Jan 14 - When People Walk Away From God

When People Walk Away From God - Family Matters Part 1

January 14, 2018

 

WHEN PEOPLE WALK AWAY FROM GOD

Family Matters - Part 1

January 14th, 2018

 

One of the most painful experiences for Christians is to have loved ones walk away from God and reject Him.  And growing up in the church and in a Christian home is no guarantee that they won’t.  It is a common enough experience, that I felt it would be worthwhile to take a look at the reasons why these things happen and how we should react to them.

 

1. Religion or church seems boring and/or irrelevant

 

Individuals who have grown up in a Christian home or who have had some church background drift away from God, from their faith, at times simply because they found church boring or the sermons irrelevant. 

 

It’s like an Atari VCS.  It may have had some use a while ago, but in today’s world it’s just not exciting or relevant anymore. 

 

Some people think that church should be more like a party, and less like a lecture at a university. 

 

 

I like southern gospel, and have been watching some church services from the southern US online.  They are rocking.  And many of the songs and messages are focused on the good things that can happen when people come to Jesus. 

 

One of my favourite hymns that we used to sing many years ago is “Victory in Jesus[1].  And many of the sermons and songs in the southern gospel tradition are very much like it.  They are uplifting and encouraging. 

 

But as I was watching and listening, I realized that the people who were singing these songs and dancing to them and shouting out “Amen” to the preacher’s quips, ... these Christians are faced with the same difficulties and problems that other Christians are - their lives are not necessarily easier when it comes to getting up and going to work on Monday morning. 

 

I guess what I’m trying to say, that while it IS exhilarating and fun to be on the mountain top, the reality is that you can’t live there. 

 

Those who are constantly seeking the next spiritual high just don’t seem to get that.  And those who are leaving church because it isn’t always the most exciting, fun place to be, don’t get it either.

 

On the other hand, as believers we can also choose to dwell in the valley of the shadow of death, in a spiritually dry and exhausting place, where nothing much happens or changes. 

 

But again, this is not a place where you would want to stay for very long either.  I honestly don’t blame people for wanting to stay away if church is dry and dusty. 

 

Some people simply get so preoccupied with other things, stressed and distracted ... church becomes just another thing to squeeze into their already busy schedules.  

 

Some people say that they would much rather go for a walk than go to church. To golf, to play some other sport, or to sleep in, rather than go to church.   

 

Or maybe it’s just that people are tired of hearing that they have to make a difference ... when their primary interest is simply trying to catch happiness and meaning by being focused on self. 

 

Some people wander away from God because praying seems to be a futile endeavour.  They ask and ask God for something, but then don’t receive what they’re asking for.

 

And it isn’t that the request is something frivolous.  Maybe they ask that they would find a Christian spouse.  Or maybe they ask that they would find a decent job.  Or maybe they ask that a loved one would get better. 

 

But God doesn’t seem to hear or he doesn’t seem to care enough to actually answer the prayer. So God himself may be irrelevant if he can’t or won’t answer prayer the way we would like him to.

 

But what happens when our prayers ARE answered?  If so, it is often set aside as a coincidence.

 

Some church people drift from God because others at the church just aren’t caring enough or interested enough in them or their opinion. 

 

Maybe someone in church was mean or uncaring or selfish or abrupt or harsh.  Or maybe an opinion was given and no one seemed to jump on it.  “We should do this or that.”  OK, then you make it happen.  That’s not at all what I meant.  What I meant is that others should make it happen.  . 

 

Some people drift away from God because they get into the wrong crowd - possibly in high school or perhaps after graduation.  Partying and drinking and smoking up just seems too tempting and too much “fun”.  The feeling is that life should be an ongoing party and no-one should be telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. 

 

All too easily, an ugly thing becomes tolerated, even viewed as the possibly useful thing, then the permissible thing, and finally the attractive thing. It does not happen in a moment. Standards are lowered gradually and imperceptibly. Sin becomes known by another name. We accommodate at one stage of life things which earlier would have been totally unacceptable.            Raymond Brown

 

Some of those who grew up in church end up living a lifestyle that they know is incompatible with God’s will, but they think that their personal happiness depends on it ...  so maybe God just doesn’t want them to be happy. 

