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Losing *Your* Faith?

Are you having a difficult time, losing your faith?  Having doubts, but still trying to hold on?  Or not sure if you want to hold on any longer?

A couple of days ago I mentioned the “Clergy Project” the organization for clergy (“religion professionals”) who have lost their faith and no longer believe in the supernatural.   One of the founders of the project, Linda LaScola, has reminded me that she edits a blog that is completely public (for anyone interested) for just folk like you (not just clergy), called  Rational Doubt – With Voices from The Clergy Project. The posts on the blog are actually written by members of The Clergy Project.

Moreover, if you’re interested more in who these ex-clergy are and about the phenomenon of religious professionals losing their faaith, you may want to check out the book that Linda produced with the justly  famous philosopher Daniel C. Dennett of Tufts University, called Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving the Faith Behind.  You can find it at amazon.com.

Blog Fund-Raising Dinner, December 3
Christian Pastors Who Have Lost Their Faith



  1. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  November 4, 2019

    Thanks. I have ordered the book and look forward to reading it and have checked out the website as well.

  2. Avatar
    Steefen  November 4, 2019

    Hi Bart,
    I am writing the Preface to the second edition of my book from 2011. You have published much since then. I want to make sure I did not miss anything important. Since 2011, what major discovery or change has there been for scholars and for general audiences?

    Since 2011, for me:
    1) Old Testament – Seeing the archaeological evidence for Joseph at Avars, in the Egyptian Delta in David Rohl’s book Exodus: Myth or History and the documentary Patterns of Evidence: Exodus

    2) Old Testament – Learning Moses was from Avaris in the Egyptian Delta; his mother married a pharaoh south of the Delta whose name was identified by Artapanus in Praeparatio Evangelica by Eusebius as Chenephres a/k/a Sobekhotep IV.

    3) New Testament – Reading the 2005 book, Jesus Was Caesar by Francesco Carotta and seeing his documentary The Gospel of Caesar on youtube posted by YouTube subscriber GodSpanker.

    According to Carotta, the ultimate early Christian metamorphosis of the eastern Caesar-religion, which was to reinterpret the foundational cult of the Julian imperial dynasty with regard to the contested Palestine, was provoked by the new Flavian theopolitical ideology, which also induced the rewriting of the Vita of Vespasian’s court historian Flavius Josephus into the hagiography of Saint Paul in the second part of Acts.

    4) New Testament – Joseph Atwill saw the Testimonium Flavianum as part one of a literary triptych. In part one, Jesus rises on the third day because he is godly, but in part two, the savior of the world comes back on the third day to say he is not godly.

    = = =

    So, the question is, since 2011, or even since 2000, what discoveries or changes have advanced our understanding the Old Testament and the New Testament (also, please toot your own horn)?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2019

      Yeah, I don’t have much of an opinion on 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 are not views I consider “scholarship”

      • Avatar
        Steefen  November 5, 2019

        That’s fine. What are the major discoveries or changes in scholarship?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 7, 2019

          With respect to what?

          • Avatar
            Steefen  November 7, 2019

            With respect to your field of expertise. Let’s say you had a year 2000 edition of your textbook and a 2020 edition of your textbook, what were the major discoveries/changes? Thank you.

          • Bart
            Bart  November 8, 2019

            Mainly that I learned to write better…. IN terms of substance, I’d say the biggest thing involves my undersanding of Gnosticism and the Gnostic Gospels.

    • Avatar
      Martintee  November 7, 2019

      I put on my aluminum foil hat and I was nearly persuaded that Jesus and Caesar are one in the same but fortunately my brain is still working and I realized that it is the most insane ridiculous proposition that belongs right up there with the fake Moon landing.

      • Bart
        Bart  November 8, 2019

        Yeah, it’s pretty crazy….

      • Avatar
        Steefen  November 8, 2019

        metamorphosis: the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form

        Christianity is a reinterpretation of the foundational combined Father and Son cult of Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus. This was provoked by Greek speaking, pro-Roman Jews victimized by 1) anti-Roman Jews who attacked and defeated the Roman military unit XII Fulminata then civil war broke out as various factions sought to self-govern; and 2) Roman retaliation against the zealotry.

        The Romans and the pro-Roman Jewish intelligentsia who put down the Revolt had a theological-political ideology about this great war. Bart Ehrman, in From Jesus to Constantine, mentioned after exile, Jewish theology could no longer be simply, bad things happen to us because we are not devout enough. Then comes the Jewish Civil War and the First Jewish Roman War. The resulting despair led some Jews to seek refuge at the Temple, but they died in a Temple set on fire.

        In the aftermath, under Roman victors, a theopolitical ideology took written form. The oral autobiography of Vespasian’s court historian Flavius Josephus was re-written into the hagiography of Saint Paul in the second part of Acts.

        It was at Caesarea Philippi that Herod the Great built the Temple of Augustus (Augusteum) in 19 B.C. to honor his Caesar.

        It is the most insane ridiculous proposition that Jesus is Julius Caesar.

        This Temple to Augustus, this kowtowing of Pro-Roman support was done when Jews had not threatened Rome. Kowtowing to Rome after threatening Rome and self was more extreme than taking the form of architecture, it took the form of ideology, self-flagellating the theology of Temple Judaism itself: yes, our messiahs were put to death by you. In our insubordination, we brought starvation, cannibalism, and destruction of our own city and Temple. So we honor you, we take on Romanization by reinterpreting the Father and Son of the founders of your imperial civilization into the founding of Christianity. And as Virgil wrote the Aeneid honoring the founding of Imperial Rome, “Paul” wrote Romans.

  3. Avatar
    Brand3000  November 4, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman,

    When we get down to the core, the only real difference between believing scholars vs. non-believing scholars (since there are some basic, very broad facts that they agree on)…would be the question of whether or not those who saw the risen Jesus really saw him or if they were hallucinations?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2019

      No, there are lots of different scholars with lots of different opinions about what can be known.

  4. Avatar
    Apocryphile  November 4, 2019

    I think it’s useful to keep in mind that losing one’s faith in a particular religious worldview doesn’t automatically equate to loss of belief in the super (or supra)-natural, including the possibility of an afterlife of some sort. I think it’s absolutely necessary to stay grounded in the scientific method, but this doesn’t mean eschewing out of hand everything which isn’t subject to falsification (positivism). Absence of evidence doesn’t automatically equate to evidence of absence, as you know. To my way of thinking, one needs to read Dennett, Dawkins, and Hitchens with the same healthy skepticism with which one should read Deepak Chopra. They *all* have agendas and/or various axes to grind. When hard-nosed physicists are these days seriously entertaining the possibility of an infinitude of eternally-inflating bubble universes, it would behoove us to keep an open mind.

    • Avatar
      Duke12  November 8, 2019

      Frank Schaeffer elaborates on this approach in “Why I am an Atheist who believes in God” and his most recent “Letter to Lucy.” His tone can sound a bit abrasive at times, but his writings have been a help to me in my own journey. These things don’t necessarily have to be a matter of “either/or” — “both/and” may also be a possibility, even if that seems paradoxical.

      • Bart
        Bart  November 10, 2019

        Yes, his father was a big influence on my life, until I realized that he really, despite self-claims, did not understand the philosophers he was talking about. Frank’s own story is very interesting.

  5. Avatar
    timcfix  November 4, 2019

    Although I have nothing to show for it I believe I am not an idiot. Quite the contrary. I know the Bible is flawed, and partially written by fakes, but still was it just luck that Donald Trump was elected or was it divine intervention. My intellect tells me there is not a God, but my witnessing of what is happening tells me to wait for next November to make my decision.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2019

      Right! I normally don’t allow political comments, but yours could be taken either way!

      • Avatar
        flcombs  November 5, 2019

        Yeah some may claim it is proof there is a God, some that it is proof there is a devil. I guess my agnostic view could be the whole thing just shows that IF there is a God he/she/it has a sense of humor! 😀

  6. Avatar
    bAnn  November 4, 2019

    Bart, I don’t actually believe you have lost your faith, perhaps your religion, but not your faith. That spark of the divine is still alive in you. You want to find God; I just feel it. You may actually be doing the work of God by bringing truth to misconceptions long held. However, you are not God; therefore, you may not have perfect knowledge either. Those of us who are searching will continue to search and sometimes we actually find something which rings true and connects us with our Creator. We can cherish those times. They often come in the most unexpected ways. Best Wishes, bAnn

  7. Avatar
    godspell  November 4, 2019

    Based on what I’ve read, Daniel Dennett should be looking for a support group for philosophers who have lost faith in philosophy (also science, technology, civilization). The only thing he seems to have total faith in is that he’s smarter than anybody else. 🙂

    I find it hard to take someone seriously when he refers to himself as a ‘bright’ and thinks our fellow creatures on this planet are basically mindless automatons.

    Famous in this lifetime. Forgotten a generation or two later.

    Snark aside, loss of faith–faith meaning belief in something you can’t objectively prove–is a very widespread problem, affecting many (most?) people who never had any religion. Again, that is what Nietzsche was talking about when he said God is Dead.

    Nobody should feel obliged to be in any clergy if they aren’t feeling it–but what are they going to feel afterwards? As if nobody else is depressed/alienated/confused these days?

    • Avatar
      Fredbauck  November 13, 2019

      That “bright” business rankles me too. What is Dennett thinking? The general theses of “Breaking the Spell” are right in my wheelhouse, but why enhance the academic elite stereotype. True, the homosexuals appropriated “gay,” but “gay” does not, in its original meaning, denote intellectual superiority as “bright” does. Doesn’t Dennett have an editor?

  8. Avatar
    Damian King  November 5, 2019

    Hey Bart, just wondering, what percentage would you put on Luke actually having written Luke? Is the possibility bolstered by the fact, that the earliest manuscripts attribute authorship to him?

    Are there still scholars who hold on to this view, and generally what probability would you say there is for this view? Thanks

    • Bart
      Bart  November 5, 2019

      I can’t put a percentage on it, but I think it’s (very) highly unlikely. Most critical scholars agree with me. Most evangelical Christian scholars do not.

