The Atheist Daughter of a Notable Christian Apologist Shares Her Story


Rachael Slick

Rachael Slick

The story I’ve linked to below is about a young woman named Rachael Slick who was raised in a devoutly Christian family. Rachael has since apostatized and left the faith. She is now an atheist. I feel for this girl as she describes being caught in a biblical conundrum that eventually destroyed her faith. She now says that the Bible lied to her. This is the natural outcome of Sola Scriptura, or the doctrine defended by many Protestant sects holding that the Bible is the sole source of Christian teaching.

We don’t believe in Sola Scriptura in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches. We believe that the Bible was written and compiled by human hands under heavenly inspiration. We can say this with authority because it is our book, we wrote it. We convened the councils that compiled and vetted all the books that form the Holy Bible used by the entire Christian world. It’s the same Bible used by all the Protestant denominations, the Evangelicals and the Roman Catholic Church. Those councils were all convened when there was only one Christian Church and it was Orthodox, so when we speak about the Holy Bible we do so with authority. It’s our book. Nonetheless, we don’t teach that the Bible is the sole source of Christian teaching. You would not expect to take a university degree by simply reading the textbook. You would expect to receive guidance by studying at the feet of a master on the subject who can expound on all the complexities of the subject matter. The Desert Fathers, those early desert dwelling monks and ascetics, as well as the early bishops, martyrs, and saints created and left behind a huge number of writings and spiritual guidance that help us to interpret biblical scripture in the correct context and to apply it in our daily lives.

The history of the Orthodox Church goes back almost 2,000 years to Christ’s apostles who dispersed to the four corners of the Earth to become our first bishops. The first Protestant church appeared on the scene only in the Middle Ages. Many of the western denominations simply ignore the collected wisdom from the early church fathers, but can’t easily explain away the gap between Christ’s Ascension and the formation of their own sects and denominations centuries later. Did nothing noteworthy happen in Christian history during all those previous centuries? All the answers are out there for those who are willing to seek them. In the meantime Rachael is still in need of our prayers. May God save and protect her.

Source: patheos.com

The Atheist Daughter of a Notable Christian Apologist Shares Her Story.

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5 thoughts on “The Atheist Daughter of a Notable Christian Apologist Shares Her Story

    • Eliza, thanks for reading and leaving your comment on my little blog. I suppose I could agree with you on a certain level. My understanding of Baptists and Evangelicals is that they believe a person becomes saved through their Baptism and acceptance of Christ as their personal savior. This interpretation of the salvation experience is something highly personal and subjective, something done intellectually, an action conciously and voluntarily undertaken by the individual, and something which distinguishes them from other Christians who are not born again. It then creates a dividing line between genuine and fake Christians as viewed through the lens of a particular denomination’s theology.

      We also believe that a person is saved through their Baptism, and thus “born again”. However, Orthodox take a more ancient view of what Baptism is and what it accomplishes. Orthodoxy sees baptism as a corporate action where one is baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and thus into the Church. Baptism is administered as a Sacred Mystery or sacrament of His Church. Through the baptismal waters, God’s grace is given to the person and he or she becomes a new creature. The one being baptized confesses the Catholic faith in the Apostle’s Creed and renounces Satan. In the case of infants, this confession and renunciation is done by a sponsor, a “Godparent”, who stands in for the very young and agrees to guide their spititual growth. Since the Church is a community of baptized believers it is a point of unity among us and between other Trinitarian Christians such as Roman Catholics and even Anglicans and Lutherans who hold similar views. Once Baptised, the saved are part of the community of believers and they cannot be “unbaptised,” they can only fall into sin. God gives us our free will which all too often causes us to stumble and fall down hard so that we might become aware of our sins. Admitting to ourselves that we have sinned allows us to ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness, after which we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and hopefully live a better Christian example. That is spiritual growth. For this reason I will continue to pray for Rachael even though it is unlikely that she was ever baptised and saved in the sense that we understand it. She still has her freewill and the ability to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. Hopefully Rachael will come to realize this.