 

Others come to the conclusion that they do not want any boundaries placed on them when it comes to what they should and shouldn’t do, whether it comes to the inappropriate use of drugs, alcohol, their sexuality, whatever ... it could really be a host of things.  It’s much easier to ignore God and walk away from him, than to stay close and feel bad or adjust one’s behaviour or lifestyle.

 

There are many reasons why some - maybe even ourselves - slowly drift away from God over time. 

 

All those things don’t necessarily mean that a person will stay away from God for the rest of their lives, but I guess, the danger is there that they will.  Eventually the result could be a growing alienation from anything to do with God, that they carry through their whole lives and into their graves.  

 

This is somewhat different from those who, by all accounts, seemed to have had a very strong personal faith in Christ, who were baptized, possibly became members, were highly involved in the church, maybe even gone to Bible college or seminary, but who have come to the conviction that they were sorely mistaken and as a result have become more and more antagonistic toward Christianity and zealous in their desire to dissuade others from the Christian faith.

 

I believe even these individuals could potentially have another change of heart, but it is much less likely, and only some very dramatic event could potentially bring them back to faith.

 

In either case, the temptation is to either write individuals off completely, because, as the Bible points out clearly, there is in fact a point of no return (Heb. 6:4-6).

 

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of God’s message and the powers of the age to come, and who subsequently have fallen away, since they are crucifying all over again the Son of God, bringing harm on themselves while causing others to view him with contempt.          Hebrews 6:4-6

 

The problem is that I don’t think it is for us to determine who may be at the place of “no return.” 

 

On the other hand, the temptation is to think that people who walk away from God are saved, no matter what their life and faith choices may be.  This is captured in the simplistic phrase “once saved always saved,” as well as on a misunderstanding of Proverbs 22:6, ...

 

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.                        Proverbs 22:6

 

... which, like all proverbs, is not a unqualified promise but a statement of a likely outcome.

 

In other words, it is very hard to distinguish at times between a person who has temporarily walked away from God and the one who has rejected God completely and finally - which is why, I think, when it comes right down to it, we should treat anyone who walks away from God in the same way.

 

Now, I have always been fascinated by the reasons why individuals reject Christianity, especially those who seemed to have had a strong conversion experience.

 

This week I have again glanced at some books I read years ago.  They included: 

 

  • Why I am not a Christian,” by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) published 1927; 55 years old at the time.

  • The misery of Christendom,” by former Lutheran theologian Joachim Kahl;[2] (1941-); published1968; 27 years old at the time.

  • Farewell to God,” by former evangelist Charles Templeton (1915-2001); published 1996; 81 years at the time.

  • Why I rejected Christianity,” by former Christian apologist John Loftus (1954-); first published 2006, 52 years old at the time. 

 

The first is an atheist, the second a liberal theologian turned philosopher, but the other two, Templeton and Loftus, relay what appear to have been genuine conversion experiences prior to their rejection of God and Christianity. 

 

As I read through the books I have tried to list the reasons given by these authors under broad topics.  I should just interject at this point that the previous reasons why people in church slowly wander away from God and the reasons why convinced Christians decide to reject their faith, are not necessarily different. 

 

So, for example, the death of a loved one despite ongoing prayer, could make someone who seems to be a strong Christian turn their back on God.  The same is true of the whole issue of lifestyle choices, which has to do with God being a killjoy ... not wanting his followers to have “fun”, however defined, which is why this may seem a bit repetitive at times.

 

1. Personal Reasons

 

Even those who see themselves as the most rational of all opponents to faith don’t walk away from God simply because of philosophical or theological issues.  So often the reason for the choice to reject their faith is for personal reasons, after which logic is used to justify that rejection.

 

The first of these personal reasons is some kind of moral compromise. It isn’t as if this is something new.  Even in the church of the 1 century, were those who walked away from the faith because of this.

 

Some people, eager for money, have walked away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.                                                                     1 Timothy 6:10

 

... In the last days people will love themselves, love money, ... love pleasure rather than love God                                                                   2 Timothy 3:1-2,4

 

 

One common reason why people abandon their faith is because they knowingly compromise God’s standards and either don’t want to feel guilty about it, or who are surprised when their fellow Christians are not as supportive or as accepting of their behaviour as they would like them to be

 

Interestingly, two of the authors I mentioned, originally married Christian wives but subsequently had long-standing affairs and eventually divorced their wives.  On the basis of his own experience, one of the men argued that the sexual morality of the Bible should be rejected because it is simply unattainable. 

