical experience.

            They assume it was their version of Divinity which gave it, even though mystical experiences aren’t ever about doctrine or what particular holy books assert.

            A few mystical experiences totally changes your values, the way you relate to Goddess, and the way you see thru the simplistic brainwashing you have been given.

            It shatters your belief system.
            Read St. Teresa of Avila or Hafiz—of course, parts of St. Teresa’s writings have been censored by Catholic Church because she was too sensual with her spirituality for Puritanical followers of the Abrahamic Triad…

          • LT

            Yes I know what I am talking about. I have not had a mystical experience and you haven’t either. There is no such thing. There is only reality. Making up some false worse of mysticism will not suffice for life in a real world.

            You are living in a fantasy world that does not exist. It is a belief system that cannot explain reality.

          • fractal

            I have no belief system.

            I have experiences, which I describe.
            You can try to shove your words down my throat—but it doesn’t change anything.

            There have been countless mystics thru the ages, and countless scientists thru the ages, who have been laughed at or worse, because they had observations/insights which were “heretical”.

            You can opine that there is only Your Christian Reality—everyone else is wrong.
            See how far that gets you in life.

          • LT

            You are delusional. Everything you have stated is a belief. I am not showing words down your throat. You are the one who said them. I am simply pointing out reality.

            There have been countless mystics. But none of them have had an actual mystical experience. It was a belief that they convinced themselves of.

            I am not opining that there is only my Christian reality. There is no such thing as my reality or your reality. There is only reality. Neither you nor me are entitled to our own. We must live in the reality that actually exists.

          • fractal

            In other words—

            If I haven’t had a mystical experience, then they don’t exist!
            Because, it’s all about—mememememememememememememe.

          • LT

            No, they don’t exist, period.

            There is no such thing as a mystical experience to have. It has nothing to do with me not having one.

          • fractal

            Can you prove that?

    • Jon Paul

      “no actual, verifiable, replicable evidence for his god”. That you can even do science and get such evidence proves the existence of God. Science, whether you are willing to accept it or not, has an essential metaphysical foundation. How exactly do you even get actual replicable evidence without the existence of God? How do you , by induction and/or deduction, get scientific evidence in a chaotic universe without a God of order setting up a universe of order? “Cosmos” is greek for order. It is that order, and only that order, that allows for the scientific method to provide actual, verifiable, replicable evidence. Evidence is not the problem, the human heart is the problem.

      • fractal

        “Cosmos” is certainly not the definition of the Evangelical Christian “God”.

        The Abrahamic Triad has assigned all sorts of qualities to “God” that may have no basis in reality.
        The personification of “God” as an individual entity with human attributes, for instance.
        The insistence that “God” is perfect, omnipotent, omnipresent, uses a male avatar, has no changing/creative edge, punishes, judges—all that is simply telling Goddess what She is and isn’t.

        You take one foundational belief that you possess, and turn it into a whole dogma.

    • Food for Thought…

      Maybe… Or maybe one day he woke up and simply realized that he didn’t believe. Don’t throw your baggage and views out there and try to pawn them off as his. He for sure has said that he is not a believer but did not say anything that you mentioned above as his reasons for stating it as such.

  • beenice

    I’ve known and read of people who were once atheists and found faith, and others who had faith and walked away from it. Some do this quietly, others like to make a show of it. In both camps, there are people who are happy and fulfilled and others who are miserable. This is his choice at this time, and I hope he finds contentment.

    • jc

      Wow, what a bad attitude. So, as long as he is content, then his destination in the afterlife is of no consequence?

      • heleninedinburgh

        Show some proof that there is an afterlife, never mind proof that you’re right about him going to You Know Where, and then we’ll worry.

      • Christians need to find happiness and contentment outside of worrying about spending an eternity in an imaginary place.

    • fractal

      “like to make a show of it”
      Snarky, mean-spirited and not very Christian of you.

      Did it ever occur to you that Josh is also talking to the group of people he is walking toward—he owes them an explanation of why he said what he did over the years, and how his POV has changed.

      • Christiane Smith

        for some fundamentalist-evangelicals who believe that faith alone in Christ will save them,
        it is good to read St. Paul’s ‘love’ chapter in Corinthians that speaks about ‘love’ being greater than faith and hope

        I’d say that those who ‘love’ know God and He knows them, and on the last day, He will call them home to be with Him for eternity.

        Sounds to me like Josh is walking away from bigotry and a proud ‘exclusive’ spirit which is more controlling than it is faithful or loving. We cannot know his heart, or how it is that Our Lord will now care for him but if, upon honor and conscience, Josh IS truly walking away from a destructive fundamentalism, then he is already heading for the ‘better way’. Hope he finds it. He will know it, because there is no self-righteousness in the place where people have humility before the Lord and compassion for one another’s troubles.

    • Robin Warchol

      Josh is a public figure and a “Christian” celebrity since he wrote his first book as an early 20 something kid. When one is a no-body, it’s easy just to walk away “quietly”. But when one has been a pastor of a big Church, a well-known author etc., then it’s not so easy just to walk away “quietly”.

  • Dan Kok

    I read Instagram post by Joshua Harris and I appreciate your article to help dig into this a bit deeper. What’s terribly sad in this situation, and with many pastors and church leaders, is the focus on this world rather than eternity. We are all guilty of this from time to time, but by God’s grace he draws us back.

    This article comes to me as I struggle with my own faith as I continue to grieve the loss of my 16 year old son who had a beautiful faith. It makes me think about the gravity of unbelief and God’s sovereignty, grace, and love. Faith is a gift and life is short. Jesus gave everything for our salvation. Thank you.

    • So sorry to hear of your loss.
      May you be held up in prayer.

    • *Salt’nLight*

      Hugs to you and your family, Dan. My sixteen year old son died with his dad six years ago. I appreciate your words: Faith is a gift and life is short. Very wise words! Prayers are being sent on your behalf. 🙂 Best wishes and condolences to you.

      • So sorry for the loss of your son and husband ‘Salt’ nLight
        Go well.

        • *Salt’nLight*

          Thank you! And you as well. 🙂

  • This article is objective, and well written. I was never a fan of Pastor Joshua Harris, and I never read one of his books. For reasons like this, to protect myself, I no longer have ‘favorite’ living pastors, preachers, or scholars. Except for the ‘old dead ones.’ Except for those that died well, enduring to the end. I would never again ‘endorse’ (suggest yes) a living man, denomination, local church, university, or seminary. As I stated yesterday in my post about the SBC. Brethren, Jesus is thee head of the church. Not a general session, not a convention, and not an association. Jesus is the anchor of my soul, and the “Captain” of my salvation.

    • *Salt’nLight*

      Well said, Bill, and wise advice! Thank you. 🙂

  • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

    Yes, very sad news. This telling of it sounds confusing to me, though, because it seems to say that Harris is no longer a Christian and also that he was never a Christian.

    Whichever way on sees it, I assume that many Christians are disturbed to hear that a man whom they regarded as faithful and true and from whom they have learned lessons which they believe, teach, and follow has either left the faith or was never an adherent of the faith. It prompts the questions “How could someone who was once such a strong Christian now no longer be one?” and “How could someone who once appeared to be such a strong Christian never have actually been one?”. And the questions: “Who may fall away next?” and “Who else may appear to be a strong Christian but actually not be one?”.

    Regarding “How many unknowns are doing much the same?”: I think the number is less than the author fears. I think that cases of apostasy such as those of Harris are caused in part by what one might call their “celebrity status”. The weight and temptations of celebrity are trying even for a deep-rooted, mature faith. Harris became something of a celebrity author among American evangelicals when he was only 23 years old. Very dangerous. Consider also that one of the reasons for one to continue in a ministry position despite no longer having faith is to avoid disappointing, discouraging, and hurting others. Thus it could be more difficult for a famous leader, like Harris, to reveal his apostasy than for an obscure leader, such as the pastor of a small-town church.

    • Gilsongraybert

      I certainly think the celebrity mentality in the church is a contributing factor in all of this, and that is something many don’t want to focus on a ton. However, I tend to think that apostasy is more of a threat to everyone; we know that Scripture speaks of many who will fall away—even the parable of the seeds shows this. We tend to think the broad path is just the unbelieving world, but how many started as professed, Bible-believing Christians only to go the way of the culture on issues like homosexuality?

      • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

        I agree, of course, that it isn’t only Christians who are celebrities who should heed the warnings in the New Testament about apostasy. All Christians should.

        However, I also think that if one would like to wish a young seminarian ill, one might say to him: “May you become a celebrity”. Or even: “May you achieve great success early in your career”.

