Recent Convert

This weekend we went to Walberswick and Southwold, walked along the beach and looked at stuff. As is traditional when soaking up the faded seaside grandeur(OMT), lunch was eaten in the car to avoid the inclement weather.

I’ve also had a spring clean and found my original notes, dated 6th June 1998, on a talk to graduates at StAG on how to avoid plummeting back into the outer darkness when you leave university. I’ve mentioned the talk before, but it was in one of those postings from last year, so, for people who can’t read it, <lj-cut text=”here’s what I said”>here’s what I said:

does this not cause said evangelical Christians to examine their methods as obviously ineffective

Hmm… You’d have thought they would have addressed this, if so many people were giving up on leaving university. I did some further research into this: the UCCF discussion forums contain this posting which confirms it “anecdotally”. However, the UCCF webmaster then says that they know of no survey giving a high percentage falling away and quotes another survey from the 1970s with a large proportion of leavers still carrying on in the faith. I’d a feeling I’d discussed this before, and it turns out I have. Google hasn’t indexed my own postings to the thread, annoyingly, but my own archive has me saying “I thought this was one of those urban legends, but my curate said something before I graduated about the percentage having gone up from the last time the UCCF did the survey.” So, my evangelical church certainly believed it, whethers it’s true or not, and people have a generally feeling that it happens, but there’s no survey known to the CU’s umbrella organisation. Odd.

I heard about the high fall away rate in a talk to leavers about the importance of getting into a good church and not going out with non-Christians (this sucks if you’re a girl anywhere but Oxbridge, I think). So it’s possibly a scare story. But assuming the curate wasn’t knowingly dishonest, which I find hard to believe, I’d say they think that people fall away because they do not look after their faith by establishing themselves in good churches and so on, ie it’s the fallers’ fault, not the CU’s. Christianity does expect some people to give up: take a look at the parable of the sower, for example.

My notes say that over half of CU leavers will no longer be committed within 5 years. It’d be interesting to know where that figure came from, given that the UCCF itself can’t reproduce it. Edited to add: Fall-away rates are discussed a bit more in a later post of mine. But there’s more:

Q1. Why do people give up?

  • World – not being in Χian community.
  • Flesh – sin, eg sexual, or whatever.
  • Devil – “was I ever a Χian?”

Q2. What mistakes did the Israelites make?

  • Idolatry – something takes God’s place.
  • Sexual immorality – 1 Thess 4 love vs lust. Χianity not about being morally perfect but about trusting God for forgiveness.
  • Testing God – pushing the boundaries, rejecting commands.
  • Grumbling.

There’s also the obligatory mention of Hebrews 10, although to my mind that’s about lax Christians (ex-Christians are still doomed of course, but not by that passage, ISTM).

I’m trying to work out where I fit into this little scheme. I never quite felt I fitted in at church, and in fact had a closer circle of friends among the CDC people. It’s interesting how the evangelical obssession with sexual sin comes out here: without breaking confidences, I think it’s fair to say rank-and-file evangelicals are assenting to one thing and doing another when it comes to sex, and that’s certainly a source of guilt and uncertainty. And of course, anyone going through the doubts which must lead up to leaving the church is going to wonder whether their experience was ever real in the first place. Can I have “all of the above”, please Bob?

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