I received this email late last night from a man we will call Greg. Greg is an ex-Christian who gives his reasons why he left Christianity. Since I deal with this on an ongoing basis with you all, I thought I would share it with you and get your thoughts.


Mr. Patton, I am a a regular listener to Theology Unplugged and a 26 year old ex-Christian who is continuing to struggle with truth and God.  I’d like to give my top three reasons for loosing faith and we can go from there if you have time.

1.  God isn’t so cruel as to create man with a self-destructive nature, send him into a dark and depressing world to withstand natural disasters, war and disease to send him to eternal torture for doing exactly what his God-made nature has led him to do.

2.  The New Testament authors regularly misquote Old Testament scripture and take it out of context in favor of a Christological understanding.

3.  For 9 months straight when I was going through my deconversion I was struggling to hold on to my faith but things just weren’t making sense to me.  I would wake up early in the morning, read the Bible and desperately pray to God.  I asked for truth, clarity and understanding.  I would sit in silence and just wait for God to speak to me.  I would pray and think about God, truth and my faith all day.  It took over my life and caused me great anxiety to the point where I became chronically depressed and my relationship with my wife was greatly effected as well.  Throughout the very painful 9 months God was absolutely silent.  I received no comfort, no peace and no answer.  Finally, I told myself that if God isn’t answering me then maybe this isn’t the most important thing for me to be thinking about in life.

My purpose in life is now to do good, fight evil and develop close relationships with good people.  I still obtain my understanding of good and evil from the Bible and I plan on sending my kids to a Christian school.  I attend church regularly and I am also planning on joining Surfers for Christ, a Christian fellowship of surfers who provide a wide variety of services to the community.  I still value Christianity because I think it is the best producer of good people.


How would you respond?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    32 replies to "Why Greg Walked Away from the Faith"

    • Albert

      Even though Greg may still want to participate in church activities, I think that with his perceptions of Christian theology, more and more he will feel like he’s just going through the motions.
      As far as ethics and morality go there are many good resources outside of Christianity to give foundation to one’s life. A great book by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin I can recommend is “A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy”.

    • Kevin Davis

      I don’t think any combox entry would suffice for Greg, but here’s a quick shot:

      Number 1 is mostly problematic for a Calvinist, since classical Reformed theology is indeed unable to account for man’s supposed standing in personal, damnable guilt before any actual sin, and that a certain segment (the reprobate) are unable to rectify this situation in which they are not responsible — and, of course, those who are rectified are likewise not responsible for being put into a right relationship with God, since it was by God’s irresistible bringing of his elect to himself. However, the rest of the Christian world has been able to better deal with the situation by emphasizing the need for a free will to come into communion with God amidst the present strife and our responsibility to have faith in the world’s redemption by God in Christ. It is not God’s cruelty that accounts for our world, but the reality of a human will able to live the illusion of an autonomous existence, apart from God, or to live the reality of a world set aright by God, through the Cross and Resurrection.

      Number 2 is opinion, disputed by several decades now of top-notch evangelical biblical scholarship, but it does retain much truth insofar as the NT writers certainly did see Christological material in the OT which the non-Christian Jews themselves, as those who reject the Messiah, did not grant — just as those today who reject the Messiah (e.g., Bart Ehrman, James Tabor, etc.) likewise reject any inspired reading of Christ-typology in the OT.

      Number 3 is problematic from the start, since Greg is approaching God and requiring that God meet him, Greg, on Greg’s own terms. But the God we worship is not accessible to our idolatrous graspings. It is God alone who controls his own revealing of himself and the extent to which he remains a hidden God, and that revealing is in Christ…on the Cross. At the Cross alone is where we can meet God, the true God, not the God of our speculations or intellectual frustrations. You either accept or reject the Cross…that’s it…don’t even bother with “God” anymore if you choose the latter, ’cause there is no other God than the God of Jesus Christ.

    • Jamie Steele

      I am praying for Greg. Sounds like if God doesn’t meet his needs and demands he will walk away from the faith. Typical Christianity in America. I wonder what the Apostle Paul would say to Greg.

      There was a lady in our church who suffered from cancer for many years and i was with her family and by her beside when she passed. The last words i heard her say were “I still Believe in Him!”
      I wonder what she would say to Greg.

    • Ranger

      Greg seems like a great guy who has put a lot of thought into this issue. I’d love to sit over a cup of coffee and chat with him sometime to see what’s going on.