        Furthermore, regarding what you have said regarding “book deals, interviews, and so forth”: It seems to me that Harris stands more to lose than to gain by declaring his apostasy. I expect the sales of all of the books he has written heretofore will plummet. I also expect that the market for new books by him is relatively small–possibly no more than one book which tells the story of how he went from being a young Christian celebrity to an apostate. Who would want to read about that? He could probably be a celebrity and make far more money writing books which promote so-called “Progressive Christianity”, as did Rachel Held Evans.

  • Rachel Ancheta

    Why do you have to make him a bad guy? I just read his Instagram post (which I wish you would have at least quoted in this article to give readers more understanding and Joshua Harris a fair view) and impressed by his repentant position and his apology to the LGBT community. His “falling away” seems like an honest searching and a seeking doubt which many, if not, most Christians go through. I appreciate his honesty and his openness to where his searching can lead him. I don’t like how this article paints him to be a bad guy for being honest. It causes more polarization and hate, and even self-righteousness. Do you feel more Christian in calling him an “aposthate?” Do you intend to make readers feel good about themselves while tearing down an honest man struggling with their faith?
    It’s so messed up and a reason why I think more and more people leave the faith because of this holier than thou spirit and this pointing-at-sinners spirit.

    • Christopher Woodworth

      We are all “bad guys” apart from Christ Rachel. I pray that you might see this!

      • heleninedinburgh

        I’ve heard of Christ Jesus, is Christ Rachel another name for the same character?

        • Christopher Woodworth

          Sorry, forgot the comma. I was responding to Rachel’s comment

      • That makes the term “bad guy” absolutely meaningless, just so you know. If literally everyone is a “bad guy,” then nobody is.

    • Food for Thought…

      Everything you wrote in your comment reveals that you don’t really know Scripture or understand what it means to be repentant…. And the author by no means was out to make Harris look like “the bad guy”.

      • fractal

        ^^^Exactly the attitude which makes people run away from fundamentalism^^^

        • Food for Thought…

          And your comment reveals you have no idea what the difference between Biblical Christianity and fundamentalism is… Why don’t you learn the difference before opening your mouth in criticism.

    • You incorrectly labelled his falling away, his own words, as a seeking doubt when by his own admission he’s stopped seeking altogether and thrown in the towel.
      There’s no reason to be defensive and antsy about something Harris has owned up to.
      In fact I don’t even know if you are a believer, but in the event you are, your beliefs sound pretty off if you last sentence in particular, is anything to go by.

    • Chloe

      Rachel, with all do respect, if anyone ever leaves the faith due to another’s failures, then their faith was truly in the wrong person. Also, I did not read the author describing him as a “bad guy,” but one who has made the conscious decision to walk away from he has known as truth. In addition, there is no need to apologize to the LGBT because you have affirmed marriage as between one man and one woman. It is biblical inerrancy, which is the belief that the Bible is without error or fault in all its teaching. He has now denied that as well. If Josh Harris is going to make this public, which there was no need for him to do so, then it is the duty of true believers to point out the dangers of his decision and his apostasy. (Which is no the writers words, but scripture) This isn’t someone who is just searching or doubting who needs grace. This is someone who has knowingly confessed to denying. Big difference wouldn’t you say.

      • fractal

        What if you are just plain wrong about biblical inerrancy?

        • Chloe

          According to who?

          • fractal

            Do you understand that isn’t the question?

            Either it is the “Word of God” or it isn’t.

            What if it isn’t?
            Can you even CONSIDER that possibility?
            Or do you just block it from your consciousness, whenever it comes to the surface?

          • Chloe

            Respectfully, fractal, your comments are not explained thoroughly and are easily misconstrued. This is one reason why discussions on posts are rarely productive nor helpful. For this reason, I’ll just end it there.

    • Brian K

      If you think the behaviors you bemoan here aren’t central to American Christianity, you’re sadly mistaken.

      • fractal

        It is Fundamentalism of all stripes that your real issue is with…

        • Brian K


  • benden

    Here you find a man married for twenty plus years announce his divorce amicably, as if the separation of what God joined together is as low-key as returning an unwanted grocery item to the store. Just a few days later we then find the stoic picture by a serene lake and scenic mountains, announcing his departure from the faith. […] I look upon it, read, and grieve for how casually he has thrown away the preciousness of the gospel.

    I’m sorry… you think he did all this “casually”? You think his departure from the faith was “serene”? You think the end of his marriage was “low-key”? Did you simply read two short Instagram posts and look at the pretty pictures and come to this conclusion, or what is your basis for labeling his story this way?

    You should contact Josh personally and ask him if what he’s been through, and what’s led him to where he is now, was “casual” and “serene” and “low-key”. Then come back here and tell us what he told you. That would be acting with integrity. Otherwise, you need to rethink your hasty analysis and judgment of this man, and apologize to him publicly.

    • Sarah Flood

      It’s almost as if Grayson thinks that it would be better if Josh spilled all the sordid details of his divorce, bashed his wife, detailed all the fights or nitpicks or issues, just so we all dont make the mistake of thinking that divorce is fun and pleasant and the sort of decision one makes lightly.

      • Chloe

        My question would be then Sarah, why post it at all? This should be kept as a private matter. Once you put it out there, and not truly explain, then you open the door for all sorts of gossip, speculation, and false judgement. What about protecting his family, his past flock, and the name of the Lord in his deconstruction/falling away. What about not place a stumbling block where other believers can all sit around and voice our opinions, as though they really matter. What was his motive and what is his purpose in doing it this way?

        • swbarnes2

          Why would Christians speculate? Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door will be opened. Anyone who earnestly prays to God for what they need to know will be accurately informed by the God who knows everything. Surely Christians are used to receiving the answer “No” to their prayers, so why would they be as awful as you insist they will be at being told “no, you can’t learn the private details”

          Why are Christians always so sure that people led by the spirit will behave like monsters? Always so fast to tell the wider world to expect monstrous behavior from Christians?

          • Chloe

            What?! Surely you are reading into my comment things I did not say. I did not imply nor insist that Christians would behave like monsters nor be awful, such an extreme assumption. However, after reading some of these comments, one would have to question if the comments are Spirit lead. The heart is deceitful, it would be delusional to think all Christians at all times are being lead by the Spirit. Unfortunately, social media has become a catalyst for bringing to light our weaknesses, our flesh, our ugliness, yes, even Christians.
            Believers are still in a sanctifying process, and that is what I took into consideration when making my comment.
            (Also, respectfully, I’m not so sure your scripture quote would apply to this particular content.)

            So, what I am saying again and feel strongly about is this… social media is not a platform that is fruitful nor constructive when dealing with such serious issues. I understand Josh is a public figure, and maybe that has become a whole other discussion for Christianity. However, as quoted by a close friend, “Instagram seems a poor vehicle for honest self-assessment. Transparency, overrated in our day as it is, is certainly less sanguine when we aren’t sure who we are or what we will become.” It is better that this sort of thing be largely kept out of the public eye.” I agree! There is more to Josh Harris’ life and the ramifications of his decisions, than just Josh Harris. He truly is a prodigal, and I pray for him.

        • Sarah Flood

          Because he is a public figure, and if he doesn’t say something, people will probably speculate even more. Is he an atheist? Did he have an affair? IS HE DEAD? (If you don’t think people wouldn’t speculate that he is actually dead, see the whole “is Richard Simmons dead??” conspiracy theory, just because Simmons decided to fade quietly from public life without making an announcement.) Especially since this will require a complete change of career and life direction, there’s pretty much no way he was going to get out of this without making some sort of public statement. It’s the rare person who wouldn’t need to make some sort of general announcement when their life takes this dramatic a turn, and when you’re a public figure with a large congregation and a following of a probable hundreds of thousands, that announcement is necessarily going to have to be very public.

          • Chloe

            Yeah, I’m still not in agreement with your saying because he’s a public figure he has to make a public confession on Instagram. Here is a recent article from those who knew him well.


          • Sarah Flood

            It also says, “When it comes to confident theories of what went wrong, we should tread lightly.” Grayson might take note of that before pronouncing some very confident theories about what went wrong.

          • Chloe

            I agree, we should tread lightly, and I appreciate, Sarah, your reading the article. However, I choose to give, Grayson, grace because we are all learning how to express our concerns and articulate their meanings. Look at the conversation I had below, how someone took what I was trying to say to the extreme. That wasn’t my intention. This is why commenting sites are not a good platform for discussion. I honestly don’t know why I even allow myself to comment. Probably because I feel like I have something so important to say. LOL… Really?! Not! Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us that there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak. Lord, give me the wisdom to know the difference. 😉

      • Gilsongraybert

        You have quite a twisted imagination here. I would never desire anything of the sort. You can disagree with my assessment all day long, but let’s not pretend as if there’s some maniacal subplot in my brain where I wished he beat up his wife. Good grief.

