Out of the Darkness and Into the Light
Tonight, at the Fayetteville Freethinkers meeting, I met Jerry DeWitt. Jerry is a former pastor who’s recently lost his faith. In fact, he’s a part of The Clergy Project, a secret group of current and former ministers who no longer believe in God.
Here’s his blurb on the Recovering From Religion site:
Jerry DeWitt became a non-believer after more than twenty-five years of Pentecostal ministry in his home state of Louisiana. His ministry experience begin at the early age of seventeen and included evangelizing across the United States and being the assistant pastor of two United Pentecostal churches as well as one Apostolic church. During his dilemma with doubt Jerry ultimately held the senior pastorate of two very unique congregations, one charismatic dominionist and the other non-denominational
In his Louisiana town (population 10,000), people used to used to shake his hand and ask him when he was going to run for mayor. His intended mayoral run was to be in 2014. Now, he feels sick to his stomach at the thought of having to go out to Walmart or the Post Office. As of October last year, people now know he is a nonbeliever.
Caring about the truth drove a wedge between Jerry and his faith. All Christians, at some point, will inevitably find some kind of problem in scripture. How they react to the problems they find determines their future. Some may shrug it off, preferring to be happy and ignorant. Those who care about the truth, however, could be in trouble, for they will dig in and uncover a host of other problems.
The second wedge between him and his faith was a love of people. Apparently, caring for people is a necessary component before the Problem of Evil will have an effect on you. He cited being disturbed by the babies who drowned in the Great Flood. He also mentioned that even the worst people who ever lived probably didn’t deserve to be tortured in hell for infinity.
He said as a pastor, you are personally responsible for people’s suffering. They come to you with their problems all the time, and you have to be able to explain why it’s happening to them. At some point, he explained, his love of truth and people began to make this process harder and harder. At some point, he said, the questions people asked became louder than the answers.
Anyways, I won’t spoil his talk. He’s an excellent speaker. 25 years of experience will do that to you. Maybe his talk will find its way on Youtube one of these days.