Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You are a former missionary an church planter. What were moments for the crisis of faith or something akin to it? Were these singular momentous deluges or slow drips of doubt upon which you built an ocean to sail your non-religious boat?
EJ Hill: I was a very dedicated believer, until the moment I realized that there were errors in the Bible, that no-one denied. What these folks seem to miss, however, is that the God of the Bible promised to protect His Word against corruption, meaning that he either lied or failed. That, along with the fact that we do not have an original copy of the ‘original Bible’ led to a ‘singular momentous deluge of doubt’ that left me devastated and depressed for months.
Jacobsen: How does the religious and skeptical environment compare in North America and South Africa (your place of residence)?
Hill: Well, I have never had the opportunity to travel to North America, but I do have a couple of online friends and follow a number of atheistic websites from there. It would seem like non-believers in North America has way more support in the sense of support groups, magazines, fraternities, and a number of celebrity intellectuals to champion their cause – Neil deGrasse Tyson, James Randi, Penn Jillette, and until recently Christopher Hitchens. While, here in sunny South Africa we have very little of that. But we are working on it, and we also benefitting from what is happening in North America.
Jacobsen: If you could take some of the big preacher names such as the late Billy Graham, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, Tim Keller, Dr. Ed Young, Sr., Craig Groeschel, Chris Hodges, Joel Osteen, and others, what tends to describe their approach in bringing people into their fold?
Hill: As a former Reformed Evangelical Christian Minister I had very little time for most of these guys, including Benny Hinn, Jesse duPlantis, Jerry Savelle, Kenneth Copeland, and Kenneth Hagin.
As far as I was concerned, Billy Graham was an ecumenical hypocrite, who watered down the gospel to accommodate as many people as he could via an appeal to emotion. Rick Warren promised God’s “blessings” to everyone, and that based on a flawed interpretation of the prayer of Jabez. T.D. Jakes is a typical prosperity preacher who fleeces his simple-minded flock with promises of wealth and prosperity. I initially liked Mark Driscoll, because of the somewhat reformed evangelical nature of his ministry, but I did not approve of his arrogant leadership style. He seems to be employing the “cowboy approach” to bringing men, in particular, into the fold with gimmicks like mixed martial arts, sex talks, etc. Joel Osteen is yet another prosperity preacher, promising his flock wealth and prosperity for a quick buck. I know too little about Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, Tim Keller, Dr. Ed Young, Sr., Craig Groeschel, or Chris Hodges, to comment on them.
Jacobsen: What seems like the 10-year future of the ex-pastor community in terms of becoming public, telling their stories, and becoming accepted members of mainstream society rather than fringe?
Hill: By “ex-pastor community” I assume you referring to The Clergy Project, which will have a bright future, if they could manage to work out some organizational technicalities. If not, they will become nothing more than a mailing list, most of the members being swallowed by local atheistic groupings, where they will provide invaluable consultation.
Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?
Hill: To my atheistic friend. Please double-check what you say. If you do not know what you are talking about – consult. But, whatever you do, do not spread misinformation. Most of those “bible contradictions” I see thrown around the Internet, are not contradictions by a long shot. The only reason why you think they are, is because you lack understanding. These types of flawed attacks on Christianity only serves to strengthen believers in their belief, that the Bible is inerrant, and atheists do not know what they are talking about. Do everyone a favour, and do not speak on a subject, until you earned the right to do so, having done your research. And, no, reading a single article or book does NOT constitute research.