        • Sarah Flood

          By “bash” I meant “say negative things about”, not that you wanted him to beat her up. Good grief, indeed. He worded that post in such a way that no blame was cast anywhere and it was clear that there is not room for people to take sides and try to figure out, as people like to do with separations, who is to blame and what side they should take. They are, as good parents and partners do, presenting a united front and standing by each other even as they separate. That is the mark of two mature people who are not going to have their private lives dragged through the mud. That does NOT mean that this was not painful or difficult or wrestled with long and hard. We aren’t entitled to that information. But as a public figure, he was going to have to say something. This is the way to do that if you must.

          • Gilsongraybert

            Forgive me for misunderstanding. For the record: there is still no maniacal subplot for the desire to see him throw her under the bus and bash her verbally. Not sure why you seem to feel the need to believe I’d be that way, as my writings and comments betray such a notion.

      • Sarah Flood

        Wait, did Grayson delete his comment and my response? Way to dirty delete, there, Grayson.

  • LauraJosh MacDonald

    I am utterly appalled by your rigid, religious lack of love Gilbert. Appalled. Not a shred of kindness, compassion, empathy. No humility. Please pray for a person before you pontificate. And please take heed in case you fall.

    • guachi

      He has none, as far as I could tell from this article. It’s a rigid view of Christianity that only allows a small amount of people to count themselves as a “Christian”. It’s exactly what I expect from an Evangelical.

      • Xavier

        I don’t have a dog in this fight, but it was JH himself who said, that by *his own* standards, he was no longer a Christian.

      • Gilsongraybert

        Ahhhhh, yes. The old “the way is broad” confession, contra Christ.

      • Blue Canoe

        You might want to re-read Harris’ own words about his faith. And if the author’s view of Christianity is too rigid, then in your own mind, how broad must the faith’s doctrine be to fit your tastes? I’m really curious, and not intending to start an argument.

      • jc

        Jesus only allowed a small amount of people to count themselves as Christian. Only those who left everything behind and followed Him and kept His commandments.

        • Jesse H

          Following Christ full-time as a disciple wasn’t the condition for eternal life. Only belief in Jesus is the condition. Many believers didn’t follow Jesus full-time. That doesn’t mean they weren’t Christians.

      • Jason Van Bemmel

        Josh Harris himself said he no longer considers himself a Christian. This is just taking him at his word. Is that rigid? Is that unloving? To take someone at their word?

    • I am utterly appalled, mmm….sounds sinister yet pompous.

    • *Salt’nLight*

      LauraJosh…we are not called to “love” as you perceive it. Love does NOT mean granting a kind of blanket grace to everything another person does. Sometimes people make tragic choices and they need to be called out on it. Josh has made a tragic choice–for himself, his marriage, and his children. Indeed, God says through the Apostle James: My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20, NIV). We NEED people to remind us of the truth when we wander away. Josh is in a dangerous state, and anyone who would think to follow him needs to be warned as well. God bless you in your walk!

      • fractal


        Drama Queen.

        • Sigrid aka *Salt’nLight*

          Woohoo!!! LOVE the drama queen label….I get to wear a crown!!!

          • fractal

            Let me guess—a crown of thorns for the poor victimized Christians in America.

          • Sigrid aka *Salt’nLight*
    • jc

      Josh didn’t fall, he jumped. And I say this as one who grieves this leap more than most, and as someone who has been praying for him for a long time.

    • Jason Van Bemmel

      Josh Harris very publicly and bluntly stated his position. I don’t see it as unloving to respond to him in a Biblical way.

    • swbarnes2

      Surely the author prayed for divine guidance before writing what he did, and is writing in full agreement with what was prayerfully confirmed in him by God.

  • Jonathan Daniel

    Dang. Some hard hitting stuff. Several slam dunks. Joshua Harris was a mega church pastor who basically leapt off a ledge who apparently has no concern for the thousands he’s led to that point. He would have been better off sewing shut his mouth and moving to some remote mountain side, where at least the Lord would be… or to tie round his neck a millstone and jump into the sea… I am very concerned over every Christian bending over backwards to give him the benefit of the doubt. He has been vague and cryptic and unclear in his posts. He started saying some random nonsense about his wife and him going in different paths. Then people said “oh just separated!” And then he said “we are getting divorced” and then now he says basically, “oh I forgot to mention I’m not a Christian anymore” and so many people defend where he’s at. This isn’t merely a crisis of faith! He is denying the shepherd. The lord who bought him. He is not sad but hopeful. These converted atheists are glad for their enlightenment. They don’t feel remorse, they want to free the rest. This is purely demonic. He even makes bizarre comments about receiving “grace” from so many different groups. That’s not grace, my friend! I have experienced doubt. Even John Wesley wrote some alarming things regarding his own doubt, but I have resolved that if ever I found myself rejecting the Lord I would fit that rope round me and be dumped overboard. God forbid my precious children would inherit my sickness. I have compassion for the doubter… I understand it… i just don’t have compassion for the mega church pastor who says how free he is in his newfound disbelief.

    Here I’ve said too much.

    • swbarnes2

      He would have been better off …[tying] round his neck a millstone and jump into the sea…

      Good example of Christian love. I’ll keep it bookmarked for future quoting.

      • Astrapto

        Take it up with Jesus, he’s the one who said it. Luke 17:2, Matthew 18:6

    • Jonathan Daniel

      Oh dear, I’m sorry. Would you rather i directly quoted Jesus or Peter or James or John or Paul in such matters? They do have a tendency to be a little more brutal than I. Or we can just re-write the Bible according to SWbarnes. So instead a teacher is not held to a higher standard and brings no judgement upon himself but rather he is totally off the hook and we should gracious lot just love all over him while pointing fingers at people who quote new covenant verses. Hmm. Yeah yeah I think you’re right. I’m just soooo unloving and a bad example of Christian love. My bad bro.

    • David Bruggink

      Are you saying it would be better if he literally offed himself, or are you speaking hyperbolically?

    • LastManOnEarth

      Flagged for advocating suicide.

      • Jonathan Daniel

        HAHAHAHAH. you’re hysterical. You better flag all the folks who agreed with my statement. I’m not advocating suicide, Mr Funnybones. There, if I say I’m not advocating suicide it means I’m not right? I was referencing scripture. But everyone knows that. Funny

        • LastManOnEarth

          Maybe you need to get out more.

          • Jonathan Daniel

            If you say so!

          • fractal

            I say so.
            This whole “demonic” thingy you got going is tedious.
            And who are you to say where and when Grace lands?

            You need some humility and perhaps a can-opener to pry open that closed mind of yours.

          • Jonathan Daniel

            Did I say anything about where grace lands? Haha can opener. And humility. Yeah perhaps humility is good. I receive that! Josh markets himself as a communications expert. He also spent a hella long time telling ppl how to live and what to do with their relationships and then conveniently asks for privacy when his falls apart. Do I say anything about where grace lands? No. May God in His infinite grace and fiery love deal most severely with Josh and the damage he has brought to the church. So you have a problem with my opinion? I don’t give a fig.

          • fractal

            ^^^”That is not grace, my friend!”^^^

            You said it.
            Own it.

            And now you are assigning Goddess to do your dirty work?
            I think it is YOU who wants to give Josh a good whippin’, not the Sacred.
            Tell me, did that whole Butchish “deal most severely with Josh” meme make you feel like more of a Man?

          • Jesse H

            Hi fractal. I’m onto you. I don’t know you’re story but I hope you can feel some love and mercy today.

          • Christiane Smith

            some in the Church believe that we can only love Jesus as much as we can love the person in the world for whom we have the most contempt . . . . . that is a startling belief, but it does line up with the fact that when the Light comes, we ought to be able to see ‘the other’ as a brother/or a sister in that the person is made in the image of God and therefore deserves respect on those grounds alone, regardless of their other circumstances.

      • Food for Thought…
  • Ficino

    the worst part about being deceived is that the deceived are never truly aware they are deceived. They acted like a Christian. They looked like a Christian. They did and said Christian things

    Gilbert, you cannot know that you are not deceived. Some Socratic Nichtwissen is in order.

  • Stranger

    Excellent article, Grayson.

    In 2008 I was sitting at Wolfgang Puck’s, eating a pizza, on the ground floor of a conference center where I would be attending T4G the following day. I looked up to see Joshua Harris walking toward my table. Before he could pass by, I caught his attention. Another customer took our picture together, and we parted ways. I knew who he was beforehand, and had great respect for him, and for what he was a part of, since I was in a full gospel church where the members regularly disparaged theology and anything intellectual, and Josh and Sovereign Grace Ministries were a breath of fresh air. I even called SGM several times, begging them to plant a church in my area so I could escape the anti-intellectual pietists who surrounded me.

