Good day, friends! In this post I’d like to tell you about a recent Twitter engagement I had that is philosophically very interesting. It’s on the subject of whether it’s possible for true Christians to renounce their faith, and the related issue of whether the spirit of God resides in all people or only born again Christians.
In case you don’t know me very well, I should first say that I have had a very deep experience with the Christian faith. During a spell in psychiatric hospital in 2008, I read the Bible for the first time and was profoundly moved by what I read. I became acutely aware of the reality of God, was praying and reading and writing out Scripture constantly, and after I was discharged from hospital I embarked on a journey into Christian spirituality, which involved time in Catholic, Anglican, and Evangelical Protestant churches.
During my time in hospital I had surrendered everything to Jesus, and I reaffirmed my commitment to give my life to Jesus in a Hillsong Church London service a few weeks after I had been discharged from hospital and was living back in the community. I was completely living for Jesus, praying for friends and strangers on the street, attending house groups, reading the Bible every day, and studying Philosophy and Religion at a Christian college in London.
Regular readers of this blog will know that in the years that followed I had spells where I was a very passionate and evangelical Christian, and spells where I questioned the core doctrines of the faith on a deep level. I got baptised in a Baptist church (it seemed to me that would be the proper place to do it!), but also spent time writing my book Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion in which I talked about the reasons why I feel many aspects of Christianity are irrational and nonsensical. If you’re a Christian reading this, I want you to know that it was not without great fear of God and reverence for Jesus that I questioned the Christian faith — the struggle happened on my knees and over many years. Those of you who have read my essay ‘An Almighty Predicament’ (available as a free PDF download here) will understand the core issues that I was wrestling with.
I reached a point where my concerns about the logic of Christianity were too great for me to continue in the faith, and so I settled into the incredibly difficult role of understanding myself to be a kind of ‘post-Christian’ person who nevertheless is an ardent theist, fervent about serving God, desirous to worship Him, who prays every day, says grace at meal times, and does so with the agonising loneliness that comes from the fact that there are very few people in a similar position.
Taking all of the above into consideration, I’d like to say a few things today in response to some Twitter comments I received this week. When I mentioned on Twitter that I am no longer a Christian, several commenters chimed in to seemingly question whether such a thing is even possible.
Here are the comments quoted directly:
How can someone who has the Spirit of God/Jesus in them get rid of Him and become an unbeliever?
— Mateo a (@Mateoa46367582) May 16, 2019
If that happens, you were never a believer in the first place. A true Saint will “P”ersevere in the faith until the end.
— Tim (@livinggenesis) May 17, 2019
The implication that is evident from these comments is that it is impossible for a believer to leave the faith. I’d like to now explain why I think this is highly illogical.
What is the spirit of God? Having pondered deeply on this question, I came to the realisation that God is omnipresent. This being so, when you look around the room you are in, you must know that God is present in every part of the room, including every cell of your body (that’s what omnipresence means, if you think about it). Therefore, the spirit of God is animating all activity in existence, including all the manifestations related to human beings, including our thoughts and actions.
If what I’ve said in the preceding paragraph is true, it would be illogical to argue that the spirit of God is in some people and not others. To argue this would be to deny God’s omnipresence, and in order to deny God’s omnipresence, we would have to place boundaries and limitations on His being, which is theologically highly problematic.
In reality, the spirit of God dwells in all men. And also in all other creatures, and also in all inanimate objects. I am completely convinced of this, for the reasons given above.
God still speaks to me today, in a very real way. I still feel His presence when I pray and worship Him, I still know that He is unfolding my life with great care and attention to detail, and I still know that (if the phrase means anything) God’s spirit dwells within me.
I really think that Tim and Mateo’s comments demonstrate shallowness of thought, and are representative of the kind of blind indoctrination that is sadly characteristic of too many Christians. I hope that Tim and Mateo will at least think through the issues and arguments I have presented in this article, and if they fail to see the logic, I don’t mind at all — there is no reasoning with some people! But I wish them well, and am grateful that they provoked me to write this post.
If you’re interested in exploring the issues raised in this article in more depth, my latest book entitled God’s Grand Game presents a comprehensive overview of my philosophy. It is my hope that many people will consider the ideas presented in that book with an open mind, and I believe that if they do, light will be shed on many problematic areas of the Christian faith. Thank you for reading!