This is dedicated to my first Assembly of God youth pastor, Greg Black, who shared the true gospel with me almost 40 years ago in Byesville, Ohio.

Facebook’s Evid3nc3 (E3[1]) is a bright and ambitious young man raised in an Assembly of God church whose aggressive and unrelenting efforts to reach his peers would be the envy of most any youth pastor.  Except for one thing: he proselytizes not for his youth group or the Lord, but his most cherished belief: his atheism. The videos in his series have been watched over a hundred-thousand times, possibly by kids in your youth group. Updated and Corrected:  Someone using his ID has labored at posting links to his videos on scores of various sites unrelated to atheism and he has developed a huge following among skeptics.

In the video below he talks about getting saved[2] during a Royal Rangers meeting, his service for the Lord, his experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (with the evidence of speaking in tongues), and his walk with God.

Introduction to YouTube Video: Why I am no longer a Christian. 

A short but comprehensive look into my life as a Christian (which spanned 15 years) to prove to Christians that I was a genuine born-again, Holy Spirit baptised, and deeply committed Christian who had a strong relationship with Jesus Christ.

In a debate with a reformed Christian, E3 listed four signs to try and prove his conversion to Christ was “meaningful and touching”:

-speaking in tongues

-speaking to Jesus

-feeling God’s presence

-feeling God’s guidance

Indeed, the expression of his personal testimony might lead typical youth leaders to believe the kid was indeed a real Christian no different from the young people in their own youth groups. But those leaders would be wrong.  They have it backwards.  If his testimony is indistinguishable from teens in your youth group, it’s because they aren’t likely saved either!

If you were an A/G pastor or youth pastor, what would you tell E3, someone raised in a Christian home, who experienced all your church has to offer but chose instead to pursue not just unbelief, but to become an unevangelist?   What would you do to bring him and others like him back to the church? More to the point, what can you and I learn from this atheist?

First, we should recognize that all of our efforts to make church more relevant by making the music hip or the worship modern is wasted energy.  Having fun doesn’t work as an evangelistic tool, either. You will never out-relevant the world.  Besides, neither fun nor contemporary music ever saved anybody.  Only Jesus saves.

Second, we should watch this video and some of E3’s other videos very carefully.  It is essential this atheist prove to you he was a real Christian. But when you compare E3’s experience with the Bible, you will find his Christianity wanting. If you believe he was a Christian, perhaps your own understanding of the gospel is suspect.

Here are eight fatal flaws in E3’s view of salvation. This lack may also help explain why many of the most active teenagers in your church have never been truly saved, though they may appear so:

No Mention of the Law of God. There is nothing in E3’s testimony about the Law of God and the unbeliever’s relation to it.  Though he mentions the Ten Commandments in one of his videos, he claims to have kept them since his youth (probably unknowingly mirroring the experience of the rich young man mentioned in Matthew 19).   How many of our young people do not know the law of God in its fullness and therefore think they have kept it?  They have a superficial righteousness obtained by the Pharisees, but lack the inward righteousness demanded by a Holy God and unobtainable except by the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Grace and Mercy From God Are Not Necessary. Without the law, there is no knowledge of sin (Romans 3:19).  E3 almost totally ignores sin. Though he says his sins were forgiven, there is no acknowledgement he was a rebellious and wicked sinner, a mortal enemy of God who would put God to death if he could.  Salvation was a response to just asking, not an act of God’s grace and merciful kindness.   But where there is no grace, there is no salvation.

Repentance by Men Is Disregarded.  Although E3 mentions sin, its heinous character is not recognized nor is the need to simultaneously turn to God and from sin even contemplated.  When sin is minimized, so is the significance of Christ’s death on the Cross.

No Reason Given Why He Needed a Savior. The law of God is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24), not some standard we can reach to prove we are saved.  He may claim he believed in Christ, but he did not believe the Savior and Lord of Scripture. No savior, no salvation.

No Reference to the Righteousness of Christ. But it is the righteousness of Christ that gains us access by faith to God (Romans 5:18f, I Corinthians 1:30). The Lord is our righteousness (Phil. 3:9).  “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:21). 

No Talk of the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection. How can we even call it a testimony if there is no mention of the atonement? He could just as easily be a follower of Mohammed, Joseph Smith or Buddha. The cross is where our sins were nailed; the resurrection is the hope of new life. E3 offers a bloodless Christianity and therefore it is a lifeless Christianity.  Without the preaching of the cross, there is no salvation.

