Skip to comments.Ex-Pastor Turned American Atheist Director Tells How She Lost Faith
Posted on 07/12/2012 9:34:51 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
A former Methodist worship and teaching pastor who served in ministry for 20 years before becoming an atheist has been appointed as the American Atheist's public relations director. In an interview with The Christian Post, she revealed that despite initially being ostracized by friends, she is now happy and at peace with her decision.
"No it was very, very gradual. Actually there's not really one single moment where I can look back and say ah, that was the moment. It was kind of a slow progression," Teresa MacBain shared about her loss of faith with CP in a phone interview on Tuesday.
After leaving her ministry earlier this year, MacBain, a Florida resident, also served as executive director of the Clergy Project, which offers support to former clergy members who have lost their faith and become secularists.
"My husband and kids were fine, they knew that things had changed for me, but extended family, I lost those relationships. I lost all of my friendships except for one couple. I have one maybe from the church that I'm still in contact with, but initially they were all just very angry. They locked me out of the church and it took me some months to collect my belongings. It was a very difficult situation," MacBain explained about reaction to her initial announcement.
There were those from the church who tried to reach out and speak to her, but those discussions did not go far.
"One pastor that was a former colleague of mine did reach out immediately and I went and sat down and talked to him. He discussed everything and let me share. It was kind of an intense conversation, but after that I haven't heard from that person anymore. I'm not really sure, I guess he just wanted to find some answers," she said.
Unable to point to one specific incident that made her change her mind about God and the Bible, MacBain chronicled the train of thought that led her from the Christian faith to her secularist reasoning today.
"It's just theological. I had no problems with the church or the structure or the organization. There are basically four steps that occurred over a long period of time. One was the contradictory nature of the Bible; the lack of scientific or historical foundation or accuracy, which took me a very, very long time to come to terms with. That was the starting point I guess when I realized that that wasn't true, that the Bible wasn't true. From there I moved to thinking about all of the religions in the world and how people basically associate, in most cases, with one religion or another based upon their own culture and how they were raised," she said.
"So I kind of moved into a position where I thought that all religions were equally valid and that it kind of depended on who you were and how you were raised but that we were all on the same journey. From there I moved to the question of the existence of hell and trying to understand how a supreme being could create humans that according to the Christian Bible are very weak and finite, as compared to God. How that creature, being, entity, whatever you want to call it, could punish them eternally in such a horrible and torturous place as hell. So that was kind of a third discovery."
While the former teaching pastor confessed that often during her ministry she had doubts about her faith, now as an atheist she feels more secure about her views in life.
"I feel secure. I feel peaceful. I just kind of clarified the doubts. All the while I was having those doubts and trying to struggle with those issues, I always felt that it would make me a stronger Christian. That it would make me a better pastor. It wasn't until it really hit home for me, where I was at, that I realized that instead of that I had actually grown much further away from my faith to the point of I no longer had faith."
In her new position as public relations director for American Atheists, which is one of the largest secularist organizations in the U.S., she says that her main goal is to defend First Amendment rights and continue fighting for the separation of church and state.
"I think one of the misunderstandings about what the term atheist means is that all of us think we're 100 percent certain that no one can change our minds about the belief in God, which isn't completely accurate. An atheist as far as what I believe means that we don't see any evidence; we don't think there is a God. We're very skeptical about it and choose to live our lives without God," MacBain said.
"Instead of looking to an outside source for the solution to humankind's problems, we see that responsibility as [our own]. We have to reach out and support each other. We can't say a prayer to an invisible being somewhere and expect that to be the solution. The solution has to be when one human reaches out to another."
The Clergy Project, with which MacBain serves in a voluntary role, was created in March 2011 as a private, invitation only, website for "for active and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs." Starting with 52 members, it now has more than 300 members, according to the website.
-- CP reporter Brittney R. Villalva contributed to this report.
I don’t accept your premise that she has accepted hell. I am not applauding her glibly either.
She was never saved in the first place. The proof of Christianity is the Salvation itself. I left atheism and became a Christian when Christ Saved me, not when I figured it all out. I still can’t figure it all out.
All the external proof in the world is insufficient.
Trading one false faith for another.
Theology studies for a lot of Christians these days, is an academic mental exercise, devoid of the mystical or spiritual aspect of actually relating to and experiencing God.
The mental exercises are provided in atheist (social Marxist)institutions with theology programs that are actually hostile to the moral and mystical aspects of the Bible and the spiritual aspects of life and man. In these institutions obedience is only accepted as it applies to being obedient to the institution’s political correctness and that obedience is set up to directly conflict with obedience to the God of the Bible.
I have heard many times from people who come out of Theology schools with less faith and experience of God than when they went in. They no longer believe the Bible is true because they have had to twist themselves around humanist institutions.
As you said, being saved is not a mental exercise. But becoming a pastor is a mental exercise requiring allegence to a social beleif structure and value structure in opposition to the Bible. This might explain what has happened to the spiritual experience of our churches.
I hope all the atheist ministers come out of the churches like this woman did. They are torturing the faith and Godly power of the churches and people.
And she pretty much says “I was a liar and a fraud but you can trust me”.
Her “theological” analysis is notably trivial. Based on her description, she was influenced by all the common, pop-culture, cliched and debunked arguments.
“One was the contradictory nature of the Bible; the lack of scientific or historical foundation or accuracy, which took me a very, very long time to come to terms with.”
The only logical conclusion from this is that it took her such a long time that she didn’t have a chance to check the historical record or the forensic evidence.
But the best intellectual analysis of Christian doctrine tells us that the doctrine makes more sense than not.
—But the best intellectual analysis of Christian doctrine tells us that the doctrine makes more sense than not.—
I agree in a backhanded way, and agree with C. S. Lewis when he says that if Christianity is man made, whoever “made” it was nuts. It doesn’t have the fingerprints of man.
One example: In the culture of Jesus’ time, if you’re gonna make up your guy rising from the dead, it’s idiotic to use women as the witnesses.
“being saved is not a mental exercise”
You make a very important point. But it seems a good way to phrase it is: “being saved is not entirely a mental exercise.”
For example, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31)
We find other examples in the New Testament that Jesus used physical evidence to convince people of his Truth, so they would be saved.
But again, your point is essential because if we look at the verses just preceding those in John from above, in what Jesus says to Thomas, we see Jesus favors belief through faith above belief inspired by physical evidence.
Don’t forget that Lewis has pointed out that due to the nature of the facts in the larger context, it is irrational to think of Christian doctrine as coming from insanity.
Because they oppose truth itself, they must progressively ignore emerging facts. The only ultimate recourse for atheists is to use the tactic of name calling.
The more we examine facts and process them logically, the more we see not just the moral weakness but the intellectual weakness of atheism.
Yes. In Mere Christianity he calls it the most intellectually bankrupt of all “religious” beliefs.
You might remember his observation that there are necessarily three logical possibilities: Jesus Christ was either a liar, a madman or simply a person telling the truth.
The problem faced by the atheist is that he must deny—to himself—that he lacks confidence in his own ideology, meanwhile it’s this very lack of confidence which limits his access to the intellectual realm of the debate.
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