The Atheism of Christians

Tuesday is for Discussion

unbeliefWe say we believe in a supernatural God, a God who spoke worlds into existence, a God who set the stars in their courses, a God who parted seas and rivers, a God who freed a people from slavery, a God who raises the dead and who is coming again to judge the living and the dead … but I wonder.

Sometimes when I examine the prayers we / I pray, when I scrutinize the anxiety that plagues our hearts and the fears that hound our souls, … I wonder if we aren’t all closet-anti-super-naturalists.  Exhibit A of our Atheism: Can God change the heart of your husband, son, daughter, obnoxious neighbor? Some of us have family members or friends or neighbors, who, from a human perspective, head a list of least likely to ever convert to Christ.

They have hardened hearts, or hardened lifestyles, or associations with so many unsavory characters that we think they will never believe. Maybe they are trapped in a belief system like Islam, or Mormonism, or atheism or a lifestyle like homosexuality, or alcoholism or drug addiction, or perhaps they are so narcissistically bent that our spirit’s are intimidated into despondency over their spiritual future. We hope for their deliverance. We pray for their conversion, while at the same time doubting that it will ever happen.

We forget that this is the business God is in.

He delights to rescue the broken, despised, abandoned, hardened, prodigals that surround us. After all, that’s what he did with us. But we forget that the Bible is filled with unlikely candidates for redemption. Think about this: 17 books in the Bible (5 in the Old Testament and 13 in the New Testament) were written by former murderers (Moses and the Apostle Paul).  Paul was a serial-murderer and great King David, who wrote half of the book of Psalms, was also a murder. 

God delights in changing what we think is unchangeable.

And that’s an important thing for us to remember.

  • What are you praying for that only God can do?
  • What are you believing God for that shows you are not a practical atheist?
  • What are you NOT praying for because you DON’T BELIEVE God will act?

Today would be a good day to change that.


27 thoughts on “The Atheism of Christians

  1. “Maybe they are trapped in a belief system like Islam, or Mormonism, or a lifestyle like homosexuality, or alcoholism…”

    You’re lumping in these things with alcoholism?

    Like

    1. You don’t read very carefully do you? In the post, they are only “lumped” together as things which might make some Christians, in some moments, doubt what they say they believe. In that context, it is a perfectly acceptable grouping.

      Like

    1. I need more of a context. For example, if I were on a boat with you and you fell overboard I would, because of my faith in Christ, risk my life to save you and I might lose my life. That would be a good and wise act from my worldview. Why? Because my life is secure in Christ who promises that any who believe in him and lose their life “will live, even if they die” (John 11:25). Saving you and giving you more time to repent and believe in Christ yourself would be a good thing. Now, if you are talking about some fool who jumps into shark infested waters and naively says, “God will protect me, I have no fear” then we are not talking about faith but stupidity and presumption.

      As for your second question, I know lots of stories about God that don’t turn out as “success stories.” But then again, our time references and definitions of “success” may be different than God’s.

      Like

  2. This is such a challenging piece. God has put this on my heart a lot lately and here it is again in your blog! I truly want to live my life in a way that shows I believe that God can do anything, that He is the God of the impossible. This takes me acting in a way that shows my faith in God: moving forward into the darkness and trusting God will be there, letting God love those around me that seem impossibly hard-hearted, waiting for God to provide instead of relying on my own wherewithal. Thank you for writing this today, I needed it!

    Like

    1. A “God that can do anything”? I know it’s an oldie but in the absence of any other volunteers I’m forced to crawl out from under a rock and ask it anyway: “Mr God, Sir — if you’re so clever, can you make a rock so heavy that even you can’t lift it?”

      Like

      1. Argus,
        Really? This is one of those 12th century versions of “When did you stop beating your wife?” I can’t stop what I never did. This attempt at a “gotcha” question has been asked and answered by luminaries like Aquinas and popularizers like C.S. Lewis. If you want something more recent and more visual approaches here are two youtube links.

        My personal opinion? Move on. You get no help for atheism from this old, tired argument.

        Like

  3. Please come to defendyourpost.com and defend this post.
    It’s a new concept. We are trying to bring different views together and give everyone a chance to promote their blog as well as a charity or favorite website. Your participation and/or feedback would be much appreciated.

    Like

    1. I like the idea. Way to much posturing in most challenge forums. Can’t two people disagree agreeably. Thanks for the chance to raise funds for the International Justice Mission.