Salvation is only personal and subjective.  Because E3 is an atheist, he must claim to be a real Christian without any reference to the work of God and Christ.[3]  It must all be about himself: what he did, how he believed, what he experienced.  There is precious little, if any, about salvation as the Bible teaches.  Take a poll of your young people.  Have them explain salvation to you or give their testimonies.  You may be shocked at the answers you get.  E3 wants people to “deconvert”, to realize that all of your experiences were just personal experiences.  God (because he does not exist) had nothing to do with it.

No Discussion of the Miracle of Salvation.  Although the Assemblies of God, as a denomination, believes miracles occur today, E3’s “salvation” and “sanctification” are totally natural.  He made a decision to become a Christian and followed it with a daily decision to serve Christ (for a season).   But this is not the gospel.   Decisional conversion is the kind introduced by Charles Finney in the 1800’s[4].  He too denied the miraculous in salvation saying “there is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature[5]. The problem with Finney’s approach is not that it does not work, but that it does.  You can you use all kinds of tricks, ploys and methods to talk people into becoming a “Christian”. But there is nothing supernatural in making a decision.  E3 might as well have decided to become a Republican today and a Democrat tomorrow.  He cannot as an atheist claim his salvation was supernatural, because he doesn’t believe God exists.  Though he claims he was born-again there is no explanation of regeneration and he knows nothing of it, for it is a miracle of God.

The gospel is so much more than what is offered most young people today.  They are instead offered a sanitized version of the world’s fun and values, as demonstated by the comments of a youth evangelist in a recent article in the New York Times hinted at:

Outside the arena in Amherst, the teenagers at Mr. Luce’s Acquire the Fire extravaganza mobbed the tables hawking T-shirts and CD’s stamped: “Branded by God.” Mr. Luce’s strategy is to replace MTV’s wares with those of an alternative Christian culture, so teenagers will link their identity to Christ and not to the latest flesh-baring pop star.

A friend of mine who attends Christian Rock band festivals tells me he likes some of the music, but the concerts differ little from those of the world: encouraging young people to acquire Christian tattoos, pierce their bodies and generally serve the Lord while looking like the devil.   Paul Washer explains why a sermon he preached at a youth convention (shown below) was not so well received: “We need men who will…fight…and you are not going to stand up against the world, you are not going to be able to stand up against a….”churchianity” in America…without people really, really coming down on you…but it’s worth it….because the gospel is at stake, the souls of people are at stake, the glory of God is at stake”.

What is needed is not more imitation of the world which seems relevant but will damn souls to hell. We must offer young people a full gospel: one that talks about the law, grace, sin, the righteousness of Christ the Savior, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the need for a miracle: the miracle of being born again.

To my youth pastor friends.  Let me warn you and encourage you.  If you begin to preach these things, attendance in your youth group my dry up.  You may lose your job.  But the true winning of souls will accompany the true preaching of the gospel.  It is why you are called.

P.S. Chris, if you are out there, please listen below to the gospel you should have gotten at your church, or possibly got but didn’t hear.


It almost goes without saying that everything I say applies to every youth group and church that has allowed the world to distract them from preaching the gospel.  I have so many Assembly of God brethren whom I count among my dearest friends.

[1] Chris Redford is apparently his name, but since he does not use that name on the videos he produces or any of his varied posts around the internet, I will use a shortened form of his YouTube ID here.

[2] He at first claims to have been saved several times, but later dubs a clarification that he was really just rededicating his life. Why he believed he needed to clarify an in-house dispute among Christians was odd to say the least.  Can you picture two atheists hiding behind closed doors debating whether Calvinism or Arminianism is truly Biblical or whether or not infants should be baptized?

[3] If you read the debates he has with Christians on the internet, you will see he gets angry if you say he wasn’t a Christian at all. I find it almost humorous that he must make the case he was really a Christian in order to prove that God does not exist. What is not funny is the fact that many currently professing Christians do the same thing: Try to prove they are Christians, but totally ignore the actual propositions of Scripture.

[4] Although honored by many in the evangelical church, he was undoubtedly a heretic with too many false teachings about the gospel to go into here.  Perhaps a good start would be Phillip R Johnson’s A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: How Charles Finney’s Theology Ravaged the Evangelical Movement (1999). In Finney’s Lectures on Systematic Theology, for example,   he explicitly denied the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as our own, the central doctrine of justification when he wrote:  “But if Christ owed personal obedience to the moral law, then his obedience could no more than justify himself. It can never be imputed to us. He was bound for himself to love God with all his heart and soul and mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself, He did no more than this. He could do no more. It was naturally impossible, then, for him to obey in our behalf.” 

[5] Johnson, Ibid

 

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