Yesterday I said we would take a look at how we confront atheism.
Confronting atheism sounds like confronting a belief system and it actually is, but for most of us it is in the form of a person, usually someone with a rabid hatred of Christianity and Christians. This is why most Christians are intimidated by atheists because first, most atheists know more about Christianity than Christians. Second, most atheists want to destroy Christianity and its influence on society. Much of what I am going to be referencing about different beliefs systems comes from the excellent book “The Unexpected Journey” by Thom Rainer. You will want to get a copy of this book.
First, let’s get ourselves a working definition of atheism. Random House Dictionary defines it as “the doctrine or belief that there is no god.” So an atheist believes there is no God. So you’re thinking, they’re wrong so I’m going to prove to them there is a God!
Does the Bible prove there is a God? Let me save you some time; the answer is no. it assumes the existence of God, remember?
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
When studying theology we must remember that we all begin with presuppositions. Those who study theology to dispute it come with the presupposition there is no God. We who study it to grow in our Christian walk presuppose the existence of our Heavenly Father. Most Christians overlooked this important point when it comes to witnessing to an atheist.
We have to have a beginning point and in studying theology this is called prolegomena, which means “things that are said before.” For the lack of a better description we can call this our introduction in the study of theology. What our presuppositions are will drive and form our beliefs.
As Christians we not only believe there is a God, but also that there is truth and that we can know this truth. Remember aletheia? Remember Jesus’ words?
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” (John 8:31-32)
This is an important point to underscore when dealing with atheists. The precious promise Jesus makes in the above passage is a conditional one. Jesus begins it with “if.” We try to approach atheists with Biblical truth when they don’t even accept the Bible as truth, so how can they know it? They are not disciples of Christ even though they may be very knowledgeable about God’s Word. Only disciples of Christ can know the truth and experience its freedom.
Let’s take a short detour here: the Apostle John will remember Jesus’ words here many years later in his first epistle. John warns us that in the last hour there will be a great deception and the only thing that will protect us from anti-Christian attacks is the truth:
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.” (1 John 2:18-25)
Someone who denies the existence of God and His Son Jesus Christ is a liar, at least according to the Bible. What an atheist says about Christianity is not true; now it may be true about some Christians, but Christianity is pure, spotless, blameless, and aletheia, absolute truth. It need not be proved!
Let me share something with you from “The Unexpected Journey” from an atheist known as Mrs. J. I still remember the impact her words first had on me because I was guilty of doing exactly what she says here does not work:
For me, Biblical truth wasn’t verified through the historical accuracy, inerrancy, or reliability of the Gospels, because my initial assumptions didn’t include these things. I saw divine inspiration in the actual content of the words attributed to Jesus Christ. The fact that I, or anyone, was capable of understanding spiritual matters became evidence for my soul. (p. 76)
That still packs a punch with me. I have over the years versed myself in the historical accuracy, inerrancy, and reliability of the Gospels. In fact I devoted a whole chapter on it in my book. While its important to help others, and ourselves, understand what evangelicals believe, it is not an effective witnessing tool with someone whose belief system is antithetical to mine.
Remember that most atheists despise Christians; that’s what Mrs. J said in her interview with Dr. Rainer:
The bottom line is that there are a large number of atheists who hate Christians. They feel that if they can destroy Christianity, they will no longer have to live in a society where their lives are regulated by laws that reflect Christian values. (p. 76)
Are things beginning to come into focus for you? Her statement sure explains the current attacks on Christianity, does it not? They hate our value system and its effect on society, why? Because it reminds them of their sin and they hate it. Darkness hates the light!
And we should not be surprised by the despisers of God’s laws. The Bible is very instructive on this point:
“But to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes. Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver: whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.’” (Psalm 50:16-23)
You see my beloved God has been dealing with haters much longer than we have. We seem to think we have to battle with these people as though they are our enemies. In one instance they are, but if we are to see them come to Christ, we must take a different approach towards them. And we need to begin with overcoming some of the stereotypes we have of them. Yes I said we have stereotypes about atheists.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers
Aletheia, Apologetics, atheism, Bible, Christian Activism, Christianity, Culture, Evangelism, Faith, False Teachers, Forgiveness, Grace, Guilt, Hell, Holy Spirit, Honesty, Liberty, Mercy, Morality, Prayer, Revival, Sin, Truth, Wisdom