They Really Don’t Know Us

“….The reason the people in the world do not know us is that they have not known him. “

1 John 3:1

In the late 90’s, somewhere in post-communist eastern Europe, a flood swept through urban areas, destroying homes and submerging government buildings.  An IMB worker in the area met with community leaders, conveying prayers, condolences, and a large amount of financial support from Baptist disaster relief organizations.  Stunningly, local authorities initially rejected the money, shoving it aside with a wave of suspicion that rivaled the still-receding floodwaters.

“Money?  Why?  What for?  What do you hope to gain from us in exchange for this ‘assistance’?  We’re not swallowing a gilded hook, no matter what our needs.”

Cultural perspectives played a significant role in the exchange; unconditional altruism does not prevalently exist in many places in the world.  Our American Judeo-Christian tendency to reach out simply for the purpose of helping another confuses folks, and raises suspicions of guilt-based manipulation.  However, the assumption of dark ulterior motives stems from something more than an East-West culture clash.  Countries outside of Eastern Europe have confiscated properties and monies from mission agencies, utilizing an assumption of hidden agendas as a tool for forcing evangelical personnel out of the country.  Human aid ministries have been turned away across much of the developing world.  Christian behavior often strikes people as being just a bit odd.

Perhaps the Freudian notion of the uncanny plays a part.  Multiple authors, including old Sigmund, have written about the human tendency to reject emotionally any behavior that seems almost human – but not quite.  The notion of what defines normal human behavior lies largely in one’s perspective, of course, and therein lies the rub.

__________________

We Christians live and act in this world.  We’re in the world and, in the sense that our acts occur within a social milieu that influences and evaluates us, we’re part of that world.  We love and hate, approve and judge, vote for or against.  We reach out to those who hurt and sometimes we do the hurting.  Even so, we try pretty hard, I think, to properly represent the imago dei.  We have the all the best reasons for our ideas and opinions (assume this to be true), and yet still we find ourselves arrested, accused, tried, and convicted in the court of public opinion.

People in the world often reject our actions because they distrust our motives.  Do you support complementarianism? Must be a chauvinist.  View homosexuality as, ultimately, a sin?  You hate-mongering homophobe.  Oppose abortion?  A misogynist working to control women.  Stunned, we search our hearts and hopefully find the claims unwarranted.  We learn the other perspective – discussing matters large and small with liberals, sociological and theological – and work to rephrase our positions.  Pastors challenge and writers explain, and we come away with better ways of understanding the other perspective, but the opposing camp seems unwilling to reciprocate.

We operate at a bit of an advantage – we’ve known sin and blindness and weakness.  We know what it’s like to overlook the truth, or reject it outright.  What they are, we once were.  If we’re not careful, we stand to return to something that closely approximates that lifestyle.

Our detractors cannot understand us, though not because we are above or beyond or more transcendent than they; oh, never that.  John provided us with the nose-on-your-face obvious answer: they do not know us because they’ve not yet known Him.  It’s really that simple.  They do not know us, nor our hearts, nor our reasons for our opinions and actions.  They do not – cannot – grasp why we would do what we do because they have not known Jesus.

Our attempts to love people with whom we disagree with never be clearly understood.  Our ability to accept tensions within our belief system will remain just out of reach.  The church’s desire to help people simply to help will forever look like conditional acceptance.  Doctors treating victims of epidemic will be labeled as colonialists or imperialists.

Don’t allow the disconnect to discourage you.  It’s normal, expected, and quite frankly understandable.  Continue your misunderstood love and maligned actions.  Never stop self-evaluating, since no one remains forever above reproach, but never stray from what we have learned to be true.  Accept that you’ll never be accepted until He is fully accepted.

That’s the goal, right?  For them to know Him?

 

Comments

  1. says

    What a wonderful self-congratulatory post! But you and I both know the Christian motivation is hardly “unconditional altruism”. The motive is twofold. First, doing good as a way of trying to open the door to “win the lost”. This is in every single evangelical playbook. Lottie Moon bakes cookies to build relationships that will allow her to share the gospel. Aid workers go to India after an earthquake to provide relief in the hopes of being able to share the gospel. Disaster Relief goes to post-Communist eastern Europe after a flood in order to win those commies to Christ. The second motive, though typically less influential than the first, is the hope of future reward. We prefer that which can be had here-and-now – a good story (“testimony”) to tell back home about how we went to the heathen and even won some to Christ, but we also like to talk about how “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Altruism? Please.

    But perhaps my favorite bit in this is the old line, “Our detractors cannot understand us… they do not know us because they’ve not yet known Him. It’s really that simple.” I have to agree with that last part. It is indeed quite simple. Christians hate having their position evaluated and held up against the light of reason. They know they cannot stand against such scrutiny so entire systems have been invented to provide ways of ignoring the voices of the critics. “I don’t have to listen to him, I don’t have to consider his words; he is a blind man who just cannot get it.” Perhaps that blind man really does have something to say that will reveal the blinders you have willingly placed over your own eyes.

    Now, of course this comment will never see the light of day, but perhaps you, dear moderator, will read this comment and maybe, just maybe, give two seconds of thought that I might just have a point. May that two seconds germinate and sprout forth into the light of truth, the reality that Christianity is indeed a great deception but true freedom is available to all who seek it, freedom not bound in an ancient book written by humans who wanted their view to dominate the world so they pretended to be God.

