Ryan Bell is a former Adventist pastor. He is completing “a year without God.” Except that at year’s end, he will not return to believing in God. He will continue living his life without God or without believing in the existence of God.
Bell lives in Hollywood, California (I know, I was shocked, too). As he prepared for this year, he was forced to resign by church officials. He wanted to continue serving as a pastor without God. He writes about the end of the year with this article, Sorting through the categories.
It is not uncommon in our day to hear of people who want to have God without religion. Bell, however, flips that and wants to have religion without God. Another to phrase that is that some want spirituality without religion, while Bell wants religion without spirituality.
I did learn a new word from Bell’s article. He expresses the limits of the words atheist and agnostic. He seems to like the designation apatheist better. An atheist does not believe in the existence of God. An agnostic is unsure of the existence of God. An apatheist really isn’t interested in the whole idea of God.
Elsewhere Bell makes this statement:
Because of this change, I am healthier and more alive than I’ve been in a very long time. I feel like I’ve been—pardon the expression—born again.
What should we make of this story? It is not that he is healthier or more alive. He is and has always been dead in his trespasses. Read the words of the apostle,
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
–1 John 2:19
John indicates that men in cases like this were never in the fold. Such public declarations like Bell’s are a “plain” indication that this is so. He may have been a shepherd or a pastor in title, but he never was a sheep.