    So it is with great sadness that I have been reading the latest news. I understand a crisis of faith, and I believe it is healthy. But walking away like this is totally different. I expect one who experiences a crisis of faith to find hope in Christ, since, when men and systems fail us all around, it is Christ alone we have to cling to. But to claim to be hopeful in rejecting Christ??? That is a scary place to be! This is no dark night of the soul. What we are seeing is outright apostasy. There is nothing positive here. I grieve for him and the family he has failed.

    • Blue Canoe

      I share your thoughts Stranger, and it truly is sad. On another note, your point about your full gospel church is interesting. Since then, have you been able to find a church family that provides both spiritual sustenance and an intellectual faith? I do hope so!

      • Stranger

        No. What God was teaching me was to trust Him with everything. That our Great Shepherd was in control, and also that I had no right to judge, since I had issues too. The others in the church always were critical of me for being all about theological knowledge and having no relationship with God, while they had relationship with God, but no knowledge. Or, that I had so much ‘head knowledge,’ with no ‘heart knowledge.’

        But now the Lord is turning things around. Our pastor has reversed his abstentionist views concerning alcohol, and has started teaching the moderationist view. That, in itself, is major. But what’s even greater, after the first message on moderationism I sent him Sproul’s video ‘The Tyranny of the Weaker Brother.’ He loved it so much that yesterday (July 28), he showed the last 25 minutes of it in church. That is teaching that our church has never heard before, so I believe it was a major shock to many. He also apologized for several things he taught over the years, which basically related more to the old Pentecostal holiness mentality.

        I believe that the Lord’s instruction to me, 20 years ago, was to “Go on up ahead and wait.” Why? because it would reveal things in me that He wanted to deal with, and to teach me some things. ‘Going ahead’ referred to my understanding. So now the church is catching up to me. I knew this was going to happen, but mentally and emotionally it was a major trial. Of course, one of the reasons for this was to humble me.

        I’m pretty sure yesterday’s service would have brought some things to memory for others of things I said 15 or 20 years ago, and now puts me in a different light. I have yet to hear any results from that.

    • Jason Van Bemmel

      Yes. It’s so shockingly sad for him to describe this move as bringing him a sense of freedom and peace.

      • It’s sad because that is the state of many churches. He came from rules and legalism. That should explain why he’s happy.

        • Jason Van Bemmel

          Which, I believe, shows that he never really knew Jesus personally. If I was walking away from a system of rules and regulations, I would feel freedom, too. But to walk away from my Lord and Savior, my closest Friend, my all-in-all, would feel like death to me. For him to essentially say “I’m no longer and a Christian, and I feel really free and at peace now” just demonstrates to me that he never really had the deep, personal relationship with the Lord that defines true Christian faith. He only had a system of formulas, doctrines, and rules. I have no doubt that he believed them sincerely. But sincerely believing in a system of doctrine does not make you a Christian, loving and trusting Jesus does.

          • Jesse H

            I understand your point, but can we really separate doctrine from relationship so clearly? By Josh’s own account, by pastors and colleagues he was with, by his wife and children, by thousands of his congregants and millions who read his books he had a relationship with Jesus. Slowly coming out of that relationship is a process of doctrinal change, it’s also relational change. Do you not have close friends who you now do not have a relationship with?

  • A good read, easy on the eye and engrossing while feeding the brain.
    Your observations are spot on, we are a superficial society alright, ideological rather than idealistic, high tech yet low on information, alienated not allied with everything up for grabs on the cheap, including beliefs.
    A sobering tale of loss of faith in a faithless culture.

    • fractal

      Perhaps a person doesn’t really need beliefs or faith.
      Perhaps they need to trust that the Universe is ultimately a safe place.

  • The abusive nature of Evangelicalism really comes out when somebody decides to leave the cult. This doctrine that if somebody ever stops being a Christian then they never really were one is the religious equivalent of cutting an ex’s face out of photos. Anybody who really wants to test how loving a religion is should try leaving it first.

    • Blue Canoe

      Huh. I never knew that was evangelical doctrine. Perhaps you can share where that doctrine has been spelled out.

      • it’s spelled out in this same article:

        He labored, toiled even, for years–yet never for the sake of the gospel or out of a love for Christ.


        They acted like a Christian. They looked like a Christian. They did and said Christian things

        It’s quite clear the author assumes that once somebody stops being a Christian they should be treated as if they never were and the motives of any accomplishments from when they were a Christian should be questioned.

        • Blue Canoe

          The author might be wrong about ascribing bad intentions to Harris, but again, where is that point of doctrine that states that someone who leaves Christianity was never really a Christian? And how is that evangelical doctrine (and what, frankly, is evangelical doctrine?)?

          Perhaps the author thinks that–I don’t know. (I doubt it, but I don’t know.) But again, your point is that this is some sort of doctrinal statement, that former Christians were never really Christians. Do some Christians believe that? Sure. Is that doctrine? I’m sorry, but no.

          • swbarnes2

            I din’t see how it possibly could be doctrine. You have a guy like Harris, leading a congregation…all those hundreds, or thousands of people, people constantly praying for divine guidance…surely if he was a liar, at least one of those people would have been divinely informed of that fact, if not all of them. But all those earnestly praying people never once got a whiff of divine leading that anything was wrong. Therefore, the simplest conclusion is that nothing was wrong.

          • A doctrine is just something that people believe, so your admission that some Christians believe this does in fact make it a doctrine. And it’s a very common doctrine that those who have left the religion often encounter:
            Perhaps you haven’t been confronted by it because you’ve never left the faith, or perhaps you’re just sealioning.

          • Blue Canoe

            A doctrine is just something that people believe? Not exactly. Perhaps if you call it a “personal doctrine,” but no, not really. A doctrine is a belief set for a group, be it a religious group, or even political. Do some members of the political left believe antisemitic views? (Very few, mind you.) Yes. Does that make it liberal doctrine? Of course not. Do Muslims in certain areas of the world believe that violence against non-Muslims is acceptable? Yes. Is that Islamic doctrine? Of course not.

            So again, if this is evangelical doctrine, as you stated, you really need to point to how this is a clear, set belief to which the group of evangelicals (and it’s not a group, but numerous groups within the greater Christian community) believe.

            So again, no, it’s not doctrine. I’m not saying that this isn’t a practice that former Christians have encountered, and if they have, that really is too bad. But practice is different from doctrine.

          • Do Muslims in certain areas of the world believe that violence against non-Muslims is acceptable? Yes. Is that Islamic doctrine?

            Yes, it’s still a doctrine. You don’t get to decide a group’s beliefs aren’t a doctrine just because you don’t approve of it or because not all members of the religion believe it. There is no pure, absolute version of any religion, a religion is just whatever its followers say it is and doctrinal differences are how we tell their beliefs apart while still grouping them in the same faith.

          • Blue Canoe

            So I don’t get to decide what is and isn’t doctrine, yet you seem to be able to do so. Okay then.

            And if doctrinal differences are how we tell these groups apart, even though a doctrine can vary greatly based on a particular group (so almost anything can be doctrine—is anything, then, doctrine?), it’s clear and group-based, so again, where is this clear evangelical doctrine spelled out? With all the creeds and catechisms and confessions out there, I seem to have missed that one for this big amorphous group called evangelicals.

            You might be closer to what Reformed folks think, but again, evangelicalism, as a movement, is far greater and more varied than Calvinism.

          • I don’t decide what is or is not a doctrine either, if a person, group, or church holds a belief, then it’s a doctrine. It’s like you’re arguing that a dog isn’t an animal and when I tell you it is then you complain “So I don’t get to decide what is and isn’t an animal, yet you seem to be able to do so. Okay then.”

            A doctrine doesn’t even have to be formally spelled out to your satisfaction with proof texts or creeds, particularly in the US a lot of what American Christians really believe is just folk doctrine anyway. Just because you haven’t personally encountered this yourself is not an argument that this isn’t a common doctrine among Evangelicals, and just because there are a lot of conflicting beliefs in Evangelicalism doesn’t mean that this isn’t one either.

            Frankly, a simple Google search for things like “Can a Christian lose their salvation? would have showed you how undeniably prevalent this doctrine is.
            Ask Dr. Brown:

            if you claim to be born-again and die in sin, denying the Lord, you were never truly saved.

            Also, it isn’t limited to Calvinists either:

            There are also many non-Calvinists who maintain that a person who is saved can never lose his or her salvation. This free grace or non-traditional Calvinist doctrine is found predominantly in “free will” Baptist theology, but also in other Protestant churches of the evangelical tradition, particularly within independent fundamental baptism.


