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一个宣教中国20余年,现在却不信耶稣的人(转贴谨供参考
送交者: beiqian 2014年03月18日10:13:13 于 [彩虹之约] 发送悄悄话

A secretive group of religious leaders who no longer believe in GodJohn Lombard,National PostMarch 17, 2014

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/03/17/john-lombard-a-secretive-group-of-religious-leaders-who-no-longer-believe-in-god/

I used to think I was an oddity — a Christian leader who subsequently rejected his faith and became an atheist.

I served as a missionary in China who helped support underground house churches and minister to local Chinese Christians. Before that, I attended Bible college, was involved in street evangelism and lead several Christian organizations.

I knew Christians who had lost their faith, but that wasn’t supposed to happen to people like me — people who were leaders in the Christian community; people who were so sincere and convinced of the truth of their faith that they actively worked to lead and convert others.

And yet, that’s exactly what happened. Over a period of more than a decade, beginning in Bible college and ending several years after going to China as a missionary, I faced

questions and doubts that, the more I examined them, just kept growing until one day I simply realized that I couldn’t believe there things anymore. And bingo — I was an atheist.

That is perhaps an oversimplification. Very few people understand just how difficult it is when a religious leader loses his faith. It’s not the intellectual aspect — deciding that you just don’t believe anymore — that’s the hard part. It’s the social and emotional aspects.

There were Christians who’d followed me for years, who trusted me when I told them to follow God. Suddenly I was saying that I had been wrong all along. It was even more difficult because some of them were people who I personally converted to Christianity. As a missionary in China, the situation was complicated even more by the fact that Chinese Christians whom I had converted were risking their freedom by attending illegal house churches, and suddenly I was essentially saying that they had taken that risk for nothing.

   Christian leaders who lose their faith are often ostracized from their communities. For many such Christians, their full-time job is in the Christian ministry and when they lose that job, they are not well equipped or qualified for jobs in the secular workforce. Then there’s the reaction of friends and family. If your spouse is a devout Christian, at best it means significant stress on the relationship, at worst it means divorce. It almost always means the loss of many friends and ejection from the community that the person has belonged to for so long.

It was therefore with both surprise and pleasure that I learned a few weeks ago of The Clergy Project (TCP), a small, private organization that has been setup specifically to create a community for religious leaders who no longer believe. It provides a safe environment for those who are trying to decide what to do, where they can support and help each other and where religious leaders can find others who truly understand the significant challenges and problems that they face when they lose their faith.

Privacy is very strictly protected at TCP — just getting in requires an extended application process and personal interviews. Only active and former professional clergy and religious leaders who do not hold supernatural beliefs (or are having significant doubts about their beliefs) can join. Those who are still in positions of active religious leadership don’t even have to reveal their identity.

TCP isn’t an attempt to convert religious leaders into atheists. It is a sanctuary for leaders who have already rejected their beliefs.

Joining TCP has been an illuminating experience for me. I would have thought that the number of religious leaders who secretly didn’t believe was quite small. But since launching in 2011, TCP has already gained over 550 members, despite minimal publicity. Nor is it limited to just Christians: Its members are made up of Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and people of other backgrounds.

 But what surprised me the most was that a significant number of the members are still in their roles as religious leaders, pretending to believe because they have no idea how to get out. One of the most common themes I hear are the very same questions I once faced: “I no longer believe these things, but I don’t know how to tell my family, my friends, my congregation, etc. I feel trapped, leading people to follow a belief system that I myself no longer believe in.”

 TCP isn’t an attempt to convert religious leaders into atheists. It is a sanctuary for leaders who have already rejected their beliefs and are trying to figure out what to do next. It not only provides a place where they can share their thoughts and feelings with others, but where they can turn for help and assistance from those who have already made the transition from believer to non-believer. There’s even a financial grant system that’s been set up to help them get jobs training when they leave their current posts.

 I wish that there had been something like TCP when I came out as an atheist. It would have made the transition much easier. But it’s great to be in a position to offer support and encouragement to others who are going through the same thing, in order to make that process a little easier for them.

 

National Post

John Lombard is a Humanist and ex-missionary who grew up in Ontario and has been living and working in China for more than 20 years. He currently works as a cross-cultural consultant to help foreign companies seeking to do business in China. 

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