Can a Christian Lose their Faith?

Well obviously yes, since I now call myself an atheist, having been a Christian for many years. Yet the answer is not at all that cut and dried.

I once had a discussion with a close friend of mine about this very question and we disagreed very strongly with no common ground at all.

I argued, that yes, one could lose their faith. One could come to the conclusion, for various reasons that they didn’t want to be a Christian any more and actively reject their old Christian life. Or one could ‘backslide’ as we called it in those days, and eventually fall away from faith.

My friend argued the opposite; that a Christian could not lose their faith. His argument was that the action of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian would be an active block against desertion of faith.

His point rang bells with me, because I had once held that view too.

As a young child at boarding school inZambia, I distinctly remember having discussions with school friends along the lines of ‘Once you are a Christian and God has you in the care of His hands, then He will never let go and you will always be a child of His’. I’m paraphrasing there, but the basic synopsis is that once you are a Christian, then its just not possible for you to unconvert. It’s a once only irreversible decision. I’m not sure where the original idea came from, but it was reinforced by the conversations that children have between each other on the playground.

Years later, here I am having this discussion again, but from a very different perspective. I wonder what had changed.

At the time we were both very definitely Christians. He is now a vicar and I am now this anonymous internet blogger spouting my stuff as if its important. He probably reaches more people weekly than I do.

What if I do it?

Anyway, during the conversation I posed the hypothetical suggestion that at some point in the future I would abandon my faith. Of course I knew it would never happen, but lets ignore that and just pretend it does, oh the irony!

My friend’s retort was that if that were to happen he’d question if I was a proper Christian to start with. Ouch!

But of course that would never happen because he knew I was a proper Christian.

I wonder how the conversation will go when (if?) he finds out about my change of heart. I guess for the moment I’ll just have to ponder, but eventually he’ll find out and I am a little bit curious as to how the conversation will go.

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8 thoughts on “Can a Christian Lose their Faith?

  1. How people respond to a change like that in someone else depends a lot on their personality.

  2. I will say this, there are two major factors involved

    (1) how easy is it for a person to be convinced of something?
    (2) how emotionally oriented are they?

    I have realized over the course of my life that these two factors are huge in determining whether or not people change.

  3. Perhaps this attitude is a defense mechanism? Some Christians do not want to face the fact that others might find Christianity dissatisfying or unconvincing. Therefore, those believers assume that deconversion must be due to a lack of true faith rather than any shortcomings in their religion.

  4. It depends. If the person is stubborn they will explain it away. They will try and come up with an explanation. If they are more open to observation they will change their beliefs about the matter. And how much they change those beliefs will depend a great deal on how far of a jump in assumptions they are willing to make. It will only be a defensive mechanism to those who would take emotional comfort from believing that you never were a christian in the first place. The defense mechanisms aren’t going to matter as much to people who could emotionally handle the new reality. For them the only thing standing in the way would be their own reasoning. Its complicated.

  5. Check out the concept of “Dark Night of the Soul.”

    I do not recommend you read it. Just understand it.

    The 15th Century saw some interesting theology come out of Spain. And this was probably the most striking.

    Their answer was simple. God could allow someone to suffer such extreme pain upon this Earth that they could break. God was not necessarily willing this spiritual turmoil. The result.

    God could and would piece you back together later.

    I have travelled a similar path. I ended at agnostic. And I would hazard a guess that this soon into your journey, you are more agnostic than you are atheist.

    A question: Do you still remember the feelings you had for God? Do you wonder how those feelings could exist, if He does not exist?

    Do you still believe that there “could” be a god? But, you are just not sure who “He” is?

    Does any of this resonate?

  6. Hi Wayne,

    Do you still remember the feelings you had for God?

    I do, very well.

    Do you wonder how those feelings could exist, if He does not exist?

    On occasion, yes I do. I don’t have an explanation that satisfies. The best I can come up with is that its something in the mind. After all I have been brought up in the church and been taught christian things all my life. I know what to expect and how to worship. In my current state I can imagine putting on a worship album and bring on those same feelings again.

    Do you still believe that there “could” be a god? But, you are just not sure who “He” is?

    No I don’t. I am certain there isn’t a god.

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