 

The other one (Loftus) wrote about how negative his feelings of guilt were.  Guilt needs to be rejected out of hand, and since it is part and parcel of the Christian experience, belief in God and Christianity needs to be rejected. Get rid of the cause of your guilt and be a much happier person.  Another person reason why apparently “strong” Christians reject their faith is because they were hurt.

 

Some individuals want a loving, caring and faithful Christian community to uphold and support them.  When they are personally disappointed because someone in the church doesn’t live up to their expectations, or when they experience negative interpersonal conflicts with people in the church, they walk away and reject God.

 

Some of these experiences, of course, can be horrendous - like being sexually abused by a Christian leader, or a prominent pastor being caught in moral sin.[3]

 

Some individuals are rightly offended by the blatant greed and avarice of some TV evangelists that spend much of their time pleading for money and who live in unbelievable luxury,[4] some of whom are blatant liars.[5]

 

When I was doing some research this week, I came across one article about a prominent speaker back in the 1980’s, who I went to hear on more than one occasion in Vancouver. Apparently, he, was a complete charlatan who had lied about his personal experiences and had numerous affairs on his numerous wives.[6]

 

But most of the time, the reasons for walking away from the church, and possibly from God, are much more trivial, often nothing more than minor disagreements or personalities that rub each other the wrong way.

 

While it is true that Christians have done immeasurable good: ministered to the sick, the dying, the bereaved, built schools and universities, orphanages and hospitals, cared for the poor, fed the hungry, brought education to the illiterate, and otherwise improved the lives of millions,

 

... other so-called Christians have also has used religion or theological differences as a means to excuse and encourage violence, oppression, war, torture, murder, hate and division. 

 

So the second reason why some former Christians have turned their back on God is because of the ...

 

The church not only included the likes of

Florence Nightingale (nursing),

William Wilberforce (vs. slavery),

George Müller (orphans in 19th cent. England),

Mother Teresa (sick and dying in Calcutta),

Lord Shaftsbury (children in England),

Thomas Stephenson (street children, England),

Abbe Pierre (homeless in France),

Camilus de Lellis (Red Cross),

Clara Barton (US Red Cross),

William Booth (Salvation Army), and

David Livingstone (medical missionary to Africa).

 

It also included Thomas de Torquemada, the 15th century leader of the Spanish Inquisition,

Rodrigo Borgia, also known as pope Alexander 6th,

the vicious conquistador Hernando Cortes (brutal conquistador; cf. Pedro de Alvarado),[7] and

Athanase Seromba who encouraged the Hutu soldiers to kill the Tutsi’s who had come to find shelter in the church during the Rwandan genocide.

 

 

In the middle ages, heretics, which often just meant other Christians who didn’t believe exactly like those in charge of the church, were tortured and burned to death.  Sometimes so-called heretics were killed in the tens of thousands.[8]  A lot of good people died horrible deaths.

 

Conquistadors, many of whom considered themselves devout Christians, decimated the native populations by the 100’s of thousands, sometimes in awful ways.

 

Because the actions of Christians are unjust and unfair, Christianity needs to be rejected as false.  One former Christian also argued that the whole issue of who goes and doesn’t go to heaven is unfair as well since ... .

 

b. Religious beliefs are based on birthplace

 

The argument is that people become Christians because of where and when they were born - something totally beyond their control.  God, if he was just, could never hold anyone accountable who did not become a Christian if they were born, for example, in a Muslim or Hindu society.  Therefore it would also be presumptuous to assume that Christianity is the true religion.

 

Another argument against Christianity and God is that ...

 

c. Hell is too horrendous

Some former Christians come to the conviction that a place of eternal punishment is unfair and unjust because whatever crime or evil was committed was done within time and space.  . 

 

Now, because Jesus believed in and spoke of hell, he cannot be God, he cannot be the best and wisest of men.

 

By the way, we should remember that hell is not at all what we may picture it to be.  Yes, it will be a place of regret and one where God is not present, but that does not mean it is one where people are being tortured by Satan and his hordes.[9] (Lake of fire where demons and the souls of the evil hang out together as per Dante’s Inferno)

 

One big argument against Christianity or faith in God is that the OT portrays God as a vindictive, bloodthirsty, tribal god. 