      Reply
  1. Christian traditions that add either works or the traditions of men to the faith and doctrine of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints they verify that they are not part of the redeemed. If we are saved by baptism, then why did Paul say; For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 1 Corinthians 1:17 & Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,.. 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 & But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation, Romans 5;8-11 & Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 There is no mention of baptism as a condition of salvation. Those adults who were baptized as babies and live lives of murder, extortion, corruption show they are not saved for God says in His Word: Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him: Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. he who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:7-15 You made the statement that Rachel had a hard time with the Word of God, and that most people have the same experience. Most people experience difficulty with the Word of God because they are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit and so God’s Word is not revealed to them. Perhaps, her real problem was the fact that she was reading books that twist the Scriptures and so made it more difficult for her to understand the Bible. This is the situation that all unbelievers find themselves in; they are being led astray by the devil through the false teaching of men and they are deceived by their own sinful natures. I did not address this root cause in my first response because it was evident that she wasn’t born again by the power of God through regeneration by the Holy Spirit and belief in the truth. Remember that Jesus Christ condemned the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes because they added tradition and man’s doctrine to God’s Word, nullifying the Word of God. This is what all Christian churches do that add tradition, human philosophy, and extra-biblical doctrines to the Word of God . This is what the Orthodox and Catholic faiths do, along with the majority of Protestant, Evangelical, and Baptist churches. Repent and believe the gospel! May God bless you with His mercy, grace and salvation.

    Reply
    • Eliza, thanks for your thoughtful reply, I appreciate it. I really do. You have given us all a lot to think about. As I read through your comments, it appears we are in disagreement over how each of us are saved, as well as the importance of tradition as it relates to scriptural interpretation. I also followed the accompanying link you provided to your own blog which I enjoyed very much. I wish I had the same amount of time to devote to my own page.

      I have a couple of things to get out of the way first. As for Rachael Slick, the article and interview are a bit vague on what led her down the wrong path to apostasy. Although we both seem to agree that Satan and his legions often tempt believers to question and doubt the Christian faith, I think her reliance on scripture alone (sola scriptura) painted her into a corner from which she could not escape. Her doubts multiplied because she could only rely on her own interpretations and those of her friends, and not what received tradition and learned experience had to say. She needed a lifeline thrown to her which Sola Scriptura denied her. Then, in your own article, you take me to task for not mentioning Jesus enough with respect to baptism.

      All Orthodox and other Trinitarian Christians are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and this is mentioned frequently. I think this underscores one of the key differences between Fundamentalists and Trinitarian Christianity. We believe in one God manifesting Himself in three divine natures as God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus saved us by leading us to God through Him. Fundamentalists usually talk about being saved “by” Him. In Jesus’s earthly ministry He never pointed to Himself as God, Jesus always pointed a finger upward to God the Father and indicated that we will be saved through our faith in Him (the Father). Jesus also took pains to explain that He was SENT to do work by His Father and did not come on his own accord. (John 8:42) “Jesus said unto them: If God were your father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God [the Father], neither came I of Myself, He sent me.” Then there is subordination within the Trinity in regard to order but not substance or essence. We can see that the Father is first, the Son is second, and the Holy Spirit is third. The Father is not begotten, but the Son is (John 3:16). The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (John 15:26). The Father sent the Son (1 John 4:10). The Son and the Father send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26). The Father creates (Isaiah 44:24), the Son redeems (Gal. 3:13), and the Holy Spirit sanctifies (Rom. 15:16). Thus when we talk about our faith in God, we include all three of His natures as the Father, His Son Jesus, and as the Holy Spirit.

      Now I’ll write about salvation.

      My understanding is that Evangelicals and Fundamentalists believe they are saved through baptism and an acceptance of Jesus as their personal savior. Orthodox Christians also believe we are saved through baptism and give full credit to Jesus for saving us, but we don’t believe it stops there. We believe you need to keep saving yourself for the rest of your life. It amounts to keeping the faith once you have received it by continuing to guard it, and to continue to grow spiritually within it. There is a key concept in Orthodoxy called “theosis”. Being saved is not just a bath in the baptistery; it’s constantly working on not getting dirty again. Thesosis is the Orthodox emphasis on this idea, which is not as readily found in the western churches. Theosis is saving more and more of the person until the entire person is in Christ and therefore is maximally partaking of the divine nature. As you are saved, you literally become one with God.

      So for the Orthodox, salvation is past (been there), present (doing it), and future (going further). Some part of the person has already been changed by grace and sealed in baptism, some is still being remodeled by faith, and some will be revealed as still needing work as grace abounds or becomes more visible in the saved person’s life.

