I’m Not A Christian Anymore: An Analysis

I want to respond to a tweet thread by a fellow named Dave Gass. It’s a heart-tearing lamentation explaining why he left Christ and can no longer call himself a Christian. He was once a lead pastor at a megachurch in Missouri and also was involved in starting church plants. Mr. Gass locked his account (understandably) so I can’t link to the actual thread, but thankfully, I copied it before it went dark.

“Deconversion” testimonies are ubiquitous across social media. They generally follow a set pattern and share many of the same themes and tropes. Person X abandons the faith because X reason(s) like haunting doubts regarding some problem with God, or he/she couldn’t find an answer for some nagging Bible question, or an overwhelming, calamitous event happens in his/her life, or a falling out with hypocritical leadership/members. Honestly, though, many times the main reason comes down to the person choosing sinful behavior. Generally it involves cheating on a spouse or the pursuit of what is believed to be some other sexually liberating deviancy.

Mr. Gass, however, provides us with a few statements that should cause us to ponder. I think they are instructive lessons for when we encounter other individuals who claim to have loved Christ but walk away from the faith. What can we say to those people? How can we help them see the error of their ways? That is what I’d like to briefly explore.

Before we begin, I recognize that Mr. Gass’s apostasy exposes the fact that he was never genuinely saved to begin with. The apostle John says as much in his first epistle, 1 John 2:19. Now I am sure Mr. Gass would demur at my insistence that he was a false convert. He was, by his own admission a devout follower of Jesus for 40 years, with half that time spent as an evangelical pastor. In a later tweet in his thread, he says he maybe missed 12 Sundays in the 40 years he was a Christian, he had completely memorized 18 books of the Bible, and he was reading through the Bible for the 24th time when he finally decided to toss it all away. On top of all of that, he was a part of the woke movement within the SBC. According to this article at VOX, at the 2017 SBC convention, then Pastor Gass was a key supporter of Dwight McKissic’s resolution condemning the alt-right and other forms of racism among members of the SBC.

But the Scriptures are clear. Jesus Himself said there would be many people who would come to Him who would testify of all the many years they were fully devoted to Him, even to the point of working signs and wonders in His name. Yet in the end, Jesus tells them the horrifying truth that He never knew them, (Matthew 7:21-23).

That is a curious comment. I read Greek mythology as a young teen as well. I mean the biggest movies ever when I was a kid were those wonderful stop-motion Ray Harryhausen creature features like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. In all of my movie watching and myth reading, never once did I think the historical accounts recorded in Scripture were anything like the Greek myths, or any mythology. My kids are familiar with those stories as well and they all can tell the difference.

Mr. Gass tweets several remarks about his “hyper-fundamentalist” upbringing. It is clear that his early experiences with Christianity was membership within congregations that focused upon a legalistic, performance based spirituality. He boasts of traveling on speaking teams, planting churches, developing curriculum, teaching workshops, etc, etc. In all, Mr. Gass was an extremely busy man. If one’s perspective of pleasing God is endless activity within a hyperfundamentalist background that has a wildly off-balanced view of spirituality I expect lots of work piled on top of a wonky view of the Gospel.

I sympathize with the ex-pastor. In my high school days, my family attended a soul crushing, legalistic Free Will Baptist Church. Boys who truly loved Jesus sang in the choir and cut their hair to look like Wally Cleaver. At the Free Baptist Bible college in Nashville, the girls basketball team wore warm ups as their uniforms so as to be modest. I was “exhorted” to abide by all kinds of oppressive regulations.

Thankfully, God saved me out of that mire; but even when I was chaffing under the burdensome legalism, I was never bitter. I never believed the rules I was obligated to keep were a means to please God showing Him how much I loved Him or manipulated Him to bless me. Reading these tweets, however, that’s the impression I am getting. That only continues to affirm my suspicions that his understanding of salvation and Christianity began at the wrong point.

In those two tweets, the former pastor claims he devoured loads of apologetic books, but they were trite, dismissive, and full of pseudo-science. From beginning to end he had many problems with Scripture. I just marvel at such statements. Really? What sort of apologetic books did he read? By who exactly? There are lots of apologetics books out there in seminary libraries. Is he saying ALL of them are trite and filled with pseudo-science? There is more than two thousand years worth of church history where Christians have wrestled with apologetic matters and provided sound, biblical answers to objections. Is he concluding that the people who wrote them are all hacks? And there was no one in his personal circle of friends who he could bounce his questions off of? Or discuss his concerns?