 

d. The God of the OT is bloodthirsty

 

In the OT, God is portrayed as unjust, brutish, vain, vindictive, and violent, especially when it comes to how Israel was told to annihilate the inhabitants of Canaan and how God needed to be appeased with animal sacrifices.

 

The mass killing of cows today is not in relation to the temple sacrifices in biblical days, however, on holy days and festivals, literally hundreds and hundreds of animals, cows, sheep, goats, and pigeons would be killed by cutting their necks.

 

Another argument against God is based on ...

 

e. The suffering of the innocent

 

The basic premise is that a loving God should not allow suffering of any kind, but particularly the suffering of the innocent, such as children, or good people.

 

This is a world map where the level of suffering is rated.  The darkest areas are where human suffering is the greatest.  As you can see, there are countries in Africa, such as Mauritania, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, Angola, and Mozambique;

On the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen;

In Asia, there are countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Vietnam.  But this map was from 1992 (25 years ago).  Things have changed to some degree.  For example, places like Syria and Iraq would likely rank among the highest of where people suffer.

 

Nevertheless, if you overlay this map with one on global illiteracy or global hunger or global state of peace, those very same countries generally fare the worst.[10]  

 

The view of some who reject their former faith is that there is such a pervasiveness of suffering, pain and death in nature and due to human activity, that a loving God would not be able to stand idly by. 

 

The third category of reasons why some former Christians turn completely away from God has to do with science.

 

This is the view that science and faith, or reason and faith, are mutually incompatible.  The argument goes, that if you are a rational being you have to reject faith.  If you believe, you have to reject logic.  The fact that many eminent and highly intelligent scientists are also Christians has to be ignored.

 

a. Genesis is wrong

 

The point is made that the creation account in Genesis contradicts scientific fact, especially when it comes to the age of the universe and the development of life on the earth.

 

b. Miracles are not possible

 

It is argued that the writers of the Bible are reflecting a superstitious worldview that simply does not fit with what we know to be reality. 

 

Part of this superstition is the belief in miracles, which means that much of what is recorded as history in the Bible is in fact myth and legend.  Because the account of Jesus’ life in the gospel are full of myth and legend, it is impossible to discover who Jesus really was and what he really said.

 

c. Lack of definitive proof for the existence of God

 

There is no conclusive proof that God exists.  Mind you, neither is there conclusive proof for the non-existence of God.  However, some who lost their faith would argue, it is more likely that God does not exist because prayers are not answered, there is suffering in the world, miracles aren’t possible, and so on.

 

d. No afterlife is possible

 

Because the brain is what holds our memories and gives us our personalities, when it is destroyed after death, we cease to exist.  There is no afterlife.

 

A few comments on the above.  First of all, there is a reason why I listed the three main categories in the order I did.  That is because in my experience, the most common reason why people walk away from God or perhaps simply from the church, are first and foremost personal issues.  The least common reason why people fall away is because of scientific reasons.

 

Second, while I understand the various reasons for walking away from God, I obviously don’t think that they are conclusive.  For one, belief and reason don’t necessarily have to be contradictory.  There are Christians who are highly intelligent, logical, open to reason and so on.[11] 

 

I am convinced that Hume’s argument against the possibility of miracles does not hold water, nor do I believe that prayers aren’t answered (although many perhaps not the way we would like them to be). 

 

Although I personally struggle with some passages in the Bible, I don’t conclude that God is sexist, racist, or evil, nor do I agree that God has to get rid of all evil in the world in order to be good and loving.  

 

Never-the-less, I am equally convinced that some Christians have allowed their own insecurities and weaknesses and failings and desires to make them easily offended, unproductive, and unconcerned for the environment. 

 

I readily admit that the history of the church is, at times, appalling, to say the least.  Further, I agree that a view of the Bible as a science book has led to the condemnation of Galileo, forcing him, under the threat of execution, to recant his assertion that the earth rotated around the sun, and placing him under house arrest for the rest of his life. 

 

However, I realize that I do not have to be able to answer every person’s questions or doubts or problems with the Bible or the God.  It’s quite OK to say, “that’s a good point, I’m still thinking about that one myself.” 

