Josh Harris and Derek Webb Apostates

A forum for exploring archaeology and history and discussing, criticizing and developing Christian Apologetics.

Josh Harris and Derek Webb Apostates

Postby stcordova » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:05 pm ... ty-gospel/

Writers like Joshua Harris, Josh McDowell and Eric and Leslie Ludy held out the ultimate one-up to secular licentiousness: God wants to give you a hot spouse and great sex life, as long as you wait.

The giveaway of any prosperity teaching is an “if/then” formula: If you do this, then you will get this. If you put a $100 bill in the offering plate, then you will get tenfold back. If you stay chaste now, then you will later be blessed by marriage and children.

Like all powerful myths, it offers the illusion of control in an unpredictable world. We are most tempted to adopt prosperity teachings for our greatest areas of vulnerability. This is why health and wealth teachings typically attract the financially struggling, and why the promise of sexual and marital fulfillment attracted so many sexually frustrated Christian teenagers.

Last week, Joshua Harris — arguably the poster boy of the sexual prosperity gospel — announced that he and his wife, Shannon Bonne, are separating after 19 years of marriage.

Best known for the 1997 bestseller “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” Harris in recent years disavowed his book’s courtship model and acknowledged that it set many Christians up for disappointment and pain.

Writing for Slate after Harris and Bonne made matching announcements of their split on their Instagram feeds, Ruth Graham noted that Harris’ separation is “a coda of sorts” to purity culture. “Living one’s entire life with another person is a complicated endeavor,” writes Graham. “As so many of Josh’s early readers have discovered on their own, there is no magic formula.”

Indeed, in the wake of the announcement, several Christians wrote to me with their stories of marital difficulty and heartache, even after having upheld the sexual prosperity gospel. Women wrote of enduring abusive marriages because they thought that was their “reward.” Men wrote about grappling with their spouses’ infidelity and divorce. Single Christians shared their stories of waiting, and waiting, and realizing that perhaps the reward for prolonged virginity would never come.

Mark Yarhouse, a psychologist and researcher who teaches at Wheaton College, offers sex therapy to couples. One couple came to him because the wife experienced pelvic pain penetration disorder and hadn’t been able to consummate the marriage several years in, despite the fact that the couple’s first kiss was at their wedding.

“Not being able to consummate their marriage was a source of both grief and also anger toward God,” Yarhouse told me. “She had to process assumptions she held that if she saved more for marriage, she would receive from God the blessing of a good sex life with her husband.”

When prosperity teachings fail to pan out, it not only puts the teaching in question, it also calls into question the very goodness and faithfulness of God.

and ... ing-faith/

Derek Webb is an ex-Christian.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Derek Webb, he is a musician that played in the Christian band Caedmon’s Call in the 1990s and early 2000s before embarking on a solo career. Derek wrote songs grappling with theological truth, ranging from topics about God’s sovereign election (“Thankful”), the depravity of man (“Crooked Deep Down”), and the priority of love as a mark of true Christianity (“The Church”).

He is a songwriter with depth and honesty to his lyrics. He looks at the world and tells us what he sees. For me and many of my friends in college, we listened as he worked out his theology in a deeply personal way that made him a representative figure for many of us on the same walk.

And yet a few weeks ago I listened with deep sadness to a podcast where Derek vehemently rejected Christianity. He spoke with vulgar language. He explained how he found more comfort in alcohol than he did in the truths of the gospel. At one point, he expresses that, in light of the suffering in the world, either there is no God or the one that exists is a “f***ing ***hole.”

What happened?

Derek Webb is just one among an ever-increasing category of those who identify as “ex-Christian.” They grew up in the church, many even gave their lives in various roles in the church, and yet today they reject Christianity as a delusion at best or oppressive and even evil at worst.
Posts: 447
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:41 am

Re: Josh Harris and Derek Webb Apostates

Postby stcordova » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:51 pm

“Men may have a strong persuasion that the Christian religion is true, when their persuasion is not at all built on evidence, but altogether on education, and the opinion of others; as many Mahometans are strongly persuaded of the truth of the Mahometan religion, because their fathers, and neighbors, and nation believe it. That belief of the truth of the Christian religion, which is built on the very same grounds with a Mahometan’s belief of the Mahometan religion, is the same sort of belief. And though the thing believed happens to be better, yet that does not make the belief itself to be of a better sort; for though the thing believed happens to be true, yet the belief of it is not owing to this truth, but to education” (emphasis mine).