    • Jeff Johnson says

      “May that two seconds germinate and sprout forth into the light of truth, the reality that Christianity is indeed a great deception but true freedom is available to all who seek it, freedom not bound in an ancient book written by humans who wanted their view to dominate the world so they pretended to be God.”

      It’s ironic that this line pops up at the end of a comment attacking the original post for being self-congratulatory and focused on proselytizing. I’m going to assume the irony was intentional. But like you said about assumptions . . .

      • says

        The original post wasn’t focused on proselytizing, it was focused on self-congratulation. I don’t object to one person trying to convince another person that his is the right view; I object to having proselytization as a goal while claiming altruism.

        I’m curious if you see my comment as self-congratulatory. I’m certainly convinced that my view is correct, but I’ve stated my position no differently than Christians often state theirs (there is some intentional borrowing of style).

        • Jeff Johnson says

          Well, I would say that the original post was no more self-congratulatory than your comment. The author states that Christians’ relief efforts are in fact motivated by a genuine love for others, despite the confusion, skepticism, or outright opposition by the aid recipients. You write that your criticisms are intended to point to the light of truth and freedom, despite your assumption that the moderator will reject them out of a fear of criticism or a hatred of reasoned discussion.

          • says

            I suppose I should have spelled out what I meant by self-congratulatory, but I assumed it obvious. This post is all about Christians praising their actions to themselves, patting themselves on the back for the good they have done despite the claims of critics. That’s quite a bit different than advocating a contrary position to someone from the other side. Had he written this post a bit differently – perhaps trying to explain to the rest of the world what good things Christians do – that would not be self-congratulatory, it would be advocacy. In this case, though, it’s a Christian telling Christians how good they are.

            “despite your assumption that the moderator will reject them out of a fear of criticism or a hatred of reasoned discussion.”

            There’s that assuming. I thought I was under moderation for different reasons that had nothing to do with this article’s author or his views. Fear of criticism and reasoned discussion is why Christians call people blinded to the truth, not necessarily a reason why Christians ban people from discussion rooms.

          • Jeff Johnson says

            The original post wasn’t intended to be a position piece to persuade someone on the other side. For example, it wasn’t written to convince Eastern Europeans or others to be more willing to accept aid from American Christians. The purpose was to encourage fellow Christians not to become deterred if their efforts to help others are initially rebuffed. That doesn’t make it self-congratulatory. In fact, the author explicitly notes that we aren’t inherently “above or beyond or more transcendent” than the people we are trying to help. He says we’ve been in their place and could find ourselves there again. My point was that, to the extent such a perspective could be considered self-congratulatory, it certainly is no more so than that of any group, atheists included, who press on against criticism under the belief that they have found the light. E.g.: you say that “Fear of criticism and reasoned discussion is why Christians call people blinded to the truth,” but you said earlier that you call people to the light of truth out of a desire to see them find freedom. So like I said earlier, unless your original comment was entirely satirical (and you don’t really believe in notions like truth or freedom), your mindset is not much different than that of the O.P.

        • Jerry Smith says

          Chris, I often wonder about many of our people, it seems many of them do offer their self much self-congratulation, & brag about all the good things they’ve done for the Lords sake in front of others. When they do I wonder about this verse.

          Mt 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

          And the older this world gets it seem many more are doing this. We just love to sound our own trumpet trying to make ourselves look good.

    • says

      There you go again Chris, fighting against the Word of God and trying so hard to use whatever inside information you gained from the ole SBC playbook to do so….your same old rhetoric. Build up a straw man, and then use your abused logic for the sake of your new found Singeristic methods.

      Ethan has made a simple point. And you can’t stomach God’s logic written out by John….. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

      Fight all you want with your straw man arguments. I get amused with how quickly you can set those up now.

      Since you have a familiarity with the Word of God, you at least make obvious those things that are easily comprehended. Your assumed logic loses steam when you get further down the path though, since you have to dismiss historical and substantive faith to build your flimsy atheistic rhetoric by attacking little Lottie. Setting God aside for a moment,…let’s compare what you have done in the world for mankind with that of little Lottie. I’m sure you will agree that you are far more giving, loving, kind, and much more gentle that this woman ever was in this world. Or, maybe we just don’t know you well enough… yet.

          • says

            Chris,

            Lottie’s cookies were merely an example, though the story is told often enough: Lottie went to China as a missionary; Lottie had difficulty reaching the people; Lottie started baking cookies with the windows raised so the smell would drift out; Lottie began to attract children with the cookies; Lottie used that as her open door to began sharing the gospel with the people.

            Did I miss something?

          • says

            What a tangled web little miss Lottie has woven. You can do better than that as an argument for those bad ole Christians. I grant that some folks really will try anything to “win” the lost, but my o my…I’m sure the cookie ploy was deep into the play book of her dishonest heart. Wow,…you are digging deep on that one.

          • says

            Chris, when you make statements like this…. “Christians hate having their position evaluated and held up against the light of reason.”… you begin to lose a lot of credibility. Because that statement is out of ignorance. Faith has been evaluated since man was created. Men/Women of faith don’t have any issue with light or reason. So far, your logic has been found wanting, but please keep trying.

