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How This ‘Progressive Christian' Found Her Way Back Home

Line of Fire / Dr. Michael Brown
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2023 11:54 pm

How This ‘Progressive Christian' Found Her Way Back Home

Line of Fire / Dr. Michael Brown

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The following program is recorded content created by the Truth Network. Our host, Dr. Michael Brown. I have really been looking forward to this conversation today.

This is Michael Brown, your voice for moral sanity and spiritual clarity. Our goal today is to infuse you with faith and truth and courage to help you stand strong in the Lord. And I'm going to be speaking today with Beth Kaplan.

We recently got back in touch after knowing each other online in the friendliest way. We were on very different sides of issues. When she reached out to me, oh, a few weeks back, I was just thrilled to read what God had done in her life. So you're going to find this really, really interesting.

Maybe you got a family member, a friend who identifies as a progressive Christian or a liberal Christian or someone who used to believe as we might and now has, quote, deconstructed. I think you'll find this conversation today really, really interesting. A little later, I'll take calls on other questions you may want to talk about. But without further ado, I want to introduce to all of you, Beth Kaplan. Hey, Beth, thanks for joining us today on the broadcast. Yeah, thanks for having me. So this is the first time we actually have chatted. We've been emailing back and forth.

But this is the first time. So Beth, like me, you are of Jewish background. Were you raised in a religious Jewish home? Not at all, no. Kind of like how Anne Lamott described it, I was from more of a lox and bagel Jewish family than a religious family.

Got it. So it didn't have like a strong hold in your thinking about God or stuff like that? No, we were Jewish in a very cultural sense. We observed Hanukkah, Passover, the major holidays. But for the most part, my observance was limited to occasional Shabbat services and getting presents on Hanukkah. But for the most part, God was kind of irrelevant, really.

Got it. Yeah, and many American Jews would have similar background. Mine was slightly more religious than that, but not much more. So how is it that you then came to the Christian faith? That is a long story. I wrote a book about it, which is kind of embarrassing now, because I highly recommend not writing a memoir before your frontal lobe has finished developing in high school.

That was not the best idea. So I grew up in a very Catholic-centered area, so most of my best friends were Catholic, one of which grew up to actually be an ordained priest, the other was contemplating calling as a nun for a while. So they had a pretty big influence on me. I was allowed to, for some reason, participate in the local Christmas pageant where I was an angel, but for some reason I had a goal of always playing Mary.

I don't know why. So that was how I learned the Christmas hymn. It's probably the only reason today that I actually know the lyrics of those. I was, for some reason, very interested in the stories of saints and martyrdom, particularly Joan of Arc. I always kind of credit her as being the person who initially started to lead me to Christ. I guess because I was about the same age that she was when I first started becoming interested in faith. I was the same age that she started hearing voices, so she was someone my age that I could actually relate to.

So I read books about her, I started reading books about other saints, I would smuggle these from the library, hide them under my mattress the way a lot of teenage boys would hide their playboys. This is like contraband at my house, right? Because this is just going beyond your place. You can read about these people, you can appreciate them, you can respect their faith, but you have to know where you come from. Right, so even for a cultural Jew, that's them. That's not us.

We're Jews. All right, so teenager, you have this interest, and then at a certain point, you become a follower of Jesus. At least, as you understood, this is the steps you were taking. Yeah, I did not actually make that leap until college. I think I was always kind of fascinated in a look but don't touch sort of way.

Jesus was kind of like that bad boy next door, like you're not supposed to talk to him, you don't want you to be with him. So it wasn't really until college that I had this sense of independence, living away from my family for the first time, that I felt like I could actually make these independent choices on my own. I started getting involved with Campus Crusade for Christ. And, you know, I guess it's funny because, you know, my faith has kind of flip flopped over the years, I started like really conservative with that fresh deal of a new convert, I was really excited. And then there was that, you know, foray into progressivism as I kind of went through a period of deconstruction and doubt because life got really complicated, and now I resonate more with the person that I was in college when I first converted, so it's interesting how that all happened. But yeah, I would say that college was when I officially got saved, that was in the fall of 2008, so that's a pretty big chunk of my life at this point.

Got it. All right, so when you and I intersected, you were at that point in a different place, you were in a deconstruction journey, and I don't know if somebody pointed out to me, it came out of some Google alert, whatever, but you were quoting me, you were an Episcopalian writing for an atheist website, a friendly atheist, and really trashing my position as a trans hater and things like that. So I want to get to that in a moment, but how is it that you went on that journey where you became progressive and questioned many of the things you once held to, and people like me were looked at as the enemy? What prompted it? And just tell us about your own deconstruction journey.

