Apostasy in Christianity

Apostasy in Christianity is the rejection of Christianity by someone who formerly was a Christian and/or who wishes to administratively be removed from a formal registry of church members.[2] The term apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia ("ἀποστασία") meaning "defection", "departure", "revolt", or "rebellion".[2] It has been described as "a willful falling away from, or rebellion against, Christianity. Apostasy is the rejection of Christ by one who has been a Christian...."[3] "Apostasy is a theological category describing those who have voluntarily and consciously abandoned their faith in the God of the covenant, who manifests himself most completely in Jesus Christ."[4] "Apostasy is the antonym of conversion; it is deconversion."[1]

Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve Apostles, became an apostate.[1]

According to B. J. Oropeza, the warning passages in the New Testament describe at least three dangers which could lead a Christian to apostasize:[5]

Temptations: Christians were tempted to engage in various vices that were a part of their lives before they became Christians (idolatry, sexual immorality, covetousness, etc.).
Deceptions: Christians encountered various heresies and false teachings spread by false teachers and prophets that threatened to seduce them away from their pure devotion to Christ.
Persecutions: Christians were persecuted by the governing powers of the day for their allegiance to Christ. Many Christians were threatened with certain death if they would not deny Christ.

Persecution is highlighted in the Epistle to the Hebrews and the First Epistle of Peter. The issue of false teachers/teachings is found in the Johannine and Pauline epistles, in the Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude. A number of sections in the writings of Paul and James focus on vices and virtues. "These and other early texts helped to shape the trajectory of Christian response to the phenomenon of defection in the post-apostolic era. The Christians were to persevere through various types of opposition, standing firm against temptation, false doctrine, hardships and persecution."[6]


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