Edwards makes a vital distinction here between two kinds of belief. There is a way to “believe” in Christianity that is not genuine saving belief. You can believe in Christianity because you are educated in it, because those around you believe it, and because you are genuinely convinced in your mind that it is a true religion. You can be convinced of and committed to Christianity in the same way you can be convinced of and committed to false religions or sports teams or opinions about which James Bond movie is the best. And yet this is not saving faith, no matter how committed it looks on the outside. This is a kind of belief that can be altered or even abandoned.

True saving faith, as Edwards explains, looks like this:

“A spiritual conviction of the truth of the great things of the gospel, is such a conviction, as arises from having a spiritual view or apprehension of those things in the mind. And this is also evident from the Scripture, which often represents, that a saving belief of the reality and divinity of the things proposed and exhibited to us in the gospel, is from the Spirit of God’s enlightening the mind” (emphasis mine).

True saving faith is not being exposed and educated in the Christian religion and coming to a conviction that such things are true. True saving faith happens when God by His Spirit enlightens the mind and helps us see not only the truth of the gospel but the loveliness and divine nature of it. It is beholding not only the truths of the gospel but also having God work on our souls to rejoice in the glory of God as He is revealed in these truths. True conversion happens when God shines “in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6, emphasis mine). It is a divine work done by a God who never changes His mind or alters His purposes in history. And thus it will always, always persevere.

I don’t deny that Derek Webb or ex-pastors, ex-missionaries, ex-ministry workers, and those who define themselves as ex-Christians were at one time completely convinced of the truth of the gospel. Their belief in its truth is evidenced by the fact that they built their entire lives around it. But what I deny is that the eyes of their hearts were opened by God to truly savor the glory of God revealed in those truths. I’m not saying they didn’t believe that God was glorious. I’m saying that their conviction was a human conviction and was based upon education and circumstances and not the supernatural work of God to shine in their hearts the beauty and glory of gospel truths.

And that is why they were able to lose the faith they had.
Posts: 447
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:41 am

Re: Josh Harris and Derek Webb Apostates

Postby stcordova » Sun Aug 04, 2019 1:23 am

Another good writeup on Josh Harris:
Posts: 447
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:41 am

Re: Josh Harris and Derek Webb Apostates

Postby stcordova » Sun Oct 06, 2019 2:39 pm ... e/evkme63/

it was seized upon by legalists (many of them were homeschooling mothers, but that’s only another way of saying the same thing, right? :blush:).

Hear hear


I speak only based on my personal experience. Also I interpreted the original speaker as making a somewhat light-hearted jab at a tendency he has also observed, and intended my agreement similarly. A joke with some truth, but still a joke.

That said, I would support a general charge of legalism towards turn-of-the-century homeschooling mothers, and fathers also.

From my own mother and mother-in-law to the mothers of two girls I knew who were essentially disowned after being raped.

I'm surprised it's even remotely controversial to state that the homeschooling movement of the Josh Harris era was rife with legalism.

My family was never the denim dress crowd, but we knew them. I have a social security number, but I knew people who did not; the Mark of the Beast, they called it. I was allowed to talk to girls as a teenaged boy, but I knew boys who weren't. I was not stripped naked in front of family members for writing doubts about God in my personal diary, but I know someone who was.

My mother was a prominent member of a statewide homeschooling organization. My parents' home still has a retrofitted second phone line from all the faxes that organization required. I have been to the conferences, sat around bored out of my mind as the book sales were set up, salivated at the smells from the Beckers' table...

Anyway, I do not mean to accuse your wife or your friend or your mother or you. But just as "emotional distance" is a reasonable charge to lay against the class "1950s father's", I think there is some truth to attributing legalism to "Josh Harris era homeschooling mothers".

Posts: 447
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:41 am

Return to Christian Apologetics, Archaeology, History