Yeah, there's a lot of factors that went into that. So following college, I went to seminary. I went to Denver Seminary where I was there for about a year and a half. I started a Master's in Divinity.

I had this idea that I was going to be a chaplain, because really I just like the sound of Chaplain Kaplan. There's really no other reason for that. Are you serious? It does sound good, but okay, go ahead. It does.

Yes, that's the last thing that I ultimately would not even keep. So I went there. I didn't actually put a whole lot of thought into what I was going to do with my life. I think I just thought that as long as I'm in school that I can kind of take some time to think about my life and what I want to do.

I don't have to make any plans yet. So I moved out to Colorado and I was going there, and it was great for the first semester. And then about at the end of my first year, studying the Bible brought up all these questions and doubts that I never had before. And so I would bring these up in class and just get shut down by other people, other students. The professors were gracious, I will say that, but the other students just really needed a very uncomfortable environment to have questions. These are people who had been Christian their whole life.

I kind of got the impression that they'd never really interacted with people from other backgrounds before. So to be partially put down for having questions like, how can we trust the Bible? How can we trust the Gospels?

What about the fact that these manuscripts have been copied and translated so many times? Things I hadn't really thought about before. It really kind of put a bad taste in my mouth.

Is this what it means to be a Christian, that I'm not allowed to ever question or have doubts? And it kind of spiraled on from there. There were some personal things happening in my life too. My father had a resurgence of cancer.

He'd been struggling with it for a good deal of my childhood, but it was during seminary that he really took a turn for the worse. So there was one particular day that my mom called, scheduled for a surgery. There were complications and they were not expecting him to ever wake up. So she booked me a flight that very day. I was calling every single person that I knew who could possibly give me a ride to the airport. And I was really devastated. Not that I couldn't get a ride because it was last minute.

I understand that. But the fact that nobody followed up with me. They didn't call or text me back just to find out what was the emergency. How can I pray for you?

Is there anything else I can do? And it just kind of made me think, wow, these people, they claim to love Christ, but they're just really hypocritical. They don't care about other Christians. And I started to get really angry about that. It just kind of worsened the crisis of faith that had already started. And so I went home. My dad was OK then, but just barely. So I went back to Colorado.

This was my family's in Ohio. So I spent some time in Ohio and then eventually I went back to Colorado and I just couldn't finish my last semester. It was just way too hard. I had way too many questions.

That was also the year that I started drinking and I was a struggling alcoholic for several years after that. You know, which having that effect, your thinking also is not great for producing clarity. So there were just so many things that were factoring into this process and it just made me really angry, really bitter. And, you know, like, misery loves company. I wanted to be in the presence of other people who could fuel that for me.

Interesting. Because Christians, you know, they're people who focused on hope and, you know, trusting God. And that was with your problems.

And that was just not where I was anymore. So, yeah, what's interesting and I want to come to in a minute is that you didn't become an atheist entirely or leave the faith. You went to a different version of the faith, which in many ways is not the faith at all. But, you know, Beth, as you refer to your history, I've actually been a visiting professor at Denver Seminary, know some of the profs there.

And they do love the Lord and they're folks that you could sit and talk with. But it's unfortunate that many times in our conservative Christian circles, the moment you raise a question, you become the enemy. As opposed to, I urge everyone, we should have an environment where we welcome the questions, especially ones we've never heard before. Like, that's a good question.

I never thought of that. Let's dig and get some answers together. There's no reason for us to be insecure or hostile. But, you know, the three different things that you just speak of here, they all happen in your life at the same time in this period of months and years. Often people experience one of these three things. So one is the intellectual doubts and this feeling of being stifled in your quest for truth.

There is something being hidden, something I'm not told. The second is personal disappointment with other Christians, right? That you get hurt by the church or by a leader. And then the third is personal sin. And personal sin and loving the Lord with all your heart don't go hand in hand. You know, there's the old saying, either sin will keep you from the Bible in prayer or prayer in the Bible will keep you from sin.

So all three of those streams coalesce in your life at the same time. And we've got a break coming up here in a moment, so I don't want to introduce new questions. But when we come back, friends, I want to ask Beth the obvious question of, okay, why didn't you just leave the Christian faith entirely and say the whole thing is bogus? Why become, quote, a progressive Christian? And then how did Beth at that time see people like me?