Take for example his comment about inerrancy. One of the first books thrust into my hands the day I started seminary was a 500 plus page collection of essays defending the doctrine of inerrancy. None of the chapters are trite, and the men who wrote them are hardly the purveyors of pseudo-science. Out of all of his reasons for leaving the faith, the idea that there were no good apologetic books is just laughable.

He never witnessed a single supernatural event in all the years of ministry? What exactly was he looking out for? Yet here lies the rotten fruit of continuationism. Christians who are taught that they should witness God performing the same kinds of signs and wonders today that are recorded in Scripture, will quickly become jaded when God doesn’t meet those expectations.

On the contrary, while I have never seen signs and wonders and cancer victims healed instantaneously, I have witnessed many, many supernatural works of God. Every Sunday when my church does baptisms and I hear testimony of men and women whose sinful lives were changed from selfish, mean-spirited Christ-haters to spirit-filled lovers of Jesus. People who are suffering the ravages of cancer bear up under their trial with God’s grace with sweetness of attitude of one who has been saved eternally. Their resolute humble trust in God’s sovereignty in such challenging difficulties is a shining example of a supernatural work.

For a person who claims to have read the Bible 24 times through, led workshops, developed biblical based curriculum, and weekly taught and preached Scripture to scores of people, he has an extremely insufficient grasp of Adam’s fall and the sin of man in the world.

What exactly was he promised that his marriage would be? He doesn’t really elaborate. But, that tweet reveals the heart of the matter. According to at least one member of his church, Mr. Gass was involved in a hidden affair for nearly a year, was caught, and he now continues to live in unrepentant adultery with a woman not his wife.

As soon as I read the initial thread and watched skeptical cranks and chortling atheists spread it far and wide on social media as proof of God being fake and religion a joke, I thought to myself there is some unspoken, gross sin involved. Sure enough, I was proven right. Unironically, the skeptic-atheist community would be the first ones pointing out the pastor’s sin. In this day and age of Me Too, individuals who otherwise claim there are no moral absolutes would absolutely condemn his immoral abuse of power with grooming a woman to sexually abuse her. Certainly the survivor bloggers are outraged by his abuse of that poor woman?

Three take aways I wish to highlight from ex-pastor Gass’s thread.

First. what appears to be zealous “spiritual” activity doesn’t necessarily mean there is genuine spiritual life. The two are not the same. Just because one spent all his life in church, read the Bible 24 times, led countless Bible studies, and preached numerous sermons, does not mean the person is genuinely saved. It is like the seed cast upon shallow soil that took root, sprung up, but then withered away quickly, Matthew 13.

Second. Theology matters. What one believes about God and the Scripture plays heavily upon how he may respond to trials, difficulties, think through problems, and live out his Christian life. God never promised supernatural healing, or a life of hearts and flowers free of trial, sickness, and calamity. He did promise, though, that he will be faithful and just to forgive our sins and will work all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

Third. Christians should never isolate themselves. I don’t know ex-pastor Gass, so I can’t speak to how he handled his struggles and doubts and his bad marriage, but all Christians should seek out close trustworthy friends to confide in. Friends that will listen faithfully to their difficulties, offer counsel from the word of God, pray for them. The Body of Christ is made up of many members, and none of them should think they are alone.

12 Comments
  1. Have Faith 1 month ago

    I am a member of one of the churches that Dave Gass served at during his 20 years in the ministry. He served as youth pastor at our church. He was very charismatic, which made him very popular, and drew a lot of young people into the church. Many of us thought we knew him well. Little did we know.

    His affair with a married church member at his last church was not the first ‘questionable’ action on his part. He was given the opportunity to resign from our church due to questionable behavior. The leadership at our church brought in legal council to make sure that what he had done was not illegal. The membership was not given details on what he had done, but were told that after consulting both the legal council and law enforcement, it was not illegal, but immoral. We were asked to not try and contact him, that he would be spending time getting help for his issues. Trust me when I say that the majority of the congregation who cared enough to attend a congregational meeting addressing his departure from the church were very supportive of HIM. He was not bad-mouthed or maligned. Many people stood up and requested that they not accept his resignation, but allow him to seek help and eventually return to the church. It was made clear to the attendees that his return was not an option. I later learned that we were not the first church to ask him to leave due to questionable behavior.

