Menu Close

Pastor Mike Dunn “Explains” Why People Walk Away From Evangelical Christianity

why

Mike Dunn is the pastor of South Evart Free Methodist Church in Evart, Michigan. The Free Methodist sect is the Fundamentalist wing of Methodism. Several months ago, Dunn wrote an article for the Herald Review titled, Walking Away From Jesus, But Where?

In 1995, there was a popular contemporary Christian song entitled “Jesus Freak.” Its topic was commitment to Jesus, even at great personal cost. The song, written and performed by DC Talk, included a stanza about John the Baptist and how he was beheaded by King Herod because John refused to compromise when it came to telling the truth.

….

There ain’t no disguising in the truth.

The lyrics came back to me recently when I read that Kevin Max, one of the band members who wrote and performed that song, announced he is an “ex-evangelical.”

The news was stunning, and I felt quite grieved inside.

How could this man, who was a very devoted Christian, at least by the evidence of the songs he helped to write and sing, now declare publicly that he has left the faith he once defended? On a broader scale, how could anyone who has had genuine fellowship with Jesus choose to reject the gospel and walk away from Him?

It’s hard to fathom, but sadly it happens. And even more sadly, it seems to be happening more frequently in our day.

….

Not surprisingly, there is a common theme among these defections from Christianity. They view the gospel message as being too narrow and, in doing so, reject the biblical doctrine regarding sin. They have come to the conclusion it is too harsh.

….

Those who choose to walk away from Christianity do so to embrace a philosophy that is contrary to the Bible but is more palatable to us as fallen sinners. They desire a different Jesus than the One revealed in scripture.

Simply put, they desire a Jesus who does not judge sin. They desire a Jesus (or a Jesus-like Messiah) who offers heaven to all without regard to the penalty of sin. Kevin Max even sings about a “universal Christ” in his songs these days. But this Jesus does not exist.

Sadly, the decisions we live with today we die with tomorrow. And then what for those who have rejected Jesus as their Savior?

This is how it is stated in John 3:17-18: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of God’s one and only Son.”

The choice belongs to us.

According to Dunn, people deconstruct/deconvert for the following reasons:

  • They view the gospel as too narrow
  • They reject the Biblical doctrine of sin
  • They embrace a philosophy contrary to the Bible
  • They desire a Jesus different from the one revealed in the Bible
  • They desire a Jesus that does not judge sin
  • They desire a Jesus who offers Heaven to everyone

Readers know what I am going to say next: sigh. Why is it that Evangelical preachers think it is their duty to ‘splain why people leave their churches? Dunn gives six reasons people deconstruct/deconvert; six reasons that not one former Evangelical would say were the primary motivators for their loss of faith. It’s evident that Dunn hasn’t spent much if any time actually talking to former Evangelicals, reading their blogs, or listening to their podcasts. Seek and ye shall find, Pastor Dunn.

Dunn admits that an increasing number of people are walking (running) away from Evangelicalism. And not just church members, either. Pastors, evangelists, missionaries, worship leaders, musicians, professors — men and women trained in theology — are deconstructing/deconverting in record numbers.

Dunn says:

How could anyone who has had genuine fellowship with Jesus choose to reject the gospel and walk away from Him? It’s hard to fathom, but sadly it happens. And even more sadly, it seems to be happening more frequently in our day.

Dunn wonders how could anyone walk away from Jesus. The good pastor fails to see or understand that Jesus isn’t the problem. The church is the problem, not Jesus. The Bible is the problem, not Jesus. Evangelicalism’s lusty embrace of the modern culture war and Donald Trump is the problem, not Jesus. Jesus has never been the problem for most former Evangelicals. When I look at Evangelical Christianity, I see a sect committed to white Christian nationalism; a sect that rejects science, reason, and skepticism; a sect awash in political extremism and conspiracy theories; a sect known for hating LGBTQ people, atheists, liberals, and everyone else “different” from them; a sect rife with sex abuse scandals and other criminal behavior by supposed men of Gawd. (Please see the Black Collar Crime Series.)

