My De-conversion Story…

I’m admittedly a church nerd.
That means that not only am I a disciple of Jesus, but that I also love to study churches;
…what makes them succeed or fail; why some people stay committed to Christ and others fall away; and why some try to change Jesus by rejecting orthodox Christian theology.
To that extent, I have had a morbid fascination with the recent trend of “de-conversion” stories.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a supposed believer either announcing that they no longer believe in Christianity, or that they are turning away from orthodox Christian theology to progressive Christian theology (see here, and here).
We used to call this committing apostasy (or apostatizing); but apparently that term now has too much of a negative ring to it. So, the kinder, gentler term is “de-conversion.”
And when I say I am morbidly fascinated, I do not mean that I enjoy seeing or hearing these stories; I find them disturbing. But I am fascinated by them in that I would like to know what is really going on in the minds of those who de-convert.
Because even though these individuals share some of their story when they de-convert, there is no possible way that they reveal every single thought that passed through their brain while they were falling away from Christ, from His church, and/or from orthodox theology.
But even more so, I would personally like to know what went through their minds because I have my own de-conversion story and I would like to compare notes. Because, my de-conversion story ended up in a completely different place than theirs did; and I would honestly like to know what the difference was. 
The short version of my de-conversion story goes something like this:
I was in a traditional, theologically conservative, Evangelical church from the time I was conceived. I accepted Jesus at a very young age; and it was real. I really believed in Jesus.
The problem was that even though I signed up to believe in and follow Jesus; instead of teaching me to follow and obey Jesus as His disciple, they taught me to be a disciple of the traditional, theologically conservative, Evangelical church culture. They taught me that following that particular culture was inseparable from following Jesus. So, in one sense, I was converted twice; once to Jesus and once to my church culture.
And everything was fine; until it wasn’t.
Ultimately, the wheels came off when I realized that the particular church culture that I had been taught to follow did not prepare me to deal with the real world. And because I equated following Jesus with following that particular culture, I was bewildered at how following Jesus had not prepared me for the real world.
So, I circled back around, recommitted and tried again.
Same outcome.
Repeat several times.
Same outcome, every time.
Something is really, really wrong…
But I never stopped believing in Jesus. I just couldn’t figure out how to make believing in Him work in the real world.
Over the course of time, I slowly came to the conclusion that the problem wasn’t Jesus; but rather the problem was the church culture which I had been taught had to be attached to Jesus.
But I didn’t abandon it all at once. Instead, I abandoned it a piece at a time; …until I simply ran out of pieces. 
In the end, I had de-converted from the traditional church culture in which I had been raised and discipled…
…but I didn’t de-convert from Jesus.
Ultimately, I was left with nothing but Jesus.
There were quite a few times I found myself face down on the floor asking, “Well, what do we do now Jesus?”
What I didn’t realize at the time was that Jesus was stripping away from me what I had been taught as a disciple of my church culture and was instead teaching me to be a disciple of just Him. But it still took several years to even begin to understand that was what was happening.
But as my faith was being rebuilt on nothing but Jesus, I not only retained conservative orthodox theology; I actually became more theologically conservative as I developed a deeper understand and appreciation for orthodox theology (see Ian Harber’s similar story here).
And this is what disturbs me about those who de-convert to progressive theology. I walked away from the same culture that they did; but following Jesus as His disciple led me back to orthodoxy. So, I fail to understand how following the same Jesus led them to progressivism; especially the progressive sexual ethic which is completely at odds with Jesus’ and Scripture’s morality and sexual ethic.
To me, progressive theology seems to be a safety blanket of sorts. They want to embrace the idolatry of the world’s fallen sexual ethic (see here, here, and here), while still believing that Jesus’ death and resurrection will somehow get them into paradise.
In my understanding, progressive Christianity is no more following Jesus than it is to straight up embrace the idolatry of the world’s sexual ethic without giving any thought whatsoever to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Both are willful disobedience to His clearly stated standard of sexual purity.
As such, I consider those who completely de-convert from Christianity and from Scripture’s morality and sexual ethic to be the more honest of the two. At least they do not depend on a dishonest eisegesis of Scripture to excuse sin, rebellion, and disobedience; they just completely abandon it all together.
But my fascination with the differences between these types of de-conversions and my de-conversion from my traditional church culture, makes me wonder if the greatest difference is to what it was to which we were originally converted.
Again, I believe I was converted twice. Once to Jesus, and once to my church culture.
Could it be that those who de-convert into apostasy and progressivism were only ever converted to a particular church culture and not to Jesus; and thus, when they were de-converted from that particular church culture (because it failed to work in the real world), they were left with nothing?
Could it be that they were simply never converted to Jesus to begin with?
Personally, I would argue that those who abandon orthodox theology and the Biblical morality and sexual ethic are those of whom John wrote:
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19).
Now, just to be clear, I understand that those who have de-converted to apostasy or progressive theology will completely disagree with me. And I’m perfectly fine with that; because I completely disagree with them.
It’s only fair for them to think I am completely wrong about everything because I believe they are completely wrong about everything. It would be unacceptable to me for them to think that in some way we believe in a different version of the same thing.
This is ultimately why I am morbidly fascinated with their stories and would like to know what thoughts led them down their chosen path; to find out where we diverged on to separate paths.
If you would like to know more of my story and what I discovered about being a disciple of Jesus; start at this link and follow the links at the end of each article…
Photo by DDP on Unsplash