Joshua Harris’ Departure from the Faith and Why it Hurts
Joshua Harris, according to his own words, has fallen away from the faith. While he is not the first one to ever forsake so great a salvation, it doesn’t make the resolution any less devastating. Devastating for believers who would never want such judgement to befall someone who has known the truth. Devastating for those who had read and benefited from his previous writings. Devastating for the congregation he once pastored. Devastating for his children, as he leaves an example of forsaking the risen King who died on his behalf. And of course, devastating for his wife who did not sign up to be married to an apostate.
I write this holding back tears when I consider his wife and family and relate them to my own. My wife and 4 children are under my umbrella of leadership, which is ultimately under the umbrella of Jesus. When I fathom leading them in any wrong direction, I tremble at the idea of keeping my children from the kingdom of God, as Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13. I also consider the warning that Jesus gives in Luke 17, that causing little ones to stumble is worthy of a watery grave. Can you imagine being the catalyst for the reason your children lose their faith? If Paul became all things to all people, in order to save some, and the Pharisees were told they are shutting people out of the kingdom of God, our effect on other’s eternal destination should be something we take quite seriously.
Besides the fact that his stumbling will undoubtedly have an effect on others, the scariest warnings concerning judgement are upon the apostate.
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. (2 Peter 2:20-21)
Did you read that? It is better if they never knew! Why, you ask? Because there are different levels of punishment in Hell. I cannot begin to comprehend the reality of eternal conscious torment, which is clearly taught in Scripture. (Listen to our Good Fight Radio Show podcast episode “Where Do Believers Go When We Die?” which discusses “Soul Sleep” and the difference between Hades and Hell.) However, when I begin to think about the fact that there’s actually worse punishment for some than others in that place, it is something so hard for me to even grasp. But this is precisely what Jesus taught:
And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Luke 12:47-48)
This is because the Bible is very clear: apostasy is cowardly. In fact, many scholars point out that the word “cowardly” that is used in the Book of Revelation chapter 21 of those who will go into the lake of fire is specifically speaking about those who would turn away from their faith when persecution came.
It seems to be that the call to renounce your faith by stating, “Ceasar is YHWH” has become, “I support marriage equality for the LGBTQ+ community”. While many in the Early Church were unwilling to recant under the threat of death and lost their lives, far too many pastors are sacrificing their Savior at the alter of acceptance.
In fact, we are warned of this very thing in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Both the first two soils which the seed fell on (and did not remain) are carried away by a couple of things pertinent to Mr. Harris and others who have fallen. Pertinent to Mr. Harris are the statements found In verse 21, the persecution because of the word and, in verse 22, the worries of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth.
From Harris’ reasons for taking his books off the shelf, to his page that is dedicated to his marketing-based Instagram, it seems like the acceptance of the LGBT+ crowd and their followers, who give hearty approval of their sinful desires, is far too strong a pull. In the warning mentioned above about those who escape those who live in error and have a greater judgement when turning back, that is in the context of false prophets promising people freedom in their lustful desires, when they are slaves to corruption. Homosexuality and every other sexual desire that is unscriptural, places the practitioner in bondage. Those living out a prideful life of sin are living a lie. Promising them freedom is only confounding the sin they are involved in.
Following Harris’ story since becoming acquainted with him through his books, this does not seem like an overnight decision. It seems to be a number of foxes that ended up ruining his vineyard of faith. From stepping down as a pastor, to pulling his books from the shelves, his separation from his wife and his announcement of apostasy, it seems to be a falling away from the word of God and it’s sufficiency. In my experience with counseling others, these doubts are typically accompanied by sin, and the suppressing of truth is related to unrighteousness. While I don’t know his exact situation, this has usually been the trail of the apostates that I have encountered. When his separation was announced, I actually recorded a podcast show concerning his pattern of compromise. I asked in that show, after investigation of his social media fingerprint, whether or not he had turned away from the Lord. He subsequently posted that he had on the following Friday after recording my show that prior Tuesday morning. If you would like to hear further as to why I questioned where he was in his walk, you can listen to the episode here: Former Pastor & Purity Advocate Joshua Harris Separates From Wife
If we are to believe the Word of God is always true, what do we do with the verse in 1 John that states that one who has been truly born of the Spirit (a blood bought, born again child of God, aka: a new creation in Christ made PERFECT FOREVER by His one sacrifice) CANNOT continue in sin because the SEED of God (the Holy Spirit/the WORD made flesh) remains in him/her. Seems to me that someone who can sin to such an extent over and over and over again, or who’s sin leads them into denying Jesus, was never truly born again in the first place but was a “cultural Christian” who knows the lingo and does religious works. These people are those who will cry out on the last day “Lord, Lord, we did all these good works in your name.” But Jesus will say to them, “Depart from Me…I NEVER knew you.” – NOT ” “I knew you but then you fell away so I disowned you.”
