Why Do People Renounce Their Faith?

His name is Jon Steingard. He’s the lead singer of the Christian rock band Hawk Nelson and the latest high profile “Christian” to renounce his faith.

It happens far too often and for a wide variety of reasons- but ultimately – one of the foundational reasons is because they have legitimate questions for which they can’t find answers. And so instead of seeking those answers in the right places, they pull back and they pull away from any thread of faith they may have had.

Real and raw emotions run deep in hearts of those who are grappling with what they believe… and what they don’t.

We’ve all faced a crisis of faith at some point in our journey. Not only before we are saved, but sometimes, after we become Christians as well.

Faith, by its very nature, must be tested.

Their struggle is as real as their eternal destinies, so we need to take a very serious look at what some of the reasons why people renounce their faith.

When someone asks questions, it’s important that we know how to answer them. When someone is struggling with their faith or have even renounced it, they need our prayers and our willingness to help them find the answers they’re looking for, not our condemnation.

A Serious Flaw in Our Foundation

In much of the world, the modern church looks very different from the early church. Not just in style, format, and technology, but the very foundation of how we do church, how experience Christianity, and how we regard church, is distinctly divergent from the founding of our our faith.

We live in a new generation of cultural Christianity where it’s more about the bells and whistles than it is about holiness and truth. It’s more about the Sunday show than it is about reaching the lost and discipling the saved.

Instead of creating and maintaining a biblical Great Commission culture, many churches and church leaders focus on creating a hip, cool cultures in order to put butts in the pews, yet there is little to no concern about getting the Word of God in their hearts.

Christian leaders and churches inadvertently, and sometimes intentionally, create celebrities out of talented attenders who may not even be saved. The masses begin cheering them on and they begin focusing on hearing the applause of man instead of serving the risen Christ.

Being a follower of Christ is about knowing Him and Making Him Known. Not about making ourselves known.

Yet agents, publishers, and media outlets try to make stars out of those who can sing, write or speak so they can draw crowds, sell books, and fill conference halls.

But we must remember…Jesus is the only Star of this eternal show.

Unfortunately, the talented platform-builders swallow the bait but totally miss the point of their new-found position. They become a leader in a worship band before they are ever a true worshipper. 

And somewhere along the way, when they finally listen to the words they sing or the books they write, they’re confronted with their own faith (or lack thereof) and that is why some come out saying that they don’t believe in God any longer.

They actually never really did. Not the kind of saving faith that the Bible teaches us about.

They aren’t renouncing their faith. They just never had it in the first place.

They never had a sure foundation, so they walk away from a faith they thought they had but was never biblically or foundationally authentic.

A Serious Flaw in Our Focus

Many churches begin with their focus in most of the right places. Honoring God. Lifting up the name of Jesus and being a light in the community. Creating a Great Commission culture of reaching the lost and teaching the saved. Teaching God’s Word clearly and accurately from the nursery to the grave.

But unless they continually and intentionally filter everything they do through their ultimate purpose, it’s easy for the church as a whole to get distracted and for their purpose to become distorted.

When the church’s focus shifts from fulfilling the Great Commission, it’s guilty of many things…

  1. Pride
  2. Viewing people as numbers.
  3. Concerned more about the sum of filled seats instead of the condition of their souls.
  4. Trying to keep up with the churches who have more people than they do.
  5. Creating weak Christians with whose faith is weak and whose focus is wrong.
  6. Minimizing the Word of God.
  7. Maximizing their own existence as a church and as church leaders.

Just to name a few.

And when a church’s focus shifts from fulfilling the Great Commission, it also misses out on…

  1. Fulfilling God’s will.
  2. Seeing the lost come to know Christ.
  3. Seeing disciples make disciples.
  4. Developing strong believers who know what they believe and why.
  5. Developing church leaders.
  6. Seeing the children and youth of the church be saved and equipped.
  7. Seeing God grow the church spiritually and numerically.
  8. Seeing neighborhoods impacted for Christ.

Just to name a few.

We have a serious flaw in our focus that can be remedied if Christians, individually and corporately, would consistently and intentionally strive to focus on fulfilling God’s will. To know Him and to make Him known and to live out the Great Commission every single day.

A Serious Flaw in Their Faith

When Jon Steingard made it public that he had renounced his faith, he cited many common questions that caused him to question what he really believed. 

  • “If God is all powerful, why is there evil in the world?” 
  • “Why does God seem so pissed off in most of the Old Testament, and then all of a sudden he’s a loving father in the New Testament?” 
  • “Why does he say not to kill, but then instruct Israel to turn around and kill men, women, and children to take the promised land?” 
  • “Why does he tell Abraham to kill his son, and then basically say, ‘Just kidding!'” 
  • “If God can do anything, can’t he forgive without dying? I mean, my parents taught me to forgive people — nobody dies in that scenario.” 

These are real questions from real people seeking real answers. And we have a responsibility to seek out those answers so we can help seekers find the answers they are looking for.

Like Pilate, many long to find the answer to the age-old question, “What is truth?” Matthew 18:38

Many of the questions Jon Steingard and others are struggling with today are the same ones every generation has asked.

That’s why it’s so important that we study and know apologetics. Not simply so we can stand strong in the faith, but so that we can help those who are battling with theirs.

