Jesus: Ex-Christians had no root!

It’s always very difficult to explain how a person can go from being a committed Christian in one year to denying the existence of God in the next year. It even complicates matters even more when the same person used to defend the existence of God amongst his friends and family.

The first person who almost always comes to mind whenever I think of ex-Christians is Charles Templeton, perhaps it’s because he was the first famous ex-Christian I have ever read about. In his article “The slippery side to unbelief – A famous evangelist goes from hope to hopelessness”, Ken Ham says about Charles Templeton:

Who is Charles Templeton? Fuelled by concern about the spiritual state of post-Depression youth, mass evangelism exploded onto the American scene in the 1940s. Thousands of young servicemen and civilians streamed to arenas to see the programs, which included preaching, music, and various acts.

One of the leaders in this movement was a young man from Canada, Charles Templeton, born in 1915. He was generally acknowledged to be the most versatile of the new young evangelists. Templeton soon rose to prominence, even surpassing another dynamic young preacher, Billy Graham. In 1946, he was listed among those best used of God by the National Association of Evangelicals.

As the pastor of the rapidly growing Avenue Road Church in Toronto, which he had started with only his family and a few friends, Templeton also became one of three vice-presidents of the newly-formed Youth For Christ International organization in 1945. He then nominated his good friend, Billy Graham, to be field evangelist for the new ministry. Templeton, Graham, and a few others regularly spoke to thousands, winning many to Christ both in America and in Europe.

Newspapers and magazines carried reports of his meetings informing readers he was winning 150 converts a night. In Evansville, Indiana, the total attendance over the two week campaign was 91,000 out of a population of 128,000. Church attendance went up 17%.

However, despite his popularity and seeming success as an evangelist, all was not well with Charles Templeton. The more he read, the more he found he was beginning to question the essentials of the Christian faith, because he could no longer believe God’s Word beginning with Genesis.

Amazing story! Ham says “all was not well with Charles Templeton”, however I think Jesus would have said “all along all was not well with Charles Templeton”. Why do I say that? Jesus once explained the cause for people to reject the faith, even after they were so deep into the things of God like Charles Templeton was. Speaking to His disciples in parables, He told them a parable of the Sower who planted seed that fell into four different places. And with regards to ex-Christians, He likened them to a seed that fell on rocky places. He said: “the one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away” (Matthew 13:20-21).

Let’s break down what Jesus said:

  • Ex-Christians received the word with joy

One thing we can never question about most ex-Christians is the fact that they were genuinely Christian (born-again), and there’s no question about it. We can never question the enthusiasm ex-Christians had for the Christian faith, just as we see with Charles Templeton. I grew up alongside people who were the most passionate Christians I have ever seen, yet they are now ex-Christians who have no intentions of being reconciled with God. I don’t think I can ever meet the high standards they have set while still Christians; and truly speaking I always feel insignificant whenever I intend speaking to them about their rejection of the faith.

  • Ex-Christians have no root

I always remind myself why I got born-again in the first place, and why I wouldn’t go back. The bible says “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith, test yourself” (2 Corinthians 13:5). It is this examination that I believe will keep me in the Christian faith for many years to come. I always wonder if other Christians do this examination, and if they are always happy with the results of this test. If a person got born-again because they were having a tough time and they found comfort in God, then what happens when the tough times disappear? By ‘root’ I believe Jesus is referring to those reasons that will ensure that a person’s faith is never shaken. The reasons all of us got born-again in the first place are different, however most of those reasons are temporary and will probably not have an impact on our reasons to remain in the faith.  

What Jesus is saying is that ex-Christians lacked the permanent reasons to remain in the faith, those reasons that would never change in their lifetime. They had all the good reasons for being born-again and being passionate about the faith in the first few weeks, months or years, but they lacked the good foundation to understand what salvation was all about.

  • Ex-Christians only last a short time

Since ex-Christians didn’t have those ‘root’ reasons that would make them remain in the faith permanently, then they were always going to reject the faith as soon as their initial reasons become redundant. If a person got born-again because they had problems, then unless they find their root in Christ then they will reject the faith as soon as their situation improves. Some became born-again because of the affection that is found in Jesus, but as soon as feelings disappeared, even though affection remains, then they rejected the faith because they thought affection is proven by feelings. Others were born-again because they grew up in churches and their parents insisted on going to church, but as soon as they went to universities then their faith was shaken because there was nobody pushing them to go to church.

  • Biblical trials

As we can see with Charles Templeton, many people rejected God because they were mocked by their friends on the authenticity of the bible. Because their biblical knowledge was found wanting, they found themselves not able to answer questions from their friends and defend the bible. This shook their faith to the core, and they relented to apostasy. Instead of going back to their study desks and try and find answers, they took an easy way out. Charles Templeton was bothered by the literal creation account of the universe in 6 (24 hour) days. He said to Billy Graham “The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact. Templeton warned Graham that it was ‘intellectual suicide’ to not question the Bible and to go on preaching God’s Word as authoritative”. I don’t know which is more of an ‘intellectual suicide’- believing in the Creator or believing that ‘nothing created everything’.

Even though Mr Templeton was an evangelist preaching to thousands of people every year, he was lazy to study the materials that support Creation, and this lead to his downfall.  Unfortunately that’s how it was with most ex-Christians, they had genuine questions put to them but they had ignored God’s command to “study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 timothy 2:15 KJV). Jesus’ biblical knowledge was once challenged by Satan when he was fasting, and because He knew the bible He won the challenge. I have had the opportunity to read a lot of testimonies from ex-Christians, and I always get shocked by their lack of biblical knowledge and how they were fooled into apostasy. I always say to some of them: ‘had you studied the bible like you were supposed to then you would have never been ex-Christian’.

Are you ex-Christian? There is still a way for you, only if you can find the foundation to base your salvation on. Salvation has never been about feeling the presence of God; it has always been about being in the presence of God for eternity. Salvation has never been about winning arguments or sounding intelligent, it has always been about trusting God for the future even when it doesn’t make sense. Salvation has never been about continuing a family legacy in the church; it has always been about the certainty of your own relationship with God.

Ex-Christian, it’s time you come back home, you were fooled into apostasy but now take your place in the body of Christ!



  1. Gotta love the bible! And we must be careful how we hear and what we believe. We must judge everything by the word to know what truth really is.

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