What would it take to “shake” your faith in Jesus Christ and the gospel?
Do you know that there is a movement of self-declared apostates who are leading a “de-conversion” movement of former evangelicals and fundamentalists? They write books, blog, have web-sites, etc., and are devoted to bringing you from the “dark side” (i.e. historical gospel and faith in Jesus Christ as the crucified, risen, divine Son of God, who is the Savior of the world for all who believe). These self-proclaimed apostates are busy attempting to tear down what they once embraced as eternal truth.
Ken Pulliam is one such self-proclaimed apostate. He writes of himself, “I was ‘saved’ (trusted Christ and Christ alone) at the age of 18 and was baptized in a Baptist Church in Georgia. I graduated from Baptist University of America (1981) with a B.A. in Theology. I earned an M.A.(1982)and a Ph.D. (1986) in Theology from Bob Jones University. After graduation, I taught at International Baptist College in Tempe, AZ for 9 years. After a few years of accumulating doubts, my Christian faith evaporated sometime during the course of 1996. I am no longer a believer. If I had to pigeonhole myself, I would say I am an agnostic atheist.”
There are many of these “de-conversionists”. Not all go on to attempt to convince those remaining faithful to biblical Christianity to abandon the faith. But each “de-conversion” of a once faithful and passionate professing believer, has its effect on those with whom he or she once ministered, worshiped, and served. This is especially true when the one now denying the faith, was an evangelical leader.
The name Josh Harris might not mean much to many of you. Harris was a “wunderkind” and young star in evangelical circles. His father, Greg Harris, was a nationally renowned advocate for homeschooling. Young Josh, wrote his book (I Kissed Dating Good-bye) at the age of 21, trading on the star status of his father and with the help of other evangelical leaders, it became a best seller. This is how he came to know C.J. Mahaney. Mahaney was one of the founders of the Sovereign Grace movement, begun substantially by Mahaney in Covenant Life Church, in the Washington D.C. area. Covenant Life became the flagship church of the movement. With his newfound stardom, Harris was introduced to Mahaney and ended up moving in with him and his family. Within seven years, Josh Harris was the hand picked successor of the pastorate of Covenant Life Church. Having never gone to college or seminary, Harris was now the pastor of a 3,000 person mega-church. After his initial aforementioned volume, Harris published more books (the premises of which he now denies) that took the young, restless, and reformed movement by storm. Books like “Stop Dating the Church” (on commitment to the local church) and Not Even a Hint (a book on male purity) virtually flew off the shelves. Josh Harris turned from “young rising star” in the evangelical reformed movement to a “leader” in that movement.
In the past few weeks Josh Harris has said he is no longer a Christian. He has divorced his wife and three children. He has apologized for writing, preaching, and teaching concerning things like women’s roles in the home and church, overemphasis on pre-marital sex, and LGBTQ issues. While he has not yet come out with a fully-fledged denial of the gospel (only saying to this point he himself is not a Christian), the aura of apostasy surrounds him.
Libby Ann, publisher of the online newsletter “Love, Joy, and Feminism”, and a former “devotee” of Josh Harris writes, “In 2015, Josh Harris left his position as pastor of Covenant Life Church, a megachurch in Maryland, to attend seminary—something he hadn’t done before going into ministry. A year later, in 2016, Harris apologized on twitter to a blogger who said she was harmed by the views he taught in his 1997 book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and said on NPR that he was now listening to critics of purity culture. In 2017, Harris announced that he was participating in a documentary exploring his changing views… Since leaving the ministry, Harris has gone into business as a brand consultant. ‘Use the power of story to connect with your customers,’ reads his website. The reviews left by companies he has consulted for suggest that he is good at what he does…” Here is a part of his “promo”:
‘I’m Joshua Harris and I know how to use story to reach an audience. I’m a best-selling author, TEDx speaker, and documentary filmmaker. I’ve reached millions of people through my books, articles, videos, and social media platforms.’” I think it is interesting to note that he now disavows the content of the “books, articles, videos, and social media platforms” he is now using to promote his new career. Seems a little off.
So it seems Josh Harris is on his way toward a new and exciting career. But it says nothing of the devastation he has left behind. A wife and family abandoned. A former mega-church strafed with questions and sorrow. Millions of readers and followers disillusioned. Friends betrayed… not to mention the betrayal of the eternal gospel.
Why do I blog on this? I ask the question…what would it take to shake your faith? What if John MacArthur, or John Piper, or Mark Dever came out and denied the gospel? What if they decided it was all a bunch of hooey and walked away from it all? What if I did? What if your spouse did?
This kind of thing has happened down through the history of the church. Why does God sovereignly allow such things? Why does God allow a young firebrand to gain such influence and notoriety in the church only to sovereignly allow him to deny Christianity? Here is why, I think. It happens periodically to the end that we would realize that our hope is not in Josh Harris… or John MacArthur…or Piper…or Dever… or Terry McIntosh, or your spouse. It is in Jesus Christ alone. He is the only one guaranteed not to disappoint you. I might. Piper might. Harris has! But it only strengthens my resolve to trust and hope in Jesus alone.
Christianity and the church will survive and thrive without Josh Harris. If he is not apostate, I pray he will repent, turn to Christ, and be genuinely redeemed and justified by faith. But nothing that Josh Harris (or other de-conversionists like him) could ever say or do will put me off that hope in Christ and his gospel. My commitment to and faith in Christ and the Bible is only strengthened by this circumstance. I think this is why God sovereignly allows such things. Do not be shaken my friends. Christ and the gospel has not moved one iota… never will.