DE-CONVERSION & Why ministers abandon the Christian faith #BGCE

by Michael Hakmin Lee Ph.D., Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College, Fellows colloquium, 12/18/17.

25 pastors who had been in ministry for 2+ years and who mostly came from a fundamentalist background were interviewed. To agree on terminology Dr. Lee used Paul Hiebert’s definition: a Christian is a person seeking “to follow Christ to the extent they know him.” [Paul G.Hiebert, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985] p. 127.)

Insights:

  • Most who reconverted saw their Christianity as a “half-way” house that was a viable solution at the time that dissolved some of their problems and angst.
  • They saw their deconversion as a pursuit of truth.
  • There was an accumulation of doubt.

Major themes:

  1. Loss of confidence in biblical authority, in order:
    • Bible criticism,
    • Ethics in the bible,
    • Theological and hermeneutical divergence.
  2. Dissent from Christian teaching and values:
    • Hell and Christianity exclusivity
    • Science and Faith
  3. Disappointment with God and the Christian Experience
    • Efficacy of prayer and spiritual resources
    • The problem of evil
    • Provoking life struggles
    • Christian behavior
  4. Personal predisposition with characteristics of “openness to experience:”
    • Imaginativeness,
    • Sensitivity to inner feelings,
    • Perusal of new experiences,
    • Intellectual curiosity and
    • Readiness to reevaluate values.

See Kenneth Daniels book, Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary.

Also see Lewis Ray Rambo,

LEE, M. H. (0ADAD). Assessment Of Paul Hiebert’s Centered-Set Approach To The Category ‘Christian’. https://doi.org/10.2986/TREN.001-1127