And many of you listening to the broadcast of Like Heart and Like Mind on cultural issues and social issues and things like that, how were people like me viewed? So we'll get into this. And then, of course, the reason Beth's on the air with me today is not to have a debate about these things, but because after deconstructing, by the grace of God, she has reconstructed.

And I've got to tell you, when I follow her on Facebook now, when I read some of her blogs, they're so Christ-centered and Jesus-exalting and biblically sound, I just smile as I read them. So we're going to find out about that transformation. When we come back first, there's an important word from our sponsor.

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That's their number to call. All right, so by the way, the questions I'm asking Beth now, I know a smidgen of the answers. Most of what I'm asking, I'm finding out the answers for the first time. So Beth, you've been very candid sharing about your journey. So my next big question is, why didn't you just leave Christianity entirely if you're questioning the veracity of the New Testament, if you've been hurt, disappointed by other Christians, if you've got some sin problems, you know, alcohol in your own life. Why just walk away from God and this whole thing entirely? How did you end up, quote, a progressive Christian?

That's a very good question. Really, I guess you can just sort of chalk that up to God. I mean, just refusing to let go of me, I think that is a huge piece of this. But also, I think, you know, my whole life, even before becoming a Christian, even when I was still trying to be a good Jew in my childhood, I always believed in God. I think I held that the creation of the world, of the universe, it just could not have happened by accident. I think I always held that intention with Christianity, or whatever, I was doubting Christianity. You know, I always believed, like many people say, and many in my family will say this too, that there's quote-unquote something out there, they just don't know what it is.

So that always seemed very obvious to me, and I always held that separately. So really, I just don't think I was ever capable of being an atheist, personally. But yeah, you know, I just went through a period of wondering, like, well, you know, there is a God, but I don't know if Christianity is true. But then, probably thanks to social media, you know, you've got people like Rachel Held Evans, like the Bible scholar Peter Enns, I discovered these people on Twitter, and I don't want to say that they made doubt look cool, necessarily. I know, you know, that did kind of become a thing at some point. But they at least kind of made it possible to still be a Christian and have questions, and at the time, they were the only Christian people that I knew that kind of modeled that in a way that I could kind of understand, that I could grasp onto, that still made Christianity, I guess, plausible for me. Yeah, so now you're smart, you're enlightened, you're among the good people, not these fundamentalist bigots and closed-minded religious fanatics. Yeah, you know, I guess I can say honestly, like, now I would not have admitted it back then, but in hindsight, you know, when I encountered people like you, there was a certainty there that I was just frankly jealous of.

Yeah. And you had something that I wanted, and the best way to cope with that was just to lash out. And that is so fascinating to hear that.

Wow. Because you'd never get that, you know, reading what you had written back then, that there was even something hidden there. I always remind folks, you know, let's say, for example, I'm dealing with a gay activist and this person is angry with me and hateful. Often I think, you know, behind that anger and hatred is a lot of pain, and they felt either personally hurt by me or the church or God, so they're lashing out. It's nothing personal. I want to look beyond that and say, okay, there's pain there, how can I help minister to that pain? But anyway, I encounter you with blogging on the Friendly Atheist website and attacking my writings and attacking me. I'm a transphobe and homophobe, want to eradicate transgender people. So how did you end up writing for Friendly Atheist, and who was I to you, or what did I represent to you back then? So it's funny how that came about. I started freelance writing from home when I was still in seminary.

And then as my dad got really sick and I needed a job that would allow me some flexibility, I was able to take care of him and still earn money and plan a wedding at the same time. So again. And then I'm not exactly sure how he heard of me, but Hemet, the owner of the Friendly Atheist website, he contacted me and said that he wanted me to write for him as a Christian. So, you know, whether I was actually representing Christ well or not, you know, that's a whole other thing. But he at least knew me as someone who still professed Christianity to a degree. So at the time, I really respected him for just being willing to have someone use that label on his website. I mean, obviously it's called Friendly Atheist, but you would not expect that there would be someone professing any kind of belief in God.

And now, obviously, I could not do the writing that I was doing at the time. I think that he wanted to show a show of good faith, you know, that he's living up to the name Friendly Atheist by hosting a Christian on his face. Not everybody liked me. I have to say, you know, even taking the very liberal stances that I did, there were still plenty of readers who resented my presence on the site just because I was not an atheist.