          • Blue Canoe

            You just won’t let this go. Your initial dog argument isn’t analogous. I’m just basing what I said on your own words. You said: “You don’t get to decide a group’s beliefs aren’t a doctrine just because you don’t approve of it or because not all members of the religion believe it.” But in your initial post, you’re very clear about what constitutes evangelical doctrine. So I don’t get to decide (because there is “folk doctrine,” apparently), but you have no problem clarifying what is evangelical doctrine.

            And yes, doctrine really needs to be to a higher bar than what you call “folk doctrine.” The history of Christianity has shown us volumes and volumes of data that yes, doctrine is actually a higher bar than mere folk belief, or even commonly held beliefs. Take this: Many evangelicals, perhaps even a clear majority, believe in a literal six-day creation. (I don’t.) Is that, then, a clear point of doctrine for evangelicals? No. Some may want it to be so (like Ken Hamm, I suppose), but that doesn’t make it so.

            As far as there is evangelical doctrine, we’re talking about things on which all evangelicals (and it’s a huge, varied mass of people, populating very different churches) agree, like the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Trinity, the primacy of Scripture, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the need to proclaim the gospel (as that’s what “evangelical” actually means). You want to add to that this belief that people who once claimed Christianity but then left the faith were never really Christians, a point to which millions of evangelicals with an Arminian perspective would disagree.

            It does seem like your initial complaint is with how Reformed and/or Calvinist thinking has influenced evangelicalism. (I don’t want to put words in your mouth, or thoughts in your head; I’m merely offering up an observation, which could be incorrect.) Such movements certainly have influenced this movement, but again, that doesn’t mean that people with that perspective are arbiters of what is and what isn’t doctrine, in a movement that is, in America at least, larger and more diverse than them.

          • So it appears you won’t stop arguing just because you think considering something a “doctrine” makes it true or legitimate. Sorry to burst your bubble, but none of your doctrines are real. If people accepted things that were true, they wouldn’t need to believe in doctrines (that’s why evolution is science but creationism is doctrine). A doctrine doesn’t need to be held by all members of a religion for it to be particular to that faith, literal 6-day creationism is particular to Evangelicals and not Catholics, so it can be categorized as an Evangelical doctrine even if it’s not held by all of them. Just like how one would say Imamiyyah is a Shiite and Islamic doctrine, but nobody would take that to mean all Shiites or all Muslims believe it. You seem to be having this whole argument just to try to delegitimize beliefs you don’t agree with, whereas I’m just pointing out what people believe. You just want to be able to say selective beliefs aren’t doctrines whereas I’m just telling you all beliefs are doctrines. And that’s important to recognize because most churches don’t specifically tell their members what their doctrines are by name, so most laymen couldn’t tell you if they’re Calvinists or Arminians or whatever (hence why folk doctrines are probably more important than actual confessional doctrines).

            But anyway, all of this is just a sealioning attempt to deny the very real experience of millions of ex-Christians who encountered this doctrine upon leaving the faith.

          • Blue Canoe

            So doctrine actually doesn’t exist then? Huh. You seem to be expending a lot of energy telling me what doctrine is, for something that isn’t real. I just wanted a clarification of terms, not a redefinition of them. Here you go: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/doctrine

            So we move from you telling me what doctrine is (and that it’s a particular doctrine for a massive movement, containing tens of millions of diverse people), to you telling me that doctrine isn’t real, to all beliefs are doctrines. And all I was asking for was a clearer understanding of evangelical doctrine. I wasn’t interested in a redefinition of the word itself. Sealioning? Nah. I just want clarity.

            All doctrines are beliefs, but not all beliefs are doctrines. I’m sorry, but it really can’t be clearer. You may not like that, but redefining the term won’t help. And no, I’m not denying the experience of ex-Christians. I’ve known many, and many have had brutal and tragic stories to tell. Again, it’s about clarity. It’s about upholding the definition of a term. You may want to ascribe to me certain nefarious intentions, but you’re incorrect.

          • No, you just want to sealion and gaslight, two other tactics Evangelicals love to use to abuse former members.

          • Blue Canoe

            Thanks for painting with that broad brush! (Gaslighting? Nope.) No, I’m not trying to abuse you. Honestly, I responded to your rather harsh (and incorrect) criticisms of evangelicalism. (Now, this doesn’t mean that all of your criticisms are wrong–I’m sure they all aren’t.) I’m very sorry you’re a former evangelical. Truly, I am.

            Look, let’s make it easy: Believe what you want to believe. Believe what you want to about evangelicals. Define certain terms the way you want to. You’re incorrect, but hey, this is America.


          • Clearly it matters more to you to argue whether a belief is a doctrine or not than whether that doctrine intentionally hurts people just for trying to get away from your abusive religion.

          • Blue Canoe

            Ha! Yep, sure man. You brought up the incorrect definition, not me. Hold close to your hasty generalizations too. I’d tell you to mellow out, but I know that’s not likely.

          • Sarah Flood

            A doctrine is, according to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary:

            a : a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief
            b : a statement of fundamental government policy especially in international relations
            c law : a principle of law established through past decisions
            d : a military principle or set of strategies
            e : something that is taught

            As you have already been told, you do not get to decide how to define “doctrine”. It has a definition. Anything that a group teaches can be a doctrine. You could call it a fringe doctrine, or folk doctrine, or minority doctrine, but if it is taught and held by a group of any size, it fits both definitions a and e, which would be the ones that pertain to religious doctrine.

          • Blue Canoe

            My point: That such a belief should not be considered doctrine for all of evangelicalism. The movement is too big and too diverse for such specificity in this case. I agree with that definition (or definitions), but think it was incorrectly applied here. “Doctrine” and “belief” are not synonymous. All doctrines are beliefs, but not all beliefs are doctrines.

          • Sarah Flood

            I don’t think anyone was asserting that TULIP theology applies to ALL evangelicalism. That doesn’t make the doctrine of the preservation of the saints not a doctrine.

          • Blue Canoe

            Yes, but ask an Arminian about “preservation of the saints,” and you’ll get a different answer from what was initially proposed in this thread. Non-TULIP, non-Reformed evangelicals are massive in number, thus this thread’s initial assertion of what is doctrine is incorrect, and is a hasty generalization.

          • Blue Canoe

            True, but ask an evangelical from an Arminian perspective about the preservation of the saints (and such believers are multitudinous in evangelicalism), and you’ll get a very different perspective from the one asserted at the beginning of this thread, thus making his claim–and the definition of “doctrine” on which it was based–incorrect. I do agree with you Sarah, but the initial claims clearly had something more TULIP-ish in mind.

        • Christopher Woodworth

          Matthew, when someone denies the faith, the church needs to doubt their conversion as credible. It doesn’t mean that the church should stop loving or praying for them. It is still possible for Josh to repent.

          • You’re so doctrinaire you can’t see you don’t really have to do that.

          • Sarah Flood

            Why? The church isnt some secret society where you should have to vet your average members to make sure they have “credible conversions”. Especially if they’ve left of their own accord as Harris has. Now, you might want to vet a dude who seems to have an extreme conversion story and is attempting to capitalize on it (false conversions for the sake of making money off them, usually with wild backstories and stuff that never happened, are unfortunately not uncommon on the traveling evangelist circuit) but that’s not the situation here.

      • Jason Van Bemmel

        “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19)

        • Tommy

          Sounds very loving of you to throw this scripture at him–people like you enjoy piling on those that are hurting, Shame on you!

          • Jason Van Bemmel

            Tommy, Do you realize that you just did what you accuse me of doing? (which I did not, in fact, do). I wasn’t “throwing Scripture” at Josh Harris. I wasn’t even communicating to Josh Harris. I was simply adding information to a discussion about where this doctrine comes from. It comes from the Bible. But you said, directly to me: “people like you enjoy piling on those that are hurting, Shame on you!” So, you just judged me and publicly shamed me, and you don’t even know me. I am a human being, and I certainly don’t “enjoy piling on those that are hurting.” What a sick and twisted accusation to make against someone else, someone you don’t even know. Please quit judging and shaming people because, in your mind, they’re guilty of judging and shaming.

          • Blue Canoe

            I appreciate your comments Jason, but as far as whether this is doctrine or not, it isn’t. It may be a belief prevalent in certain churches, but this particular passage, as it comes from an occasional document (these epistles were all written for particular occasions), wasn’t used in, say, developing doctrinal points for all of Christendom. Perhaps among certain Reformed traditions, maybe, but just look how this “once saved/always saved” or “You can lose your faith!” dichotomy split Protestants among Calvinist/Arminian lines centuries ago.

