I had a very weird dream last night. I dreamt that I was visiting an old friend in the hospital who was having a same-day surgery. Apparently we had known each other for some time. I arrived after the surgery was over and then helped him get back to his home. At his house, he told me that he didn’t believe in the Gospel, Christ or the Bible anymore. That he had become an agnostic over the past couple years. He and his wife had divorced after 10 years of marriage and that tragedy sent him into a tailspin.
Then he told me that he was still a pastor of a local church. He had been serving as a pastor of a conservative Baptist church preaching every Sunday and leading the congregation. But when he went through the divorce, he resigned from the previous church and was jobless for a time period. After about a year, he found another job. Now he was pastor of another church, but with very different theological convictions. He was now a pastor of a far-reaching liberal church who was fine with the divorce and actually okay with his non-belief in the Bible and Jesus.
So after we got him situated from the surgery, we went to his church for an evening “worship” service. I sat there and observed what he said and how he taught…as an unbelieving pastor. He talked a lot about personal independence and finding your strength in your own ability and skills. He preached about how each person is responsible for their own progress and movement forward in life. It was kinda health & wealth, prosperity teaching mixed with motivational speaking. No mention of God. No mention of Jesus. No mention of God’s work in their lives. And the people in the church loved it. They even said “Amen” to his points and challenges.
At the end of the dream, he and I had a talk about his new life. He told me that people in his new church really didn’t care much about the Bible and Jesus, they just want a sermon which lifts them up and encourage them in their daily lives. And that you didn’t have to have faith in Christ to teach those things. He said as long as he visits his people, challenges them and loves them, they were satisfied with him as their pastor.
I immediately questioned his motivation about still being a pastor after leaving his faith behind. And his response, being a pastor is a pretty good job. It’s the only thing I’m trained in. Why do my personal beliefs have to change my profession?
Then the dream ended…….thank goodness.
The problem with this dream is that is not really a dream. It is based in some reality. Tufts University put out a study back in 2010 that said there are a small percentage of unbelieving, atheistic pastors preaching in pulpits across America. I first heard about the scandal on the Albert Mohler radio program and read about it on his blog. The reporting of the study made it all the way up to World News on ABC.
Could there be pastors who don’t believe and still choose to serve as pastors? Yes. Why? The pay and security of a church position. It might be that their educational training only fits ministry and nothing else. It could be they like the place of influence and power they possess over an organization. It could be that they have chosen to live a lie in order to retire a couple of years down the road. Who knows?
All I know is that my dream, which was based in reality, was very scary.