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:: Tuesday, July 22, 2003 ::

Recreational Christianity: The Story of an Atheist Youth Pastor

Something on the front page of this site caught my attention. [warning: this site contains an enormous amount of infantile and offensive material. Click at your own risk!]

I stuck around just long enough to read this explanation of what "Recreational Christianity" is from the FAQ link:

"Essentially, the term is used to describe any one of a number of activities where a non-Christian (or person not involved with a particular sect of Christianity) indulges or immerses themselves in activities, literature, and media of a given sect of Christianity which they perceive as strange, bizarre, or off-beat, for the sole purpose of having fun at the expense of that sect of Christianity."

Have you known someone like this? I did, and reading this took me back a few years to one of the more memorable of my spiritual conversations.....

Glen was an older student, having been a youth pastor in the Church of Christ denomination during his 20's. When I met him he was a staunch atheist.

In fact, he remains the last intellectually robust, genuinely friendly, philosophically complex, pure atheist I have ever met. Most people who claim to be atheists are really agnostics in denial---they typically lack the intellectual capabilities or the passionate spiritual desire to seriously investigate and live out their beliefs.

One day, after getting out early from a literature class we shared, we went out for coffee and mused about spiritual and philosophical issues. I had become Orthodox just a few months prior and he was interested to hear about this "exotic" form of Christianity. After talking about our classes for a time, I changed the subject and asked him why he wasn't a believer. He said, "I no longer believe in Christianity because I know it doesn't work."

At first I thought he was going to go down the Logical Positivism road. But he continued.

"Well, it isn't so much about it working, I suppose," he said, taking a sip of his latte. "It has more to do with what it actually *is*." I asked for an elaboration. He then said something I will never forget: "If I could lead people to Christ, go on youth retreats, sing the songs, and be a Christian leader, but not really believe in God myself, Christianity must be false."

I paused, taken aback. "So, you had already become an atheist while you were a youth pastor?" I asked, incredulously.

"Actually, a few years before I ever entered the ministry!" he exclaimed, with a smile.

I dropped out of college a few months later. It was the last conversation we had. There was something about his story that was horrific and tragic, but almost noble at the same time.

Yes, he was an atheist, a state of the heart some never escape. But we shared a common bond, one I feel might lead him to the truth someday--at a crucial point in both of our lives we stopped believing in the Christianity of our youth. Sadly, we had very different ways of dealing with this.

:: Karl :: 10:10:00 AM [Link] ::

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