            It’s a passage that does prompt a lot of debate though, that’s for sure! As for whether it rises to the level of Christian doctrine, no, it doesn’t.

          • Jason Van Bemmel

            I think we’re just working with different definitions of “Christian doctrine.” You seem to think the term only applies to those things held in common by all Christians which are necessary to believe in order to be a Christian – things reflected in the Apostles’ Creed & Nicene Creed. I’m using a broader and more common understanding of “doctrine,” to mean things Christians believe based on the Bible as part of their Christian faith – maybe not the absolute core, but part of their doctrine, their theology, their belief system. I just finished teaching 10 days of Christian doctrine in Uganda, and this was part of what we covered – the perseverance of the saints or the preservation of God’s true children.

          • Blue Canoe

            Yes, I do understand what you’re saying Jason. Thanks. It’s a debate I’ve been having elsewhere on this board. And doctrine can be more specific to certain branches within Christianity too, as you know. Still, no matter how you’re defining it, I’m not sure that such a passage rises to that level, as far as a broad look at Christendom goes. Even the “perseverence of the saints,” from an Arminian perspective, looks very different. Essentially, they persevere, but they don’t have to (if that makes any sense!). (That prevenient grace thing can be tricky!) I was trained by Wesleyan Methodists in seminary, so that’s why this is a bit of a sticking point for me.

            Anyway, thanks for the response.

          • Jason Van Bemmel

            What’s interesting to me is that Josh Harris used to believe this himself, and he used to teach it. So, I wonder what he would say about himself.

          • Blue Canoe

            You’re right, as he was part of the YRR movement. That’s a very interesting point. Still, no matter his response, the entire situation makes me sad.

        • On every other block of this planet there is an Abrahamic sect that disagrees with the Abrahamic sect down the block from it. Within those churches members often compete to see who has the best opinion on what their “magic book” says.

          You live in a universe of 100,000,000,000+ galaxies. To say most Abrahamic sect leaders work for the owner of 100,000,000,000+ galaxies is absurd because they have so much disagreement and if there is one owner they couldn’t all possibly work for it – most must be wrong.

          Therefore the fundamental tenet of Abrahamic religion is human narcissism – not God.



    • LizzieBeth

      Exactly! The problem is, the narcissism that is so prevalent among Evangelicalism. Instead of taking responsibility for people leaving Christianity, often the church resorts to projection and condemnation.

      One of the biggest areas ignored within the church is burnout, created by Evangelicals themselves! Yes, it is real and exists.

      I was a devout Christian for years but over time, I came to feel like I just couldn’t measure up! I could present a list of all the positive things I’ve done, yet I’d be judged based on two or three negative things I’d done.

      The amount of restrictions and limitations are very unrealistic. You start walking on eggshells. One slip and you’re the worst person ever. If you don’t fit the desired demographic of married with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, you’re judged. The background I came from wouldn’t allow unmarried individuals to take any type of leadership role within the church!

      Eventually you arrive at a point where you’re doing exactly what those in the secular world are doing…..trying to measure up to unrealistic standards. Thus, it becomes easier to slip away from the Christian rat race and get back into the secular world where you feel like you can relax a little without the risk of being judged for say…..going to a bar just once out of 365 days that year.

      If the church wants to survive, some serious self reflection will have to take place. When Christians say you were never a true Christian just because you left the church or walked away from your faith, I point them to the man who died on the cross with Jesus!

      • Des Penn

        Well, your post sound like u were focusing on the ppl at church. Y care what they think, ur suppose to focus on your faith n relationship with God. Only standard is acceptance and living out the word of God. Stopped following tradition if you can and seek a relationship with God. You will workout ur salvation n your standard will be God’s word. Your desires for secular things will change. The church is ppl that follow Jesus teachings, which is to obey n follow the word. Ijs, I can careless what ppl, even in church thinks, we are all there to celebrate n submit to God.

  • Having recently
    commented on the article in Church Leaders, which mainly talked about
    marriage, this article takes on a different perspective – that of Faith
    or the lack of it.

    When I see these kinds of issues it always brings me back to the Garden of
    Eden, where Satan is in conversation with Eve. This conversation is
    alive and well today, as it was then, with the question: “Has God
    Said?”. The conversation today is about how to apply the Word of God to
    our lives and if it does not fit our lifestyle, we try to fix it so it
    does. The many “translations” and “interpretations” prove that where
    words are tweaked and formulated to fit with what “we believe” and our
    “opinions” and our “point of View”.

    You see, the
    Devil did not try to get Eve to eat the apple. No, that she would do
    totally on her own, AFTER the Devil had been able to change her “POINT
    OF VIEW” – That of believing the Devil over what God had said. Then her
    senses took over and she “Saw” that the apple was Good, Desirable and
    Pleasant. Sounds familiar?

    Trusting God to be able
    to watch over His Word so that it is communicated truthfully to all
    people of all ages, gender and culture has diminished to the point where
    we must make “sense” of it. Trusting God to know best is no longer part
    of the equation.

    When we have such disregard for
    the Word, we are in fact trying to change Jesus Christ, since He IS The
    Word. There is no such thing as loving Jesus and then telling Him that
    “we know better”

    The fear of God has left our
    culture, both inside and outside the churches. We must now be
    politically correct, not touch on issues that could offend anybody and
    try to live in peace with all people.

    What did
    Jesus say? Contrary to the erroneous message that we preach about peace
    to all men at Christmas, He said: “I did not come to send peace, but a
    sword”. The only way to have peace is to submit and yield to Jesus
    Christ – The Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
    God, and the Word was God”

    To pastors and
    preachers: If you do not offend anybody through your preaching, you are
    simply not preaching the Truth!. Because the only way people will change
    is when they feel uncomfortable. That is true when it comes to
    everything in life. As it has been said many times: “You only grow
    OUTSIDE your Comfort Zone”

    Jesus said: “….To this
    end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should
    bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my

    What voice are you listening to?

  • Anglican_geek

    You aren’t even out of seminary yet and yet you dare to presume you know another’s heart from a couple of Instagram posts?

    • Get a grip, Harris implied he is apostate even using the biblical term for it ‘falling away’, just what is it you DON’T understand.
      What’s seminary got to do with presuming to know another’s heart anyway?

    • Gilsongraybert

      He explicitly stated he wasn’t a Christian and subsequently walked back his previously held beliefs. This isn’t rocket science – nor requiring of a seminary degree to parse our what’s being said. A minor technicality here though – I graduated in May, not that laurels would somehow grant the ability to discern the heart. But that then goes back to his own words on the matter.

    • Blue Canoe

      Harris himself said that he’s fallen away from Christianity in his post (and was pretty clear about at least one of the reasons that prompted this). Are we missing something that you may know?

  • *Salt’nLight*

    Thank you for your sober warning, Grayson! There are many of us who need to hear it. God bless you! 🙂

  • Redboyds

    I’m glad he made a clean break instead of pulling a Rachel Evans and settling in to a liberal church. She joined up with the Episcopagans (who need all the members they can get) and informed her flock of “women of valor” followers that REAL Christians purchase fair-trade coffee and sniff around for any signs of patriarchy or homοphobia in their churches

    Acceptance of homosеxuality appears to be the “deal-breaker” in this PC SJW world in which the supreme virtue is tolerance of a practice that has been consistently condemned by Christians for 2000 yrs.

    • Christopher Woodworth

      Agree that this is the critical issue of our day.

  • Jock Lenzi

    For you to say that Joshua Harris was never a genuine Christian is to live in a world of make-believe and unreality in order to protect and defend your unbiblical Calvinistic TULIP theology, GET REAL!

    • Gilsongraybert

      While I am a Calvinist through and through – it’s interesting to me that the only place I say something that would cause your knee-jerk reaction is with a verbatim quote from Scripture…

      • It seems the “Once Saved Always Saved” ignores the fact that we must stand firm until the end and work out our salvation with fear and trembling, it leaves a convenient parachute for this who wish to abandon the faith…

        • Gilsongraybert

          Not in the least; perseverance of the saints is a crucial doctrine in the five points.

          • Bill

            Good luck with that!

          • Gilsongraybert

            Hey now, ain’t nothing to do with “luck” 😉

          • Bill

            It’s a figure of speech that expresses doubt in the future success of your plan. In other words, if you’re depending on your effort perseverance, you have a snowball’s chance. But I suspect deep down you know that and it terrifies you. Fear not.

          • Gilsongraybert

            I think you might not understand what is meant by perseverance of the saints…

          • Bill

            I do understand what you mean by it. Good luck!

          • Gilsongraybert

            If you believe that it teaches a works-based salvation, you clearly do not.

