Pastors Who Don’t Believe – A Rebuttal

I read an interesting blog post today about pastors who continue to preach, even after they’ve lost faith in their God. You can follow the link to read it for yourself.

They start out by saying:

In recent years there have been several news features on the phenomenon of pastors who do not believe. The report has essentially been that, in anonymous surveys, some pastors admit to being atheists/agnostics. Why would an atheist/agnostic want to be a pastor? While some reported that they enjoy the control and authority the pastoral role gives them, the majority stated that, while they themselves do not believe, they understand that the Christian message can be a help to weak-minded people; therefore, they are willing to teach it. What does the Bible say about “pastors who do not believe”?

I would say that it’s a good trend and that it’s probably a trend that has always existed. I also wish they had linked to these ‘anonymous surveys’ since it’s the basis for the entire blog post.

What’s even more interesting is that when I went to research these ‘surveys’, I found the exact same article as this one right here – Why are there some pastors who don’t believe?

Could this be plagiarism? If so, I thought there was a commandment about such things somewhere…like the bible?

Here’s a screen shot of the blog post I read. You can find the original article by following the link above.



Of course, it’s possible that this blogger is a contributor to Got Questions, but if so, the article should still be linked.

Regardless, I think both the original article as well as the blog post miss the mark. They don’t site any sources and leave out a slew of other reasons someone might not believe in God but continue to preach.

For example:

  • They might have a family and no other sources of income.
  • They’ve invested serious time and money into study.
  • They’re emotionally invested.
  • They enjoy the church environment and don’t want to leave.
  • They feel as though people depend on them and don’t want to let them down.

And so on. Just pretending as though they’re all preying on weak minded people is disingenuous.

For example, here is one explanation given in another article:

the cost of saying “the emperor has no clothes” comes at a steep price. Full-time clergy or religious business leaders, who have come to the realization that their faith is a sham, risk financial hardship for their families if they come clean to their followers or customers. Religious people in the community will almost certainly talk about “that poor family with the atheist mom/dad” and put them on various prayer lists. If most of your friendships, family relationships, and even your marriage are based on this common set of beliefs, you risk losing it all.”

The blog post then goes on to a bunch of bible verses. We’ll skip those and get to the opinion parts that have nothing to do with threatening bible verses.

Now, there are also pastors who truly know and love the Lord and yet are struggling through a time of doubt. This is fairly common and understandable, as pastors deal with a tremendous amount of stress and are subject to heightened spiritual attack. This article is not directed towards believing pastors who struggle with doubt. For pastors in such a trial, the prayer should be “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)! If the doubts become persistent, the pastor should probably step down until spiritual renewal occurs. A pastor in such a situation deserves our prayer, comfort, encouragement, and empathy.

Pastors have to experience heightened spiritual attack. That’s interesting.

I guess it’s good that this writer believes they deserve empathy and encouragement.

But wait…

But, again, for the pastor who is declaring a message he does not believe, who is pretending to be a servant of a God he does not even know, the only proper response is immediate expulsion. Without repentance leading to genuine faith, God’s judgment on such an individual will be eternally severe.

Ironic that in a piece wondering why some people are afraid of leaving the church when they lose their faith, ends with a threat and provides valid reasons for not leaving, such as being ostracized from the community.

In many cases, these pastors have given their lives to the community they serve. To lose all of that must be painful, and I totally understand why someone might not want to stop leading their church because they lost faith in God.




  1. I only have an anecdote, but… I used to work with a priest who was taking time away to try the corporate world for a bit but decided to go back to the church. I spent some time in his company away form work and he appeared to be living a totally secular lifestyle. I asked him why he was going back to the priesthood and he said it was because he missed the pomp and clothes and rituals. It seemed more like he enjoyed the performance more than anything else. Never in any of our conversations did he ever mention God, Jesus, or anything related to Christianity. So there’s that.

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