Interesting. So, you know, I was still ruffling feathers, but, like, many of the same reasons that I do now. It's funny, like, no matter what type of Christian you proclaim to be, like, there's still just going to be some people that are offended. Yeah, that's going to happen. The key thing is, let it be because of Jesus, not because of us. You know, I tell people, listen, that person was your friend until they found out about your beliefs. Now they hate you, they're hostile towards you. It's not because you're a jerk or you're mean.

I mean, if we are jerks, I mean, let's take responsibility for it, but if suddenly someone turns on you for the faith, okay, it's for the Lord. It's about Him. I'm just going to read, we have been laughing about this, so this is not the woman I'm speaking with today. This is the woman who was, and we're going to, I'm just going to give a couple of quotes that you'll smile as I do. But this is when I wrote an article taking issue with what you had said, and when I was talking about transgender activism in the schools and things like that, and then your response.

So, let's see. I've written, last week I encouraged Christian parents in California who had children in public schools to defy the law and pull their kids from the state's extreme sex ed curriculum. How did the friendly atheist resident Episcopalian blogger respond? So, according to Sarah Beth Kaplan, I want these parents to teach, quote, their kids that transgender people don't exist.

And then she added, this is just faith-based, hate-fueled, fear-mongering, it's the only subject in which Michael Brown is an expert. We've got two minutes before the break, but did you really see me like that? Was it? I mean, I was really the enemy, I was really a bad guy. Um, yeah. I mean, I was involved in a lot of progressive circles by that point, private Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags, so that was the party line, and I honestly, I wasn't really thinking too much about it.

I just knew that this is what people say makes them feel unloved, and I'm a Christian, I'm all about love, so this is the line I have to take. Yeah, so you were very sincere in writing that. So, you know, I interacted, I challenged it, but then said, hey, let's come on the radio and we'll have a discussion. Little did I know that when your father came on the radio, it would be this discussion. And, boy, you know, I want to play a clip for you. Tell you what, Kai, let's just play, this is a pastor speaking at a Christian concert. I'm going to jump in at a certain point, but I want you to hear what he had to say.

Let's play it. He's saying, you can't drink. He says, I'm going to make wine at this party when we run out. They say, I'm going to be judgmental. I'm supposed to be judgmental. Jesus says you should not be judgmental.

Otherwise, you will be judged. They say that nobody of the same sex should ever get married. Jesus goes mute on this issue. Jesus says love is sacred. There's only one unforgivable sin. The sin against the Holy Spirit, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. And if you think preaching against love isn't blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then I don't know what is.

When people love each other, break that up. That is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. And it's time for someone in church. I'm going to jump in there. So, Beth, I want your response.

We've got another real quick break. So here is a pastor saying that it is blasphemy of the Spirit to say that a same sex couple should not be together. And the only thing that's sacred is love. Of course, he puts words in Jesus' mouth that he never said. And that if people love each other, then you can't speak against that. That's the blasphemy of the Spirit. We'll get the current and real Beth's response to that when we come back.

And then the question everybody wants to know, how is it that Beth Kaplan went from deconstruction to reconstruction with a very beautiful expression of faith that can endure the hardest of times? We'll be right back. Hey, friends, this is Dr. Michael Brown. I want to invite you to join our support team.

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Here again is Dr. Michael Brown. Thanks for joining us, friends. I'm speaking with Beth Kaplan. Beth, is there a place if folks want to follow your writings, your blogging, that you'd recommend that they go? Yes, my website,

C-A-P-L-I-N. All right, so How often do you post there? Pretty sporadically, but lately I've had a lot more to say, so I probably post maybe like once or twice a month. Okay. It's rich stuff. And really, from the heart, after we got back in touch and I saw some of your posts on Facebook, I just sat there and smiled. I mean, I was edified because of the way that you pointed to Jesus. And I think having been on the journey that you are, you're not going to fall into some rigid fundamentalism because of your heart of love for people. And as a progressive Christian, you had that heart.

Things were just misguided. So when you hear a quote from this pastor saying, it's blasphemy of the Spirit to say that two men or two women who love each other shouldn't be together, how do you feel about that? Well, I empathize, first of all. I've never struggled with my sexuality in that way, but I have many friends who do.