    • says

      Yep, and missionaries go to China to share the Gospel and are still remembered over a hundred and fifty years later. Matthew T. Yates, the first Southern Baptist Missionary to China (1847-1888), was one. The Christians in China remembered him in a special memorial service in 2016. His home church in American, the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church of which I was a member at that time, received a letter from China telling of the memorial service and asking the church if they desired to have a member there for the observance. The church not being abundantly supplied with members able to afford or free from work to make such trip had to reply in the negative. Then in another church I attended, a Chinese lady had joined who had attended one of the schools founded by Lottie Moon. People who are steeped in slavery to idols, whose lives are made miserable by addictions and family strife, often find relief in a conversion experience. I saw this very thing in the sharecropper’s home where I lived as a child. When you see the man and woman responsible for your well-being threatening to murder one another and then, later, you see them living in peace and happiness, and the only reason for the change is that the man became a Christian, it hardly seems likely that your approach, Chris, suffices to explain such things.

      Besides, I notice that you never respond to my answers to you from former atheists like Lewis and Solzhenitsyn. How about this one, then: Alfred North Whitehead, a leading mathematician and philosopher and not a noted Christian, observed that the scientific method took its origin from a doctrine of the Christian faith. But I do not expect any answers from you, Chris, because your mind is already made up. I am not being hateful, when I so say. I speak with grief and sorrow. True saving faith and blind belief are two very different things; the latter is belief without foundation, without facts, without evidence. True saving faith, on the other hand, is a factually based persuasion, and the teachings of the Christian Faith demand evidence. Paul’s comments regard the witnesses to the resurrection of Christ are stated in a manner consistent with a fact based experience, while Peter’s rejection of myth as the basis for faith is exceedingly plain and clear. However, even he puts Scripture before experience, calling it a more sure word than the experience he had on the Mount of Transfiguration. I trust that it shall not be misleading to lay claim to being a historian, a field I have loved from early childhood on. After all, I have the degrees, experience, and honor (membership in Phi Alpha Theta – The International Honor Society of Historians). And speaking from many years of research and study in history, I find the Bible to be a factual book, one concerned with evidence. C. S. Lewis found the Bible to not be a mythological work, and he spoke as a scholar who was devoted to the study of literature and mythology (he even wrote a number of such works (and I would assume you are familiar with them). And note reason led him to the Christian Faith. The evidence hauled him into the Faith. God took a more direct course with me. I suppose it was due to His plan to call me to the ministry of the word.

      • says

        James,

        I don’t believe I’ve ever attempted to explain stories I have never heard.

        As for former atheists, I must have missed that comment, don’t recall seeing it. But I’m not sure what it’s supposed to change. I could give you a long list of Christians – myself included – who have weighed the evidence for Christianity and found it greatly wanting. Pulling a list of names out of our hats isn’t going to change a thing.

        I tried to be persuaded. I did not want to conclude that Christianity was a pack of fairy tales. But the evidence is what it is and reason is what it is and when I scrutinized Christianity, I found a tightly packed ball of fluff – very good at keeping people in, but with very little to connect it with reality.

        You can speak all you wish of “many years of research and study,” it changes nothing. As noted before, there are also plenty with many years of research and study who have reached a conclusion opposite yours. At the end of the day, I don’t care who has believed what. You want to convince me, don’t quote names, point to evidence. I very highly doubt you will point to anything new, anything I haven’t already examined and found wanting, but you are welcome to try, unless pointing to other people’s beliefs or your own is all you have.

        • says

          Chris, I hope you will forgive my intrusion into your convo with Chris Johnson. There is no trap being set, no bait being dangled. I am just curios about what a former preacher turned atheist does with Jesus. I will not offer further discussion if you will answer me one question. On that you have my word. I know you have seen the outline, may have even used it, but the truth is Jesus must be one of three things:

          1) Liar – He may have been one of the greatest cons of all time, 2) Lunatic – it is possible He was deranged, a person who honestly believed He was the Son of God, He cannot be seen merely as a wise sage for He taught He was the Son of God who would return in glory after He was killed. 3) Lord – weighing the evidence I recognize Him as Lord.

          How do you now identify Jesus – Liar, Lunatic or Lord?

          • says

            I have seen the outline, and it paints with too broad a brush. There are more than three options. I’m not sure just who or what he was, or even if he was. It’s not an important question for me. But what I can say is there are many people who saw themselves as doing good in the world – and perhaps in fact doing some measure of good – while employing dishonesty as one of their means. In other words, if someone came along saying the things Jesus said while otherwise being of a sound mine, there’s no doubt he was lying – which may make him no different than the many, many other people throughout history who thought they could make the world a better place and told many good and helpful and true things things, even if it required deception along the way.

            Simply calling him “liar, lunatic, or lord” is a nice apologetics game, but it fails to deal with the “complexity on the ground” – the reality that human beings simply cannot be shoehorned into narrow categories like that. We are all liars in various areas, we are also all lunatics, but none of us are lords.

          • says

            Thank you for your reply Chris. To be clear, you would say Jesus was both liar and lunatic? Again, I give you my word, if I am clear on what you believe I will bow out. Thanks, Dean

          • says

            Dean,

            It’s hard to say when all we have is the Bible’s account to go on. I’d say he was no more lunatic than you or I. Just going by the Bible, he sounds like someone who thought he could accomplish some good things for the world, and thought it would help if he dropped hints or notes of divine authority.

