I was interested in this story about Bart Campolo, the son of Tony Campolo. The father is described as an “influential evangelical leader and author who is famous for having been a spiritual adviser to former President Bill Clinton” but the son now says that he is an agnostic humanist. I suspect that Bart’s deconversion story is mirrored in many people who were once believers, even devout ones, but then lost the faith.
Bart started out following in his father’s footsteps and became a fervent Christian in his teens and began his own ministry and encountered a 9-year old child who had been gang-raped and “who rejected Christianity after her Sunday school teacher said God could have stopped the act but allowed it for a reason.” Bart struggled with this issue and concluded that this was not acceptable and the only way to understand this horrible experience was to conclude that god could not totally control everything that happened.
Giving up belief in god’s omnipotence started the slide.
Next he encountered gay roommates in college and decided that they could not be evil whatever the Bible said. So he had abandoned the authority of the Bible too.
The last step was when he could not accept that his nonbeliever friends would suffer in hell for eternity. So he became a universalist who thinks that everyone is saved.
But his triad of heresies made him unwelcome in evangelical circles and led to the final straw.
“I started rejecting the supernatural stuff, the orthodoxy. I no longer believed God does miracles or that Jesus was raised from the dead or that other religions were false,” he said. “My Christianity had died the death of a thousand nicks and cuts.”
But it wasn’t until the biking accident in 2011 that Bart lost whatever remained of his tattered faith. “While recovering, I thought, ‘When this body dies, I think that will be the end of Bart Campolo. I don’t think I will be going anywhere. I don’t believe in eternal life in that way anymore.’”
I suspect that this killing of faith by slowly abandoning one doctrine after another because they are incompatible with one’s values is a very common path to nonbelief.