So on some level, I'll never understand it personally, but I do have an understanding of just how difficult that is. And so to hear people in the name of Christ saying that this is okay, that this is fine, that the Bible writers were wrong all this time, I understand the attraction of that message, and there's a lot of pressure on Christians now to align with that, to essentially be more loving than God is, because who wants to be called a bigot? Nobody.

Of course we don't. It's not only hurtful just knowing that we love Jesus, we love people, that's not who we are, but it makes the Christian faith just look completely socially backwards. So I have a lot of empathy for that, but also something I did not understand until quite recently is that when you're teaching something that basically contradicts 2,000 years of consistent teaching, from the earliest to centuries of scholars and theologians, then you kind of have to ask yourself, how are we more loving and how are we more knowledgeable than the people that wrote Scripture? There's just so much that I think the Church is just not doing well when it comes to teaching about this, and at least in my experience, you know, all I ever heard was that, you know, homosexuality's wrong because the Bible says so, and that was it. And I think it wasn't until I read Theology of the Body that I had a more comprehensive understanding of why that is, and just why gender complementarity matters, why it's essential to marriage, why it's essential to the Gospel. Like, no one—I had to kind of do this on my own because I wasn't hearing about it in church, I wasn't hearing about it in Bible study, so I don't know if that's just something that churches on the whole need to focus more on, but there's just a lot of biblical illiteracy there, and it's really not surprising, especially given where the culture is going.

Yeah, absolutely. You know, there is something that's known as chronological snobbery that you're familiar with, where if whatever is current must be right and everybody before us was wrong, and then you think, okay, here we are in America with about half of all firstborn children to new mothers being born out of wedlock, with rampant no-fault divorce, with drug addiction, with immorality, with pornography rampant, with so many things, and we're now going to lecture—well, we are the enlightened ones that get to lecture everybody in the past about the right way to do it. But at the same time, you are right that often we—most of us don't grow up with the issue of same-sex attraction. Now it's everywhere, everyone talking about it, so many people identifying as gay or queer or bi, just even in terms of solidarity. But my generation growing up, generations before, it's just not something we talked about. If people were struggling, it was pretty much unknown to us, and maybe you have the real bad people that do this really bad stuff, you know, probably really bad heterosexual sinners, now they're homosexual sinners.

We didn't understand a lot of things. And then we start seeing the gay pride events and the vulgarity of things that'll be put on display. So you just have this reaction to it, then AIDS comes, that's really God's judgment. So there was not a lot of sensitivity to say, hey, is someone sitting in the front row here, 15-year-old kids struggling with same-sex attraction, and they're going to go out and commit suicide because there's no hope for them here, and God made them this way and God hates them. So we've been doing better in many ways to bring grace and truth together and to bring greater understanding, but for sure we've fallen short. When God first called me to start addressing these things almost 20 years ago, one of the first things I did was publicly apologize where I lived to the local gay and lesbian community and said, we've fallen short in our witness, we've fallen short in reaching out, we've made you feel like the worst of sinners, and forgive us for falling short. However, love requires me to tell you the truth. So I can't affirm what God doesn't affirm, and I do want to show you there's a better way. So you had deconstructed, you had found your identity now as a liberal, progressive, Episcopalian Christian, very hostile to worldviews of people like me, and then something happens and here you are. So give us the best part of the journey now, the part I've really wanted to hear.

How it happened, right? Yeah. Yeah, so I've been to several progressive churches in my area over the last few years, so pre-COVID, you know, when everything was open to the public, and I started to notice that when you chip away at one part of the Christian ethic, it's almost impossible to not start doing that to everything else. And so it's one thing for a church to say, you know, we are fully affirming, we'll celebrate gay marriage here, and I started to notice that, you know, many people in the church, they also started to chip away at Christian doctrine and all these other ways, from saying that, you know, Jesus is a path to heaven, not the way.

I noticed that there were a couple people serving on the vestry who were living with their partners unmarried. You know, and I just started to notice that, you know, when you start eroding at one piece of doctrine, it's just inevitable that it happens in every other sense. It's funny, because there were other parts of Christianity that I still struggled with but nonetheless knew were true, like Jesus being the only way. And so when I would hear pastors and other people in positions of authority saying, well, no, actually, like, this isn't the only way to think about this, and I started to go, hmm, like, what is happening here?