    His marriage? He crowed about how wonderful it was, how much he loved his wife, what a lucky guy he was, etc. His wife (now ex-wife), IS a wonderful person who stood by him during the entire 20 years he was in the ministry. She supported him, encouraged him, and served by his side. She loved and respected him. She did not deserve any of what his actions have left her with. But she has moved on with her life, a better, stronger person. She is still a Christian.

    Looking back, after finding out about all of this, I can see where there were subtle signs. Things that I thought were a bit ‘off’ at the time, but there was always a plausible explanation for them. The problem is with Dave Gass, not Christianity. I hope that many others who knew him during his ministry realize the same thing.

  2. Lela 1 month ago

    I too have been a Christian for 40 years, and have found my journey with Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit and loved by the Father, to be the most amazing adventure! There have been many hard times, many sad times, but, as a beautiful song has it, ‘the hard times make you strong’. My relationship with Jesus is richer than ever, and, through His love, I can bounce back from sin much quicker, knowing the forgiveness He died to bring. When I read of all the hard work and sacrifice of Pastor Gass, I feel very sad that he doesn’t seem to have known how much Jesus really loves him – it may sound trite to those who don’t know it for themselves, but they are missing out on so much joy! Who doesn’t want to be really loved, come what may? I can only pray that, through this time, he will find that love and joy, and the hope it brings.

  3. Anton 2 months ago

    First,

    > God never promised supernatural healing, or a life of hearts and flowers free of trial, sickness, and calamity.

    You’re wrong. Jesus says that

    > Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12 NIV)

    It’s not like Christians wishful thinking about healing. Jesus heals people. And promised that his disciples wile do even greatest things.

    Second, you said that

    > One of the first books thrust into my hands the day I started seminary was a 500 plus page collection of essays defending the doctrine of inerrancy. None of the chapters are trite, and the men who wrote them are hardly the purveyors of pseudo-science. Out of all of his reasons for leaving the faith, the idea that there were no good apologetic books is just laughable.

    I’ve been trying to find a good apologetic book for two past years.

    I’ve found none.

    Help me on that topic: can you provide some links or names for a good apologetic books. That would be awesome. Thank you in advance.

    • Author
      Fredman 2 months ago

      Anton writes,
      – You’re wrong. Jesus says that
      It’s not like Christians wishful thinking about healing. Jesus heals people. And promised that his disciples wile do even greatest things. –

      Not that I expect you to understand about context and stuff, but if you genuinely want a response to that claim, see here,
      http://thecripplegate.com/michael-brown-authentic-fire-john-1412/

      In short, Christ’s words are directed to his immediate audience, the apostles, who did miracles like him.

      – I’ve been trying to find a good apologetic book for two past years.-

      Really? Seeing that there are loads of them, I doubt you tried very hard.

      I wrote up two specific posts listing a number of excellent resources,

      Here, https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/03/29/apologetic-books-for-the-eradication-of-trolls/

      and Here, https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/12/31/books-for-advanced-troll-hunting/

      • Anton 2 months ago

        > Not that I expect you to understand about context and stuff

        That was uncalled for. That was rude. Jesus is ashamed of you right now. He thinks you’re better than that. Say that you sorry and we’ll go on like your dumb childish bitter rudeness never happened.

        > In short, Christ’s words are directed to his immediate audience, the apostles, who did miracles like him

        The Cripple Gate post is long and convoluted nonsense.

        “…whoever believes” transforms into “apostles”, cause we can’t explain an absence of miracles that Jesus clearly promised.

        > I wrote up two specific posts listing a number of excellent resources

        Thank you. Will look into that.

        • Author
          Fredman 2 months ago

          Anton opines,
          – That was uncalled for. That was rude. Jesus is ashamed of you right now.-

          And you know this how?

          – Say that you sorry and we’ll go on like your dumb childish bitter rudeness never happened.-

          Nope. Look, Anton, I have engaged numerous individuals over the years who have recklessly tossed Bible verses at me to score some points and make digs against something I have written. When I have pointed out the basic reality that the person has cherry picked or has brutally taken it out of context without even the hint that the person knows anything about the Bible, that person becomes churlish and pompous. Instead of becoming indignant over what you misperceive as a slight against you, deal with the argument I set forth.

          continuing,
          – The Cripple Gate post is long and convoluted nonsense.-

          No it is not, as anyone who seriously wants to engage a response to a person who ignorantly tosses out Bible verses. The fact that you won’t take the time to read it and dismissively wave it off as “convoluted” instead of responding to his exegesis, indicates to me that you are either lazy, or not really serious about hearing a response. that is at typical response I hear from critics on a regular basis. You just want to hear what YOU want to hear to satisfy a confirmation bias.

