“It is rare that people apostatize all of a sudden. Rather, there will almost always have been a long trajectory away from genuine Christian faith and practice and toward distinctly unChristian faith and practice. I expect that those who knew these men well, those who saw their lives up close, could tell of a slow drift rather than a sudden deconversion.”
(Tim Challies) For the past few weeks, apostasy has been a trending topic among Christians. Though the discussion has been spurred by the sad news of some well-known men revoking their Christian faith, the discussion is bringing about the positive effect of engaging a crucial but neglected subject. (Apostasy refers to people falling away from previously held Christian beliefs.)
Much of this happened when I was on vacation and deliberately taking some time away from writing. This removed my opportunity to offer a hot take—something I’m actually thankful for—so perhaps we ought to consider this my cold take. I know much has already been said and said well, but as I’ve caught up with the many articles and podcasts, I think there are a few missing elements that would be helpful to discuss.
The first thing we ought to consider is that apostates are self-deceived. Years before a man or woman apostatizes, he or she would probably be shocked to hear what their future holds. This is to say, while there are always some “wolves in sheep’s clothing” within the church—people who know they hate God but pretend to love him—apostates generally deceive themselves before they deceive others. There is a time in their lives in which they are convinced they are truly saved. They live like Christians because they believe they are Christians. This being the case, we don’t need to think that those who have fallen away knew they were unsaved all along. Rather, we believed they were saved because they believed they were saved and even provided some evidence of it. This puts the call on each of us to ensure that we are not self-deceived but that we have genuinely come to Christ in repentance and faith. Their apostasy provides us the crucial opportunity to examine our own hearts before the Lord.