Dave Gass, a former megachurch pastor who most recently led Grace Family Fellowship in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, has renounced his Christian faith as a system rife with abuse that caused him "mental and emotional breaks."
A representative from his former church, however, has accused him of being an unrepentant adulterer.
"After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from faith. Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making," he began in the thread before moving on to compare Scripture to Greek mythology.
"When I was in 8th grade and I was reading Greek mythology, it dawned on me how much of the supernatural interactions between the deity of the bible and mankind sounded like ancient mythology. That seed of doubt never went away," he said.
He explained how he was raised in a "hyper-fundamentalist" Christian home where Christianity "didn't work. The promises were empty. The answers were lies."
Even so, he grew up to be a devout Christian who rarely missed church or failed to study Scripture.
"I was fully devoted to studying the scriptures. I think I missed maybe 12 Sundays in 40 years. I had completely memorized 18 books of the bible and was reading through the bible for the 24th time when I walked away," he wrote.
None of it, however, helped his marriage.
"As an adult my marriage was a sham and a constant source of pain for me. I did everything I was supposed to - marriage workshops, counseling, bible reading together, date nights every week, marriage books - but my marriage never became what I was promised it would be," he said.
He went on to discuss how miserable his life eventually became as his expectations, including experiencing the supernatural failed to match up with the reality he was experiencing.
"An inescapable reality that I came to was that the people who benefited the most from organized religion were the fringe attenders who didn't take it too seriously. The people who were devout were the most miserable, but just kept trying harder," he said.
"... The entire system is rife with abuse. And not just from the top down, sure there are abusive church leaders, but church leaders are abused by their congregants as well. Church people are just sh*tty to each other," he continued. "I spent my entire life serving, loving, and trying to help people in my congregations. And the lies, betrayal, and slander I have received at the hands of church people left wounds that may never heal."
He said he struggled so much with his church experience it began to affect his mental and ultimately physical health.
"This massive cognitive dissonance - my beliefs not matching with reality - created a separation between my head and my heart. I was gas lighting myself to stay in the faith. Eventually I could not maintain the facade anymore, I started to have mental and emotional breaks. My internal stress started to show in physical symptoms. Being a pastor - a professional Christian - was killing me," Gass revealed.
To save himself, he said, he chose to walk away from the church.
"Eventually I pulled the lever and dropped the bomb. Career, marriage, family, social standing, network, reputation, all gone in an instant. And honestly I didn't intend to fully walk away, but the way the church turned on me forced me to leave permanently," he said.
He apologized to his former followers and said he still loves those who choose to dismiss him as an "apostate."
"For those of you who want to yell at me, that's fine. I know that many will call me an apostate, say I was never really saved, that I was a wolf in sheep's clothing, and that a hotter hell awaits me. And to you I say I love you. My heart is tender toward you," he said.
"To those who have been in my congregations or under my teaching/preaching I sincerely apologize. I thought I was right. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I could fake it until I made it. I was wrong. I'm sorry. I love you," he added.
Justin Thuttle, a deacon at Grace Family Fellowship Church, claimed on Twitter that Gass was not entirely forthcoming about his faith journey and branded him an unrepentant sinner.
"Yes, he was my pastor when he 'walked away'. He actually just slept with a married women (sic) in the church and got caught. He never repented and they still live together," he wrote in a tweet last Thursday.