In the Final Stages of Apostasy
Apostasy does not just happen overnight – it occurs step by step.
Little in life stays just the same. Change is normally a big part of the way things are. Therefore both individuals and nations can go forward or go backwards. They can make progress, improve and excel. But they can also go through stages of deep decline, deterioration and final extinction.
Here I want to look at how nations and individuals go backwards. Advancing, making progress and taking great leaps forward is hard work – whether for a culture or a person. But going in reverse is actually rather easy. It does not take much effort.
Planting a garden does take a lot of effort – letting it go to weeds requires nothing, really. It happens all by itself. Keeping a house in tip-top condition requires a lot of hard work. Allowing it to degenerate and fall into disrepair is easy – simply do nothing. It is the same with cultures and with individuals. Let me look at cases of each.
Nations can slowly and incrementally deteriorate and implode over time. They can die from within. While external threats are always a real worry to most nations, the really tragic fact is that so many cultures and countries actually die by suicide. Ethnocide or cultural genocide is not just due to dangerous external forces. Too often it happens because of internal factors.
A culture can commit suicide when it no longer believes in itself, when it no longer has a shared set of values, when it no longer has a moral and spiritual infrastructure, and when it no longer has a desire to live. History is replete with examples of this.
Whatever happened to the Babylonian Empire, or the Roman Empire, or the Napoleonic Empire, or the Ottoman Empire, or the Third Reich, or Communist Russia? They are now the stuff of history books. Some of these were toppled by other empires, and some just self-destructed.
And many astute commentators have warned about how nations can bring about their own demise. Three quotes will suffice here:
“Civilizations die from suicide, not murder” Arnold Toynbee
“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.” Will Durant
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln
Nations seem to go through cycles. In 1857 Lord Macaulay sent a letter to an American friend, speaking about the fact that the average age of the world’s greatest democratic nations has been 200 years. He said that each has been through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith.
From faith to great courage.
From courage to liberty.
From liberty to abundance.
From abundance to complacency.
From complacency to selfishness.
From selfishness to apathy.
From apathy to dependency.
And from dependency back again into bondage.
A good question to ask is this: where is Australia – or America, or Britain, or France – in this cycle? It seems they all would be pretty near the end of it. How long the West can survive is a moot point. It is hard to believe that the moral and spiritual freefall can go on for much longer.
But it is not just entire nations and cultures that can commit hari-kari – individuals can too. How many people started out well, and their prospects looked so promising, only to lose it all? Many started out strong but disintegrated along the way. And I refer here to Christians as well.
Specifically, I refer to the act of apostasy – renouncing the very faith that was once championed. Those who once were leading lights in the church, who had very public ministries, and who had impacted many, will all of a sudden reject their faith.
But it only appears that this happened all of a sudden. Almost always this is an incremental rejection of the faith. It happens in little steps: a little compromise here, a little sin there, a little unbelief here, a little worldliness there, etc. Over time the end result must eventually occur: apostasy.
We see cases of this happening all the time. One quite shocking case of this involves a former American megachurch pastor. I wrote about this sad story not long ago: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2019/07/27/sin-and-deception-another-case-study/
It has to do with Joshua Harris. As I mentioned in my article, this big time Christian leader dumped not only his wife and family, but he dumped his faith as well. That is a clear case of apostasy. But wait, there’s more. He now seems to have taken up with the homosexual juggernaut. As one article begins the story:
Former pastor and evangelical author Joshua Harris demonstrated his support for the LGBT community by marching in Vancouver’s annual Pride Parade less than a month after announcing he no longer considers himself a Christian. On August 4, Harris, former pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, shared several Instagram photos of himself participating in the British Columbia parade, engaging in Pride festivities, and “swapping stories” with LGBT activists.
“An American in Canada marching with the British Consulate in the Pride Parade,” he captioned one photo. Harris also shared a photo of himself alongside LGBT advocates, including Matthias Roberts, host of Queerology: A Podcast on Belief and Being, and gay rock singer Trey Pearson. “Enjoyed swapping stories, gentleman!” he captioned the photo.
So now it seems his apostasy is just about complete. We can likely expect to see him next boasting about being a homosexual himself, and maybe even getting “married” to some guy. That is full tilt apostasy folks. That is rejecting Christ and Christianity about as far as you can.
Perhaps the only good thing that can be said about all this is that he gets it, at least somewhat: if he now wants to fully embrace or at least champion the homosexual lifestyle, then he must stop pretending that he is a Christian. We have far too many folks who still claim to be Christians while fully in the homosexual bed – metaphorically and literally.
But as I said in my previous piece, we need to pray for the guy. It looks like he has totally lost the plot and completely renounced Christianity. But it is possible that he may one day come to his senses, realise what a catastrophic mistake he has made, repent, and come back to Christ.
That we need to pray for. But in the meantime, he is as good a case of apostasy as you will find. It is as heartbreaking as it is diabolical. Lord have mercy on his soul.
19 Replies to “In the Final Stages of Apostasy”
Arent we wasting our time praying for him. We should be praying for those that never knew Christ to come into the Kingdom.
Thanks Colin. Of course only God knows if he is beyond hope. For that reason, we can keep praying. I know that if I ever go off the rails (heaven forbid) I sure will want people to keep praying for me. So let’s pray for both: those who are turning away from the faith, and those who have not yet come to the faith.
This is so sad when we know that we know, and then reject what we know. Worse even, then preaching against what we know.
This is “I kissed dating goodbye” Joshua Harris?
hara kiri (Usually referred to as Seppuku in Japan).
Great article, as always, Bill.
