Bob Wilson, you are correct in pointing out what Josh Harris actually said instead of what the headlines said he said. The headlines, even in the secular media, said he lost his Christian faith. I don’t read that in his statement. I read that he was going through a period of deconstruction and that the version of Christianity he knew for so many years, he could no longer profess. And that he was looking for a new way to follow Christ. At least, that’s how I read it.
I’m a Calvinistic Universalist. I believe in unconditional election in a sense… in the sense that only so many people are elect for this life (the rest are elect for later). I’m not sure why people get tripped up over people falling away. Peter fell away and came back. Some say Judas did as well (our J.W. Hanson said so in his New Testament notes).
My question is, what constitutes a Christian as far as church membership goes. My church is the last liturgical Trinitarian Universalist church in the UUA. In our “denomination” we have atheist and pagan associations. That’s certainly NOT our congregation. What is the soteriological status of those who, lets say are Christians, and then become atheists? Do they still have faith in Christ underneath the layers?
I would say yes, it certainly is possible. I have seen people leave the faith and come back. It’s usually a process of deconstruction and reconstruction. But I think there should be minimum standards for people, especially clergy in the church. Not legalistic ones, but a simple acknowledgement of the doctrines of the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds and the Winchester Profession of Faith.