Josh Harris is a well-known pastor and author of the 1997 best-selling book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. But a cascade of shocking announcements from Harris has rocked many who used to follow his spiritual guidance.
First, Harris announced that he was recanting his ideas about not dating before marriage. Then Harris and his wife, Shannon, announced they're divorcing.
And maybe most surprising, Josh Harris now says he's walked away from his Christian faith, saying in a statement: "By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian."
Without providing much explanation for another sudden shift, Harris then went on to apologize to the LGBTQ community, saying he's sorry that he taught against "marriage equality" when he was a pastor.
Harris is not the first of his generation to walk away from his Christian faith. But why would something like this happen, and what could the impact be on the people who used to look to Harris for spiritual guidance?
Dr. Corne Bekker, dean of the School of Divinity at Regent University, says there are many lessons for us to learn from Harris' story.
"We don't have all of the information yet. So there's very little that Joshua has said," he told CBN's Newswatch.
Harris also apologized to the LBGTQ community for teaching against "marriage equality" as a pastor.
"What's very sad for me is that Joshua has not only given up on the faith, he's given up on all of the principles he has stood for so long," Bekker explained. "The Scripture says that when we see somebody fallen and trespassed like this, that we should correct them. But do it in a spirit of gentleness. And then watch ourselves as well."
"It's an extraordinarily sad thing, but again as I said, there are two lessons here," he continued. "Firstly, as an educator, one of the troubling things for me about watching Joshua's rise in the ministry is the fact that he did not go through training. And he wrote the book relatively young. He was 21 years old when he wrote this book."
"And the Scripture certainly warns us to not lay hands on a man suddenly. That simply means that we need to wait until folks mature a little bit before we put them on a platform," Bekker noted. "There's something to be said for this. I think that's the whole reason why this indeed has gone south. But it might be a good lesson for us to learn."
"And the second troubling thing right here is maybe the celebrity culture that Joshua leaned into very early on," he added. "And again one has to worry a little bit about that. It's deeply concerning to me even when he makes this announcement. The way that it was made on Instagram with a mood picture of him contemplating a beautiful pool in nature. There's something troubling about this."
The members of the church Harris pastored for 11 years are understandably shocked and dismayed at this turn of events. How should his former congregation cope as they're struggling to come to grips with Harris' announcement?
"I would say to them 'hold on to the faith," Bekker told CBN News. "The glorious thing about the Christian faith is that it's not located in a human person. It's located in the faithfulness of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior. So I would say to them, 'Hold on to the scriptures. Hold on to Christ. Your foundation is firm.'"