 

That’s not to say that we should simply remain blissfully ignorant or not become aware of how some intellectually honest yet convinced Christians have dealt with some of these issues.  For example, there are good reasons why God may not want to alleviate all suffering on earth, free will being just one of them.

 

However, the point that I really want to make, is that for whatever reasons, good and bad, people do walk away from the faith - they backslide or they fall away permanently - those of us who love them and want the best for them - are deeply concerned for them, their lives, their souls.

 

How do I deal with someone I love walking away from God?

 

  1. I Will Get Close To God

     

In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 

                                                          1 Peter 3:15

 

Come near to God and He will come near to you.

                                                          James 4:8

 

Many Christians seemed to have lost the ability or the time to be close to God, to grow close to God.  But honestly, if we are not close to God, it’s pretty hard to invite anyone back to God. 

 

Some of us need to learn again the practices that allow us to be close to God, to know that we are close to God and He to us. 

 

2. I will live out my faith consistently

 

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that someone opposing you will be ashamed.       Titus 2:7-8

 

A model of good works and integrity.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Let me add, “one life lived well is worth a thousand sermons.” 

 

None of us are immune from simply and slowly sliding away from God. It is simply too easy, because of the constant noise and commotion and activity we are surrounded with to disconnect from God.

 

It’s like a married couple that don’t realize that they have stopped communicating, that they are slowly but surely drifting apart, until they simply are strangers to each other - and they walk away.  It is really more a matter of not paying attention, not making things better, than it is about anything malicious or decisive.

 

Reminds me of a story is told of a man in a charismatic church who, during a time of spontaneous prayer kept calling out in a loud voice, “Fill me, Lord! Fill me, Lord! Fill me, Lord!” This went on for a while until an older woman in the congregation got annoyed and prayed in just as loud a voice, “Don’t do it, Lord; he leaks!”

 

The truth is, our faith can spring a leak.  And once that slide has begun to take place, it just becomes easier to inch away even further from God. 

 

The real tragedy is that if we don’t find that time, those opportunities to stay close to God, we will end up living our lives as if God doesn’t exist- functional secularists- and our ability to help those who have backslidden is severely compromised.  We really have little if nothing of substance to share with them.

 

3. I will treat them with respect and humility

 

I have to do this even if I don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle choices, their philosophy on life, or their religious or atheistic convictions. 

 

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.                                                1 Peter 3:15-16

 

I don’t have to agree with someone’s lifestyle choices or their philosophy on life or their religious convictions.  I don’t have to pretend that I approve of all choices they make.  And I shouldn’t be apologetic when it comes to sharing my own convictions and beliefs.  But I need to maintain a spirit of humility and respect in the process.

 

Remaining gentle means that I will not be harsh or angry with them.

 

Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.    2 Timothy 2:23-26

 

I believe that when we get loud and aggressive in our arguments, when we end up in a verbal fight, when we write others off because they won’t agree with us, when we react in anger to them, then we have lost the right to share our faith with them. 

 

We can disagree agreeably.

 

I think there is nothing wrong with saying, “I think I understand what you are saying, but I disagree with you,” as long as it doesn’t turn into a bitter argument where one person tries to convince the other of their rightness of their position.  It doesn’t work well because it usually just entrenches people in their own position.  And this is true, in our marriages, our work relationships as well.

 

I know of a Christian who simply had to be right every time, and because he was gifted with a good mind and the ability to express himself well, it seemed to himself that he always “won” an argument.  The problem was that everyone resented him for being a know-it-all and I think it partly contributed to the failure of his two marriages. 

 

4. I will continue to love them

 

Genuine love and concern goes a long way toward helping a person come back to God. 

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.                     

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

Love not only deals with our own pride, selfishness, resentfulness, suspicion, lack of forgiveness and impatience … but love means that we are genuinely interested in the wellbeing of others.  And that sincere care for another person is also the best way to gain a listening ear. 

 

As much as my children hated to hear me lecture them or tell them what I think they should or shouldn’t to, I think they now realize, that the only reason I did this was because I genuinely care for them and love them and because I do want the best for them.

 

5. I will not stop praying for them

 

I don’t think there is a problem with praying for someone to find their way back to God, and to do so over and over again. 