      A second difference in the understanding of salvation is the purpose of the atonement. Orthodoxy has never emphasized the penal aspect, which sometimes gets presented as God the Father angrily punishing his Son on the cross to get vengeance for human sin (some have even called it “divine parental child abuse”). God’s love and Jesus’ love, not the vengeful wrath of any person of the Trinity, sent Jesus to the cross for humanity’s sins in the Orthodox emphasis.

      A third difference, linked to the second difference, with respect to the understanding of salvation between western and eastern Christianity, is the emphasis on what salvation is from. In western teaching it is often expressed as salvation from sin, but Orthodox teachers more generally emphasize the salvation from the effect (or wages) of sin, which is death. Salvation is centered more in the resurrection, and victory over death, than on the atonement of Jesus wrought on the Cross, which was the means to the victorious end. This is not to say Orthodoxy minimizes the work of Jesus on the cross or the atoning sacrifice of Jesus as Lamb of God (language that is part of every Eucharistic offering in the Orthodox church), but that the main emphasis is the paschal (Easter) morning (The Resurrection and new life) rather than the Good Friday afternoon (death and atonement).

      Now please let me continue, but I will respond to your criticism of tradition and doctrine as practiced in the Orthodox churches.

      Yes, tradition is an important part of Orthodoxy as “orthos” (right) and “doxa” (belief) has to have something to fall back on as a frame of reference. I once read somewhere that tradition is not just a conglomeration of stale doctrines, but it is a storehouse of lived experience. If you spend an hour reading St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, you can get a sense of what a mess the church in Corinth must have been in the first century and how the binding authority of tradition delivered by Paul must have cleaned it up. (1 Cor. 11:2) “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.”

      Were the Church to be deprived of its tradition she would cease to be what she is, for the ministry of the Spirit of the New Testament is the ministry of the Spirit ‘written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God: not in tables of stones, but in the fleshly tables of the heart’. (1 Cor. 3:18-19). Suppose that for some reason the Church was to be deprived of all her books, of the old and new Testaments, the works of the holy Fathers, of all service books; what would happen? Sacred tradition would restore the Scriptures. Not word for word, perhaps the verbal form might be different, but in essence the new Scriptures would be the expression of the same faith which was once delivered from them. The Scriptures are not more profound, not more important than holy tradition. As said above, they are one of its forms, the most precious form, both because they are preserved and convenient to make use of. Removed from the stream of sacred tradition, the Scriptures cannot be rightly understood through any research or individual interpretation.

      People are simply wrong when they set aside sacred tradition and go (as they think) to its source, to the Holy Scriptures. For the Church has her origin, not in the Scriptures but in sacred tradition. The Church did not possess the New Testament during the first decades of her history. The Church lived then by tradition only, the tradition St. Paul called upon the faithful to hold (2 Thess. 2:15). The Apostle Peter spoke of the perversion of the meaning of the Scriptures when they are construed personally by the individual reader (2 Pet. 3:16). Individual members of the Church do not achieve the whole fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and so their teachings and writings are marred by one or another imperfection, sometimes even error, but as a whole the Church’s schooling possessed of the gifts and knowledge of sacred tradition remains true for all time.

      Now a “short” critique of Sola Scriptura:

      The modern Evangelical version of sola scriptura is nothing more than a new version of tradition. Instead of being defined as the sole infallible authority, the Bible is said to be the “sole basis of authority” The received tradition is not allowed in any sense; the teaching of the earliest church fathers are dismissed as quaint, the ecumenical creeds are virtually dismissed altogether; and the Church is denied any real authority. On the surface it would seem that this modern Evangelical doctrine would have nothing in common with the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox doctrines of authority. But despite the very real differences, the modern Evangelical position shares one major flaw with both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox positions. Each results in autonomy. Each results in final authority being placed somewhere other than God and His Word. Unlike the Roman Catholic position and the Eastern Orthodox position, however, which invariably result in the autonomy of the Church, the modern Evangelical position inevitably results in the autonomy of the individual believer. This is rebellious autonomy, and it is a usurpation of the prerogatives of God.