      Like

      1. I can appreciate the not wanting to posture, thing. I’m not sure we will be able to avoid that, but perhaps by making it a one-on-one … two people will be able to focus more. And by adding the charities into the mix, we can keep in mind that we all want to make a better world … even if we are going about it differently.

        I believe we are waiting on clubschadenfreude to respond to you.

        Like

  4. “Maybe they are trapped in a belief system like …”

    … like Christianity, perhaps? I’d put your franchise in by name if I knew it; my apologies for lumping Catholics in with Seventh Dayers and Mormons and Protestants and Anglicans and Greek Orthodoxies and all the thousand and one jarring sects (apologies to Khayyam).

    Like

    1. Argus,
      I supposed you could put Christianity into a “trapped in a belief system” category. What does that prove? My post was written to and about Christians who sometime struggle to live out their faith consistently. At some level, I think I would agree with you. Some Christians are “trapped” in belief systems that are counter-productive and filled with error. But that discussion would lead us off topic.

      All my post was saying is that when one of “us” (a Christian) loves and cares for one of “you” (in your case, an apparently firmly convinced atheist), someone who rejects the God we love and serve, sometimes we are tempted to believe that we should give up on you. My post was encouraging believers in Christ to remember who they say they believe in and to continue to pray that God might, in mercy, still rescue you like he rescued them.

      Your conviction should not, will not, keep me as a Christian from praying for you, loving you, sacrificing for you, caring for you and wishing we could sit down over a cup of coffee and discuss why we believe what we believe. My faith will keep reminding me that I am not better than you. I am not more worthy than you. I am simply the recipient of God’s grace and know that my sins, which are many, have been forgiven.

      Like

  5. “a God who freed a people from slavery” is that the same God that enslaved them in the first place? Is it possible to be omnipotent and irresponsible?

    Like

    1. Argus,
      No, that would be the Egyptians of the post-Joseph period.
      No, it is not possible to be omnipotent and irresponsible. What is irresponsible or at least, unwise, is to pit one attribute of the God revealed in the Bible against another. God, being the supreme being is more than capable of exercising all of his attributes without conflict or compromise of any.

      You and I have difficulty with that. We sometimes sacrifice love for one another on the alter of our egos. But God does all things that he does with perfection.

      Like

  6. “God delights in changing what we think is unchangeable.” If God is omniscient then He knows the future. He either knows the future as it is, or He knows all the ever-spreading ‘possibilities’. I accept that there is only one future—the one that happens.

    Of course it is unchangeable—if it has already happened in the future—as God alone knows, of course—then it is unchangeable and even God cannot change it.

    It is our ignorance of the future that gives us the illusion of Free Will; nothing else. We have no Free Will—and God too is tied to the role of spectator (the difference being that we are on the ground and He is high up in the costly seats with the better view). (If He’s even there, of course.)

    Like

  7. In reference to your point about scrutinizing prayer, it was once pointed out to me that traditional Christian vows include the phrase, “until death do us part,” which undermines the idea that the couple will see each other again in heaven.
    Either it is a glaring statement that the church doesn’t believe in heaven, or just under-examined traditional exchange. Either way, it is spoken an alarming number of times in a place of worship that preaches an afterlife.

    Like

    1. Musings,
      Interesting and fairly novel. But I would suggest that you are pressing the wording of marriage vows beyond what is intended. The vows are not a statement governing afterlife or referencing the afterlife in any way. They are simply a statement that death frees the surviving spouse to marry again if they so desire. Your “either/or scenario” simply doesn’t apply and is logically inconsistent. Words have particular meaning, supplied by the speakers, and in this case, there is no intention to say anything pro or con about afterlife reunions.

      Like

  8. Question? Does supernatural mean miraculous or does it mean non-material? I have thought that the fact that we have spirits and souls is supernatural. I am using a notion of intellect, affections and will as the spirit or heart and the animation of the body as the soul. Then I look to a non-material, spiritual, source, God as the creator of the spirit. Of course I accept Him as the creator of the natural as well. Am I off track with this?

    Like

    1. It includes both. As for your spirit and soul distinction—not much biblical warrant for such a division. At issue is the answer to this question: Is man a tripartate or bipartate being? (Body, Soul, Spirit vs Body and Soul). Look up the distinction in Grudem’s Systematic Theology for the issues involved. Good to hear from you brother.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s