West also drew attention to the value of two people with differing viewpoints being able to have a constructive conversation with each other. Even though they have opposing views about Christianity, said West, “Imagine this—we’re able to sit down and have a conversation filled with love and understanding.”
Steingard said that the people who have loved him well since his announcement are those who understand what it is to deeply wrestle with what they believe. “People who have a faith that has been hard-fought have been very kind to me,” he said. The fears, doubts, and pain they have experienced have given them empathy for others.
There are those who have not been kind, of course. Some people have spoken to him as though it is plainly obvious that Christianity is true. But, says Steingard, “Anyone who thinks that stuff is really easy and obvious and just plain as day, just hasn’t thought about it deeply. They’ve just accepted it on a surface level.”
Others have a stereotype of what doubting and rejecting Christianity involves. For example, some people have accused Steingard of turning his back on God in order to justify sin in his life. But that is simply not what has happened to him. “For me, the idea that God wasn’t there was not a welcoming idea,” he said. “It was a really destructive idea in my life.”
While there have been plenty of jokes and comments about what a difficult year 2020 has been, Steingard said that 2019 was by far the worst year of his life. It was in February 2019 that he first considered the thought that God might not be real. “I was depressed for most of last year, like seriously depressed,” he explained. “I was basically in this very nihilistic place of, ‘If God is not real, nothing means anything.’ That wasn’t a welcome, fun place to be. It was really horrifying.” Something that helped him to get through that despair was going to therapy.
The frontman said he still resonates with many of Jesus’ teachings and particularly with the biblical account of “Doubting Thomas.” John 20 records that after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to all of his disciples except for Thomas. When the other disciples told Thomas that Jesus had risen from the dead, Thomas said he would not believe them unless he could put his hand in Jesus’ side and touch the scars on Jesus’ hands. Sometimes Christians depict Thomas negatively because when Jesus appears, he seems to rebuke the disciple, telling him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Yet Jesus does fulfill Thomas’s request. He appears to him and offers his hands and side for Thomas to touch. “To me, that’s grace,” said Steingard. Jesus could have shamed Thomas for his request, but he did not.
“I read that story, and I see the grace in it,” Steingard told West. “And I still don’t know what to believe about God and about Jesus, but I love that story. Because it indicates that if he is there and Jesus was God and all of that stuff is true, that there’s something in Jesus’ nature that wants to take the extra step to someone. Because Thomas doubted, but he wanted to believe.”