Monday, May 03, 2010

Pastors Losing Faith & Spiritual Malpractice

One of the blogs I read drew my attention to a study conducted by Tufts University. Having surveyed Protestant pastors they discovered that many not only don’t practice what they preach but don’t believe what they preach. Tufts called it an “invisible phenomenon” of “unbelieving clergy”.

There is not statistical evidence but anecdotal evidence in the study that clergy are losing their faith if in fact they ever had it.

A Methodist pastor admitted that he no longer believes that God exists, but his church members do not know that he is an atheist.

A Church of Christ minister confessed that he didn’t believe the doctrinal content of the Christian faith but he preaches as if he does because it is the way of life that he knows.

A Presbyterian pastor said that he remains in the ministry largely for financial reasons, acknowledging that if he let it be known that he rejects most tenets of the Christian faith he would obliterate his “ability to earn a living this way.”

One pastor revealed that his job on Sunday mornings is to play act: “I see myself as taking on the role of a believer in a worship service and performing.”

A Baptist pastor said he was attracted to Christianity because it is a religion of love but now he has become an atheist. He confided that if someone would offer him $200,000 he would leave the ministry right away.

To read the whole story click here.

As I reflected on this study three things came to mind that I’ll share---
1. I’m not shocked that a pastor or that anyone would wrestle with what they believe. Faith in Christ is something that is birthed and then nurtured and grown into maturity. We watch many characters in the Bible wrestle with their faith.

2. I was initially shocked that a pastor would no longer wrestle with faith but reach a firm conclusion of unbelief AND continue to do the work of ministry. But within minutes of being shocked I realized that I was expecting these non-believing clergy to act with integrity and courage and out themselves as non-believers. Where does integrity and courage come from but God? If you don’t believe in God or the teachings of Christ then there is not a solid basis for practicing honesty.

3. Finally I was angered. In my mind this study reflects malpractice by pastors which is more serious to me than medical malpractice because the soul is more important than the body. If these men don’t have the integrity and courage to out themselves then some other church leaders need to oust them and they need to do so quickly. Too much is at stake.

Our culture has said that everyone has their price and once that price is found then anyone will do anything. I disagree. The true follower of Christ will not renounce his faith even at the ultimate cost of his own life.

It is pitiable and disgusting that one could be bought for $200,000.

1 comment:

In Sweet Violets said...

I never even fathomed such a thing...I'm blown away.

As we grow in our faith we are encouraged to ask questions, challenge ideas and open up to discussion -- which is one of the greatest gifts of faith-based relationships (and ultimately our relationship with Jesus). I can't help but wonder if these confessional pastors spent their studies in solitude, because I believe if they had wrestled with their faith in a group-setting, I doubt they would have reached the conclusions that they did.

Just more proof that pastors shouldn't (and can't) go it alone - they need a supportive faith family just as much as the guy on the back pew.