          • Bill

            If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck… but hey friend, whatever gets you through the night. Cognitive dissonance is a beautiful thing!

      • Christopher Curzon

        Calvinism itself is a post hoc structure invented approximately 1500 years after Jesus, and 1200 years after the canon was closed. It is NOT the most ancient of truths and, in fact, it suffers under the same logical challenge as the doctrine of the Trinity. Which is that It is not mentioned in Scripture. (Where does scripture say that man is totally depraved? Doesn’t Gen 1:26 stand contra to the idea of total depravity?) It is derived from Scripture, but aren’t other views possible?

      • Us Weisus

        just delete these people for goodness sake. they are mouthpieces for satan. dead new ager… beleiev me thats a demonised communicating likewise all of them. just delete them. ive flagged them and blocked them. dead things.

  • rd

    Oh the irony of the holier-than-thou “blogger” demonizing others’ use of social media…

    • jc

      Apparently, you didn’t read this. Lol. Oh, the irony.

  • Kyle Boone

    Thank you for writing, many of us need to hear this word at a time like this!

  • Tony KB

    So many in these comments would probably call John, or Paul, or even Christ, un-loving… Failing to realize they wouldn’t know what love was if it jumped off the pages of scripture and punched them in the soul.

    • fractal

      So True!

      For I am but a lowly woman with babies on the brain, and need a strong, authoritarian Man to tell me what Real Love is all about!
      Please guide me and impart your manly words upon this unworthy female, who doesn’t understand the difference between abuse and Loving behavior.

      After all, being “punched in the soul” is a kind of Love I would never have thought about, much less wanted to experience; Forgive me for my ignorance and accept my submissive apology; It just never occurred to me that kicking ole’ Shep was the way to Christ.

      • Tony KB

        You forgot “barefoot”.

        • fractal

          Sure did!
          I’ll make you a sandwich right away, Sir!

          • Tony KB

            Ham please. Just try not to make it as salty as your personality.

  • Kristin Cunningham

    Thank you thank you for writing this and for thinking of us who were close to Josh and CJ. Josh was like my older brother. He is kind and humble and very caring. He touched so many people in our community. I carry much love and care for him and Shannon and it absolutely breaks my heart all that has transpired. These events absolutely hurt the believers “left behind” in all the wreckage. So many of my peers at Covenant Life have “deconstructed” as well and I pray humbly for Jesus to bring me safely home. “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar…” – Romans 3:3-4

    • Jason Van Bemmel

      Thank you for sharing that. It’s so sad, and yet God is still so good!

    • Bill

      You speak of the man as if he has died after going on a killing rampage. Instead, maybe you should take a long look at your beliefs and practices to see if perhaps they played a role in Mr. Harris’ departure from Christianity? If this article and a number of the comments above are any indication of what goes on inside of these types of churches, his departure doesn’t surprise me. I suspect that once he flushes the toxicity out of his system he will realize you don’t have to throw Jesus out with the bathwater.

      • Robin Warchol

        Agree 100% with your insight.

    • Robin Warchol

      If many of your peers at Covenant Life have “deconstructed” then maybe it’s time to relook at your neo-Calvinist theology. Maybe if you knew and love him and his wife, you ought to be praying for him instead of condemning him.

      • Jeffrey

        If he loved them and prayed for them instead of condemning them, he wouldn’t be much of a Calvinist, would he?

    • fractal

      What wreckage?

  • Yata-Hey

    Not being of the Calvinist persuasion, I have a simpler understanding of what has happened to Joshua Harris, it’s called “backsliding”. “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above.” (Proverbs 14:14 NKJV)]

  • Kat94

    Honestly, I think the situation is sad, but I’m not sad for Josh Harris. He’s using his platform to lead the weaker brethren away from Christ. He’s bringing untold confusion and doubt into the church VERY intentionally. Seems very much like an Anti-Christ spirit. I feel sorry for him, like I feel sorry for Judas.

    • fractal


      I was watching the show “Escaping Polygamy”, and the FLDS church leaders described their views on women running away from their church and culture, in almost exactly the same way you are describing Josh Harris.

    • Pennybird

      He got famous promoting something that is at best unnecessary, and at worst, damaging. He recognized the error of his ways and maybe extrapolated that error to include the religion that spawned his nutty thinking in the first place. It seems like a good thing that questions will arise after this whole episode. Or are you all afraid more people will understand him?

  • Tracy Brown

    Frankly, Grayson. Your article above is precisely the vicious, vain, self-righteous, puffed-up-with-sinful-pride piffle that we in the Mainline Christian community expect to see from people just like you and your other fundie friends here. It shows two things: (1) You are scared to death of God rather than in love with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit and (2) You also fear that your Christian fundamentalist movement and belief system, which are only 100 years old, are under siege by a secular American culture. Your greatest fear is that your religious belief system and its related subculture stand on the verge of ANNIHILATION—as research has shown to be the case for all of the other religious fundamentalisms (Buddhist. Islamist, Hindu, etc.) around the world today. I have news for you. It is indeed on the precipice of final ANNIHILATION—not because the American people hated Jesus first before they hated you. Rather, people in general are continually upset at you people, and rightly so, because of your long history of unloving militancy, your incessant anger with your neighbors, your sinful pride and arrogance, the fact that you people are filled to the brim with hatred for your fellow man, and because of the mean-spirited ways you have treated millions of your fellow human beings across many decades, including other members of the Christian community at large. The one thing you most need to understand is this. The ANNIHILATION you fear so much is not coming from your sinful, unchurched next door neighbor or that hopelessly lost sinner at the cash register in your local convenience store. Rather, the Holy Trinity itself has weighed your American Christian Fundamentalism and Conservative Evangelicalism in the scales of balance, and they have been found to be severely wanting. The ANNIHILATION of your belief system is indeed coming, and Jesus himself is the one who is going to personally tear it down to make way for his new 21st century American church. Your unbridled support for the Son of Satan (President Donald J. Trump) was the last straw for you people in the Kingdom of Heaven. I think an on-line acquaintance of mine said it best: “Christian Fundamentalism is a form of godliness from which all true love has been drained away.” Jesus is my best friend, and I love him dearly. He wanted me to deliver this message to you just like the Old Testament prophets warned the ancient Hebrew leadership and the children of Israel. When the American people look at you people, they do not see Jesus Christ anywhere in you. I repeat. The American people do not see Jesus Christ anywhere in you. Think on that. Feel free to visit my favorite blog at: https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

    • Brown One

      I read your blogs and I too share your concern that current merging of “Christ and politics” is a huge mistake distorting the name of Christ based on what we know from reading what Christ and the apostles taught us but you and I differ greatly beyond this. As I read your posts the common theme was evident as more about progressive human philosophy than a contextual understanding of scripture often picking out verses to paint a distorting picture of scripture and even God himself. Paul and Christ both warned about the last days being marked by a rise “lawlessness and the love of self which is now preached as the message to the enlightened.” Interesting that you mentioned the prophets as the basis for your rant but failed to know their message which was about a departure from God’s holiness creating idols which is what you are advocating under the guise of a progressive definition of love. Our love should be foremost for God evidence by then a desire to emulate his character in our lives not just loving others but putting him first above our desires. John the apostle of love warned us that loving the mindset of this world makes us enemies of God. Lastly Christ warned often that his followers would be hated by the world and that the world hated him because He Christ exposed their deeds done in darkness due to his light shining on them. Following Christ will cost us a lot even our lives but it is a treasures greater than any human love or experience otherwise we have made that an idol if that it is more than important than loving Him.

    • blogcom

      Hey Tracy, why are you building your 21st Century American Church defending it with a + two thousand year old prophecy?
      Well here’s a prophetic word that so aptly describes it; Babylon.

    • fractal

      I like what you say, but remember the paragraphs!

    • Ray Dubuque
    • Matt the Knight

      Tracy, I have no direct word from the Lord (for many of us, – like St. Paul – that is true). God in his infinite wisdom took care of that-in case our memory fails [or in our exuberance we may say: God says/the Bible says/God told me]] he has provided (for many of us) the written word of God. It is from that Sourcebook that this word is found: “Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20–21.

      • fractal

        Says who?

  • Steve Whinery

    Well said, Grayson. Ignore the rants.

  • fractal

    Hey Chorus In The Chaos,

    I just received an email from y’all saying welcome to the club…
    But you have had one of my comments on “pending” for many days, on this thread.
    How about releasing it please; it doesn’t seem very welcoming to ignore it, when it had nothing but good stuff in there.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Not sure why it is pending – if it’s worth any consolation, one of my comments did the same thing and I wrote the piece lol. I’ll check into it when I can and see if there’s some reason why it got locked up. We don’t have a pre-approval for posting comments turned on, and we typically don’t police any unless someone is being particularly nasty (even then we don’t monitor the comments all that much because there can be so many some times), so I truly don’t know why it is pending.