            I knew a genuinely psychologically disturbed individual once. Well, more than one, but this fellow definitely stands out. He believed God spoke with him, had a mission for him, would make him the next president, told him secrets, etc, etc. The main was clearly schizophrenic. I doubt Jesus was schizophrenic. Self-deluded is certainly possibly – and likely mixes in to some degree – but it’s also possible that he was of right mind and knew what he was doing but felt it was the best way to accomplish improvements in the society.

        • says

          Really, Chris, a Christian? I seriously doubt it, but if you want to think so then I will accept it for the nonce. However, your use of irony in the above does not escape me, but I would like to point out that that literary finesse was set forth by the Lord in at least one clear instance. You know, Jonah 3 where He says unconditionally, “Forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Yes, that is an irony, one of the most subtle forms of communication, one that often escapes the average minister and even a goodly number of the educated ones. Did it escape you, Chris? I would remind you of something I said in a previous comment to the effect that, if the Book is inspired by Omniscience, then we should expect a depth of profundity commensurate with such a source. Our problem is that we hardly have enough knowledge and wisdom to be able to recognize such a thing, when we see it before our eyes. It is sort of like my friend who thought a mountain stream was only 2-3 feet deep, because he could see the grains of sand rolling along the bottom. He almost drowned, because it was 18-20 feet deep. He had not allowed for the magnifying power of clear moving water, and we failed to allow for the reality of depth in such seemingly clear things as the statements, experiences, and illustrations of the Bible. Skepticism sometimes is a great help. An old Puritan said, “Our problem with the Bible is its perspicuity.” In other words, it is the issue of clarity. When you were a Christian and a minister did you ever stop to think about the depth of what you were reading, Chris? I repeat a statement in another early comment about considering the matter of therapeutic paradoxes. And have you notice the clear outline of a one-shot scientific experiment in Daniel chapter one? There is more, but I shall defer to see your response.

          • says

            James,

            I have to admit that some parts of your comment were difficult to follow – I’m not sure how they were meant to connect with what I said. But:

            “An old Puritan said, ‘Our problem with the Bible is its perspicuity.'”

            When I was in college, I hated English lit classes. Not because the subject was particularly difficult, but because the professors would always say things like, “Okay, we’ve read that piece, now what does it mean to you?” It was a highly subjective field in which the reader imposed their meaning on the text. My question always was, “Who cares what it means to me, what did it mean to the guy who wrote it?”

            Now, this is the big question of biblical exegesis, when done rightly. Even so, reading the Bible requires and retains a high degree of individual subjective interpretation. People keep digging new nuggets out of the Bible because any text – any text at all, I don’t care which one you pick – can have meaning upon meaning stacked upon it, no matter what it originally meant. The Bible is certainly no exception. This is terrifically easy to demonstrate – look at all the contradictory interpretations of the Bible (all held by people who claim to be inhabited by the same Holy Spirit who is supposed to lead believers into all the truth). Why so many, many, many interpretations of virtually every passage in the Bible? You will say because of sin and the limitations of human intellect. I will say because it is a human document subject to human interpretation.

          • says

            Chris: Avoidance is not the best policy, when you come into a company of believers and then demand that they conform to your way of thinking on the issues at hand. Your refusal to come to grips is certainly a practice I did not follow, when I was an Atheist. Why do you avoid the issues? And as to the subjective opinions of people on the Bible, so what? That was the Catholic view, when Luther split with them. There is some truth in the view, but when it comes to serious study the Bible takes on a whole new meaning. As a former Atheist, I am impressed by its factual nature, by its understatement, by its manifestation of literary excellencies, by its insight into human nature (just consider Eccles.9:3 alone), by its wherewithal to approach each person in manner adapted to speak to that individual wherever he or she is in life, thought, and practice. Seems I mentioned irony in one of my comments, but you never respond to any of the difficulties for atheism; you never come to grips with them. I must admit, I am beginning to wonder about how really thorough your commitment to the position is.

          • says

            James,

            Your comments carry a certain incoherence that makes them difficult to follow. What have I avoided? What problems with atheism have you raised? As for your appreciation of the Bible, that’s all well and good. It stands among the many books throughout history that carry a certain literary flare.

        • says

          Chris,…again, your inconsistencies abound. You confess to atheism, yet you “have been” a Christian. Your own admissions are incoherent or possibly ignorant .

          Atheists are born. Christians are born again. (pretty much the theme of this post)

          Your inability to agree is not in play with reality. We go through this on every post with you, but you seem to only play both sides of the street, as needed, when you have little to say. That tends to be a trait of many atheists,… when your self made rules tend to leave logic in a quandary, and you can conveniently meander at any moment. Please try to stay consistent.

          • says

            Chris,

            I honestly do not know what you are saying. Yes, I am an atheist. Yes, I used to be a Christian. What is inconsistent and incoherent about that?

          • says

            Chris R., if I may:

            “Yes, I am an atheist. Yes, I used to be a Christian. What is inconsistent and incoherent about that?”

            If you are an atheist, you have never been a Christian. You were in impostor. So it is inconsistent to say you used to be a Christian and that now you are an atheist. But I suspect you know enough theology intellectually to know what we are talking about.

