Pastors Who Lost Faith in Jesus

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Christian leaders, pastors who lost their faith in Jesus, stopped believing, and some committed suicide

2021, Paul Maxwell “I’m no longer Christian.”

Former ‘Desiring God’ writer Paul Maxwell renounced his faith in Jesus. Maxwell is a high-profile preacher with a Ph.D. in theology at Wheaton and B.A. in Biblical language from Moody.

Despite writing several Christian books, he announced in 2021 on his Instagram that he was no longer a Christian. He also said, “… it feels really good. I’m really happy.”

2020, Jon Steingard “I no longer believe in God.”

Jon Steingard, the Canadian Christian rock band’s lead vocalist, announced on his Instagram, “I no longer believe in God.” He explained it didn’t happen overnight.

One reason Steingard gave up his faith was his support for legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015 and the theory of evolution, which he was an “anti-Christian” stand.

2019, Joshua Harris “I am not a Christian.”

Joshua Harris authored the million-bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye in 1997. Ironically, Harris separated from his wife of 20 years in 2019. In the same year, he disowned Jesus.

On July 25, 2019, Harris announced, “I am not a Christian…” He also spoke about what he sees as a destructive relationship between many Christians and his disdain for Trump, who supports Christians.

Marty Sampson, a prolific worship music writer known for his work with Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, Delirious, and Young & Free, revealed he is losing his faith and believes Christianity is “just another religion.” 

2019, Dave Gass “I am walking away from the faith.”

Dave Gass was lead Pastor at Grace Family Fellowship. “After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from the faith,” in his now-deleted tweet. Gass apparently left his family.

When I was in 8th grade and reading Greek mythology… the deity of the Bible and humankind sounded like ancient mythology. That seed of doubt never went away,” he said.

2019, Jarrid Wilson “Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.”

Church leader, author, and mental health advocate, Jarrid Wilson, killed himself on September 9, 2019. He was 30 years old. He pastored at Harvest church in California, Highpoint, and LifePoint Church in Tennessee.

His last tweet was, “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts (depression, PTSD, anxiety)… But offer us companionship and comfort.”

2019, Marty Simpson “Christianity is just another religion”

Marty Sampson is an addition to the long list of scandals that hit the dark-themed church of Hillsong. Sampson is known for writing music in Hillsong Worship and United, Delirious, and Young & Free.

On August 10, 2019, he posted on Instagram: “Time for some real talk … I’m genuinely losing my faith … and it doesn’t bother me.” He also said that Christianity is just another religion.

2018, Andrew Stoecklein “Severe mental illness”

The 30 years old vibrant and beloved young pastor preached about depression, then killed himself on August 25, 2018. Andrew Stoecklein was a senior pastor at mega-church Inland Hills Church, Chino, California.

He had panic attacks two or three times a week.” A psychiatrist diagnosed Stoecklein with depression. Stoecklein has a severe mental illness; he was a great husband and dad, his wife said.

2015, John Gibson

John Gibson never denounced his faith in Jesus. He was a minister and a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary but led a secret life of sexual addiction, infidelity, and subsequent depression.

Different from American Christian singer Jon Gibson and English singer-writer John Gibson, the professor’s guilt and shame led him to suicide after his name was exposed in the Ashley Madison scandal.

Like Ravi Zacharrias’ double life, how can they both profess faith in Christ, evangelize, and live in sin? Was their faith to be transformed not strong enough?

Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer called the leak a “significant moment of embarrassment for the Church.” However, Stetzer’s political rhetoric is also an embarrassment to the body of Christ.

It’s estimated that hundreds of pastors, clergy, and staff could have been involved in the scandal.

2014, Isaac Hunter

2013, Ed Montgomery

2013, Teddy Parker

How do you explain Christians falling away from faith or giving up?

  1. First, the Bible warns us that Satan seeks to kill, steal, and destroy those who bear the image of God. Jesus said that in this world, His disciple would have troubles.
  2. Secondly, Jesus did not say He will always intervene but assures us that He will never leave or forsake us. “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace,” Jesus said.
  3. Thirdly, we will suffer and even doubt faith in this world. Jesus said, “Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 10:10; John 16:33)

1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. If they were, they would have remained; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

Join the Clergy Project

If you are a Christian who has thought of abandoning the Christian faith, join the Clergy Project. It’s an online community of current and former religious professionals without supernatural beliefs.

James 1:2-4
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve lost all faith in prayer. After a false arrest and imprisonment for 10 months for crimes I did not commit, I felt that God abandoned me. The trauma from that experience made me terrified to ever pray again. If God can’t or won’t justify an innocent man falsely charged, I felt that it was best to never pray. Praying gets one’s hopes up. I can’t deal with more unanswered prayers.

    • Dear Jim,
      I’m very sorry for your false imprisonment. I just can’t imagine what you’ve experienced. I don’t know what else I can say.

      I agree with you 100%. Currently, I’m in a situation that has no end (going on 25 years). There was a lot of ebb and flow of high hopes that turned into despair all the while observing God answer others’ prayers. It’s absolute cruelty. Evangelicals would pounce on my pain with verses and with zero compassion. My personal experience throughout my life has been that my prayers were like a rug that God pulled out from under me and I was left crying in despair. I think, the Bible has good guidelines for, overall, living but I just cannot pray anymore. Too. Painful.

  2. Don’t despair. Joseph was imprisoned for 13 years.Peter and Paul were imprisoned too. David was being pursued by Saul.

  3. Jim, please don’t be afraid – Prayer is a conversation that you have with Jesus Christ – He knows how you feel – He was wrongly accused – He was wrongly punished – He was disbelieved countless times – Yet because of His tremendous Love and compassion He has He became our Kinsman Redeemer – There are no easy answers but there is ONE who knows you and understands you completely and extends His hand 24/7

  4. Many stop believing after a scandal
    Or major destruction. I personally believe it’s because they never believed to begin with.

    • That’s horsecrap! How dare you add insult to injury. You won’t appreciate someone else saying that to you during your darkest hour. But someone will, because that’s how sanctimoniously cruel many christians are.

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