Examiner.com Interview: Joshua Tongol: Christian or Anti-Christ?
(I do not own the rights to this. Shared with permission. Original post can be found at the Examiner.com website.)
Here is my EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Examiner.com. Bestselling author, Jeff Rivera, interviews me about my book, healing, homosexuality … and bunch of other shhhhtuff!
It’s not every day you hear a Christian, especially a former pastor, who challenges the traditional view of eternal hell or questions if Satan really is responsible for all man’s perils. Nor do you hear someone who’s spoken to congregations all around the world refer to the doctrines fundamental to Christianity as legalism. But when I ran across best-selling author and former pastor, Joshua Tongol’s videos on the Internet, I knew I had run across something special.
Little did I know just how special he was until I saw his healing videos. I had to find out more but had no idea what I was in store for when I began reading his latest book, So You Thought You Knew: Letting Go of Religion. Touted as honest, courageous, and a breath of fresh air by many but cursed as controversial at least and anti-christ at most, Tongol’s best-selling book, raises the hard questions he believes Christians should start asking.
From his journey as a self-proclaimed fundamentalist Christian, evangelist and missionary to a spiritual thought leader that hopes to pose the questions other pastors wouldn’t dare to ask their own congregations, Tongol opens up to me in this full-length interview about why he wrote the book, what led to his decision to give up his post as pastor, how he’s lost friends after writing his best-selling book and shares exclusively with me for the first time publicly, his honest opinion about homosexuality.
Many people have come to know you from the healing videos, and that’s led to a lot of opportunities for you to speak all over the world and churches worldwide. Can you tell us a little bit of a brief history, of your journey from a pre-theology student to now?
Tongol: I was interviewed by The 700 Club several years ago if people want to hear more about it. I was born with one hand. I grew up in a very charismatic kind of church, and so my whole life I was trying to seek healing by going to all these different miracle crusades. I wasn’t into theology very much. I was just a simple kid going to church. Then when I was about seventeen, I reached a turning point in my life where I went to this crusade with a high expectation, and I didn’t get healed. Then, I just stopped believing. I found a lot of it to be a little strange, because my whole life I was going to a church that believed in healing, and I didn’t see any miracles happen. I was very skeptical.
At the same time, when I was seventeen, I started getting into theology, even before I went to seminary school. I was getting into something called apologetics, which is an intellectual kind of defense of the Christian faith; it’s basically how you defend Christianity against all the other religions, trying to prove that we’re right and everyone else is wrong. My methodology, at the time, was that I criticized not only other religions, but also Christians that were doing healing because of my own lack of healing and my experiences that I had growing up. Needless to say, I was really into that kind of intellectual Christianity, very critical. I would debate with people all the time.
Prior to that experience, I never really questioned anything. I wasn’t mad at God; I was more saddened. I would think, maybe miracles don’t happen today. Finding myself very skeptical of all the miracle claims from Charismatics, Pentecostals, and others. It led me on an eight-year journey of being a Christian skeptic. During this eight-year period, as a pastor, I would pray for people, but I didn’t really heal anything because I was still very skeptical. After those eight years, I met a man who was miraculously healed that I just couldn’t explain away, and long story short, I was so persuaded by it that I went on my own journey again, revisiting this whole idea of healing. I began reading all the books that I used to read; reading books that I’ve never even heard of, from guys that were supposedly respected by this community, and for the first time after eight years, I started to believe it again. I started praying for people and instantly seeing people get healed faster than usual. After that eight-year period, I just started doing healing and everything changed.
I was born and raised in fundamentalism, so I grew up in an Assembly of God church. I taught apologetics at a Presbyterian church, I served as a pastor for several years at a Southern Baptist church, I was an evangelist at another Pentecostal church, and I was a missionary to the Philippines. So, I’ve pretty much been around when it comes to the whole evangelical Christianity deal.
I want to talk a little bit about your latest book, which I finished reading last night. I really enjoyed it. It’s probably