Jon Steingard, and many like him, chose not to believe the truth because he and others didn’t investigate, understand, or believe the truth.

But truth is what it is.

Truth isn’t less true because we don’t believe it.

Being theologically grounded doesn’t happen by osmosis. The church has a biblical responsibility to teach more than the stories of the Bible.

It is called to make disciples and to ground people in the truth so they will know what they believe and why…and so they won’t be swayed by philosophies of men and deceptive arguments. 

Colossians 2:4 (Amplified) says, “I say this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive [but thoroughly deceptive] arguments.”

Take a moment and read the following few passages that highlight our need to be grounded in the faith and in the Word of God:

It is also the responsibility of each believer to ground themselves in the faith and in the Word of God. We are personally responsible for what we believe.

We have to ask questions, study, research, dig, and search for answers in God’s Word and by reading behind biblically solid apologists and preachers like Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Sean McDowell, J.I. Packer, D.L. Moody, J. Vernon McGee, Matthew Henry, C.S. Lewis, D. James Kennedy, and so many more.

People renounce the faith for a multitude of reasons.

  • Some just simply don’t want to surrender their lives to Christ, so they walk away from what they know to be true. 
  • Others struggle with making sense out of what makes no sense at all to them.
  • Some can’t reconcile their human thoughts about God as they know Him with their limited understanding, and so they give up trying.
  • Most have valid questions that no one was able to answer for them or for which they weren’t able to find the answers themselves.

This week, I’m going to begin sharing the biblical answers to each of the questions Jon Steingard and so many others are and have been asking. 

Eternally His, 

Phil 3:7-14

P. S. Was this helpful at all? What would you add? Do you have questions about the God or about the Bible?



  1. Thank you for your wisdom and insight about those who choose to deconstruct their faith. I wholeheartedly agree with all of your observations and conclusions. It is time to teach our children biblical doctrine that will give them a solid foundation for following Christ. I will just point out that I also believe that the prosperity gospel has played a huge part in this whole idea that Believers don’t suffer and that everyone should have a great, healthy and wealthy life. Not teaching children that they are sinners in need of a Savior is also why we have people denouncing their faith. Not understanding substitutionary atonement is also why we have people asking why Jesus had to die. These things are fundamental to the Christian faith, yet, many of the parents today are not teaching their children these things. I do believe that the church has the responsibility to make disciples, but the command was given to every Believer to go and do this across the world. It starts with the parents and then the church continues the work. I agree with you that someone who doesn’t understand these basic tenents of Christianity, will most certainly fall for lies and possibly was never an honest Believer at all.

    • Thank you Cheryl for taking the time to comment and I’m SO glad you brought up the prosperity Gospel. That is such a huge problem as well. That and NARS and so many other distortions of the truth disguising themselves as Christianity.
      While we taught our children doctrine and the core tenets of the faith, I feel like we personally failed in the area of teaching our children not just what to believe, but why, where to find it in Scripture, and how the Bible answers cultural questions. We taught them what to believe and even studied where to find it in the Bible, but we could have done a much better job at teaching them more of how to find it themselves and more of why we believe what we believe.

      Thank you again for responding. My heart aches for Jon, his parents, and everyone searching for answers and aren’t sure where to find them. We definitely need to be equipping the church from the nursery to the grave with solid apologetical teaching.

  2. Pingback: If God is all powerful, why is there evil in the world? - Stephanie Shott Ministries

  3. Greetings! The only issue I have with this analysis is the underlying assumption that once a person truly comes to Christ and believes and is saved, that person can never become unsaved. This position–historically–originally came into Christian thought through–first–Augustine–but more recently through Calvin and Calvinism. But it is now common to the majority American Christians, including independent Baptists, who probably would not want to be “accused” of Calvinism. (;>)
    However, there is that term in the NT which we call “apostate” or “apostasy,” which literally means “to stand away” from someone or something. It seems to be rare, but the word “departed from the faith” is used by Paul 3-4 times, and then there is that tricky passage in Hebrew 6:4-8 which is also too often viewed as describing someone who never really believed. However, a reading of the text—iMRHO–makes that conclusion difficult to sustain – “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” *The phrase “fallen away” means literally to “fall alongside,” and is not the word used to describe apostasy, and the phrase “shared in the Holy Spirit” makes it very difficult to sustain an argument that the author of Hebrews is saying this person never really believed. ***What it does say is that when such a person is guilty of the steps Hebrews 6 describes, that person cannot be restored. ***We don’t like that because, if Jon is guilty of this particular sin–having be saved and then renouncing that salvation–he can’t come back, according to Hebrews 6. So it’s easier from every “direction” to simply say he was never really a believer, because in that case Jon can still be truly “saved.” ***But I’m not willing to dismiss the Hebrews 6 scenario so quickly just because American Christians don’t like the implications. I’m also not willing nor ready to consign this confused young man to this status…….which means “lost for good now.”
    ***BUT: In our desire to be compassionate we must not deny either the possibility that when a truly redeemed believer “falls alongside” and becomes “unsaved,” that he is stuck with that horrible decision. And I am not longer willing to say that Hebrews 6 is “unclear.” I think it is just as clear as glass…….cold, hard, glass.

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