          • says

            Les,

            Of course I know the theology behind that mindset, and of course I disagree with it. But that doesn’t matter – even if your position were true, my claim would not be inconsistent, it would simply be wrong. There is nothing inconsistent in saying I used to be X but now I am Y.

          • says

            Chris R.,

            “But that doesn’t matter – even if your position were true, my claim would not be inconsistent, it would simply be wrong.”

            Which it is…wrong that is.

            “There is nothing inconsistent in saying I used to be X but now I am Y.”

            That presupposes that you ever were X. But since you never were X, it is therefore inconsistent. You are now Y, but you never were X (even if you think you were, you weren’t).

          • says

            Les,

            This really should be quite basic. There is a difference between being wrong and being inconsistent. I would be inconsistent if I varied my details, changed my story, fudged my facts from person to person, etc. I would be wrong if I claimed something that turned out to be untrue.

            Why does this even need to be explained?

            As for me being wrong, you are yourself aware that there is not unanimous agreement on this. We disagree on the reason for this disagreement: it is now much easier for me to recognize something that you cannot possibly see – the Bible itself is inconsistent (an excellent case study on how to properly use the word). At times it seems to say that salvation cannot be lost, at other times it seems to say that salvation can be lost. It’s almost as if the Bible was written by human beings who did not agree on everything.

            Either way, I have only your word that a true Christian cannot become an atheist. Meanwhile, I have my own experience to make crystal clear that it is indeed possible. Once upon a time, I had faith as deep as anyone, I had love for God, a desire to reach the lost, a love for the Bible, a concern for the church, a hope of Heaven, a longing for Christ’s return, etc, etc. I was frequently in prayer, read the Bible daily, read devotional and theological books, was frequently in church – even when I didn’t have to be, etc. I loved worshiping God and talking about his glory in the face of our sin.

            I could go on and on. Of course you will discount all of this. Your theology makes it impossible for you to accept. This is related to why I earlier said “Christians hate having their position evaluated and held up against the light of reason” only in this case, Christians will not hear, will not even consider, many of the arguments raised against them. Your theology simply will not let you consider that I was once as committed a Christian as anyone here. This is part of what makes Christianity irrational – an absolute obstacle to considering the possibility of arguments contrary to Christian claims. It doesn’t matter what the evidence shows, it doesn’t matter what others have experienced (though the claimed experiences of Christians are supposed to be accepted as evidence for Christianity), if a claim runs counter to a particular interpretation of the Bible, that claim must simply be tossed out the window without further examination.

            It’s like the fellow on the Ken Ham video who said, “If the Bible said 2+2=5 then I would believe 2+2=5″. I imagine even a number of Christians would criticize that view, yet this is exactly how Christians respond to any argument contrary to their preconceptions.

          • says

            Baloney, Chris. You are just inconsistent in your atheism as you think any and every Christian is in his or her (as the case may be). In another comment, I call attention to how you avoid answering issues, something that I would not do when I was an atheist. Your case might well be summed up by our Lord in the parable of the sower as it is called. That which fell on stony ground sprung up immediately and then withered away, meaning that one believes for a while even with joy but lacking a root in themselves they believed only for a little while (Lk.8:6,13). And then there is the example of the believers in John 2:23-25, but Jesus did not commit Himself to them. Seems our Lord sees some believers as not truly converted. Could it be because He demands a faith that is divine, a God given faith. something that is supernatural? You might want to take a look at Mk.9:14-29, especially vs.24. As to the intellectual depths of the Scripture, Chris, you might want to take a look at Mt.15:21-28 and Lk.4:16-31. Note how our Lord comes at the people involved with precepts that seem diametrically opposed to winsomeness. Some one else is chosen, the individual is depraved and even reprobate as the image of dogs seems to suggest, and yet the person with great faith embraces all of such teachings. The folks in Nazareth, on the other hand, act like the dogs in seeking to murder the Lord. And then there is the use of a perfect opposite message and messenger in Jonah 3 (which I mentioned hitherto. That is irony, and its effect is ironic. Surely, an indicator that we are dealing with a superior intellect or, rather, a superior intellect is dealing with men.

            Funny, too how God can speak to men long ago and yet in speaking to them, He is speaking to us as Jesus indicated in Mt.22:31ff. “Have you not read that which was spoke to you by God?” Your atheism is wanting, Chris, wanting in many respects. Made any converts lately, to atheism? Made any at all? I made back in my day. Thank God, I unmade them with but one exception and I am not sure about him.

          • says

            Chris r.,

            Ok. I really am not that concerned with the proper use of “inconsistent (Webster: “not compatible with another fact or claim.”)

            You:

            “I could go on and on. Of course you will discount all of this.”

            This “we will discount…” theme of yours is going to get worn out if you keep using it so much.

            “Your theology makes it impossible for you to accept.”

            And your lack of the Spirit of God makes it impossible for you to accept the truth claims of Christianity.

            “This is related to why I earlier said “Christians hate having their position evaluated and held up against the light of reason” only in this case, Christians will not hear, will not even consider, many of the arguments raised against them. Your theology simply will not let you consider that I was once as committed a Christian as anyone here.”

            Of course we will not consider that you were once a Christian. The truth of the bible says that is impossible.

