Having seen friends fall out of the faith over the years, I’ve often wondered just why that happens.

I was thus glad to read Pastor Tim Keller’s reflections — in response to the discussions to his earlier post (see embed below) — which covered how he came to faith and why the 71-year-old still believes in Jesus today. 

Here’s what the American author, theologian and apologist had to say.

Thanks for the great discussion around how modern people lose faith in Christianity. Here’s my take:

Human knowledge has a (1) rational/intellectual aspect, a (2) experiential/intuitive aspect, and a (3) social/pragmatic aspect.

That is, we come to “know” something well when (1) there are good reasons for it, when (2) it fits with our inward experience, and when (3) we find a trustworthy community that holds it too.

The way I’ve come to believe Jesus bodily rose from the dead is:

  1. I’ve looked at the historical evidence which is surprisingly powerful.
  2. I’ve sensed Jesus’ actual presence in my life and on my heart repeatedly over the years in ways I can’t explain away, even during stretches when He seems absent.
  3. I’ve been in many great Christian communities that believed in and lived out Jesus’ resurrection in remarkable ways.

Because of these three “strands” of my knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection, it would not break my faith (as it has for some) if under #3, I discovered a significant body of hypocritical and abusive Christians (which I have, by the way!).

My conclusion is that at least some folks — who go from “firm, active believers” to “complete disbelievers” through disillusionment with the church — had rested their belief in Jesus’ resurrection almost completely in the #3 social aspect.

So that’s my theory, and I’m sure it doesn’t fit everyone — so don’t be too upset with me — I know there will always be individual outliers.

Still, I think it does explain some people’s pilgrimage.

So, that’s everything Pastor Keller said.

As we examine whether we have these “three strands” in our lives, may we be encouraged towards a reasoned and lived-out faith within a spiritual community that edifies and exhorts us!  


  1. What are some reasons why people leave church?
  2. How do your reasons line up with Keller’s reflections?
  3. Think of someone on the verge of leaving church. How can you edify and encourage them this week?