Losing My Religion

Assembly of God pastor George Wood posts a review of William Lobdell's book at AG Think Tank. Here is the way that it starts:
Losing My Religion is William Lobdell’s memoir of becoming an evangelical, then a Roman Catholic, then a reluctant atheist. It is an engrossing and quick read. And unlike Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, Lobdell is not vicious. He disagrees with believers, but he does not despise them.

Lobdell is an award-winning journalist who covered the religion beat for the Los Angeles Times. As a one-time resident of Costa Mesa, California—where Lobdell lives—and a former reader of the Times, I personally know some of the people Lobdell reported on, and I remember reading some of his stories. His reportage on the sins of Paul and Jan Crouch and their Trinity Broadcasting Network sticks in my mind even to this day.

The book begins with Lobdell’s life in a mess. A friend tells him he needs God, and he ends up going to Mariners Church, an evangelical megachurch pastored by Kenton Beeshore. As he matures in his faith, he switches to St. Andrews Presbyterian, pastored by John Huffman. Eventually, however, he finds himself drawn to Catholicism, and he and his wife enroll in catechism classes.
I recommend reading the whole review that goes on to describe how Lobdell eventually got disgusted with the church and Christian behavior. He eventually lost his religion.

Do you know someone like William Lobdell? I do. It would be so easy to for me to sit here and cast stones at Lobdell and people like him. The truth is that I am also often disappointed by the same things that he was. I honestly don't know how I would have responded if I had to investigate and report on the things that he did.

I do know that I am often challenged by health struggles.. by heartbreak.. by sometimes unbearable pain.. by unanswered prayer.. and for some reason I hang in there seeking to embrace God in different ways.. discarding a belief system and religion that was so obviously broken. Maybe William Lobdell's fate was somewhat sealed by the type of religion that he embraced? What do you think?

You can check out William Lobdell's blog here.. it is where I initially read the review.


  1. "Maybe William Lobdell's fate was somewhat sealed by the type of religion that he embraced."

    I'd be far more inclined to say that he never really believed the tenets of any of the denominations he spent time in.

  2. Wow, that you would take the time to read this must mean you have a lot of time to read. :~) I am jealous.

  3. I have a good friend who had a literal Bible, evangelical, fundamentalist faith. When he could no longer intellectually embrace all of the things he once believed in, he declared himself an atheist.

    I can easily see how this would happen to people. My faith is fundamentally different than the faith I was given by my parents. I am grateful that G-d has brought me along a path where I have been able to adapt my faith rather than abandon it.


  4. BTW, sounds like an interesting book, Bob. I just might pick it up.

  5. Looking forward to this discussion.

    BTW Rose.. I read the review and not the book.. but I may read the book if I get some time.. of course I am retired :)

  6. I like my faith with as little religion as possible. It is one of the benefits of the church I go to compared to ones I've seen and heard of. I don't like a big government because it gets in the way of faith, and so does religion. Religion is process and judgement over the heart. It is what Christ came to undo.

  7. I do have some friends that have lost their religion, but in all cases, I will say, that I never saw that they had hearts that were fully devoted to God. I never got the sense that they were in relationship with God. I too have lost my "religion," but in the process gained relationship with God and His Son. Religion could never have sustained me the way that Christ has through our relationship.

  8. I have no idea what "losing my religion" means. Tell me that it means something different than

    - I didn't like the people in my church
    - I didn't like the new pastor in my church
    - I didn't like the subjects the pastor was preaching on, because I have the opposite view on them (like divorce, tithing, alcohol use)
    - I didn't like the way things changed in my church
    - I didn't like the way things never changed in my church

    Religion is just a definition, there's no emotional baggage there. If you are Christian, then that's your religion. If you "lose your religion" does that mean that you have stopped being a Christian?

  9. To answer your question TZ, this is what is mentioned in the review of the book:

    "Losing My Religion is memoir, not apologetic. Lobdell narrates his story of “de-conversion” rather than offering airtight arguments for disbelief. Nevertheless, the corruption of the Catholic church, not to mention the sinfulness of television evangelists, is the main reason he offers for his loss of faith. If the Christian God exists and does what the Bible says he does, surely Christians should be better than they are. He raises additional objections based on the problem of evil, the ineffectiveness of intercessory prayer, and the hard-to-believe stories of the Bible."

    I posted my opinion of it in the post. You can check out the link to the review (in my post) for more info on what the reviewer thought.

