Lately, two well known Christians have been making this argument publicly, fundamentalist Ray Comfort, and liberal Christian blogger John Shore.
For those of you who may not know who he is, Ray Comfort, along with his good friend Kirk Cameron, are two of the most notable promoters of Creationism out there. (Perhaps besides Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and Creation Museum infamy).
Yes, if the name is starting to sound familiar now, Ray Comfort and 80's actor Kirk Cameron are the guys responsible for the Banana argument for Creationism, and the Crocoduck argument:
(Ugly looking creature, isn't it?)
A former fundamentalist left a comment for him on his facebook page talking about her dedication to her former faith, and her longing then to hear something, anything from god, and never getting an answer Notice his response:
"You had a false conversion. You never knew Him. Try again, and this time properly."
That is what Ray (and many fundamentalists) think of us former Christian fundamentalists. If you leave Christianity, you were never truly one of us in the first place. You were fooling yourself, you were insincere.
This idea is more common in fundamentalism, but apparently a few liberal Christians believe it too. Here's what liberal Christian blogger John Shore (a blogger I normally enjoy reading), has to say:
"As for Christians who renounced Christ, who are no longer Christian? Two things: 1. If they don’t care (and they can’t, since they no longer believe that Christ is any more real than the tooth fairy), then the question of what their new relationship is to Christ is the ultimate moot point; and: 2. As much ire as I know this will bring me, my vote is that such a person was never really a Christian in the first place—that their Christianity was always immature. And that’s certainly no crime."
I love Libby Anne's response to his post, read it here. Like her, I expected much better from John Shore, a guy who is a very liberal/pro-gay rights Christian. His statement, though more phrased more politely than Ray Comfort's statement, isn't really any better.
It's a slap in the face to people who had dedicated their entire lives to the faith that these two men share, unless you have been a Christian before, (and especially a fundamentalist), you can not truly understand how deep and how consuming the dedication to the faith is. Myself personally, what makes me feel like I know I was the real deal was the sense of mourning when I knew I had to give up believing.
There was a sense of grief, like my identity, who I was before had died. I felt lost, drifting in the wind. Why would I have had such an emotional attachment to the faith if I was well, quite frankly a fraud, an impostor like Ray Comfort and John Shore seem to believe?
Why do Christians like these two keep saying this? I think there's two reasons.
Many of the people claiming this, especially the fundamentalists who are saying this are insecure in their faith. Former fundamentalists/Christians like me scare them. They don't want to confront the reality that it is possible that someone who was a dedicated Christian like them could leave the faith. Why? Because then, that would be admitting the possibility that there is a chance that it could happen to them.
They are too afraid to even entertain this thought, so they go into denial mode. "Well then you couldn't have been a true Christian TM if you left the faith"
It can also be arrogance, either at a personal level, or pride in one's religion. At a personal level, it's a feeling of superiority in their own dedication to Christianity. "I'm the real deal, it could never happen to me, because I'm a true Christian , I'm more dedicated to the faith than that. That guy that left the faith was weak in his faith, or just fooling himself (scoffs)"
Or it's an arrogance in their religion. They may believe that Christianity is so incredible, that someone would be a fool to leave, and therefore, couldn't have been the real deal in the first place.
No matter what the basis for the argument is, it's frustrating, and just plain wrong, as well as insulting. For people who say think they they believe in a loving god, they sure aren't showing that kind of love when they say this.