            “This is part of what makes Christianity irrational – an absolute obstacle to considering the possibility of arguments contrary to Christian claims. It doesn’t matter what the evidence shows, it doesn’t matter what others have experienced (though the claimed experiences of Christians are supposed to be accepted as evidence for Christianity), if a claim runs counter to a particular interpretation of the Bible, that claim must simply be tossed out the window without further examination.”

            There are many who have once been where you are who completely overturn your now atheist position. However, there has never been one who was born again who later became an atheist.

            “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.””

          • says

            Chris,

            The inconsistency is not “what” you said about yourself. The inconsistency is your ability to understand the truth about what you confess.

            To confess with honesty that one is an atheist, is to confess a genuine disbelieve or lack of belief in the existence of God.

            To confess with honesty Christ as Lord, is a confession based in historical fact that death is defeated by the resurrection of Christ, and that His resurrected life is now alive in your life reborn,…not of your doing, but of His.

            The first reality is common among all men and women. The second reality is common among those that the Father has given to His Son.

            The first reality can say and confess anything. The second reality can only confess Christ as Lord, and cannot surrender that confession. By your own confession, you have said you belong to the first reality.

            From a logic perspective, these two distinctive realities are mutually exclusive of each other.

  2. Dave Miller says

    Chris, I have no desire to block you, but the fact is that few of our posts will please one who has rejected the faith we prize and embraced the denial of the existence of the God we worship.

    These posts are written to encourage fellow believers, not to please atheists and unbelievers.

    Your posts have become both monotone and monotonous. Your condescending view of believers has been made clear. There is no need to say the same thing on every post. We get it. You don’t believe in God. Message received.

    Please don’t feel you need to spout the same thing on every post we post. If you have an insight or a particular point to make, fine. But the constant trumpeting of your new and superior insight into life is just not needed.

    Okay?

      • says

        Chris,

        Yes, we want to win people to Jesus. Yes, we want to help people. And yes, we want to use the good things that we do, as a way of opening the door to preach the Gospel. That’s called love. That’s called love for the people, and for their souls, which God has put in our hearts. But, since you never really had that love in your heart, then it is truly hard for you to grasp what we’re talking about. It’s something that you have to experience, rather than just know about, in your mind.

        David

        • cb scott says

          “Lottie Moon bakes cookies to build relationships that will allow her to share the gospel.”

          Praise God and pass the chocolate chips, flour, and butter, all of you would be Lottie Moons!

          Make those cookies and tell those kids you give them to the Good Story of Jesus. May your tribe increase a million-fold.

    • says

      A small bit to add if I may about “superior insight”…
      Some folks just believe they have a superior intellect and want everyone else to know it. They want to be seen associating with others who are perceived as “smarter than thou”. It’s that way for Christians and unbelievers and theists and atheists. You can notice a pattern in some when they are the same when they are believers and then “lose” the faith and vice versa. Wanna be seen as on the same page with the intellectual giants of the faith and then the intellectual giants of star-dust…and vice versa. More of a character flaw really. Nothing changes.

  3. Ethan Moore says

    Mr. Roberts, thank you for interacting. Obviously, you and I approach this issue in quite different ways, and yet you still took the time to weigh in. Thanks. I really mean that.

    I never intended for this to be self-congratulatory. Had I written the piece as you suggested, it would have appeared self-congratulatory to me, and I wouldn’t have posted it. Perspective is a powerful thing, I think you’ll agree. Even so, I wish I could see this exactly as you see it.

    Ultimately, I think you and I are proving my point: those who stand firmly against the notion of the existence of God and Christ will ultimately struggle to understand the perspective that Christians have (or at least should strive to have). Were you and I to sit down over a cup of something – dark strong roast, in my case – and carefully analyze this piece, I believe we’d still walk away convinced that the other guy just doesn’t get it. Maybe you’d think I was one of those guys who checked his brain at the entry to the worship hall and I’d view you as someone who can’t grasp me because you’ve not grasped Him. Maybe – I don’t know.

    Even so – thanks for interacting. Perhaps we’ll cross paths one day and debate these things.

      • D.L. Payton says

        Chris
        You are an atheist. You have made that clear. I accept that tho I do disagree obviously. However, a question. Why are you so hostile about it all? You have the right to be an atheist if you so desire. But again i simply do not understand the hostility. Please explain if you do not mind. If you would rather not, that is OK.

          • says

            Hostility or disagreement? “Christians hate having their position evaluated and held up against the light of reason.”
            While I’ve heard much more hostile comments than this, its a pretty broad brush that doesn’t apply to anywhere close to every Christian. OF course you probably don’t like it when Christians say, “Atheists are just so___” fill-in-the blank. And I don’t blame you. But don’t hide your hostility behind simple disagreement. Give us a break for at least having not checked ALL our brains at the door.