And that was kind of the beginning of, I guess you could call it the Reconstruction period. Yeah, and you had, you rightly talk about the dominoes falling. I've told people, just watch, here's someone we've known who's a Christian worship leader for years, now she says that she struggled with lesbianism, but she realizes how God made her, she's embraced it, she's now in a relationship with another woman, but devoted to Jesus.

I said, just watch for universalism to creep in, it has to be, there's an inevitability. And when you had written to me about this, you said, progressive Christianity is entirely built on doubts and questions with little to no foundation of certainty and truth. It was a temporary dwelling place for me to figure some things out, but ultimately not a healthy place to stay. And many of the, quote, friends I made in that circle dropped me once I started to regain my spiritual footing. They liked me when I questioned things and my faith was struggling, but not when I found it again.

So when you were having questions, you had a group of people who didn't like you for having questions. When you found certainty, you got rejected by another group of people, which is quite remarkable. So as you started to rediscover the truth of the Gospel, it's got to be a humbling thing. I've had times over the decades where I realized the doctrinal emphasis in my life was wrong, or I had left my first love and had to repent. So there's always the pride of having to say, I was wrong, to have to overcome that. How did that work out in your own life?

I was kind of in a process of doing that already, for reasons that were not connected to my faith. You know, starting with just preparing my own marriage from the damage of alcoholism. My poor husband, God bless him, he put up with so much.

I felt so bad for him. You know, I started with apologizing to him, I started with making amends to people in my life when I said things when I was drunk that I didn't even remember. So I was kind of at a point where apologies was just my way of life, I guess, once it started. I started that difficult process and I just wanted to keep going, before I could change my mind, before I could lose my nerve.

Yes, and once you start humbling yourself, you realize God gives grace to the humble. There's something good that comes out of it. Did you feel a welcome back from God? Did you feel an embrace, or was just, when the certainty came, there was a beauty about it that filled your soul? What was your experience of realizing, okay, I'm back, I'm back? Yeah, it felt a lot more humbling and transformative than I can say a lot of progressivism did.

It kind of felt like, you know, it was a coming home, essentially. And I felt like I didn't have to have all the answers again, but in a different way. Like there was this trust, this freedom that I could still wrestle with things, that I could still question things, but ultimately there is a bit of sacred mystery involved in the faith and that's not a bad thing.

If I knew everything, then I wouldn't need to worship God at all. Yeah, beautifully said, absolutely. And as you've even passed through some challenging personal adversity in recent weeks, talk about going through this as you now, with the Lord, as opposed to how you imagine it could have been where you were as a progressive Christian. Well, you know, I think one of the reasons that there's so much of a focus on harm reduction in progressive Christianity and, you know, affirm people or they'll hurt themselves, we're going to cause harm, and I think that's connected to a very poor understanding of the theology of suffering. You know, this idea that we're supposed to pick up our cross and follow Christ, and for many people that's going to look different. You know, for some people, it's going to look like, you know, wrestling with sexual desire, whether it's unmarried sexual desire as a single person, whether it's same sex desire.

You know, it's funny because secular society idolizes sex, like that's pretty obvious, but to an extent a lot of Christians do too, and kind of make it seem like you're not fulfilling God's ultimate purpose for your life if you're not married and you're not having children, if you don't have an outlet for your sexual desire, which is kind of funny because neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul got married. So, you know, there's different crosses that we have, there's things that we're not going to get in this life, that we're not going to get to experience, and that doesn't mean that God doesn't love us, that we're never going to experience holiness. And so having that understanding of sanctification, that, you know, not everything that happens or doesn't happen to us is indicative of God's love for us, or lack thereof, that, you know, having an understanding of redemption and how suffering is just, you can't separate it from the gospel, you really can't. And that kind of, you know, that actually, I wouldn't say it made it easier to suffer, I mean, because suffering is never fun. But it kind of added this like sturdy foundation to this. Yeah, the sturdy foundation and sense even of purpose that it's not just random.

God can work through this. Okay, I've got one more question for Beth Kaplan, but visit the website Nopalea has helped thousands of people by lowering levels of chronic inflammation. I really enjoy being physical. It's something I've just always loved, but I've definitely had times where it's really crippled me up.

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And 100% of your first order will go to the support of Line of Fire. Go to or call 800-771-5584. Again, 800-771-5584. It's the Line of Fire with your host, Dr. Michael Brown. Get on the Line of Fire by calling 866-34-TRUTH. Here again, it's Dr. Michael Brown. All right, one more segment with my guest Beth Kaplan.