I completely agree with your assessment of Joshua Harris and his situation. I too felt strongly that there is certain sin in his life that will eventually find him out and come to the surface. The reason for apostasy is the desire to harbor sin one’s life.
I speak from personal experience. After I had my second daughter I struggled with postpartum depression. With two small children and a husband working full-time I was alone at home and I struggled greatly. Our marriage had never been very strong even though we looked like we were strong on the outside to all of our friends at church. My husband was an elder in our small church and we help to lead a Bible study with several couples with children. I was active in leadership as well. We have been married for about seven years. For months I asked my husband if he could go to counseling but he was not fond of that idea. We grew apart rapidly. And then it happened…I had an affair. It was only a few months but my husband knew and confronted me. I lied about it at the time. I ended the affair and worked hard to put together the pieces of my marriage that I had crushed. Months after the affair had ended I decided to be honest with my husband because our relationship was better and I wanted nothing between us. When I told him, he reported me to the elders of our church and stepped down as an elder. Our church leadership requested that I stand in front of the entire church and confess my sin. They also told us that we had to leave the church. It was a horrible time, a nightmare really. I had already repented before the Lord for my sin. What I really needed was support and my husband needed it too. We never recuperated from that. We found another church but we never recovered. Our marriage never recovered. We had other tragedies, went through bankruptcy, and lost both our homes. The Lord was gracious and allowed my photography business to support us during that time. But our marriage suffered and I had another affair. And finally, after I gave birth to our third child, I ended up having a third affair. This affair became the end of our marriage. It lasted for several years even through getting pregnant with our fourth child. We were divorced six months after our fourth child was born and I was remarried to my second husband within the same year. During this whole time, I distanced myself from all things Christian. I lived physically with my family but emotionally with my lover. This went on for three years. It was a nightmare. There were times when I would beg God for a way out he did he would release me. Every time I prayed and asked him for a way out he was faithful to me and provided it. And every time he provided it, when it came time to take the emergency exit and return to my life with my children and my husband, I rejected it. I just couldn’t do it. Why couldn’t I do it? Because I didn’t trust God to put together the pieces of my ruined her marriage and make something beautiful out of it again. The true sin was my lack of faith in God‘s ability to restore. My lack of faith in regards to God‘s love for me and his desire for my good. Because of that, I rob God of the chance to restore my first marriage to his glory. My second husband was not a question when we first were married. After much suffering and turning my back to the Lord and acknowledging my horrible sin, God has restored much to me now. And in his grace, he chose to bring my current husband to salvation and him. Not even a year after we were married my husband excepted the Lord and was baptized at our church. We renewed our vows on our first anniversary together as two believers standing before the Lord and dedicated our marriage to him. My four children are walking with the Lord thus far and are active in their church and youth group. Their father has remarried as well and things are as good as they can be under the circumstances. We all get along and we all love the Lord and are working hard to grow my children to love the Lord with all their heart soul mind and strength. That said, it is by his grace alone that anything good has come from the brokenness of my life.
That was gut wrenching and makes me literally sick considering all of the people destroyed in this account. This is why God hates sin and divorce. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Being a romantic at heart I grieve for your real husband the one you married first. I appreciate your honesty, but loath the encouragement of the apostate church that says anything other than marriage is Indisolvable. Let no man put asunder what God has joined together.
You are a very poor teacher. That verse has nothing to do with hell. The word hell isn’t even mentioned. It only says, “they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them”. They are worse being entangled in the vileness of the world. Maybe not to some of us but to God who is holy. One cannot lose their salvation. 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” We didn’t receive salvation for being good, we don’t lose it by being bad.”. Yes he will suffer lost as a believer, but not salvation. Your children don’t stop being your children when the do something wrong, neither do the children of God. He does chastise his own. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”