          • says

            My, my, Chris. When I was an Atheist, I was as hostile to the church and to Christ and to every Christian as I could be. In fact, I went about making converts to Atheism. All of that unbelief works fine until the Lord shows up, and then you go, “Ulp!” Cured me of my Atheism. Didn’t cure me of my skepticism. I am still just as doubtful as I was then. Only now I doubt the Atheists and the Agnostics. I use to twit my professor in Intellectual History, “Aw, Dr ____, your just a dishonest Atheist.” He would blush and laugh, because he knew I had been one. Tell me, Chris, who let you down? It was God in my case. I lost parents due to a separation and divorce at the age of three and wound up being raised on a sharecropper’s farm in Arkansas by my maternal grandparents. About age five that would mean working in the cotton fields from sunup to sunset. I would eventually come to say in my teenage years, “How could there by a God let little children suffer?” I meant of course suffer what I had suffered. At that time there were children as well as adults suffering much worse. I turned four on Dec.30, and the year was 1944. So you know what was going on. Later I would have as friends, a former Marine and Lt.jg., and his wife from those years. He was in combat in the Philippines, and she was tortured by the Japanese eight hours a day, seven days a week for two months and twenty-eight days. They then threw her body out on a pile of corpses. A Filipino noted an involuntary movement that indicated life. He got her to a hospital where they hid her in the nunnery, and that night she gave birth. Later she would win the Japanese officer that supervised her torture to Christ. This was after the war, when he came with an embassy to Washington, D.C., where she and her husband operated an International House, a Christian effort at ministry to the staff of the embassies. She was even visited by Cory Ten Boom. She also won to Christ Margaret Mitchell a short period before the latter was killed by a car in Atlanta. Her father, many years before, had been put in an Iron Maiden and tortured. That dear lady suffered much (she had over 260 allergies as a result of the trauma done to her bodily systems by the torture. She was tested for the allergies at Duke Medical Center. Her husband was a fellow student and friend of mine from Seminary. We counted them as dear friends for at least 41 years. If you can get access to her book, it is titled, “The Price of Freedom,” by Mamerta de los Reyes Block. Manassas, Virginia: Trinity Rivers Publishing, 2003. She died in 2005. Her husband died about two months ago. I wrote the eulogy which the pastor read at the Funeral at the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. Block had been raised an Orthodox Jew, gave up on that view, and after the war was converted to Christianity.

            O and by the way, it seems that the Communists of the old USSR and China along with the other, smaller nations were so hostile that they murdered multiplied millions of believers. Seems that I was an Atheist in a most favorable position, a Baptist family. They just put me in the Lord’s hands and they practiced the old idea, “grin and bear it,” while they waited. I was so mean about it that I once told my sister to take her old namby pamby religion and go jump out the window with it. My mother put a stop to that kind of meanness. And then I saw the Lord, when I was a full blown, practicing Atheist, standing about 10-15 feet in front of me, looking at me, with a hand raised like He was knocking at a door. I fled that place, but He opened my heart’s door later that evening. So Rev.3:20 and Acts 16:14 are both very applicable to the cure of my Atheism. O and being a Christian does not stop one from suffering and disappointments; it just provides for someone to walk with you through such trials. Even so I would rather have Jesus as my Lord than the wealth of the world. Now I am 73 with a heart problem and an invalid wife, and the end is coming. Somehow, I realize that I feel better about it than I would have in the cold and meaningless way of life that I had as an Atheist, a very gray time as I saw it then and now. By the way, I had the experience of the Lord being with me as an invisible presence, a presence of joy that is the most helpful and encouraging. One of these days, I trust, I will have Him with me with nothing to interfere forever. Until then I will go on trusting, waiting, expecting the coming of eternal happiness and joy and worship. That reality makes all of these sufferings endurable, like soldiers in a war.

          • says

            “Tell me, Chris, who let you down?”

            Another common narrative Christians try to impose on atheists – it must be because you are angry at someone! Did your parents abuse you? Did a loved one die? Did a Christian friend betray you?

            Here’s the shocking truth. It is possible that a careful and honest examination of the evidence will lead a person to atheism. No one let me down. Grew up in a good home to good parents; have a good wife; never have lost anyone particularly close to me other than grandparents who died at relatively old age, etc, etc. It was the evidence that convinced me – or rather, the absolute lack of evidence for the existence of God. Try as you like to force me into some other mold or some other narrative – it won’t work. I became an atheist because I was convinced that the evidence for God is completely nonexistent, so God must be as well. On this side of my atheism, I have been far more willing to look at the Bible not as a defender but as an analyzer. As a Christian, I glossed over the many problems in the Bible. “Put them on my shelf for God to clear out when I get to Heaven, if he wants to,” I used to say. If there were questions or things I couldn’t reconcile, I didn’t see them as a reason to doubt, I saw them as things that my limited mind couldn’t grasp but God would help me understand in his own time. But typically I found some answer or another that seemed good enough to satisfy the problem, reconcile the inconsistencies. But now I realize most of those answers were completely vacuous. I cringe when I realize what nonsense I once accepted as legitimate answers to the many hard problems in the Bible.

            As for the rest of your comment, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to take a series of stories about people who went through hard times. I know the narrative well enough, but it does not serve as any sort of evidence. The problem with testimonies is we are terrible judges of our own experiences. We misinterpret life events all the time, so if someone comes to me with a dramatic story but says it is God who got them through, I have no reason to believe them. Particularly considering the many, many, MANY more people God did _not_ get through those situations. It is a statistical certainty that some people will emerge from those kinds of situations – but many people will not. What testimony shall we give to all those who died? (No need to answer, though feel free if you wish; but I have a good notion of what you will say, and it is another one of those vacuous responses).

            I am not an atheist because someone made me mad or let me down, I am an atheist because there is no God and I finally saw through the fog of Christianity to recognize reality for what it is.

