Leaving the Faith: How Can They Find Their Way Back?

Conversion of St. Paul

We hear about lots of conversion stories from Catholicism to Protestantism.  Many of them go something like this:

I was raised as a devout Catholic.  A Protestant friend of mine challenged me to read the Scriptures.  When I began to read the Scriptures, I found out that many of the doctrines that I have believed in were not in the Scriptures so I had no choice but to abandon the faith.

This is a type of story that is heard quite a bit, but how often does it actually happen?  About a year ago, a friend of mine left the Church for a Protestant sect.  I was shocked to hear this coming from my friend who is probably the smartest person that I know.  It really took me by surprise because he had debated Protestants for years.

He didn’t give the classic story that I posted above but for other reasons, probably friendships with others, led him into a new Church.  He seemed very at peace with this conversion.  I had some debates with him but it didn’t seem to get anywhere so I stopped.

I really thought about this hard.  I went to a mutual friend of ours and discussed the situation.  I mentioned that I had debated this friend of ours and it didn’t seem to work, and I’m no slouch at debating.  My friend said something very wise.  He said: “He didn’t lose the faith due to debates.  You’re not going to win him back with debates.”

This was one of the most intelligent things that I had ever heard.  He was absolutely correct.  Apologetics and debate has a place but it can’t be the only method, especially since people convert for different reasons.

Matthew Vines and Michael Coren are homosexual apologists who claim to affirm that homosexual relationships are not condemned and maybe even sanctioned in Scripture.  I just want to point out that I’m not comparing my friend to these two.  He’s far more intelligent than the both of them put together.  These two apologists use Scripture to defend homosexuality but you’ll never be able to refute them with Scripture.  Why is that?  The answer is simply because they didn’t change their position through a reading of the Scripture.  They changed their position, didn’t want to let go of their beliefs so went looking for answers; answers that they read into the Scriptures, not extracted from them.

Let me just say this plainly.  Every single one of the homosexual revisionist arguments in favour of “loving” homosexual relationships supported or not condemned by Scripture have been completely shredded.  Robert Gagnon and James White have good material refuting this garbage revisionism.  All of the arguments fail completely and that is why Vines and Coren don’t do debates on this subject.  I think deep down they know this which only proves my point even more.  They won’t be won over by Scripture since its not their authority.  They feign authority to the Scriptures but their real authority is their emotion.

Now for the big question.  How do you bring back people that have left the faith for non-apologetic reasons?  The truth is that I don’t have an answer.  As an apologist I can only answer questions and let my dialogue partner decide.  One thing for sure is that we can’t compromise.  Truth is truth.  I still pray for my friend who left the Church.  Will God answer my prayer?  I don’t know but I don’t think endless debates will be the answer.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Leaving the Faith: How Can They Find Their Way Back?

  1. I have an observation for your consideration: “As an apologist I can only answer questions and let my dialogue partner decide.” This is knowledge-based apologetics, and it served me well in my process of coming to faith, but I think Jesus shows another form of apologetics which I pursue at the same time: question-based apologetics. A fact can be dropped or disregarded much easier than a question can. A question, truly, can uncover the heart of the matter and expose a person’s presuppositions much more enduringly than even a fact can. Beyond that, beyond a person’s elaborate pride-based psychological defenses, that then is the realm of God and His Holy Spirit to do the work of conviction.

    Notice how in most encounters where Jesus was sought out, He replied with a question. Not everyone–I think of the rich young ruler–responded well to it, but that’s very much on them then.

    Beyond facts and questions, we pray as intercessors for those who cross our paths. What more could we do?

    • Hi Tony,

      Thanks for your input. You couldn’t be more correct. I remember in my University days when I would go to a TA for help on an assignment. I would learn far more when they asked me questions and challenged me.

      The same is true of the faith. It forces someone to think deep. Questions also usually stay in some ones mind longer. They tend to linger whereas the memory will discard facts as quickly as it picks them up. Great observation!