I deliberately paint with a broad brush, knowing that what I wrote above does not describe all Evangelicals. However, Evangelicalism has become a trash can filled with rotting garbage. Sure, there’s a fresh, shiny Red Delicious Apple buried in the garbage, but its deliciousness is hidden by the stinking garbage all around it. While I doubt there’s anything that could convince me of the truthfulness of Christianity (please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense), I might become an admirer again if the apples became the norm instead of the exception.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    amimental

    WHY do these guys work so hard?
    It’s a much simpler explanation for a lot of us.

    Small children don’t have a functioning bullshit detector.
    As we grow up, our detectors begin to function and we’re able to see when we’ve been misled and lied to and ripped off. All three of those things (and more) happen in religious cults.

    We all know Christianity fits the exact definition of a cult.

    So no, no mysterious process, no ‘desire’ for proving this or that about Jesus.
    Just fully functioning bullshit detectors and the inner strength necessary to escape a lifetime of conditioning.

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    Well, we know it’s too hard for Pastor Dunn to actually speak to atheists, maybe do some searching to see if there is any evidence for why people leave the church? No, that would mean he’d have to give up his presuppositions.

  3. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    It’s interesting that he thinks someone being an exvangelical is so horrible. Exvangelical just means no longer evangelical – it doesn’t mean the person has become gasp atheist. Many people move from exclusive, bigoted evangelicalism to a more inclusive, loving Christianity. But of course Evangelical Jesus wants everyone who isn’t a true red (see what I did there) evangelical to convert or burn…..

    Of course, Dunn won’t actually ask any exvangelicals why they left….because Satan…or whatever….

  4. Avatar
    Trenton

    Good riddance, the fact that we don’t believe what he is selling because it just simply isn’t true does not seem to cross any of these guys minds. Of course nothing can be wrong with the message and mentioning that there might be something screwy about the whole religion is an idea they don’t want to bring up because it might lead to questioning and doubt and the whole house of cards coming down. They are like denizens of the emerald city in the wizard of oz(the book), wearing green tinted glasses and unable to see that the city and everything in it is not actually green. So they do what they do best, bullshit and lie about it knowing the sheep won’t question what they say. There is something about bearing false witness in some holy book, I just need to think of where.

  5. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Wow! These doltish preachers, the thing with them is they DON’T CARE why people leave, they just object to that form of protest. Lots of people voted with their feet, because they were either abused by parents and relatives while being raised while in a church, and broke away to Dave their sanity, or they just couldn’t stand all the hubris, materialism, authoritarian ideals that rule most American church denominations. U.S. Christianity is particularly loathsome, and this is why people are leaving !! There’s no scripture that says you’ll go to hell if you quit church, so that’s what many are doing, it’s not that they’re atheists, they just don’t want to be around that organized crap anymore. When ai went to Christian bookstores, I often saw the most creepy books advocating mistreatment of children,for example. Larry Tomczack, Reb Bradley, Tedd Tripp come to mind. Even Elisabeth Elliot did,in some ways. And justifying the genocide of Native Americans, the theft of their land,other atrocities. THAT is what’s causing desertion of the churches. Trump only confirmed what was long suspected. Even if you don’t deconvert, you are free to walk out of church and not return. The churches get nuttier every year.lol!

  6. Avatar
    John Arthur

    This pastor Dunn should seek the real reasons why so many are becoming exvangicals. In my case, I actually did a detailed study of Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic historians, Joshua to 2nd Kings. The barbarism that is there, in the text, shows that it is not the word of God.

  7. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    John–Closely reading Deuteronomy–and Leviticus–was one of the final nails in the coffin of my faith. Reading again the rape of Dinah in Genesis and the dismemberment of the wayward slave (in Luke) didn’t do a whole lot to keep alive whatever remained of my faith. Oh, and the whole book of Revelations is a tableau of violence.

    Folks like Dunn might think I left Christianity–and belief altogether–because of the sexual abuse I experienced from a priest or the violence I witnessed (though, thankfully, didn’t incur) from the nuns in my Catholic school. While it probably planted the seeds that grew into my forest of distrust for authority figures, if anything, I wanted to believe in something greater just because, even before the abuse, I felt vulnerable and alone. That, if anything, led me to “accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior” when what I really needed were good mental health care and to deal honestly with my gender identity and sexuality.

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser