Saturday, May 11, 2019

Charles Templeton - From Evangelist to Agnostic

A viewer sent me an article about Charles Templeton an Evangelist that became agnostic. Here is my Response.

This video was done as a response to a post about David Gass

David Gass was a 40-year-old Christian and 20-year pastor at the time he became an atheist. His Twitter account blew up and it made big waves in the Christian community. A friend of mine sent me a similar post about Charles Templeton. Pastors falling away from the faith is not a new thing.

Here's a short excerpt from the article about David Gass.

Dave Gass, a former megachurch pastor who most recently led Grace Family Fellowship in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, has renounced his Christian faith as a system rife with abuse that caused him “mental and emotional breaks.

A representative from his former church, however, has accused him of being an unrepentant adulterer.”

This begs the question. Did David Gass fall away from the faith, or was he running away because of an adulterous relationship? 

In any event, this is a black eye on the church and a symptom of a much deeper problem.

Who Was Charles Templeton? 

It may seem like pastors are dropping like flies in today's current climate however there was a famous apostate in the last century and his name was Charles Templeton. 

Charles Templeton was a Christian evangelist in 1936. He became an evangelist in 1941. He founded the Avenue Rd Church of the Nazarene in Toronto Canada. He played his part in an organization known as Youth for Christ which was founded in 1946. Billy Graham and Charles Templeton were friends.

From Wikipedia: “Charles Bradley Templeton (October 7, 1915 – June 7, 2001) was a Canadian media figure and a former Christian evangelist. Known in the 1940s and 1950s as a leading evangelist, he became an agnostic and later embraced atheism after struggling with doubt. Afterward, he worked at various times in journalism, radio, and writing.”

After he quit his first job, Templeton became a mass evangelist. From 1936 to 1938, he toured the US and preached in 44 states. He was a top evangelist, internationally renowned. In 1941, Templeton started the Nazarene Avenue Road Church as its preacher, renting a building that formerly housed a Presbyterian church. In 1955, he became the Presbyterian Church in the United States's secretary of evangelism.

Wanting to learn more about Christianity, Templeton attended Princeton Theological Seminary in the 1940s, later receiving an honorary doctorate from Lafayette College.

He hosted the religious television show Look Up and Live.

Charles Templeton struggled with doubts about his religion. He eventually became an agnostic, causing a wide backlash from Christian communities.

Templeton was a close friend of, and shared billing with, fellow evangelist Billy Graham, with whom he co-founded (along with Torrey Johnson) Youth for Christ International. After Templeton converted to agnosticism, they remained friends but became more distant.

Why Did Templeton Leave the Faith? 

Templeton’s apostasy began with a misunderstanding about the creation versus evolution argument.

From a article:

During a speaking trip to England, Professor John Rendle-Short (Chairman emeritus, Creation Ministries International Australia) told a group of pastors that if they rejected a literal Genesis in favor of evolutionary ideas (or even just millions of years), this would put them on a slippery slide of unbelief.”

Evolution versus Creationism kicked off the apostasy of Charles Templeton and many others.

From the article

Following is the sad account of the life of a once prominent and successful evangelist, his slide into unbelief, and his rejection of Christianity. In 1996, the book Farewell to God was published for all the world to see the author, Charles Templeton, claim:

‘I oppose the Christian Church because, for all the good it sometimes does, it presumes to speak in the name of God and to propound and advocate beliefs that are outdated, demonstrably untrue, and often, in their various manifestations, deleterious to individuals and to society.’”

One Simply Cannot Figure God Out

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God…(Rom 8:7)

If you follow my podcast you know that I often talk about how this spirit of truth will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). However, many people want to study the Bible using the carnal mind never seeking the spirit of truth for guidance. This is a problem because the carnal mind fights God (Romans 8:7). The natural man cannot understand the things of the spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).  This is where I believe Charles Templeton and countless others miss it. 

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Co 2:14)

When we start trying to figure God out without the spirit of truth, we're going to fall far short. Because the natural man simply cannot understand the things of the spirit. They seem like foolishness. Have you ever had a conversation about God with an atheist? They resort to things that they can see, taste, touch, hear, or feel. They think people that talk about spiritual things are delusional. 

Rationale is the Devil's Playground

… If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down… (Mat 4:6)

The devil likes to use rationale to get people to fall. Just like he did with Eve in the garden of Eden. The devil tries to get Jesus to fall using the “if-then”  rationale. He asked some tricky questions attempting to get Jesus to make a mistake. Notice the devil asked three ‘if’ questions in a row however Jesus responded with scripture each time. 

Jesus answers back with the word of God and defeats the devil.  But before that, He's driven by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4 and Luke 4 are examples for us to follow.   Not only are we to be intimate with the text of the word of God but also the spirit of the word of God.

The Spirit Wields the Sword

… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Eph 6:17)

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God which means the spirit wields the sword.  Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit specifically to be tempted by the devil.  Jesus was responding with scripture that the spirit gave Jesus.  The spirit gave the perfect scriptures to defeat that devil at that time.  

This is an example for us today. The spirit wields the sword.  We must have an intimate relationship with the spirit.  The Spirit will guide us in which scriptures to use for each situation. 

Apologetics is nice and all but…

I enjoy apologetics but one should not rest their entire faith on carnal reasoning. When atheists ask me a question like “How did Noah get all those animals on the ark?” I don't have the answer to that. All I know is that I had a spiritual experience with the biblical Jesus. That’s enough for me.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1Pe 3:15)

In apologetics, people think you should have an answer for absolutely everything there is under the sun based on 1 Peter 315. However, 1 Peter 3:15 talks about hope. The reason for the hope that we have.  This does not mean we have to have every answer under the sun for atheists and agnostics. We need to have the answer for the reason of the hope that is in us. This is different than having every answer under the sun. 

The demoniac (Matthew 8) when he was saved he didn't go out and study apologetics before he started telling people about Jesus. His life was radically changed. It was obvious. Everyone could see that. When Jesus changes your life you're gonna brag about him. The demoniac was delivered and became an instant evangelist.

When the woman at the well (John 4) encountered Jesus she didn't have all the answers but she brought people to Jesus.  Practically the whole town got saved because of her encounter with Jesus. 

Consider the blind man in John 9. He didn't have all the answers. All he knew is he was blind and because of Jesus, he got his vision. That is the reason for the hope that is in that blind man whose eyes were opened. 

False Converts

There's a book by ray comfort called “God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life”. He goes into amazing detail and uses lots of statistics on false converts. 9 out of 10 children raised in Christian homes leave the church. He talks about why 80 or 90% of those making decisions for Jesus fall away from the faith so quickly. Get the book here

It is possible that both David Gass and Charles Templeton were false converts. In the articles that I read there's not any mention of a spiritual relationship with Jesus.  There are no mentions of them having the Mark chapter 16 signs of a believer that Jesus guarantees.  However, there is a lot of discussion about intellectual wrangling.

Paul, which wrote 2/3 of our New Testament had many passages memorized before he met Jesus.  Paul's original theology appears to have been based on logic and following his teachers on what they thought scripture meant.  In Acts Chapter 9, on the road to Damascus, Paul met Jesus. In Galatians chapter one we can see that Paul developed his spiritual relationship with Jesus.  He writes about following the spirit constantly and mentions signs and wonders and the demonstration of the spirit and power. 

After his encounter with Jesus,  Paul then has the ‘signs of a believer’ that Jesus guarantees in Mark chapter 16. Notice when Paul was walking in logic, carnal reasoning, and the traditions of men, he did not operate in the signs of a believer. But after Paul met Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit he did have the signs of a believer.

Christianity is a supernatural religion.  

Jesus Manifests Himself to Believers

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Heb 6:4-6)

On everything that I've read about pastors that have fallen away from the faith. They don’t talk about having supernatural experiences with God. They have not tasted of the heavenly gift.  They don’t display the signs of a believer in Mark 16. 

When they say they believe in Jesus it's not from a relationship but intellectual assent. 

Jesus promises that He will manifest himself to those that keep his commandments and love Him. 

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (Joh 14:21)

I submit to you that keeping the commandments of Jesus is more than intellectual assent. If we read the sermon on the mount or pay attention to the commands of Jesus we can see that the church is far off track. It's no wonder that some evangelists and preachers fall away from the faith. They never had a spiritual relationship with the biblical Jesus. 

Farewell to God book 
Book - God has a wonderful Plan

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