FAQs: Were You Ever Really A Christian



I really hate this question.

Yes, hate.

I get this question quite frequently, and I think of nothing more dismissive and condescending.  It takes all the pain that I’ve gone through, the countless nights in prayer, the tears, the anger, the fears, and the struggles with my job and family and says…


Really?  Then why does this hurt so much?!  Why would why I sacrifice my entire life, move hundreds of miles away from my family, take a very low paying job, if I didn’t think it was to the glory of God?


Yes, I did.  3 times to be exact.  I remember going to youth group and being challenged by the youth pastor and he had a decision sermon.  He said:

“Now with everyone’s head bowed and eyes closed, if you would like to invite Jesus into your heart, look up at me now.”

And so I looked up and asked for him to pray for me to become a Christian.

And then next Sunday at Church, during the Pastor’s sermon:

“..but all this was done so that you may God loves and wants to be a part of your life.  He created you and he wants to save you.  If you’ve never invited Jesus into your heart I want you to do it now.  Pray this along with me…”

I noticed his “sinners prayer” was slightly different than my youth pastors.  I wasn’t sure if I need to say both versions so I prayed with the pastor then too.  You know, just to be sure I was saved.

A month later we went on a youth retreat, and the youth pastor invited all those who wanted to receive Jesus to stay after the session for a talk.  I stayed after and he said:

“John, I thought we already prayed for you to receive Jesus.  You don’t have to do it every week.  Jesus heard you the first time.”

But I know what you’re thinking:


Ok, so you’re thinking that a Christian means someone who follows Christ.  It’s not enough to pray and say you believe in him but you have to actually pursue him.

Well I wasn’t raised in a Church or by Christians.  I received a Bible for the first time when I was a teenager.  You know what I did with that Bible?  I read it.  I wanted to know about God and who this Jesus guy was I kept hearing about.  I went through the Gospel of Matthew first.  I thought Jesus was amazing.  I didn’t understand much about him, but I knew I found someone who was not your average religious teacher.  And so I kept reading the Bible.

I started inviting friends to come with me to church because I thought, “hey this bible thing, even though its really old, it still applies to our lives today.”  Eventually when I got into college I started doing campus evangelism, because I thought more people needed to know about Jesus.

I got into ministry because I read the bible so much, I actually knew more about it than my friends.  People kept coming to me with their questions about God, the Bible and life.  It was so fun to help people understand these things.  Someone suggested that if I enjoy reading the Bible and explaining it so much, maybe I should become a pastor.  So I changed my major, enrolled in seminary, and kept volunteering as a Sunday School teacher.

Yes, I prayed everyday.  I tried to pray without ceasing.  I honestly believed that God was there, and that he was watching over me.  I honestly believe that hell existed and people were going there if I didn’t tell them about Jesus.  I honestly dedicated my life to serving Jesus and the Gospel thinking the Holy Spirit would support me and guide me.

When I got married my wife and I couldn’t afford a reception and we were ok with it because we believe the “wedding” was us standing before God and being united as one flesh by his Spirit.


If you mean, did I speak in tongues? No.

If you mean did I rely on the Spirit to guide me and “speak” to me? Yes.


Yeah but nothing! If I wasn’t a Christian then nobody is.

I understand that you may think that “once saved always saved” necessitates that those who leave the faith never truly had it to begin with.  But that’s just bunk.  It’s also not biblical.  I can accept the fact that you believe I’m lost.  I can accept the fact that you think I’m not saved. I can accept the fact that you think I’m going to hell (or will cease to exist, if you don’t believe in hell), but you have no basis to question if I ever truly believed.  I believed as much as anyone could.  Then one day I couldn’t believe anymore.

I was a Christian, now I’m an atheist.

I hope this answers your question.


18 thoughts on “FAQs: Were You Ever Really A Christian

  1. I really love what you wrote here, and this will be my go to page whenever I need to shut some christians up who think I was never a christian. Btw, I tick all the same boxes as you, other than the speak in tongues thing.

    Yupz, Charismatic Pentecostal.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It certainly feels condescending to hear that from people, and my responses were generally the same as yours. I believed whole heartedly that Christ died to save me from my sins, and who the hell are you to question if I was a “real” Christian.

    Eventually I came to think that the reason they have to dismiss the strength of the beliefs of former Christians is partially out of fear. “If they stopped believing, could it happen to me? No, no no. My belief is much stronger than theirs must have been.”


