Did my Deconversion from Christianity really begin in my LCMS Catechism Class?

When I became an orthodox Lutheran approximately four years ago, it was like an evangelical born again experience:  I was so emotionally energized over my new found “faith” and ready to preach the truths of orthodox Lutheran Christianity to the whole world!  This was my motivation for starting this blog.  The teachings of orthodox Lutheranism just made so much sense to me.  Instead of trying to harmonize the many passages in the Bible that seemed to contradict one another, I learned that these passages were to be accepted as they are as divine paradoxes.   God works in mysterious ways and we humans are obligated to simply accept whatever God says as truth, even if it seems to our simplistic, fallible brains, that he is contradicting himself.

I no longer had to explain away “problem passages” as I did when I was an evangelical.  It was great!  I could once again believe in the inerrancy of the Bible as the trustworthy Word of God, but without all the rules and prohibitions of the fundamentalist Baptists.

I trusted the teachings of my new denomination, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.  I had studied orthodox Lutheran theology and I came to believe that the Lutheran Confessions and the LCMS Doctrinal Statements held the purest form of the absolute truths of the ancient Apostolic Christian Faith.  I had absolutely no difference of opinion with the LCMS on any doctrine or teaching.  I was a happy, faithful, “quia” orthodox LCMS Lutheran.

I hung on every word that my orthodox LCMS Lutheran pastor said.  I was amazed at his knowledge of the Bible and of Christian theology.  I trusted his word on these issues explicitly.

Even though I had been a Lutheran for 25 years, I had been an ELCA Lutheran…an apostate liberal, in LCMS thinking.  I did not need to go through formal catechism to join the ELCA, and since Baptists and evangelicals do not require (or believe in) catechism/confirmation, my LCMS pastor suggested that I undergo formal catechism to join the parish.  I signed up.

These are some of the things I learned in my orthodox Lutheran catechism classes taught by my LCMS pastor:

1.  Baptized Christians cannot lose their salvation.  Lutherans are the original “Eternity Security” denomination.  There may be disagreement on this issue among Lutheran scholars, but a significant number of Lutheran theologians believe in “Once Baptized, Always Saved”.  This is an acceptable belief within Lutheranism, within the LCMS, and within my church.  In addition, the infants of baptized Christians inherit a covenantal right to baptism and salvation.

2.  Methuselah never lived to be over 900 years old.  This is silly.  This large number is actually an ancient Mesopotamian metaphor for a person’s fame and stature in society.  Anyone with a high school diploma knows that people have never lived to be hundreds of years old.  Christians who believe otherwise are ignorant “Biblicists”.

3.  The world is billions of years old.

4.  Humans share a common evolutionary pathway with the great apes.

5.  The Genesis account of the Creation cannot be understood literally.  Everything living on earth evolved over billions of years….except man…who was made in the image of God…although, in the process of creating man, God quite possibly used some gorilla dung mixed in with the dirt to make the first man, Adam.

6.  Death pre-existed the Fall, but only for plants and animals.  Evolution would be impossible without the process of dying.

7.  The reason why the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod still teaches the outdated, silly idea of a literal 24 hour, six day Creation and a Young Earth is because the denomination is controlled by ignorant, Mid-western “hicks”.

I just about fell out of my chair when I heard this.  So who is right, my LCMS pastor…or the LCMS??  My LCMS pastor is so brilliant, with very impressive education credentials.  He teaches theology at a prestigious local private university here on the West Coast.  Maybe the folks in the Midwest are a little behind the times.

But the more I studied the Bible and orthodox Lutheran theology, the more confused I became.  I could not find even one Lutheran theologian who believed in “Once Baptized, Always Saved”.  In fact, several prominent orthodox Lutheran theologians stated in their books that anyone who teaches any form of “Once Saved, Always Saved” is teaching heresy Is my LCMS pastor a heretic??

My trust in my LCMS pastor had been shattered.

I came to realize that my very educated, very intelligent, very charismatic LCMS pastor had created his own theology.  It wasn’t Lutheran.  It wasn’t Catholic.  It wasn’t Reformed.  It was a hybrid of the three.  When questioned on this issue, he defiantly countered that he could prove these teachings from the Bible and that the LCMS was just wrong; the LCMS had been infiltrated by false Reformed and evangelical teachings.  “Even the most simpleton of grammarians can see that Hebrews chapter 6 is speaking hypothetically about persons losing their salvation.  That passage is not to be understood literally.”

So when I read the Bible, how do I know when to believe the simple, plain interpretation of the passages and when to understand them to be speaking hypothetically, symbolically, or metaphorically??

And just about that time…sitting at my computer one day…surfing the internet for ex-fundamentalist Baptists and their stories…I came upon the blog of a one-time fundamentalist Baptist preacher…turned atheist. 

And the rest is history.  Four months later I no longer believed in Jesus Christ as my resurrected Savior and Lord.  I no longer considered myself a Christian.

So when did my deconversion start?  Who can tell for sure.

Here is an excerpt from the final email message I received from my LCMS pastor regarding my deconversion from the Christian Faith:

“There are 2.3 billion baptized persons on this planet and, at any given time, some discontinue confessing the faith and others return to its communion. In this respect, _______ Lutheran (church) has not experienced anything new with your departure, unwelcome though it was, yet it was not with angst or fret or personal slight on my part…. Sad to see you and your lovely family go, but people go from time to time. We respectfully appreciate your life journey and, as I personally wrote to you, thanked you for your care and commitments when you were a Lutheran Christian.”


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