Pastors Politely Pester

My former pastor naturally sees me as a sheep who has been led astray, so he’s been making efforts toward putting me back on the straight and narrow. Here is our most recent, and hopefully last, exchange with regard to the topic.

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Katie,

I hope by now you have received the book I sent to you (Faith’s Reasons for Believing by Robert Reymond).  I hope you have the time and the desire to read it.  Because I love you in the Lord and care greatly for you, I would be very interested to speak (or email) with you about it and some other things.  Again, just to reveal my hand and put all the cards out on the table, you know I come with an agenda, but it is one borne out of love and care for you.  And my purpose is to persuade you that faith and reason are not at odds with each other, God is real, the Bible is true, there is only one way to have peace with a holy God (through Christ), and that He (the Christian God) is our only logically consistent justification for knowledge.

I hope you give me an opportunity to discuss these things with you.

Grace,
Van L.

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Van,

I did receive the book a while ago and read the first couple of chapters. I wound up skimming through the rest of the book, looking for something I hadn’t already read before and couldn’t find anything. At first I was a little insulted that you would suppose I hadn’t read those arguments before I lost my faith. I wonder if you think that was a quick and easy thing for me to experience. I can assure you it was not. It was the single most painful and alienating experience of my life, which is why I told you previously in an email that I need time to heal from that and find my footing.

What also struck me is that you are assuming a lot about what I believe without even asking me or knowing me at all. If you knew me, you wouldn’t send me a book that is over 500 pages long. Ask any of my family members or friends and they’ll tell you what little patience I have for reading books. If you knew me, you’d have tried a different method for proselytizing (or you would refrain entirely, if you really knew me). But your interest is not to get to know me. It is to change who you think I am–to fulfill your ministerial duty. You already have an agenda to tell me the truth (since you know The Truth) without even trying to form a positive relationship with me, as a real live human being. I’m just another soul to be saved.

I have never claimed that faith and reason are incompatible. That is not a belief that I hold. I have never claimed that God absolutely does not exist or that the Bible is entirely false. These are beliefs you assume I hold just because I claim to be an agnostic atheist. The title says so little about what I actually believe.

I am not interested in being “fixed” by anyone who comes at me with an agenda. I don’t know what you’re reading in the Bible that tells you some definition of love which reads, “Loving a person means approaching her with an agenda to change her.” If you’re honest with yourself, you know you would have never reached out to me under any other circumstance. The only situation that would draw your attention to me would be me losing my faith and suddenly you’re knocking on my door telling me you’re ready to love me now. I understand where your convictions are coming from and your orders from Christ to spread the good news. The fact is that I’ve heard it my whole life. I’ve experienced it. I believed that God loved me. All of that was very real to me then, and it is no longer real to me now. I’m not sure how else to explain it, and I doubt you’ll take my witness above what the Bible tells you to believe about apostates anyway.

If I wish to explore these topics further, I will do so on my own time. You’ve given me no compelling reason to explore these topics with you, and the only reason I would do so would be to appease you. I respect your position as a pastor and the burden you carry as a shepherd to your sheep. However, I am far more interested in discussing this with my father than with any other church authority, because he knows me and respects where I am right now. He loves me unconditionally, for being who I am, belief or no belief. That is real love. I dare say it’s probably more on par with what it means to love “in the Lord” than all those formulas churches have concocted.

Respectfully,
Kate

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