      His first reason is a great question. The problem of evil, theodicy, whatever you want to call it is one of the better intellectual arguments against Christianity, especially whenever you know someone affected by the disease, famine, earthquake, etc. Whereas it does create a strong emotional argument against God’s reality, I still don’t think its a defeater by any means. There are many different responses to this problem, and many that I’ve found more than adequate. As someone living in southern China who has been dealing with those who have lost and been injured from the Sichuan earthquake, this problem has been very real to me. My response has been different though…my faith has increased. A good response to this type of challenge is David Bentley Hart’s “Doors of the Sea,” which responds to the question of where was God during the tsunami in Indonesia.

      His second reason is very interesting, and not one that you normally hear. Since I’ve done most of my studies in NT, I’d love to discuss the issue with him. I don’t see how it is a defeater against Christianity so I’d probably want to discuss his reasoning further. It’s an interesting objection to say the least, so I’d want to talk about it further.

      His third reason, which I would speculate is the primary reason, is purely existential. Personally, I think that existential reasons are probably the main reason for people coming to faith, and one of the most common for leaving it as well. Why couldn’t Greg experience or hear from God? I’m not sure. Is something else going on in Greg’s life that motivates these existential questions? I’d love to find out, but this type of challenge is one that takes time, conversation and intense recollection of God’s nature and involvement in our lives.

      On a final note, I’d agree with Albert that there are plenty of “foundations” outside of Christianity, but I’d also agree with Greg that Christianity is the best.

    • David

      I think Gregory has abandoned the truth claims of Christianity with respect to God, and sought to maintain the morals (like the early deists).

      I would stress that without the Christian God, one must establish a sufficient basis for having such things as “morality” and at best that basis will be subjective without the righteous and just God described in the Bible.

      Also I would encourage him to look at the problems he is taking on with atheism/agnosticism. Honestly, if abandoning intellectual problems was his goal for leaving Christianity he is not going to be pleased. There are issues that keep them up at night too.

    • Bill

      Wow. So to the moment of your recent postings. Let’s see… Pretending he was right here with me now, telling me all that, I’d make no assumptions but to feel bad for the guy. I’d try to relate to what he was saying, ask questions to make sure I understood better and at least pay him the decency of valuing such a tremendous, significant, painful, rending experience. I’m sure I couldn’t begin to really imagine, honestly, but I’d try.

      If he was open to let me ask personal questions, my own curiosity would be to know more about his context of life during those months. What else was going on? Now, I would clarify that I wouldn’t try to blame his lack of faith on any one point, but that I wanted to know more. I would tell him that one of my personal issues in life has long been the lack of community and the lack of spiritual experience, relatively speaking, as evidenced among christians I’ve known, including (sadly) myself. And it’s true to say my probing on the presence or lack of those elements during his 9 month experience would be as much for my own interest as from interest in him. But I’d tell him again that I wasn’t aiming to explain away his struggle or to overcome his doubts. And the rest would depend on how open he felt to talking about those things, along with the rest of it.

      Now, just between you, me and the internet here, I do pity the poor guy. That’s gotta be rough. But the tone of his e-mail sounds to me that it was largely an individual struggle. My first question is “who else did he go to before e-mailing you, and how did they respond?” I’m sure there were some others and I’m sure he had ongoing christian group interaction along the way. But if there’s a part of me that can be allowed to view this diagnostically for a moment, I’d say the problem isn’t with his reasoning or his efforts at prayer. I’d say the problem may likely be with the state of christendom today.

      God may speak to some in books and reasons, but I think we FIND HIM when we find community that – well, let’s be honest, that lives up to what christians are supposed to be in every way, despite their warts. It’s a tall order and I can’t currently claim to be part of such a church. Sadly.

      However, if I got to talk with this guy and during a long visit I also got to tell him everything I just said, I would probably tell him I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out, but I bet it would have if things were more like God wanted around here. That might sound too pat or too something else, but I believe it.

      One last thought. I’d ask the guy to consider having hope, at least, since he can’t have faith right now. And I’d remind him that life is long. And I’d try to gently suggest that God may be making him go through all this for many years to some hidden purpose. And if that made him mad, I’d say, well I don’t blame you and I’m not jealous, but IF that’s what God wanted of you, what would you say to him? And go from there… *All of this last thread is based on his very last statement of the longest (next to last) paragraph , which I would echo and amen.* That’s what I might say at the end, depending on how the rest had gone.

      But wow. Good luck loving that guy, bro. I don’t assume any of that helps. But that’s my response. Thanks for asking.

