The Agonizing Dilemma of a Doubting Pastor

How to Become A Pastor

Christian pastor:

Hello Gary, I think I may have reached out to you several years ago. I had been a pastor in the [name of denomination hidden] for about [hidden] years, left the ministry because of my own doubts, and after about [hidden] years of that, decided to give it a try again. I’ve been back in the pulpit for [hidden] years now and again having doubts. If I’ve got the right guy, 1) could you please point me to those posts I commented on back then and 2) I’d be happy to re-engage. Thanks for your time! [Name hidden]

Gary: This email has been stuck in my “feedback” file for over one year! I just now found it. How sad. I missed the opportunity to help this poor man. Imagine being a pastor of a church and coming to the realization that you no longer believe what you are preaching! Imagine not having training in any other field of work. Imagine that you have a family to support. What do you do??

If I could give this man any advice, it would be to contact the Clergy Project, a national support group for ex-clergy who no longer believe. Here is a link to their website: here.

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End of post.

16 thoughts on “The Agonizing Dilemma of a Doubting Pastor

  1. Have you reached out to him via the “return email address”? Did he have a website link attached? WordPress usually collects that info from Contact/Feedback forms.

    I really do hope you are able to connect with him Gary! You are a fine and perfect Support-Rehab consultant for this type dialogue! πŸ™‚

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  2. Well, even without Gary’s response, I’m sure he found some helpful resources somewhere, as he obviously knows how to use the internet. If he was seriously looking he would have come up with sites like Debunking Christianity- John Loftus used to be a pastor, or the clegy project Gary mentioned,
    I’ve mentioned my own pre internet deconversion before, and how solitary having doubt could seem back then. I’m glad people now can so easily find and connect with others who can help them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I second that Epicurus. And even if there’s no internet, public libraries, public university libraries and professors, secular institutions & foundations, etc, etc, with phone calls or snail-mail… if the genuine effort is there and it is truly equitable then yes, he can obtain a much more exhaustive, cumulative more accurate, reasonable overall picture of the Jewish Rabbi-reformer Yeshua before, during, and after—up to 135 CE—his lifetime. Or at least the two different caricatures of the figure. It is all there and available for anyone who wants to know the “Truest Story.” πŸ˜‰

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  3. Gary wrote, “Imagine being a pastor of a church and coming to the realization that you no longer believe what you are preaching! Imagine not having training in any other field of work. Imagine that you have a family to support. What do you do??”

    Yes, exactly. I definitely do feel for him. A friend of mine, at seminary, to whom I had expressed my doubts about the inerrancy of the Bible said to me, “Harris, to tell you the truth, I’m sure you’re right about the things you’ve just said. Maybe the Bible isn’t even the inspired Word of God, maybe the Bible isn’t really inerrant, but you’ve got to understand: so much of my life invested in this! β€” and so many people are counting on me β€” I just can’t think about those doubts anymore.”

    He remains a pastor to this day in The Lutheran Church β€” Missouri Synod.

    I, however, am just a happy heretic. ✌️😎

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      1. Yep. That would be fascinating indeed! What I can say is that as a single student who lived on the campus at Concordia Seminary, I ate in the dining hall every single night, and actually had these conversations often with a variety of my fellow students. They had sort of a mantra: “Cooperate to Graduate.” And that’s exactly what many, many of them did. This seemed utterly hypocritical to me, so I declined to do any such thing. (There’s a line somewhere in Hosea about sowing the wind, and reaping the whirlwind and, considering the dire implications of ideas like “cooperate to graduate,” the Hebrew prophet wasn’t just whistlin’ Dixie… πŸ˜‰) Ultimately, after vicarage, I transferred to another, much more mainstream and far more liberal, seminary to complete my Master of Divinity degree.

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          1. Hi, Gary. Yes, actually. But I held off for a long time so that I could get my head together after having my whole worldview totally upended; the last thing I wanted to do after all that was to mislead people (however unintentionally) as I had been misled. I wanted to be sure of my own thinking. Now, after getting all that together, I’m really wondering which medium might be best: book, blog, YouTube, podcast, etc. If you have any thoughts on that, I’d love to hear them!

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            1. Blogging has been my “therapy” or deprogramming from what I believe to be a cult (orthodox Christianity). If you are good at speaking, a Youtube channel would be great. I personally don’t listen to podcasts. I guess I prefer something visual. Make sure to let me and my readers know about your venue, whichever you choose!

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            2. I wrote a book and it helped me tremendously because all the research and reading reinforced, confirmed, and expanded my reasons for leaving. Of course everyone is different but It might be worth looking into.

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