      The modern Evangelical doctrine of Scripture, or sola scriptura, is untenable for a number of reasons. Aside from the fact that it is a novel position based upon rationalistic secular philosophy, and aside from the fact that it is dishonestly presented as if it were the Reformation position when much of it has been invented in only the last two centuries. It is also unbiblical, illogical, and unworkable. At this point we must examine carefully some of the many reasons why sola scriptura fails.

      Perhaps the best way to explain the fundamental problem with the modern Evangelical version of sola scriptura would be through the use of an illustration to which many believers may be able to relate. Almost every Christian who has wrestled with theological questions has encountered the problem of competing interpretations of Scripture. That’s exactly what we are doing right here on this very page! If one asks a dispensationalist pastor, for example, why he teaches premillennialism, the answer will be, “Because the Bible teaches premillennialism.” If one asks the conservative Presbyterian pastor across the street why he teaches postmillennialism, the answer will likely be, “Because that is what the Bible teaches.” Each man will claim that the other is in error, but by what ultimate authority do they typically make such a judgment? Each man will claim that he bases his judgment on the authority of the Bible, but since each man’s interpretation is mutually exclusive of the other’s, both interpretations cannot be correct. How then do we discern which interpretation is correct? Who or what is the authority?

      The typical modern Evangelical solution to this problem is to tell the inquirer to examine the arguments on both sides and decide which of them is closest to the teaching of Scripture. He is told that this is what sola scriptura means, to individually evaluate all doctrines according to the only authority, the Scripture. Yet in reality, all that occurs is that one Christian measures the scriptural interpretations of other Christians against the standard of his own scriptural interpretation. Rather than placing the final authority in Scripture as it intends to do, this concept of Scripture places the final authority in the reason and judgment of each individual believer. The result is the relativism, subjectivism, and theological chaos that we see in modern Evangelicalism today.

      A fundamental and self-evident truth that seems to be unconsciously overlooked by proponents of the modern Evangelical version of sola scriptura is that no one is infallible in his interpretation of Scripture. Each of us comes to the Scripture with different presuppositions, blind spots, ignorance of important facts, and, most importantly, sinfulness. Because of this we each read things into Scripture that are not there and miss things in Scripture that are there. Who or what is supposed to keep us from going down the wrong path? Fundamentalists and Evangelicals clearly reject all the scripturally based structures of authority. The authority of those who rule in the Church is rejected by placing the decisions of an ecumenical council of bishops on the same level as the words of any individual. This is certainly the democratic way of doing things, and it is as American as apple pie, but it is not Christian.

      Scripture itself indicates that the Scriptures are the possession of the Church and that the interpretation of the Scripture belongs to the Church as a whole, as a community. In particular it has been entrusted to specially gifted men. The Apostles did not tell every individual believer to take their Bibles and decide by themselves and for themselves whether the Judaizers were correct. For one thing, there was no Bible in the early years. On the contrary, they gathered in a council as a body and discerned the truth of the matter. This is how the Orthodox Church has historically resolved disagreements on what the Scriptures mean, and how they should influence doctrine. The decisions of these Great and Holy Ecumenical Councils were then given to the various churches. The fundamental point is that Christ established His Church with a structure of authority that is to be obeyed (Heb. 13:7). Even in the first years of the Church, there were those who were specially appointed to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:2-4). In his letters to Timothy and Titus, Paul indicates that a special teaching ministry was to continue after his death (1 Tim. 3:1-7; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 8:5-9). The modern Evangelical doctrine of Scripture essentially destroys the real authority of ministers of the Word and the Church as a whole.

      Adherents of the Evangelical position also ignore the positive scriptural references to tradition. The Gospel was preached for at least 15-20 years prior to the writing of the first book of the New Testament, and that preached gospel was authoritative and binding. This apostolic tradition was the faith of the churches who received the first books of the New Testament, and it was the context within which these books and the books of the Old Testament were to be interpreted. This is the tradition to which the churches were commanded to adhere (e.g., 2 Thess. 3:6). The Scriptures were written to already existing churches, and this means that these churches had the Gospel before they had the completed Scriptures.

      Anyway, I’ll leave it at that. I’ve gotten a little windy in my reply, and I had considered making these topics a dedicated posting which I may yet do. I recently sat with Metropolitan Jonah, the retired Archbishop of Washington and former head of the Orthodox Church in America where the tragedy of Christian disunity was discussed. His response was simply, “Jesus weeps”.

      May God bless and protect you.

      +++

      Reply

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