Saturday Reflections

Christianity and CS LewisSome time ago a visitor to my BLOG said that Christians were among the most immoral people they know.  It got me thinking.

I asked the young interlocutor, “Do you really mean that? Or is this a piece of hyperbole thrown out in frustration?”

Personally, I don’t get it. Yes, I know so-called Christians that do not represent Christ well. (I’m sure that I don’t sometimes.) But does atheism produce Elizabeth Elliott’s? Does atheism produce David Livingston’s and William Wilberforces’s and John Newton’s, Eric Liddel’s, and Rich Mullins’s (who though he could have been filthy rich, was living on $25,000 a year and poured all of his music royalties into an Indian reservation in Arizona and teaching music to children?) Does Atheism produce Amy Carmichael’s (started dozens of orphanages all over India and served the poor there without furlough for 58 years? Does atheism produce more admirable, altruistic citizens of the planet than theism and Christianity? I don’t think so.

We become what we worship and the preponderance of evidence is that atheism, with notable exceptions tends to produce less than safe citizens of the planet. My friend had mentioned the Crusades, an admitted black mark against the Church and Christianity, but I would argue that they happened precisely because the church had lost the Bible and was not being guided by the teachings of Christ. On the other hand, the atheistic societies of China, the Soviet Union, Cambodia, and North Korea killed millions and millions as a direct application of their godless worldview.

In A.D. 133 Aristides, a teacher of Philosophy presented a defense of Christianity to the Emperor Hadrian. Here’s his record of what the teaching of Christ was producing:

“Now the Christians, O King … have the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ himself engraven on their hearts, and they observe, looking for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. They commit neither adultery nor fornication; nor do they bear false witness. They do not deny a deposit, nor covet other men’s goods; they honor father and mother, and love their neighbors; they give right judgment; and they do not worship idols in the form of man. They do not unto others that which they would not have done unto themselves. They comfort such as wrong them, and make friends of them. They labor to do good to their enemies … As for their servants or handmaids, or their children if any of them has any, they persuade them to become Christians for the love that they have towards them; and when they have become so, they call them without distinction ‘brethren.'”

They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan. He that hath distributeth liberally to him that hath not. If they see a stranger, they bring him under their roof and rejoice over him as if it were their own brother; for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the spirit and in God. …

And if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.”

cited in John Piper’s A Godward Life, page 303-304.

  • Does atheism produce such people?
  • Does atheism even aim to produce such people?

The church does. People who follow the example of Jesus do. Yes, the church fails, sometimes fails miserably. But the point is, she succeeds far more often than does atheism and atheism doesn’t even aim at the target. Christianity and every church that I have helped to plant over the last 20 years (well over 250 that I have worked with) aims to produce exactly what Aristides told Hadrain.  

So despite all the answers I don’t have, and all the things I can’t explain, I will hold on to Christ, because He and the church that He founded are the worlds greatest hope and the best thing that ever happened to the world.

Christianity has literally circled the globe with schools, shelters, hospitals, orphanages, AIDS clinics, and a hundred other benevolences and acts of love for those it seeks to win to Christ? Does atheism produce anything close to even an approximation of this? Again, I don’t think so.

Even atheist Matthew Paris has admitted that Africa needs God and Christianity. See this article from 2008:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article5400568.ece

The verdict of history is clear. Here is a short post from a couple of years ago that touched on the historical reality:  https://chosenrebel.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/who-and-why-did-anyone-follow-jesus/

Be encouraged saints of God. And keep pursuing Jesus. Pursue Him passionately so that you live not only for Him but like Him.

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10 thoughts on “Christianity: Still the Worlds Best Hope

  1. Mother Theresa forced people to suffer without pain medication and wouldn’t even allow family members to visit because she believed suffering brought people closer to Christ.

    She is not a good example of Christianity. She was a monster.

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    1. Welcome back. This particular accusation against her is a new one to me. I’m not an expert on Mother Teresa though I have heard some things about her and her approach that I certainly would not advocate, on balance, hers was a life that seems worthy of the Nobel Peace price the world gave her.

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  2. You cannot compare any other group with the church- except possibly the government. Who else has so many members supporting it financially, and that kind of organization? One of the major complaints among atheists is that we need more organization so we can give more effectively. We recognize the church does it well, we just can’t duplicate it overnight. That’s why organizations like Foundation Beyond Belief exist.

    “Does atheism produce more admirable, altruistic citizens of the planet than theism and Christianity? I don’t think so.”

    My initial instinct is to not engage with someone who would make such an absurd statement, so I may regret commenting. Even a simple Google search for “atheist philanthropists” will result in atheist examples that are far less controversial than Mother Theresa. And the conclusion “I don’t think so” will close dialog between you and those you may hope to reach. As far as individual citizens go, the playing field is equal. You are not more admirable than me because of your faith. This statement says two things to me: One, that you claim to understand atheism but are terribly mistaken. And two, that you think you are above me morally.

    Some helpful advice? If you want to impact an unsaved world, you are going to have to change your approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Life after,

      That is the problem with wriiing for one audience and being read by another. I thought it was pretty clear that I was writing to encourage Christians to continue to pursue Christ so that their lives would be a glory to Him and a help to the world. But clearly it wasn’t as clear as I hoped.

      But let me be clear with you at least. There is no way that I think I am better than you or any atheist. I am a wicked, prideful, selfish, lazy and often times insensitive man who is a reclamation project of Christ. My comments were made as generalizations with an easy admission that there are many exceptions (dispicable Christians and admirable atheists). But generally, I do believe that, on balance, the worldview of Christianity produces more admirable qualities in people than the worldview of atheism.

      Thanks for the youtube link. I hope to take a look at it Sunday.

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      1. My comment was specific to a Christian audience. You want to encourage Christians? Demonstrate a way to talk to nonbelievers that promotes dialog and trust. Unless Christians have suddenly decided to stop being a light to the world…. I guess I am not used to Christian bloggers who do not want nonbelievers to hear their message. My mistake.

        Look, I’m easy to talk to. I get Christianity, and I don’t go around trolling Christian sites to try and convert. I comment where I think there may be some damaging misunderstanding from both sides- and only when it shows up in my topic feed. I’m not interested in eliminating religion, but I am interested in helping people figure out how to communicate better when we see the world so differently.

        As a Christian it outraged me to see other Christians push people away with their careless words. I would have given you the exact same response back then. Every word. I still care, although I’m no longer worrying about lost souls. Which is helpful.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I appreciate your thoughts and the sentiment. Wish we could talk over coffee rather than the internet. “Damaging misunderstanding on both sides” —probably true.

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  3. “On the other hand, the atheistic societies of China, the Soviet Union, Cambodia, and North Korea killed millions and millions as a direct application of their godless worldview.”

    No.

    They didn’t kill people because they were atheists, they killed people because they were megalomaniacs who loved power. They just all happened to be atheists.

    To say that atheism informed the decision to murder all of those people would be the same as saying that Catholicism informed the pedophilia in the church.

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  4. Not to mention the Crusades. And the Inquisition. People have done horrible things in the name of Christianity, too. And I’m sure that if the Christians of the Crusades and the Inquisition had had machine guns and explosives, they would have killed a lot more people.

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