In the third high-profile defection from the Christian faith in the last year, following pastor Joshua Harris and Hillsong United songwriter Marty Sampson, Steingard announced in an Instagram post on May 27 that he “no longer believes in God.”
“After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, and playing and singing in a Christian band… I am now finding that I no longer believe in God,” Steingard wrote.
In the very lengthy post, Steingard proceeded to list many reasons that culminated in his decision, including several questions that he had that Christians have wrestled with for centuries. He couldn’t seem to find answers to why God allows evil in the world, or why he would send people to hell.
However, Dr. Craig noted in the interview that despite all of Steingard’s listed doubts, he doesn’t seem to have seriously pursued answers to these questions.
“I think that most people make up their minds about belief or unbelief primarily on the basis of emotional factors, not intellectual factors,” Dr. Craig said. “But in our culture, it’s acceptable to say, ‘Well, the intellectual obstacles were so great that I could no longer believe!’ That exalts one as a thinker and as a critical person.”
He also said, “It is striking that so many of these folks do seem to be involved in worship activities that are highly emotional in nature, and therefore do not have the substance to persevere in the face of trials or questions they can’t answer.”
Dr. Craig also observed how Steingard testified that he and his wife had lost their interior spiritual life, while keeping the external acts in motion.
“They did not enjoy Bible reading. They did not enjoy prayer. They did not enjoy worship. And yet they went on with the outer manifestations of Christian worship and life, while inside there was hollowness and emptiness. I think that contributes more than unanswered intellectual problems… I didn’t see much evidence at all in Jon’s testimony that he attempted to pursue in any way the questions that he mentioned that were unresolved.”
“There seems to have been this hollowness, this spiritual rot, that existed in their Christian lives. If you think about it, once you become empty inside, and worship, prayer and Bible reading become meaningless, of course you defect from the faith. There’s nothing of substance inside.”
In his Instagram post, Steingard also listed a complaint that he was encouraged to sign a pledge to “date Jesus” for a year at a youth conference he attended. He wrote that he felt manipulated by that request.
In response, Dr. Craig said that many Christians are critical of some aspects of modern Evangelical subculture. However, well-informed Christians don’t, as a result, become atheists.
“The resurrection of Jesus as an event of history is quite independent of the phony practices that a particular ecclesiastical body or summer camp might adopt,” Dr. Craig said.
As much of the culture continues to drift away from Christianity, and young Christians especially remain largely uneducated in the fundamentals of their faith’s history and apologetics, Dr. Craig recommended young Christians take some time to read.
“What they need to do is to put a couple of good books in apologetics under their belt, and this wouldn’t take very much work,” Dr Craig said. “If they will just digest a couple of these books, they will be prepared for 95% of the objections that they encounter.”
“I want to encourage young Christians to know that the Christian faith has profound intellectual substance to it and that some of the greatest intellectuals in the history of the world have been Bible believing, committed Christians. If they will pursue their questions and doubts, I believe they will find satisfactory answers to them.”
You can find out more about Dr. Craig’s work, ministry and website, Reasonable Faith, by clicking here. Some of Dr. Craig’s most popular works include Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics and On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision.
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