Again, her website So Beth, in the journey that you've been on and where you are today, what would you say first would be, what might be blind spots in a lot of our conservative evangelical circles that could turn someone off unnecessarily? You've hung out with people that maybe we don't get to hang out with. You've interacted with atheists, other liberal progressive Christians, etc., lived in that world maybe more than some others have, or in a more sympathetic way at least. What might you say are some blind spots that we have?

That's A. And B, if we know someone that's on a journey like you were on, how should we approach it? What would have been a helpful way to help you back then? Yeah, our blind spots definitely, I think, come from just not knowing people that have certain struggles. There's a lot of demonizing of concepts like homosexuality, like the transgender ideology, but we don't actually make an effort to know anybody personally who is going through these things. On the one hand, some people may not want to get to know us, because we're from the other side, we're the biggest, we're the intolerant ones, but you can only speak about people so much before you can actually get to know them. If you can't meet with somebody in your real life who's going through these things, then at least look at their blogs, read their books, not to agree necessarily, but to understand where they're coming from. There's nothing wrong with just education, like trying to learn someone else's perspective. So getting out of our echo chambers, checking out their social media pages, just trying to understand the mindset of where they're coming from, because if you're just speaking completely in a vacuum, then obviously you're not really going to ever have a hope of reaching people. And of course we're going to falsely caricature, which is done to us.

We don't like it. I just want to give the floor back to you, but when God started burden me, I was very upset about issues, about an agenda in 2004. But I realized to have God's heart, it wasn't just an agenda, it was people. And that's when the burden came to me, reach out to the people with compassion, resist the agenda with courage. One of the first things I did was I reached out to the editor of the local gay newspaper for the Carolinas who regularly bashed conservative Christians in the strongest terms. And I said, hey, can we sit and have lunch together?

Can we get to know each other? And I did that with others, lesbian activists, others in the area. And to this day, if I'm traveling and realize the person sitting next to me on the plane is openly gay, we start chatting. I always tell them who I am, I'm a conservative follower of Jesus, I have very different views than you, but tell me your story. Almost every single one that I've chatted with.

And of course, different world views, atheist, whoever, I'll ask them questions. But almost everyone wants me to hear their story. And I'm not listening to argue, I'm listening to understand.

I've literally sat with tears streaming down my cheeks as I've talked to people, hurt for their pain. And I don't mean that I have perfect understanding, obviously like you, I don't because I haven't been in those shoes fully. But I got everything I could, I got all the books I could.

I got books by gay pastors, by different ones. I remember getting to the point I was so broken and so hurt by so many who felt hurt by the church, I put the book down, I got alone in my room and I got on my knees and wept and said, God, I don't want to hurt people, I want to help people. Now obviously, I still, in the day when we were on other sides, you looked at me as a hater or a transphobe, etc. And I understand if I'm going to speak up on an issue, someone's going to feel like that's an attack on them.

But you are so right, we're talking about people, people that God loves for whom Jesus died. And if we're secure enough in our own views, then we can let people share their perspective, it'll only deepen our burden, our love and sensitivity. And then, again, you went on a journey and thank God for it, you've come back stronger. But let's say you run into someone who was like you a few years back, in the early stages of deconstruction or on the road to deconstruction, what would be a better way to help someone like that? Probably make more of an effort to listen to them, to be the kind of person that I needed when I was going through it and I did not have that in my life. I wonder, you know, the hard things were going to happen no matter what, there's nothing anyone could have done to prevent that. But just to have someone who was, you know, willing to listen, to say like that, you know, your doubts are valid, your questions are valid and God doesn't cheat you for them.

You know, that might have made all the difference, I don't know. Yeah, I mean, it's what I've advocated and I've written about a couple of books I sent you. One, Has God Failed You?, has a chapter, Permission to Doubt and then Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith.

I talk about having an environment. One of my colleagues, Professor Jonathan McClatchy, a biology professor and a strong Christian apologist, he has a website that he's put together with other scholars, an apologist called That's what it's called,

And folks can go there with their honest questions and he'll actually connect you or the website will connect you with specialists in the field that will help. So, there's a doubt that's sinful when we should trust God and we don't and we're being double-minded and that kind of doubt is rebuked in the Bible. We should know better, we should be trusting, but we don't. But Jude 22 says, Have mercy on those who doubt.

