Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Another Story of Supposed Lost Faith – Methodist Pastor Comes Clean About Her Atheism

In April of 2012, Teresa MacBain decided to come clean about her atheism. She had apparently had an internal struggle with doubts about the Bible and God for years. What she describes is an internal struggle that seemingly pushes her to the brink of serious depression. Teresa said she felt like she was living a lie. Apparently this false life was creating a serious ethical dilemma, one that she could not endure. You see, Teresa was a Methodist pastor. She claimed to believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. She was living the epitome of a double life. According to MacBain, the moral struggle came to a boiling point in April of 2012 when she finally proclaimed her freedom from religion, joining the ranks of atheism. She came out of her atheist closet, not at her church, but at a convention filled with atheists. I wonder how much nerve that took. Let me guess, none. That MacBain chose such a venue gives us a glimpse into her real moral character. So much for the struggle. Why wouldn’t a pastor feel a sense of obligation to begin with her church family and then head off to the convention? Something seems more than a little odd with MacBain’s strategy.

All that aside, one has to wonder what MacBain’s crisis of faith actually was. We get a glimpse here and there as we attempt to follow her experiences. The story says,

“She had questions, of course, about conflicts in the Bible, for example, or the role of women. She says she sometimes felt she was serving a taskmaster of a God, whose standards she never quite met.” 

About this MacBain is both right and wrong. Is it possible that MacBain dismissed not biblical Christianity, but a false version of Christianity? I think it is. First off, she is correct when she says that God’s standards are never quite met. And that is precisely the point of grace. That is exactly what Jesus does for His Church. He meets the high demands of God in our place so that we no longer have to. This is essential to biblical Christianity. Otherwise, grace dissolves in the acid of humanistic, moralistic deism. And that, folks, is not biblical Christianity. That is actually a corruption of biblical Christianity.
The story continues:

"In reality," she says, "as I worked through them, I found that religion had so many holes in it, that I just progressed through stages where I couldn't believe it."

Is it true that religion has many holes in it, or it is possible that MacBain was guilty of embracing a false view of Christianity on the one hand, as she demonstrates above, and outright rejecting other components of Christianity as a matter of arbitrary, personal preference. For example, was the biblical role of the woman just too distasteful for MacBain? Or, perhaps it was the Genesis account of creation that she may have considered just too unscientific to believe? If this is the case, MacBain really didn’t have a crisis at all. She simply traded one crisis for another. She has only changed the object of her faith from God to man.

“The questions haunted her: Is Jesus the only way to God? Would a loving God torment people for eternity? Is there any evidence of God at all? And one day, she crossed a line.”

Why would Jesus being the only way to God create a crisis of faith? Has not MacBain embraced a position that she now believes is the only true position? If the exclusive claims of Christianity were so hard to swallow, I have to wonder why the exclusive claims of atheism aren’t. Secondly, we now begin to see that MacBain wanted a different kind of God than the one Christianity presents after all. Christianity gives us a Jesus that is the only way to the Father and informs us that He is the only way by which man may avoid divine judgment and eternal torment. Obviously, MacBain has never understood the perfect holiness of God nor the nature of sin. If she had, she would not have a problem understanding the eternal demands placed on those who violate such a perfectly holy will of such a perfectly holy God!

MacBain then hints that perhaps there isn’t even any evidence for God at all. But this story is soaked through with evidence. Let’s be perfectly clear when it comes to the evidence: it isn’t the evidence that the atheist has a problem with. It is the criteria for what qualifies as evidence that they have a serious problem with. Atheism refuses to acknowledge that it operates upon a set of presuppositions for which no evidence can be offered just the same as every other worldview does, with the exception of Christianity. Romans one informs us that God has not only provided the evidence, He has made sure to make Himself known to the point that all men are without excuse. In other words, the amount of evidence we have for God’s presence in the world is more than enough to hold men culpable for their rejection of Him.