    Liked by 3 people

  3. Yeah but nothing! If I wasn’t a Christian then nobody is.



    I wish I could drive this into believers’ heads with a rusty nail. I hate to be that way, but I ran into this again literally 30 minutes before checking my reader and finding this post. Well said all around.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I loved your comment, “I understand that you may think that ‘once saved always saved’ necessitates that those who leave the faith never truly had it to begin with.”

    These categories are a bother. Christian? Saved? Believer? Whatever. It’s the habit of black-and-white thinking. Like you, I became a Christian as a youngster, but now I’m a solid atheist. Did I become unsaved? Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” If taken to be true, I was saved the moment that I believed. Surely, a spate of doubt doesn’t flip-flop your status from going-to-heaven to going-to-hell? I don’t think the bible addresses this, but it seems unreasonable to expect Christians to be doubtless.

    Challenging the bible by quoting the bible is a waste of time for an atheist, but I bring this up honestly. As a teenager, I confessed to my loving mother that I no longer believed. She immediately began to weep. This conversation tugs on my heartstrings even today. She thought she failed her job as a parent to guide my thinking. She was distraught that I would not be in heaven with her. She asked me if I had ever believed, and I told her I did. We actually discussed Acts 16:31. My Mom was comforted to know that I was going to be in heaven, despite the devil’s temporary victory. She clinged to the principle of “once saved always saved.” But as a hedge, she still prayed for the remainder of her life that god would remove my doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “It’s true, I did believe in Santa Claus. Somehow I just knew he was coming and he knew every kid, and he was always kind and loving.”
    “But today, you don’t believe that. Perhaps you never really believed it?”
    “I really believed it.”
    “I don’t think you did. If you really believed it, you would still believe in Santa Claus. How could you change?”
    “I grew up?”

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Are Christians unaware of what the Bible actually says? How is this not clear? Anyway, the Christian Heaven, as described in the Bible, is no place I’d like to go.

    Hebrews 6
    6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
    6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
    6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. But you probably didn’t read the one true KJV Bible. Or you didn’t attend the right church. Or you were religious but not spiritual. They have so many ways to dismiss people as never having been TRUE CHRISTIANS. Makes me want to slap them so hard.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Years ago I was active in a very good conservative Baptist church. Those who left the church to go into the ministry, or left because they had to move away with their jobs, they were great Christians serving the Lord. When someone left the church to go to another church or just dropped out, some of the church members would invariably say, “Well for some time now I’ve doubted his (or her) salvation.” That always bothered me. Then some of those who said those things dropped out to go to another church or to just drop out. Still though, they considered themselves to be very good Christians. Doesn’t add up.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Yesterday I just got into a discussion with somebody on this very topic. SOmebody else brought up the Lord Liberation Army as an example of Non Christians that claim to be Christians.

    I simply asked them on what they based their assumption they were not “True Christians™”. Just on the fact they were an evil organization? To his credit, he mentioned also their animistic beliefs, which was a better point than most people would use.

    However, millions of Catholics pray to saints, relics, and have beliefs that while not animistic in the strict sense of that practice, were certainly not that biblical. But do you really want to exclude 1.2 billion people from Christianity’s ranks because they believe in saints?

    My point to them was that Christianity, like most religions is really a matter of self identification. The major tenet is to believe in Christ. That makes you a Christian.

    It is intellectually bankrupt to eliminate from the ranks of your religion anyone that doesn’t adhere to your strict interpretation if they are a bit inconvenient.

    Many religious people bring up Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin when discussing atheism. I do not repudiate Stalin as an atheist (even though he attended seminar at some point) because he was a bad man. I don’t believe atheism is depended on the goodness and integrity of its membership for it to be a valid stance on religion.

    There are a lot of Atheists I don’t particularly enjoy sharing the label with: Ayn Rand and her followers make a fairly large contingent. I find their ideology contemptible at best, dangerous at worse.
    But I am not going to go around telling people Ayn Rand and those that follow her are not “True Atheists™”.

    To be an atheist you have to have a reasonably certain lack of believe in the existence of god. There are plenty of bad people that do not believe in God and they do not represent me personally.

    Repudiating co-religionists to elevate your own faith is lazy and ultimately wrong. Demonstrably wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Basic “No True Scotsman” fallacy. They have this weird belief that no true Christian could ever become an atheist. It’s like Life After Doubt posted above, they need to think they’re invulnerable because they have their god. They could NEVER lose THEIR faith.

    I’ve always felt this perspective is a little weird. For me, the answer to that question has almost always been “No, I wasn’t.” I probably take a sadistic amount of pride in that.

    Liked by 2 people

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