In the last couple of years there have been a bunch of high-profile deconversions. It can seem like we have been slammed with announcements from well-known Christians, like pastors and worship leaders/musicians, disclosing that they had renounced their faith. Joshua Harris and Jon Steingard are two examples.

Quite possibly, Joshua and/or Jon may return to the faith, but for the sake of discussion, let’s assume they don’t. What does this say about salvation?

Nowadays, standard evangelical teaching is that you can’t lose your salvation. Once saved, always saved. Think of John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” A common way to interpret this verse is that a Christian can never lose their salvation. But there are other verses too, such as Hebrews 3:14, which appear to warn us against abandoning our faith: “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Notice the “if.”

So then what is going on here? Standard evangelical teaching is that folks like Harris and Steingard had had false conversions. They were never really saved. But does this make sense? I’m not sure. After all, many of us know someone who had been a self-proclaimed Christian for a long, long time before leaving the faith. In many of these cases, we had been convinced ourselves that they were Christians. Could we have been fooled in each case? Did all of the ex-believers fool themselves?

That seems hard to believe. But maybe it is true. I was watching an Alisa Childers YouTube video titled “What’s with all the deconstruction stories? With Sean McDowell.” Sean is a pastor, and went through a period of severe doubt in his faith walk, but returned to full faith. He has since talked with lots and lots of ex-Christians, former believers who left the faith. He says something very interesting. He says that in all those conversations, he has never had any of these ex-Christians report to him that they had ever in their lives had an experience of their sinfulness and crying out for God’s grace. Huh. Well, that’s the Gospel, right? Maybe it does indeed happen that many Christians, even pastors and worship leaders, join the church due to wanting to be part of the movement or having an experience at a youth conference, but never actually respond internally to the Gospel?

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