    • Bill

      One side thought to Ranger. I think everyone has a “defeater”. He’s just not you or me. But honestly, isn’t there at least one thing you can’t understand or explain that once bugged you or still bugs you… at least one thing that hasn’t YET been overcome, in your mind? Any little point?

      My humble suggestion, dear brother, is to ask yourself how you deal with that problem – the one that has no sound, solid, foolproof explanation. And then lower yourself to his “level” and realize with all empathy that explaining the problem isn’t really what that guy needs.

      The more I get into biblical scholarship the more I realize God has jury rigged his own evidence to the point there will ALWAYS be some problems… unless you have faith. And faith is the confidence that comes from knowing and yes, experiencing the Life of God lived out in front of me and all around me. I don’t know why this guy who e-mailed Michael didn’t get that from his church, or whether it’s their fault or his. All I’m saying at the moment is that I don’t think “solutions to problems” are always the main thing. Maybe for some, but not all. imho. 🙂

    • Larry

      1. He is right. God didn’t create man that way. The way man is the result of sin, and Greg’s actions will make that worse, not better.

      2. That is a problem, not with the way the NT authors use the OT, but rather with the way that modern students use the NT citations of the OT. There is no theological or textual basis for the myriad ideas floated about the name of NT use of the OT. And Greg, in order to follow Christ, does not have to buy into the various ways. I certainly don’t.

      3. God was not absolutely silent during those none months, and is not now. God has spoken to Greg through his word. I would question what else he wants. And on what basis should God answer his demands for certain information? We already have more knowledge than those in the Bible did by virtue of having a completed canon. God has spoken.

      His conclusion that he will stick with Christainity because it best produces good people is flawed. Christianity only works because of Christ. Other than that, it doesn’t produce good people. It produces self-centered people who satisfy their own self-centeredness in different ways.

    • Ranger

      Hey Bill,
      I definitely run into defeaters in the sense you are giving. What I meant was a philosophical defeater, which would mean that the problem is so philosophically strong that the belief holds no intellectual warrant. I don’t think that the problem of evil is a defeater in this manner. Like I said in the rest of my comment, I’d want to listen and see what’s going on because his problem seems more existential and he seems to need more care than solutions at this point.

    • davidbmc

      I’m with Larry.

      Also, I’ll add a couple things. This guy is 26. I’m guessing he is coming from an extremely postmodern mindset and is reading Ehrman, Spong, etc in his search for truth. Nothing wrong with reading those guys as long as you read their critics as well. Have you done that, Greg?

      And finally, a personal pet peeve which I would not mention to Greg: it’s “losing faith” not “loosing faith.” However, if he is able to maintain his faith, maybe “loosing” would end up being ironically accurate.

    • John

      I know exactly how he feels. I was in the same situation in my 40’s, after having been a Christian for over 20 years. It was the most desert-like experience I had ever gone through, and it made me question many of the basic concepts of my faith. The only way I got through it was the Grace of God that was given me through the prayers and support of my circle of Christian friends. I can’t overemphasize the role of community in helping the wounded brother or sister rather than pulling the plug on them. I wish I could say that my church did that for me, but that was not the case. But my close friends that truly cared about me did. I will say that the hardest part for me was taking off the ‘happy face’ false front that I tried to keep up and be honest with them. Kind of reminds me of Job and the honesty he had with his ‘friends’.

    • Saint and Sinner

      “However, the rest of the Christian world has been able to better deal with the situation by emphasizing the need for a free will to come into communion with God amidst the present strife and our responsibility to have faith in the world’s redemption by God in Christ.”

      The free-will defense doesn’t hold water. God could have created man with a will like His own: immutable in regards to moral choices but free in regards to alternative goods.

      The free-will defense quite simply fails to solve the problem of evil.

      Only an eternal decree of God can give purpose to everything that happens, good or evil.

    • davidbmc

      On the Problem of Evil, I quite enjoy Alvin Plantinga’s argument in “God, Freedom and Evil.” Or I should say, one of his arguments.

      The best of all possible world is a world in which everyone chooses good of their own free will. The only way to that world is through this world.

      This is an extremely simplified version of the argument. Read Plantinga for a full explanation and defense. He gives a great example with regard to breakfast.

    • Saint and Sinner

      [I’ll note that I only brought the Calvinism issue up because one of the other commenters brought it up.]

      In a straightforward (though a bit impersonal) manner, I’d answer:

      1. All evil has a purpose: “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Prov. 16:4)

      In a more personal manner, I’d probably give the treatment that Tim Keller gave to the issue in his The Reason for God.

