This is a review of
Why I Rejected Christianity: A Former Apologist Explains
by John W. Loftus (Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford Publishing, 2007), a 278 page paperback. The book has four parts: Part 1: My Changing Years; Part 2: The Cumulative Case; Part 3: What I Believe Today; Part 4: Appendices of published writings and a photo of Loftus and two former professors, Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. James Strauss.
So that my evaluation of the book does not obscure my appreciation of it, let me briefly point out some of the values of this book. First, it is an honest and open account of how a Christian became an atheist. Seldom are unbelievers so candid and open. Second, every Christian–let alone Christian apologists – can learn some valuable lessons from it on how to treat wayward believers. Third, it is a thoughtful and intellectually challenging work, presenting arguments that every honest theist and Christian should face. Indeed, some of his criticisms are valid. In particular I would single out his critique of the subjective argument from the alleged self-authenticating “witness of the Holy Spirit” by Loftus’ former teacher William Lane Craig (in chap. 15).
An Exposition and Evaluation of the Book
The book is too long to cover every argument contained in it. Since the vast majority, if not all of them, have been treated elsewhere in our writings (see Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics), we will be content to highlight some important points Loftus made. The first part is best summarized by selecting the author’s own words.
Part 1: “My Changing Years” is an open and illuminating account of how he became an atheist. This is best reported in his own words. “I was born in 1954 and grew up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in a Catholic home. . . . I never experienced true faith growing up, but I did learn that whenever I was in need I should call out to God. And that’s exactly what I did at 18 years old when I felt I had nowhere to turn for help. I was not always a good boy, being a middle child in a home with three boys. . . . I seemed to be in almost every fight in the household. . . . They [his parents] thought it would be good for everyone if I considered attending Howe Military School . . .” (9). “I was a problem teenager. . . . I spent many weeks in the Wood Youth Center, in Ft. Wayne. I dropped out of school. Most of my law breaking occurred during the time my mother and father were separated and divorced. . . . I was arrested six different times as a juvenile offender for various offenses!” (10). “Eventually I began to feel as if I was possessed by some demonic being. So one night . . . I went over to see a woman named Cathy . . . who had earlier spoken to me earlier [sic] about Jesus. She led me to accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for my sins. . . . I felt free and forgiven for the first time in my life” (11).
After being baptized in a Church of Christ, “by the fall of that year, I had read completely through the Bible twice!” (12). After graduating from Great Lakes Bible College (GLBC), Loftus attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (both Church of Christ schools). Then he notes, “I attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), and graduated in 1985 with a Th.M degree, under the mentoring of Dr. William Lane Craig . . .” (7). Subsequently, “I was in the [Church of Christ] ministry for about fourteen years, or so. . . . I am now an atheist” (7-8).
Loftus summarized, “There are three major things that happened in my life that changed my thinking. They all happened in the space of about five years, from 1991-1996. These things are associated with three people: 1) Linda, 2) Larry, and 3) Jeff. Linda brought a major crisis in my life. Larry brought new information in my life. Jeff took away my sense of a loving Christian community. . . . In the midst of these things, I felt rejected by the Church of Christ in my local area.
For me it was an assault of major proportions. If I still believed in the devil, I would say it was orchestrated by the legions of Hell
” (emphasis in original, 20-21).
Click HERE to continue reading