The story continues:

"I am nervous," she says, "but at the same time I am so excited. I slept like a baby last night because I knew I wasn't going to have to live a lie anymore. Such freedom."
From an atheistic perspective, why would anyone worry about living a lie? Moreover, why would anyone worry about living a lie that actually served to comfort and help people over the course of their lives? Why not let the Methodist church believe in its religion if it serves as a effective psychological tool for coping with the ups and downs that life presses upon us? The atheist worldview is predicated upon naturalism. This is a world of random chance. In such a world morality is impossible to come by. In addition, it is impossible to generalize from the particular in such a system because the nature of reality is such that chance cannot possibly help us infer anything at all. Yet, MacBain talks about ethics as if it is something everyone understands and experiences. And in the middle of it, she embraces a worldview that not only cannot make sense out of her moral struggle, but one that cannot make her argument intelligible in any sense of the word. How could one ever conclude based on science or reason alone that lying is unethical, that one should not live a lie? MacBain seems painfully unaware of her irrational statements.

The story goes on:

“A few minutes later, MacBain strides off the stage into a waiting crowd. One man is crying as he tells her that her speech is "one of the most moving things I've seen in years." Another woman says she, too, had been a born-again Christian. "Join the club," she says as she hugs MacBain."I have never felt so appreciated and cared for, you know?" MacBain says later, noting that she has left one community — Christianity — for another. "New member, just been born — that's what it feels like."
MacBain is finally free from the rules of Christianity. But wait; hasn’t MacBain lived by certain rules in order to “free” herself from Christianity? It would seem that one of those rules is that lying is bad. Another rule seems to be that you should not live a lie. So MacBain trades the rules of Christianity, the ones she doesn’t like, for the ones she does like. I get it now. It is becoming clear to me. MacBain’s issue isn’t really with Christianity. Her problem is that she wants to be in charge of her own rules. And apparently, she thinks atheism will allow this.

Not for nothing, but why would an atheist cry at the announcement of a person coming to faith in atheism? If the world is essentially a bunch of molecules in motion, time + chance + matter, then what difference does it make? Life has no real meaning whatsoever. One human behavior is just as moral (if you can use that word) as any other human behavior. Our lives have no purpose and a purposeless life is a meaningless life. What is this talk of freedom and these emotions that these people put on display? It is the fingerprint of God, that is what it is. Try as they may, they cannot destroy the idea that life really does have meaning, that right and wrong actually do exist, and that humans should carry themselves with a certain amount of dignity. This can only be the case if Christian theism is actually true.

Now, remember that MacBain left atheism because she said she wanted to stop living a lie. She wanted to live the truth, to be an honest person. She wanted to be free from hiding her true self from her church. The struggle was intense. But I have a question: was it real or was it something she made up? Why do I ask? Well, it seems that Harvard extended an offer of employment to MacBain in September. MacBain was to serve as the project manager for Harvard’s Humanist Community program across the country. Apparently MacBain falsified her resume, claiming to have received a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. When Duke saw the announcement, they contacted Harvard informing them they had no record of MacBain ever having earned a Master’s of Divinity.

The hypocrisy is impossible to miss. MacBain tells everyone that she left Christianity because she wanted to be honest. She hated the idea of living a lie. She wanted to be free to live an ethical life. She hated pretending Sunday morning after Sunday morning that she believed something she really did not. So what did she do? She ran off to an atheist conference and proclaimed her newfound atheism. Now she was free to live the truth. She was free to stop living a lie, to stop hiding things from people, to finally be herself. Or was she? In record time, she goes out and falsifies her resume, pretending to be someone she is not. The double-standard is maddening.

The real reason Teresa MacBain has been exposed as an atheist is because that is really what she has always been. She simply graduated from practical atheism to assertive atheism. She has never known Christ. She was never part of the Christian community. Had she known Christ and truly been a part of the Christian community, she would have remained with us. 

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