Apostasy, in the Christian scheme of things, has to do with the deliberate and/or formal renunciation of one’s faith. It means saying, “I no longer believe this, I reject it, and I am opting out”. That is fine. In a free country people can do that without fear of physical consequence.

In Islam apostasy warrants the death penalty, and many who have left Islam have paid with their lives. Apostasy is a serious matter, but a properly understood separation of church and state is found in the teachings of Christianity. Thus there will be no death sentence hanging over the head of the Christian who rejects his faith.

But there are of course spiritual consequences of various sorts. The individual in question puts himself out of the saving graces of Christ, and thus faces a lost eternity without Him. And such a public rejection of Christianity will have indirect consequences on others as well.

If a Christian leader renounces his faith – perhaps a faith he never truly had – then many others under his leadership may be tempted to do likewise. So apostasy certainly is a very serious matter. But the way it is dealt with differs from one religion to the next.

So what does apostasy look like? We have many examples in church history to draw upon here. But all we need to do to get a crystal clear example of what apostasy looks like is to look at today’s press. A news article speaks of a renegade Catholic priest who has unequivocally and unashamedly made the decision to fully renounce and repudiate Christ.

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