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.