There's another doubt where people, they're struggling, they have questions and if we stifle them, it's only going to push them away. So, thank God for his mercy in your life. Thank God for his grace to sustain you now through some challenges. And I know your story is going to continue to minister to many as will the books that you write in the future that you won't have to retract. So, thanks so much for joining us. It's been a joy and may God be with you and your precious family. Yes, thank you for having me on and I'm glad that things got resolved in this way. Oh, yes, I was on your apology tour when you reached out and I can't tell you the joy that I got reading about what God's done in your life., read some of her blogs, you'll be blessed. Hey, thanks again for being with us. Yeah, thanks for having me. Alright. Boy, I really enjoyed talking to Beth today.

I hope you enjoyed this as well. Alright, we have time for a call or two and since the subject is connected, let's go over to Alberto in Georgia. Thanks for holding. You've got a relevant question.

Go for it, sir. Are you there, Alberto? Hello, yes, I'm right here. That's a long wait.

Yeah. Anyway, my question is, I've got the solution to pack the churches across America. Right now, they're all not attending churches at all. Most church members have got the solution. God has to allow a massive attack of terrorism again across America so that churches get packed again.

You know what I'm saying? So Alberto, let me ask you this question. We know that after 9-11 that there was a surge in church attendance, but it dropped off very, very quickly. Now, God forbid we have something like that happen.

My wife's brother was killed that day in the World Trade Center, 9-11. And the last thing we want is all kinds of terrible suffering brought on the people. But what would make you think that another wave of terrible suffering would do anything differently than last time? You know, it was this wake-up call for a little while.

NFL canceled games on a Sunday. People packed churches, looking for God, looking for hope, but quickly dropped out. It's going to take something deeper than that, don't you think? I know what you're saying, but sometimes God has to use it the hard way. Israel, God has to use other nations to get them straightened out, right? These other nations are to straighten Israel out, right? They're hard-headed. So the same way America, hard-headed. So they have to use other means, sometimes the hard way.

Unfortunately, I don't want to say I'm sorry, but your brother got killed and all that. But people get killed every day in the streets. And across America, left and right.

Drugs, gun shooting, gun gun banging. Yeah, terrible things happen. Yeah, absolutely.

Right, all day long. So, I'm sorry, but... No, no. Listen, Alberto, I understand what you're saying, that often the worst things, the terrible things, the tragedies that we wish we could avoid, end up, although you can't make up for the tragedy and the loss itself, but some good comes out of it. And the psalmist says, before I was afflicted, I went astray. We don't know exactly in what way he was afflicted, but before he was afflicted, he went astray.

But now, he followed the Lord. So I recognize the principle, Alberto, I recognize the principle, and that often divine judgment and shaking, or allowing the enemy to do something, can wake people up. Here's what I would submit to you, sir, and thank you for the call.

So here's what I would submit. That it's better that we wake up without calamity, it's better that we wake up without hardship, but many times, human nature being what it is, it's only when we hit the hard times that reality sets in. Now, a non-religious person, a skeptic, might say, Anna, you're just weak. That's all it is, religion's a crutch for you.

No, the truth of God is reality. In other words, sometimes we don't realize our need for God when everything seems to be going well, and when things fall apart, we do realize our need for God. But look, we just went through COVID, and even though many churches have not recovered full attendance in person, many others pretty much went on with services almost right through COVID, and they have grown, and people are flocking.

So let's say this for sure. We've been through a lot of shaking, the upheaval of the 2020 elections, the scandals and so much among many church leaders. COVID, the ongoing threats that we have, is there going to be a nuclear war with Russia, and what's China going to do?

And then the plague, as Alberto mentioned, death, the plague of fentanyl is wiping out large numbers of people, the number one cause of death among young people. I mean, just shocking things. There's enough bad going on that many people are looking for. Maybe you're listening right now, and that's you. You know, I gave a little mini sermon yesterday about the danger of sin and talked to someone on the verge of destroying their lives with adultery, immorality. And not long after, I saw a comment on YouTube, that was me, thank you.

It saved my life. So maybe you're listening right now, and you yourself are not sure. Do you have eternal life? Can you look death in the face without fear? Do you know your sins are forgiven? If not, there is one certain place to go, and that is to Jesus. Cry out to him now. Ask him to help you. And if you'd like us to help, go to our website,, just click contact. We would love to help you find a secure relationship with the Lord. Another program powered by the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-07 07:03:05 / 2023-04-07 07:24:30 / 21

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