      2. This is one that can be solved on an academic level: go get Beale and Carson’s A Commentary on the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament.

      3. I second Kevin Davis’ treatment above. Perhaps Greg has never heard the real gospel before. Perhaps he’s only heard some evanjellyfish gimmickry to get him to “walk the aisle” or “pray the prayer”. Someone needs to tell him the real deal.

    • Jason D.

      1 Corinthians 15:12-20
      12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope [1] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

      20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

    • Randy McRoberts

      It looks to me like Greg has walked away from what he thought was faith, or rather, from what he thought was God. He very well may be closer to God now than he was before. It isn’t a bad thing to give up a false religion. Now he can walk with God at his own pace.

    • […] Michael Patton received this note and shares it: Why Greg Walked Away from the Faith Mr. Patton, I am a a regular listener to Theology Unplugged and a 26 year old ex-Christian who is […]

    • Kevin Davis


      Thanks for your response. I wouldn’t say that the free will argument solves the problem of evil, as if anything solves it, but I think it makes a better account than the TULIP schema can allow. Nonetheless, I still highly regard classical Reformed thought, which still shapes my own christology, pneumatology, metaphysics, ecclesiology, piety, and more. Even in the issue at hand, I think we certainly have to keep the Reformed emphasis on God’s control over his creation and ability to utilize all good and evil for his own glory. I don’t think this requires a strict monergistic omnicausality, but, then again, neither do most Calvinists depending on who you talk to. It comes down to responsibility and the different ways that Calvinists account for it (e.g., some will emphasize Adamic headship, others will emphasize present sinfulness even if this tends to make election conditional to some degree, while most will try to hold both in tension).

    • Alex

      Let’s be honest. Greg, there is no answer to your questions and you lost
      your faith for completely valid reasons as you stated above. These are
      questions that in some form or another Christians and others have been
      asking forever and no one has come to an answer without jumping through
      some major hoops and sustaining at least a few contradictions. All three
      points that you have made gnaw at me on alternating days. Yet I still
      follow Jesus. I simply believe it to be historically plausible that he was who
      he said he was.

    • Saint and Sinner

      “It comes down to responsibility and the different ways that Calvinists account for it (e.g., some will emphasize Adamic headship, others will emphasize present sinfulness even if this tends to make election conditional to some degree, while most will try to hold both in tension).”

      You’re right. I’ve come to see the problem of evil not as, “If God is good, then why doesn’t he save all these people?” but rather as, “If God is just, why doesn’t He just destroy us all.” As I look out upon the world, read the news, etc. I have easily come to the conclusion that man is just plain evil. I see this evil in my own heart at times. It is in all of us.

      God is being gracious to allow us to live in this mixed world of good and evil.

    • T

      Indeed, there is also a “Problem of Good” — why does God bless us at all with LIVING even though it’s self-evident that human beings are totally depraved and unworthy? Never mind all the other blessings everyone receives…even if small. Perhaps Greg can claim some “cosmic right” to live and be happy, but whom or what is the source of this “right”?

      Also, the “Problem of Evil” creates even more problems for the non-Christian. Whatever you believe — atheist, Hindu, Buddhist — the Problem of Evil still exists. We all suffer, even as we all die in the end.

      “My purpose in life is now to do good, fight evil and develop close relationships with good people.”

      This statement makes absolutely no sense without God. Not to be cruel, but perhaps you can rewrite to say:

      “My existance is now to eat, sleep, and do something or other.”

      Again, I am not being mean, flippant or cruel. Being a former atheist, I know full well that you won’t find your answers without Jesus. Nihilism and even worse despair (hopelessness) await. Maybe 9 months isn’t long enough to make such a existential decision, no?

    • ChadS

      The only thing I think I’d like to add is in regards to #3. Greg is hardly alone in experiencing a sense of isolation or abadonment by God. Many people go through this and many people come out the other side with an even deeper and much more profound sense and understanding of God and their relationship with Him.

      The classic example of this comes from St. John of the Cross and his “Dark Night of the Soul.” A more contemporary and perhaps more relatable example is Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. For years and years she experienced a tremendous sense of abandonment and isolation from God. It even seemed to her He wasn’t listening to or even hearing her prayers. Perhaps Greg could find some solace in their stories and draw some strength from what he finds in their lives. I suspect his “Dark Night” is no where as dark as St. John’s or Mother Teresa’s ever were.


    • Derek Knighten

      I am perplexed like Greg by reason #2. Another ten years of study I might come into some kind of understanding and response to the issue.

