I am not really sure if this question is ok on here. Feel free to suggest how I should modify or address this question in an appropriate manner. I have a bad feeling about this question. It sounds too much like an opinion-oriented question. Still, I wonder what would happen if I scope to the Roman Catholic denomination's position on apostasy.

According to the Wikipedia article on Apostate in Christianity and Backsliding, is there a proper term for a person who rejects Christ and leaves the church but does not necessarily indulge in sins, such as idolatry or sexual immorality? What if a person wilfully choose to convert to a sect within Judaism or Buddhism, thereby rejecting Christ and leaving the church? Would that still count as apostasy? Is there a concept of a "good atheist" in Christianity? If a Christian becomes an atheist but holds steady to Christian habits like fasting, giving alms, or reading the Bible prayerfully, would that still count as apostasy? Would not believing in God count as backsliding?

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    See, and now my answer makes no sense, unless you go back and look at the edit history :) In all seriousness, this is a good question too - and is related to your "How do I source conversations?" The answer is you do the best you can with whatever facts you have. If the best you can do is say "I've had conversations where..." then that's the best you can do. If you can't source it, it's usually not very compelling - but if you just want to know, that may be the best available. Aug 12, 2013 at 11:46
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    If you want to ask a new question, why not just ask a new question?
    – TRiG
    Aug 13, 2013 at 20:00
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    Anonymous, the comments above raise valid points. Editing a question to the point where it changes the meaning and renders existing answers insensible in the new context is addressed here. Based on Caleb's advice there, I'd recommend you roll back the edit on this question and re-post the current version as a new question. Jul 3, 2014 at 2:32

1 Answer 1


The "denominational scoping" here is a red herring. All traditions are going to have the same view of Lukewarm Christians and non-Christians alike. It is obvious that a person who has rejected the faith or is no longer growing in it will cause disappointment. Heck, Michael W. Smith even wrote a pretty good song about it! But, what else would you expect?

I can tell you that good, well-sourced answers are going to focus on the church in Laodecia (a town I've been too, btw. If you can convince the guard to let you in, it's amazing to be able to walk around the ruins by yourself!). That verse says:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

From this, you are going to get the term "lukewarm Christians," pretty much regardless of the denomination.

My question for you is: What about them do you want to know?

To clarify, the terms you have brought up are different, and only the term I brought up (lukewarm Christians) is specific to Christianity.

  1. Aposasty: This is defined as rejecting any specified faith. In Muslim countries, a person who was a Muslim but becomes convinced of the words of Jesus, for example, will called an apostate. In several Muslim countries (e.g. Pakistan, in particular) this is a crime punishable by death.

  2. Backsliding: This is less than rejection. It is making a commitment - sometimes even a vow - and then no longer choosing to hold to it. If I were trying to give up sniffing glue, but I chose the wrong week to give up sniffing glue that would be "backsliding".

  3. Being Lukewarm: This is an explict Christian reference (see above), but it can be true about anything. If I'm ambivalent about sports, but don't hate them, I'd just be "lukewarm" about it. When it comes to something as dramatic and life changing about one's personal relationship with the one who made him and the one who will save him, however, that ambivilance would naturally be percevied as repugnant by those who feel "truly saved".

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    "Hot and Cold" is a song sung by Kate Perry. Do you think that Kate Perry may have been inspired by Laodicea?
    – Double U
    Aug 11, 2013 at 17:24
  • Are lukewarm Christians a good thing or a bad thing? Since the church is an organization, and organizations need productive members, I suppose lukewarm Christians would be a bad thing.
    – Double U
    Aug 11, 2013 at 17:27
  • You'd have to ask Kate Perry. Aug 11, 2013 at 17:27
  • And, you'd have to decide for yourself whether or not Jesus saying "I want to spit you out of my mouth" (literally, I'm gonna hurl) is something you'd want said of you. Aug 11, 2013 at 17:29
  • Maybe the word is "heartfelt". Some people may feel that their faith is heartfelt, while others don't? Still, I feel that word is too misleading, because of the various ways people have to live out their faith. What is considered heartfelt in one denomination may look a bit weird in another.
    – Double U
    Aug 11, 2013 at 17:45

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