 

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.  ...  This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.                                                   1 Timothy 2:1,3-4

 

My prayer usually is that God would bring some person or some circumstance into the life of a person who doesn’t know or has rejected God, someone or something that will allow them to reconsider the reality for God’s existence and his love for them.

 

Sometimes we give up on a person too soon.  We stop praying too soon.

 

6. I will encourage them to return to God

 

Given the opportunity, and the potential openness of the other person, it’s never wrong to ask a person what is keeping them from coming back to God.

 

It may be that it is pointless ... pride keeps them from considering the possibility that they might be wrong.  Or they are absolutely and irrevocably convinced that God doesn’t exist.

 

Or it may be that a person simply feels too guilty, too messed up, or that they have been gone for too long to come back to God.  And I think that is where we can encourage someone that it’s never too late.  God, like the father in the story of the prodigal son, would like nothing better than to forgive and embrace them. 

 

I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”  So he got up and went to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

                                                         Luke 15:18-20

 

The story that Jesus told, which is usually known as the parable of the prodigal son, was meant to demonstrate that even the person who has sunk to the lowest level, if genuinely remorseful, will be forgiven and embraced by God. 

 

Maybe that is the boat you are in today.  Maybe you think that you’ve lived your life too long away from God.  Maybe you think that God would never accept you.  Maybe you think that you’re too old or too young.  Or too ornery or too far gone.

Nothing is further from the truth.   

 

Or maybe you’re here this morning and you’re just cluing in that you’ve been sliding away from God for some time now ... that your faith, once vibrant and strong, is but a shell of its former self.  Is it time to do something about that?

 

One closing thought.  Why is it, that many of us don’t give much thought about our own eternal destiny or the eternal destiny of our love ones?  Is it that we have become so concerned about our own and their physical, financial, relational well-being ... that we and they are successful and happy on this earth, that we have lost our concern for what is by far more important?

 

Or could it be that our view of God has somehow morphed into someone who really doesn’t care about our conduct.

 

If I lack concern for the eternal destiny of my loved ones, could it be that I’ve become exclusive focus on earthly success and happiness, or that I’ve unwittingly embraced the view that everyone, no matter what, will be with God in the hereafter?

 

Is that what I really believe, and if not, does something in my life, actions or prayers need to change?

 

 

 

[1] Refrain:  O victory in Jesus, my Saviour forever.  He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood.  He loved me ‘ere I knew him, and all my love is due him.  He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.  (Eugene Bartlett, 1939)

[2] Das Elend des Christentums

[3] Pedophile priests; Marvin Gorman affair; Jim Bakker infidelity with Jessica Hahn; Jimmy Swaggart caught with prostitute; Ted Haggard homosexual encounters and drugs;

[4] Unbelievably wealthy - Benny Hinn (42 m), Pat Robertson (100 m), Joyce Myers (25 m), Kenneth Copeland (25 - 760 -1,200 m), TD Jakes (150 m), Creflo Dollar (27-100 m), Joel Osteen (40 - 50 m), Eddie Long (10 m), Paula White (5 m), Peter Popoff (100 m), Paul & Jan Crouch (100 m), Robert Tilton (100 m), ... So many different numbers on different websites.

[5] Pat Robinson swore that he could leg press 2000 lbs at 79 (an impossibility).  Peter Popoff claimed to know information about his audience which his wife was feeding him through an earpiece.   

[6] Mike Warnke - his “testimony” about being a member of a satanic church and the things they did was a completely fabricated lie.

[7] Cortes seemed to consider himself a Christian.  It is unclear if Alvardo did the same). 

[8] 20,000 Huguenots c. 1572, pope Pius V; 50,000 Albigensians c. 1209, pope Innocent III.

[9] Although, the lake of fire is the one where the beast and the false prophet (Rev 19:20), and, after Jesus’ 1000 year reign, Satan (Rev 20:10 - note the reference there to them being tormented day and night for ever and ever), death and Hades (the abode of the dead - Rev 20:14), and finally the lost, those whose name is not in the book of life, are thrown (Rev 20:15), the “second death” (Rev 20:14).

[10] Exceptions:  Russia, Nigeria and Libya fare very low on the 2016 peace index.  

[11] Mind you, some are not.