      Few students of the Bible are able to grapple with Greg’s #2 reason.

    • Troy

      IT grieves me greatly to read of this event in Gregs life.
      I do however know of many men and women who have looked to circumstances to validate their faith or lack there of.

      If we are looking to our circumstance to validate GOD then we are going to be disappointed.

      We each have a different road to walk but our belief in GOD cannot be based on just our reality in our circumstances.

      The Book of Job has been the most difficult of books to read and understand from a human perspective.

      But when you look to the summation of JOB’s statements you realize that he gets very little understanding or sympathy from his friends but in the end GOD restores his health and the wealth that was lost. His basic conclusion is GOD is GOD and I am just a man who stuggles in this life.
      I am sure we would here JOB make some similar statements to Greg and may have felt he (JOB) had lost his faith.

      Your struggle is one many of us “Christains” go thru.
      I know the answers you seek may not be found.

      You have NOT lost the faith…. you have reached the VERY conclusion the ” Preacher ” reached in the following verse.

      WORDSearch BIBLE Software
      Ecc 12:13
      Chapter 12
      13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.


      Your statement in your posting shows you still have FAITH in the true sense of the word and not a feeling that is based on your circumstance !!!!

      YOUR QUOTE Greg
      My purpose in life is now to do good, fight evil and develop close relationships with good people. I still obtain my understanding of good and evil from the Bible and I plan on sending my kids to a Christian school.

      IF you had lost your FAITH your choice would be to abandon the faith. Instead you are still FIGHTING back by what
      1) Continuing to DO GOOD
      2) Fight or despise EVIL
      3) Develop relationships with others
      4) Seek after wisdom for your children.

      IF you really thought the CHRISTIAN faith was a farce you would never want your children to be exposed to the “untruth”

      SORRY I just don’t buy your arguement that you have LOST your FAITH. In Fact I think your faith has GROWN and you are experiencing GOD’s work in your life thru maturity in the FAITH.

      Growing pains will always be a MARK of the FAITH.

      It is a result of searching for the truth

    • T

      A couple of thoughts, suggestions and questions for Greg:

      – Perhaps the problem might be with you and not with God and his existance/non-existance? Depression (including clinical depression) and despair are real problems, as is emotional pain. I don’t know your personal circumstances, but have you talked with a spiritual or even psychological counseler about personal issues that you might be going through? It may not be as much a spiritual crisis as much a personal one…

      – You define yourself as an “ex-Christian” but that is negation and not a definition. What are your core beliefs then? What defines “good” and “evil” in your eyes? This may just be your time to take an honest look at the philosophical roots of your worldview. How much Christian apologetics have you read? There is nothing wrong with reading the critics either (such as Nietzsche), but read with a critical mind. Have you read much real, un-sanitized history? Specifically the infanticide, mass murder and other perversions of non-Christian history? Just a thought…

      – Lastly, you talk about your “deconversion” but are you really sure you were really saved in the first place? Many are brought up in the church — or even become “born-again” in what they think is salvation but is instead an emotional experience — but are still not yet saved. Perhaps the Lord has been getting you ready to hear the true Gospel over the last nine months. Perhaps you needed the “cultural Christian” cobwebs stripped from your eyes — the day-to-day life in the church, the assumptions people hold without question or intellectual understanding, the unexamined life — before the Lord will make you ready. If so, I hope you continue to pray, and pray for salvation. The Lord will answer, thought the timing will be unknowable (until after the fact).

    • Peter

      If everybody who wanted God to speak, then it didn’t happen, left the faith there would be no Christians.

    • Glenn Shrom

      I’d try to get Greg involved in a short-term missions project, either overseas or in the inner-city. One of the greatest things is to meet people who have come to Christ from hopeless backgrounds and in amazing ways, and then to see their lives today.

      Recently I’ve run across some awesome video testimonies under the series title “More than Dreams” (Omnitube). It is about Muslims who came to Christ, some without any Bibles or other Christians to influence them.

    • Ranger

      “If everybody who wanted God to speak, then it didn’t happen, left the faith there would be no Christians.”

      Then we should be thankful for all of the ways that he has spoken in history and still speaks to us today!

    • Lynn Sheldon

      I can empathize with Greg. I went through a two-year period where I could not hear God. Yet, God never left me. I kept praying. Nothing! What I learned during that time is this, God is with us, whether we can feel Him or not.

      Some believers put great emphasis on feeling God, as if that is spiritual maturity. Actually, it’s not. Spiritual maturity comes by faith. It’s faith in what you cannot see or feel, not what is visible.