      • Avatar
        Damian King  November 5, 2019

        Are there any well credentialed scholars that still accept the traditional view?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 7, 2019

          Remind me: what is the question? (I don’t have the previous comments to guide m)

          • Avatar
            Damian King  November 7, 2019

            The question is about the traditional authorship of ANY of the gospels. Not necessarily all. My question is… are there any well credentialed scholars that still accept the traditional authorship of at least one of the gospels?

          • Bart
            Bart  November 8, 2019

            Sure. Especially Luke, but the others too. Of course, evangelical scholars — even the very serious scholars — tend to accept the authorship of all four.

  9. Avatar
    R0bby  November 5, 2019

    Hi Bart,

    Losing your faith but strengthening your belief adds more value to the human experience. The study of Consistent Full Preterism released me from errant Christian faith and the indoctrination therein. Once you start invoking miracles or the supernatural into an already specious and progressive storytelling religious drama, cognitive dissonance strains any reasonable argument in the face of facts, logic, and intellectual honesty.

    I do not believe in the biblical narrative regarding what awaits us in the afterlife, if there is an afterlife. However, my faith is now beholden to a possible and far greater reality, but I will keep this to myself. Nevertheless, it is clear to me that the biblical narrative, when analyzed critically, is not credible in its claims, and the story’s conclusion posits the key players (Jesus and the Apostles) as false prophets themselves. “The End” has come and gone about 2000 years ago, yet the disillusioned still perpetuate this sorted tale.

    Thanks for the post Bart!

  10. Avatar
    thebookguy  November 6, 2019

    Haven’t read the book yet, but I hope these clergy men and woman continue to ride the gravy train and continue business as usual after losing their faith, until they are in a position whereby doing so won’t flip their house upside down, I can’t for the life of me see the positive in this. I hope people understand the reality of expressing unbelief in a largely Judaeo-Christian society, the majority of folks would be better off keeping their unbelief to themselves for a period of time, until their paychecks don’t depend on the faith they hold. In addition to losing a paycheck, being deprived of the affection of family and friends as a result of voicing ones unbelief is daunting and stressful. And taxes your physical and psychological well-being. Keeping your unbelief to yourself for some time is not immoral, in most cases it’s the moral thing to do.

  11. Avatar
    mombird903  November 7, 2019

    I have to slay that loosing religion/ faith/ dogma or whatever you want to call it has been the most freeing experience ever. Freedom from the cage and jumping head first into a spiritual free fall is beyond compare. Perhaps it’s not for everyone but I will never go back. The wonders of existence without the bonds of religion are extraordinary.

  12. Avatar
    michael51  November 7, 2019

    I’ve long been interested in how we make choices. I’m bound to get challenged on this idea, but I think it’s worth considering…Our senses and scientific instruments (extensions of our senses) are too limited, and our way of thinking too constricted by experience to comprehend our known universe, not to mention possible other dimensions of existence where different natural laws apply. In short, if we’re honest, we admit we are unable to arrive at certainty about the nature of the all-encompassing universe. So we fill in the gap in our understanding based on our heart—our feelings and emotions—on the joys, pains, rewards, and disappointments of life, on feeling loved or valued, or on feeling abandoned or ignored. That, I believe, is at the root of any such change, either toward faith or away from faith. Then we use “facts” to justify our choice to ourselves and others. The mind is the servant of the heart, not the other way around.

  13. Barfo
    Barfo  November 11, 2019

    When I was losing my Christian faith a few years ago (long story) and began my journey into the truth I initially used Youtube as a vehicle to find information of the existence of Jesus and God. One of the first persons I came across was Dan Barker and I remember being shocked to hear the testimony of an actual Christian preacher leaving the faith. I had never heard of that before. I appreciated and learned much from Dan Barker and enjoyed reading the testimonials on the Clergy Project website from clergy who have lost their faith. During my web research I was for a short period mislead into the aspect that Jesus was a myth, ( I read two books authored by D.M. Murdock). Then one day several months ago I watched a debate between Robert Price and some guy named Bart Ehrman. I had watched a few videos with Robert Price and at the time was impressed with his analysis and thought to myself that Dr. Price was going to tear up this Bart guy. I was absolutely wrong. Over the course of the last several months I have read several of Dr. Ehrmans books and recently purchased two of his college textbooks. Gaining the knowledge over the past several months of the historical Jesus and of the New Testament writings my transition to Agnosticism has been less stressful thanks to Dr. Ehrman. All it took was reading a tragic news story on a Facebook feed of a young pastor, his wife and baby being crushed and killed by a falling slab of concrete which fell onto their vehicle while traveling down a highway. That incident coupled with the usual comments from readers that heaven must have need more angels and the young pastor must have been needed in heaven for a project made me say, wait, what? Is this how God works? And the journey began.

  14. Avatar
    birder1949  January 14, 2020

    This has sat in my inbox for a couple of months now, I suppose because I was working up the courage to write. I’m one of those who has benefited from the Clergy Project. I will be forever grateful to Richard Dawkins for the part he played in starting it, and to those many clergy of courage who have come out. It’s not an easy thing. As I see in these responses, people are threatened by one who loses their faith.

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