  10. Hi Bob,

    I can really relate to this story. I spent 25 years in the conservative Christian subculture before I went into self imposed exile for a lot of reasons I won't go into here. Like Lobdell I don't despise my conservative Christian brethren I just don't agree with see eye to eye and certain aspects of the faith they generally choose to emphasize. I wasn't fortunate because I have never associated or interpreted my faith or my understanding of God with a particular Christian sub-culture, thus, I never experienced a crisis of faith or felt the need to remain in exile forever from the institutional church. I do think it is critically important that more Christians "listen" to the stories of Lobdell and the likes of Franky Schaeffer because I think they have some important legitimate concerns that the mainstream Christian establishment need to hear...Just my two cents worth...

  11. Sorry for the sloppy writing. I was interrupted in the middle of my response and forgot to go back and edit what I had written....I meant to say, "I just don't see eye to eye with certain aspects and emphasis of mainstream Evangelicalism...and...I "was fortunate", because I never associated or interpreted my faith or my understanding of God with a particular Christian sub-culture...

  12. If we look at the main stream church today, there are a lot of flaws. The body of Christ right now is not where it should be. I can understand why someone might walk away. I do have to wonder if this person ever had a real relationship with Jesus. (I am not saying that this person didn't) Things happen in life and sometimes it takes it tole on us. I just know that God still loves this man, no matter where he is at in his life or anyone else for that matter who has walked away from God.

    I know of a few people as well that have done this. I know for myself, at one time or another, I questioned my faith and others around me. I couldn't walk away from my relationship with Jesus Christ though. I am a better person because of him. It is about my relationship with Jesus. It isn't about any denomination or person/s. When it comes down to it, people fail. They are human. I don't put my faith in people. I have watched ministers around me fall apart and could of done the same if I put my faith in them.

    I do go to a wonderful church now. It is a place where I can minister to others, but my relationship with Christ isn't defined by where I go to church. I am part of a group of people that seek to serve the kingdom of God. We build each other up and carry each other when one is down. It is like a family.

  13. "Maybe William Lobdell's fate was somewhat sealed by the type of religion that he embraced."

    Sealed? Do you mean that his fate was sealed by being an evangelical and then a Roman Catholic?

    I cannot buy the idea that some might suggest, that if he lost his faith he couldn't have been a real Christian in the first place. I cannot describe how offended and infuriated I am by such an arrogant, judgmental attitude.

    Bob, I think you know how close I have come to turning my back on God. In part it was because of the Church, but a lot of it was a view of God totally distorted by the crap theology of hardcore Calvinists and rigid fundamentalists. That bovine fecal matter gave me a very diseased view of God.

    Of course part of it was unrealistic expectations of God. But we've dealt with the issue of praying for healing before.

    You also know how I am fighting to return to faith (trusting God). Religion as a system has little if anything to do with it because I am no longer regularly attending one church (we visit various churches). After about 30 years of being heavily involved in leadership of several churches, I am not quick to rush into the clutches of another congregation.

    Over that time I have been burned and burned out by the Church. Fortunately, God is bigger than my resentment toward Him, the Church, especially the new Pharisees. Unlike Mr. Lobdell, I am finding God anew in my search.

    I give God thanks that He is slowly but faithfully answering my prayers for a new faith, and that He would eliminate the barriers between He and I. My faith is being "born again".

  14. Gary,

    I can really relate to your comment. Religion can (and often does) destroy faith. Don't let it.

    I've found my faith renewed again and again, each time stronger but in a new form. When I thought I was losing it, I later found I was only losing my religion.


  15. I still smell a rat - 50 to 1 there were moral limits he wanted to cross, or politically-correct positions he insisted on holding, so he conveniently found the sins of some members to be a reason to disdain and reject a succession of churches. Good luck to him: he apparently wants to join a group of people that think just like him or will tell him what he wants to hear, who will bend their theology for his comfort.

  16. Wow.. this ha been an interesting comment thread.

    Not sure there was anything in the thread directed at my post sans Gary's comment on my last statement of it..

    "Maybe William Lobdell's fate was somewhat sealed by the type of religion that he embraced."

    I think that I was trying to say that many times the religion we embrace is irrelevant to where we worship.. if religious leaders cause our faith to fail then it probably says more about our religion than about the leaders.. if that makes sense.

    Having said that, I have to say that I understand that there are certainly some bad religious leader dudes and dudettes out there. Personally.. when I look back.. I have to admit that I enabled some of their bad behaviors hiding behind the "submission" drivel.. and that said more about me than them. I got free when I stopped acting like a victim of church leaders.

    Thanks all for visiting and commenting.. feel free to continue :)

  17. My guess is that he placed his faith in the wrong place ... people and systems. They will eventually all fail.

    I think his book conclusion is but a snapshot, not a finished narrative. What is is not what will be. As long as he draws a breath, there remains hope.

  18. "As long as he draws a breath, there remains hope."

    Great thought Ken! As Gary pointed out earlier sometimes faith is not a linear process and we need to be born again again.. salvation is more of a journey than an event.


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