      So, I continued to pray and cry out to the Lord. And in the end, He taught me to live by faith and not by sight or feelings.

      Recently, I went through another crisis of faith: If you are interested, I documented what I went through and what God taught me. The link is: http://thestrategyplace.com/godfire/?p=263

      So, I would encourage Greg and others to not give up. In the end, this desert walk has a purpose and it will test our faith and cause us to follow God, even when we cannot see Him, feel Him or hear from Him.

      Lynn E. Sheldon
      Modern Day Discipleship | Discipleship Studies

    • […] A True Life Crisis of Faith (How do you think you might respond?) […]

    • Vladimir

      As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den,33Bedford jail, in which the author was imprisoned for conscience’ sake and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. Isa 64:6; Luke 14:33; Psalm 38:4. I looked and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?” Acts 2:37; 16:30; Habak 1:2,3.

      In this plight, therefore, he went home, and restrained himself as long as he could, that his wife and children should not perceive his distress; but he could not be silent long, because that his trouble increased. Wherefore at length he brake his mind to his wife and children; and thus he began to talk to them: “O, my dear wife,” said he, “and you the children of my bowels, I, your dear friend, am in myself undone by reason of a burden that lieth hard upon me; moreover, I am certainly informed that this our city will be burnt with fire from heaven; in which fearful overthrow, both myself, with thee my wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin, except (the which yet I see not) some way of escape can be found whereby we may be delivered.” At this his relations were sore amazed; not for that they believed that what he had said to them was true, but because they thought that some frenzy distemper had got into his head; therefore, it drawing towards night, and they hoping that sleep might settle his brains, with all haste they got him to bed. But the night was as troublesome to him as the day; wherefore, instead of sleeping, he spent it in sighs and tears. So when the morning was come, they would know how he did. He told them, “Worse and worse:” he also set to talking to them again; but they began to be hardened. They also thought to drive away his distemper by harsh and surly carriage to him; sometimes they would deride, sometimes they would chide, and sometimes they would quite neglect him. Wherefore he began to retire himself to his chamber to pray for and pity them, and also to condole his own misery; he would also walk solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading, and sometimes praying: and thus for some days he spent his time.

      Now I saw, upon a time, when he was walking in the fields, that he was (as he was wont) reading in his book, and greatly distressed in his mind; and as he read, he burst out, as he had done before, crying, “What shall I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30,31.

      I saw also that he looked this way, and that way, as if he would run; yet he stood still because (as I perceived) he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and he asked, “Wherefore dost thou cry?”

      He answered, “Sir, I perceive, by the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment, Heb. 9:27; and I find that I am not willing to do the first, Job 10: 21,22, nor able to do the second.” Ezek. 22:14.

      Then said Evangelist, “Why not willing to die, since this life is attended with so many evils?” The man answered, “Because, I fear that this burden that is upon my back will sink me lower than the grave, and I shall fall into Tophet. Isa. 30:33. And Sir, if I be not fit to go to prison, I am not fit to go to judgment, and from thence to execution; and the thoughts of these things make me cry.”

      Then said Evangelist, “If this be thy condition, why standest thou still?” He answered, “Because I know not whither to go.” Then he gave him a parchment roll, and there was written within, “Fly from the wrath to come.” Matt. 3:7.

      The man therefore read it, and looking upon Evangelist very carefully, said, “Whither must I fly?” Then said Evangelist, (pointing with his finger over a very wide field,) “Do you see yonder wicket-gate?” Matt. 7:13,14. The man said, “No.” Then said the other, “Do you see yonder shining light?” Psalm 119:105; 2 Pet. 1:19. He said, “I think I do.” Then said Evangelist, “Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.” So I saw in my dream that the man began to run. Now he had not run far from his own door when his wife and children, perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on crying, Life! life! eternal life! Luke 14:26. So he looked not behind him, Gen. 19:17, but fled towards the middle of the plain.

      The neighbors also came out to see him run, Jer. 20:10; and as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return; and among those that did so, there were two that were resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of the one was Obstinate and the name of the other Pliable. Now by this time the man was got a good distance from them; but, however, they were resolved to pursue him, which they did, and in a little time they overtook him. Then said the man, “Neighbors, wherefore are you come?” They said, “To persuade you to go back with us.” But he said, “That can by no means be: you dwell,” said he, “in the city of Destruction, the place also where I was born: I see it to be so; and dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the grave, into a place that burns with fire and brimstone: be content, good neighbors, and go along with me.”



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