      • fractal

        Disqus is acting paranoid lately…

  • Claire

    The captives are escaping the compound and you guys are so mad about it lol.

    • Gilsongraybert

      Yes, because discussion about someone abandoning the faith necessitates anger

      • Claire

        No, it’s a momentous occasion that calls for celebration. Authoritarians losing control of their minions is a very good and healthy thing for society.

        • Gilsongraybert

          Right, obviously there’s so much authoritarianism running rampant in the church that people can’t just get up, deny it, and walk away. Oh wait…

          • Claire

            It’s actually a pretty difficult thing to do, walking away from authoritarianism. Are you denying this objective fact? That’s why Harris leaving you people in his rear view mirror is a big deal.

          • Gilsongraybert

            You keep using the word “authoritarianism” – I don’t think it means what you think it means…

          • Claire

            Obviously you don’t think it means what the actual definition says it means. Because it describes conservative christianity to the letter.

          • Gilsongraybert

            Ok… if you can’t even comport with the reality of what the word means, I think we’re done here. Take care.

          • Claire

            LOL your projection game is epic, Gilly

          • fractal

            Fundamentalists just love to redefine words to suit their cherished opinions.

      • Sandy Eden

        Why anger? Or are you being sarcastic? It is predicted that believers fall away. No?

      • Christopher Curzon

        Why anger? Seriously, why??

        Anger is justified when an offense is made against oneself, or when an offense is made against one whom one is determined to protect, or, by extension, when an offense is made against ANY human being; For we recognize that the Imago Dei (Gen 1:26) is in all of us, which makes everyone of us subject to protection by all others.

        But let me ask you: What is Joshua Harris’ offense against YOU? What justifies your anger at him?

        He left the faith. OK. So, does that weaken your faith? How?

        Maybe that is question you need to consider. And maybe you need to take responsibility for your own faith instead of thrusting responsibility onto another person’s shoulders. Just an idea…..

      • fractal

        You are one angry White man—that is for sure.

  • fractal

    Josh is evolving spiritually and I applaud him!
    Leave the labels, dogma and hierarchy behind; they are the quicksand of the soul.
    Like so many others, Josh is finding Fundamentalism too quaint and decrepit to follow.
    Choose a Path with Heart, as Don Juan Genaro advised, and follow it.

    • Sandy Eden

      Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions….
      Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
      don Juan

  • rcdcr

    The rabid judgment on display by Grayson Gilbert basically removes Grayson from God’s grace.

    An apology is owed to your brother Josh, and a sincere request for forgiveness is due to your savior Grayson.

    Seriously, Grayson. Read what you wrote, then imagine Jesus writing it.

    You can’t, bro. Because your article did not stem from God’s grace, but from your own judgement.

    And if you are the future of christianity, then god help us all.

    You need prayer, bro. Seriously.

    • Mario Heidi Villella

      Your response seems as judgmental, if not more judgmental, than the original post.

      • Roger Morris

        [Rolls eyes].

  • Roger Morris

    “I look upon it, read, and grieve for how casually he has thrown away the preciousness of the gospel.”

    Wow! Arrogant and presumptuous! How can you possibly see inside this man and his mind? How can you be so sure it was a ‘casual’ decision?

    You are part of the problem mate. You are the reason Harris and so many others are walking away from cocky, self-assured and hopelessly unwarranted Evangelical certainty.

    All I see is your defensiveness and cognitive dissonance on display.

  • Kishy

    I don’t know the man or people around him but during the 80s, I was familiar with the family. As a homeschool mom, I attended Gregg Harris’ Basic Homeschooling Seminar and his later, Seasons of Life seminar. I was not his usual attendee — I was not in a Reformed church, I did not believe in “hot house” children, and the first year I homeschooled, after receiving a history book from a well known Christian publisher, I ran out to purchase a second hand secular history book from second hand store in order to balance it. I attended the seminar because I liked the idea of delight centered learning that he proposed. Josh was often at the seminars and I wondered at the time if it was such a good idea. Then, when his other two sons started a ministry to teens, I was pretty sure it wasn’t a good ideal The scriptures speak about not putting someone who is new to the faith into a position of authority. The American church does this all the time to celebrities and children of celebrities. It’s not that they can’t have good or wise ideas – although generally speaking, wise is not what young people or young Christians do best. They are good at ideas, passion and idealism, all of which the church needs but not so much wisdom. Or if they have wisdom, it is a wisdom that hasn’t been lived. And so, when we put people -whether young in faith or young in age – into such positions, I think we prevent them from living out faith, maturity and wisdom naturally. Josh got told how cool and spiritual he was when he hadn’t really earned it. That part wasn’t his fault. But having stepped from there to ministry (especially ministry in a messed up organization), he got hit with more than he had in reserve. So sad and ironic as well since his father’s Seasons of Life Seminar was so much into 4 phases of life – sadly, I can’t remember but 3 – learning, business and babies and the last was states. While still in the learning stage and on into the business and baby stage, Josh got treated like he was in the statesman stage, if you go by that pattern. I don’t say that the pattern is necessarily correct (there was Timothy and Paul told him “Do not let anyone look down on your youth,” but I doubt Timothy was as young as Josh when he entered ministry, there was no youth culture back then and Timothy submitted himself to an awesome father in the faith.

    A similar example of this, imho, is Franky Schaeffer.

    But there is still hope, I believe. Perhaps he needs to get out the church and all the strange things that went along with his Christianity in order to someday see it more clearly. I thought I’d rejected the Christian faith many years ago – turning to Buddhism -only to find Jesus several years later. That was over 40 years ago, so I guess you could say it stuck!

  • Kishy

    “Farewell, Joshua Harris” doesn’t sound right to me anymore more than, “Farewell Rob Bell” sounded. It’s flippant and we should be mourning and praying for Joshua (and Rob). I don’t know Josh or people around him,but during the 80s, I was familiar with the family. As a homeschool mom, I attended Gregg Harris’ Basic Homeschooling Seminar and his later, Seasons of Life seminar. I was not his usual attendee — I was not in a Reformed church, I did not believe in “hot house” children (I first homeschooled because of child on the spectrum), I wasn’t ultra conservative politically – in fact, our first year of homeschooling, after receiving a history book from a well known Christian publisher, I ran out to purchase a second hand secular history book from second hand store in order to balance it. I attended Harris’ seminar because I liked the idea of delight centered learning that he proposed. Josh was often at the seminars (I went 3 times in all) and I wondered at the time if that was such a good idea. Then, when his other two sons started a ministry for teens, I was pretty sure it wasn’t a good ideal The scriptures speak about not putting someone who is new to the faith into a position of authority. Sadly, the American church does this all the time to celebrities and children of celebrities. It’s not that young converts and young people can’t have good or wise ideas – although generally speaking, wise is not what young people or young Christians do best. They are best at having ideas, passion and idealism, all of which the church needs but they are not so good with wisdom because wisdom take some time. Or if they have some wisdom, it it is not a wisdom that has been lived out. And so, when we put people -young in faith or young in age – into exalted positions, we often prevent them from having a more natural setting for living out faith, maturity and wisdom. Josh got told how cool and spiritual he was when he hadn’t really earned it. That part wasn’t his fault. But having stepped from there to ministry (especially ministry in a messed up organization), he got hit with more than he had in reserve. So sad and ironic as well since his father’s Seasons of Life Seminar was so much into 4 phases of life – sadly, I can’t remember but 3 – learning, business and babies and the last was statesman. While still in the learning stage and on into the business and baby stage, Josh got treated like he was in the statesman stage. I don’t say that those fours stages are necessarily correct (there was Timothy and Paul told him “Do not let anyone look down on your youth,” but I doubt Timothy was as young as Josh when he entered ministry, plus, there was no youth culture back then and Timothy submitted himself to Paul, an exemplary father in the faith. When someone fails to develop naturally in one state, it almost always causes crippling or even death, later. A similar example of this, imho, is Franky Schaeffer.
    But there is still hope, I believe. Perhaps he needs to get out the church and all the strange things that went along with his Christianity in order to someday see it more clearly. I thought I’d rejected the Christian faith many years ago – turning to Buddhism -only to find Jesus several years later. That was over 40 years ago, so I guess you could say it stuck!

  • Jesse H

    The weakest part of the article is the supposed hypothetical of so many less known pastors who don’t have true faith. It’s unproven and arbitrary. Biblically I have no problem saying that falling away from the faith doesn’t mean a person never had true faith. It does mean we are fickle, but God is faithful even when we are faithless, He cannot disown Himself.