These days, people often ask exactly when I lost my faith, as though there were a single moment when the scales fell from my eyes. But the truth is that my Christian orthodoxy, and eventually my ability to believe in anything supernatural, actually died the death of a thousand cuts—and ten thousand unanswered prayers—over the course of more than thirty years.
The first of those “cuts” happened almost immediately [after his born again experience], when a few college students from my new [evangelical] church invited me to join them in running a Christian summer day camp in Camden, New Jersey. …Toward the end of that summer I got to know Shonda the warm, friendly mother of one of my favorite campers. I tried to lead her to Christ, but when I did, she cut me off cold.
“Don’t waste your breath, Bart,” she told me in a bitter voice. “I don’t want to hear about the love of God. You keep that mess away from me.”
Shonda had grown up in a Christian family, she told me, and loved everything about church until one day, as she walked home from school as a nine-year old, a group of young men dragged her into a vacant house and gang-raped her. A few days later, when Shonda asked why God hadn’t rescued her, her Sunday school teacher explained that because God was all-knowing and all-powerful, he could have stopped the attack, which meant that he must have allowed it for a good reason. The real question, the teacher went on, was what Shonda could learn from the experience that would enable her to better love and glorify God. In that moment, Shonda told me, she rejected God forever.
Unfortunately, my theology at that time was not much different from that of Shonda’s Sunday School teacher. Indeed I believed that God was sovereign, and that anyone who did not accept Jesus in this life was going to hell afterward, which made God seem like the cruelest of tyrants, at least as far as Shonda was concerned. To me it was absurd that an all-powerful, all-loving God would willingly fail to protect an innocent little girl in this life, then, when she couldn’t trust in Jesus as result, doom her to eternal damnation in the life to come.
—Bart Campolo, son of prominent evangelical evangelist, Tony Campolo, in his book, Why I Left, Why I Stayed, discussing the events that lead to the loss of his Christian faith , pp. 12, 14-15