Great article Bill…always enjoy your clarity. Your discussion around Joshua Harris did raise a question I was hoping you could shed some light on for me. The question, I’m sure, falls into the ‘theological’ area that biblical scholars have been debating for sometime. If you ‘fall away’ as described in Hebrews 4-6, can you be restored? I know that Paul is NOT saying you cannot be ‘restored’ if you sin as we all do, but rather, he goes to length in describing a person such as a Joshua Harris: “enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, shared the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the word of God, and the powers of the coming age…to be brought back to repentance.”
If you have previously discussed this point earlier, please provide a link and I will read your discussion there. Thanks so much for all your articles and your love to share the Word In clear and precise language. A new and avid reader. Ron
Thanks Ron. It can be a rather long and complex debate! And it all comes down to two main options – depending on your theology: Either a true believer cannot lose his salvation (and therefore Harris was never a true Christian to begin with), or Christians can indeed reject their faith. (Another option is that he is in fact a Christian and will hopefully one day repent and come back to his Lord.) But apostasy is a genuine reality, however we understand it theologically, and the Bible often warns against it. But I have written on the issue of whether a Christian can lose his salvation elsewhere. See here:
Rejecting Jesus Christ as Saviour is the only sin that is the unpardonable sin.
If a Born Again Christian does sin( any sin) they have the promise of being forgiven by confessing their sin/s to God and He will forgive you and restore you back to fellowship with Himself, as in 1 John 1.9. You do not lose your salvation, Once saved Always saved. Eternal Life means just that, Eternal life, – Forever. as in John 3.16………..that WHOSOEVER BELIEVES IN/ON HIM (trusts/relies on Him) WILL NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.
If a Christian continues in sin/s, God will chastise/discipline that child in Love. ( as in Hebrews 12.6.)
If God does not discipline you at all, than you are not His child, and need to be saved by accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
Romans chapter 7 tells us of the two natures of man after being born again. Romans chapter 8 tells us that their is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Australia is almost completely out of the third last position in Lord Macaulay’s list and is mostly moved into the second last position.
Thanks Michael. I am a bit more pessimistic: Australia and other Western nations may be in the penultimate stage, if not even the ultimate one! But we both agree that the country is in a bad way!
I tend to agree with you on your last remark ie we are coming very close to those last 2 stages in the cycle of democracy! Bill, have you written anything on the latest overnight slip into legalising abortion (murder of the unborn) for whatever reason, under the pretense of Reproductive Health Care Reform? Maybe I have missed it…Always appreciate your insight!
A “deep crisis” for Australian Anglicans:
The NSW Greens believe:
– babies are not to be recognised as sentient beings that deserve our care and respect
The ACT Greens believe:
– animals must be recognised as sentient beings that deserve our care and respect
https://act.greens.org.au/sites/greens.org.au/files/policydownloads/ACT%20Greens%20Policy%20Platform%20April%202012_5.pdf (page 4)
BTW: A relative of mine was born at 22 weeks and now is a fit and well 47 year old.
You are dead wrong. The once saved always Saved doctrine is false. Sadly you are confusing eternal life with a permanently saved by grace mentality. Read the parable of the sower and you will see what happens when the cares of this world ruins a person’s decision to follow Christ . They fall away and yes if they don’t repent and seek forgiveness and return they are lost forever. The Bible speaks about what sacrifice can be made now for those people when they have rejected the blood of Jesus.
Sadly that’s it. While the father’s arms are open , personal responsibility is required. Ie the prodigal son returned and repented . He did not stay in his sin.
Thanks Phil and Helena. As always we need clarity on terminology and the like. If by ‘once saved always saved’ we mean a guy raised his hand in an emotional gospel meeting 20 years ago, but has been living like the devil ever since, then no, I don’t believe in it either. But the truth is this: we have so many verses speaking about the believer’s assurance, and how God is able to keep him. But we also have so many verses warning of the need to continue in faith and obedience. Both biblical truths must be affirmed, even if they seem to contradict each other. But see more detail on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/07/11/saved-always-saved/
What about 2Peter 20-22. where he speaks about those that knew Christ and then turned their backs on Him. Their punishment is worse.
again, once you have sinned the sin where their is no coming back, then there is no need to pray for them.
Let the scriptures speak for themselves. John 10.28. 29 (Once Saved always saved) NIV.
And I GIVE them ETERNAL LIFE, AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH. (never means NEVER) No one will snatch them out of MY (Jesus’) hand. 29. My FATHER who has given them to me, is greater than all, NO ONE can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30. I and the Father are one.”
I am in the Father’s hand and in His Son’s hand and they hold on to me. I am sealed with the Holy Spirit now, I cannot ever be unsealed. and nothing and NO ONE can pluck or snatch me out of the Father’s hands, nor can I be plucked out of the Son of God’s Hand. Amen.
if someone, sometime ago, said the sinners prayer through some emotional gospel meeting and they live like the devil, you can be sure that they were NEVER saved to begin with and Jesus will say to them “I NEVER KNEW YOU.” Matthew chapter 7. (Jesus didn’t say I KNEW YOU ONCE upon time, but you fell away……BUT I NEVER KNEW YOU.
Thanks again Helena. If you had read the article I linked to in my comment above, you would have seen I certainly included that passage, as well as many others that speak to the assurance of the believer. But then I also listed some of the many warning passages, and I said we must take both sets of Scriptures seriously. Too often those pushing their favourite theological system will run with the one set of texts while ignoring or explaining away the other. I prefer to take all of Scripture seriously, even if at times it seems to conflict a bit. And many of the great theologians who do so very strongly hold to the belief in the eternal security of the believer will emphasise these two truths simultaneously:
-God’s preservation of the saints
-Man’s need of perseverance
I am quite happy to run with that biblically balanced emphasis.
But given that this article was focused on how nations and individuals can turn away from their prior commitments, and NOT a full-scale examination of the theology of assurance or falling away, we will leave that particular theological war for another time thanks.