  4. Derek 2 months ago

    Christianity is hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of followers every year in the US alone. This drop appears to coincide with the growing availability of information on the internet. The more one learns, the more it turns out Christianity is not what most Christians think. That happened to a friend of mine who was a pastor for 30 years. He was so devoted to God that he wanted to learn everything he could about Christianity…only it led him to conclude the evidence for Jesus—even just a human Jesus—was far weaker than he ever imagined. Then he started seeing all sorts of contradictions in the Bible. And gradually his faith just faded away. Apparently this happens a lot among clergy who study Christianity in depth—there’s even a support service for them called The Clergy Project to help them deal with the abandonment by friends, family and community that so often occur as a result of losing one’s faith. The sad thing is, belief is not a choice, yet they get blamed for their loss of faith.

    • Author
      Fredman 2 months ago

      Derek writes,
      – Christianity is hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of followers every year in the US alone.-

      That’s a bogus, inflated statistic. That said, however, it is true that a number of mainline denominations, including Roman Catholics are losing membership. Add to that pseudo-Christian cults like Mormons as well. Those mainline denominations, however, are generally liberal to begin with and more than likely help in the defection of their members. A person can’t really defect from something they never really believed to begin with. Additionally, most Red state, evangelical churches, from small congregations to even larger mega church congregations, don’t teach the Gospel accurately, let alone the Bible, so I can understand why a young person who came to church because of the fun and games and pizza and flashy lightshow would walk away when the going gets tough.

      Continuing,
      – This drop appears to coincide with the growing availability of information on the internet. The more one learns, the more it turns out Christianity is not what most Christians think.-

      That is ridiculous. Challenges to Christianity have been happening since the founding of Christianity. Most of the stuff seen on the internet challenging Christianity is a joke and has been refuted years ago. Generally, the youthful YouTuber talking about it is ignorant of any history existing before the 1980s.

      moving along,
      – That happened to a friend of mine who was a pastor for 30 years. He was so devoted to God that he wanted to learn everything he could about Christianity…only it led him to conclude the evidence for Jesus—even just a human Jesus—was far weaker than he ever imagined. –

      I would love to chat with your friend, because I bet you more than anything he had a deficient undertanding of Christian theology and history, and ultimately wanted to pursue a sinful lifestyle over genuinely knowing the truth. What sources did he read? Who did he speak with on these matters? What contradictions? Overall what is his background, like which church did he attend? The Clergy Project is spearheaded by atheists like Richard Dawkins and Dan Baker and is a hodge-podge of marginal religious people from all sorts of anemic churches and denominations. They carry on as if there haven’t been people abandoning religion for the last 500 years or so.

      And I wrote about this phenomena earlier for those interested,
      here, https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/02/23/real-reason-young-people-leaving-church-2/

      and here is an article why atheist Christ haters get everything wrong about the church,
      https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2018/01/05/atheist-splainin-evangelicals-in-america/

  5. TAMI SHAPIRO 2 months ago

    why do people listen to other people????? are we all nuts???? Let GOD be true and every man a liar… this guys.. just full of gass. i guess..

  6. […] 8.) I’m Not A Christian Anymore: An Analysis […]

  7. Brenda 2 months ago

    He never mentions that he loved the Lord. He never fell in love with Jesus, he just tried to “do” the Christian walk w/o tge relationship.

  8. MB 2 months ago

    I can’t speak specifically to this person’s experience, but I have talked with a multitude of Christians who doubt God, and/or doubt their salvation. A few key threads here are the heavy emphasis on works, living as if they are under the Old Covenant rather than New, and, therefore, a lack of joy, peace, security, etc. [These same people almost always have been taught a performance-based doctrine, be it overt or subtle.] So in some ways it makes perfect sense why they struggle and doubt. They work VERY hard, and yet they lack the desired fruit. Something is clearly wrong. I don’t know their salvation status, but I do know that OC living does not produce good fruit, or lasting fruit (e.g. fruit of the Spirit). The problem is deception and error, and this error is very common among self-proclaiming Believers. Once they detect this error, correct it with the truth, and grow in living according to the NC, their lives are transformed.

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