          • says

            Yep, one can figure his way into full fledged skepticism and atheism without having been let down. On the other hand, it can work the other way. Try this on for size, Chris: If the Bible is, as it claims, inspired by the Omniscient God, then it should reflect a profundity of wisdom utterly beyond the powers of man to grasp, especially when it is at its clearest. Having done 6 years of research in church history and then doing a M.A. in American Social & Intellectual History, that issue arose for me, and I began to consider it. It was interesting experience to stumble into the nature of biblical ideas and how they can transform a person with a sin problem and enable and empower that individual to become balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic. A friend once went fishing on a clear mountain stream up near Danville, Va. Deciding to cross over to the other side, he looked down and determined that the stream was only 2-3 feet deep. After all, he could see the grains of sand rolling along the bottom. So he stepped off into water that was 18-20 feet deep and almost drowned. So it is with the Bible Chris, a book that is far more factually oriented than most people expect or think, far more progressive than the average believer can imagine, a work that implies the possibility of man being here for 20-900,000 years and colonizing stars by the quadrillions. From the perspective of a former Atheist and from the perspective of training in three fields of study, history, theology, and counseling with degrees in each of the three, I am telling you that there is a lot more to this book than meets the eye. It reflects a subtlety of wisdom, a depth of thought, a perspective of insight that far exceeds our expectations for anything we might want from God, if there was one (which is funny to me as it turned out that there was and is one). Figured you might be a bit interested in the angle of a former gung ho Atheist, but then, again, maybe not.

          • says

            “…and how they can transform a person with a sin problem and enable and empower that individual to become balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic.”

            Funny thing about that – similar transformations can be seen in the lives of people who convert to Catholicism, to other religions, or simply receive therapy. Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on seeing dramatic change in people’s lives. I grant that it can provide a source of stability for otherwise dysfunctional people, but so too can many other sources.

          • D.L. Payton says

            Chris
            Disagreement is not my reference point to hostility. It is the tone of the rhetoric that is hostile.

          • says

            Tell you what. This came across my Facebook feed tonight:

            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pray-Without-Ceasing-for-Austin/770331806353121

            The son of a pastor fellow connected to the Bible college I attended was in a serious car accident and it’s not looking good. They’re organizing a prayer chain for him. Now, you and I both know how these things almost always turn out, whether or not anyone is praying for the person tragically injured. Should the miraculous occur – and trust me, I wish it could – I’ll give my position another hard look. We know what the Bible says – that which you pray in Jesus’ name; you will do greater things than these; if the elders gather to pray, the prayer of faith will raise him up; etc, etc. Granted, this never actually works (as I saw numerous times in my own ministry, even those times in which James 5 was taken literally and a group of men gathered to pray and anoint the sick person) which has led to a whole host of alternate explanations of the biblical texts, often grabbing hold of James 4:3 as a last resort or going to de-interpretations like, “Praying in Jesus’ name means asking him to do what he wants, not what we want (which sort of defeats the purpose)” or the truly ridiculous response of, “Well, God did heal so-and-so – healed him fully in Heaven” – but at the end of the day, we have the Bible saying what it says: the prayer of faith will make the sick person well. Except it never does. Tragically, it won’t in this case either.

          • says

            Chris, you saying healings never occur. Your wrong. I know that in my life I was given two years to live 15 1/2 years ago because of cancer. My right kidney and a portion of both my lungs were removed. I was sent home with a pain management doctor to die. M. D. Anderson, UAB Medical Center and Hattiesburg Clinic pronounced me terminal with 13 tumors returning in my two lungs. I lost 125 pounds and was very sick. No treatment could be done. It was over. Today, I am cancer free with all medical personnel calling what occurred in my life a miracle. I have side by side slides with 13 tumors in my lungs one day and a month later they are gone. My doctors have called me out of the blue to come share what happen in my life with others. There are thousands of documented miracles. When prayers fail you say this is proof there is no God. Then when prayers work there must be a God.

            I find it ironic that you can’t decide who you are and what you want to be but you have everyone else figured out and even know their motives for doing good. I will say one thing, as an atheist you may do something you could not do as a pastor – reconsider my thoughts on Calvinism. Maybe Calvin is right, God may indeed take pleasure and get glory in sending some to hell.

          • says

            Dean,

            And yet somehow, amazingly, even non-Christians and members of other religions recover from cancer when doctors thought it hopeless. The Christian response is “common grace!” while all the many more who die from terminal cancer, “God is still good!” Talk about inconsistency…

            As for your mention of Hell, is that a tacit admission that you sent the lovely email I received tonight from a Voices frequenter? Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, should Dave be willing.

          • Dean Stewart says

            Chris, I sent you no email. I have shared my thoughts on you and with you in a very public way on this site in years past to the point that I was rebuked and indeed was out of line. For that I have remorse and regret. I invite you to send anything you got to Dave. He knows my email. You flatter yourself, to me, it would be a waste of my time to email you.

            Your statement was prayer never works not atheist are also healed. I interacted with your statement demonstrating it was wrong. It is wrong. Again, it is amazing a man a few months ago who pastored and was so condescending toward anyone who challenged his views now has it figured out that thousands of years of recorded history is wrong and is equally condensending. I stand by my conclusion that your statement that prayer never works is wrong and that should have been all I addressed.

          • says

            Dean,

            I’m sorry, I thought my point obvious. People recover from serious illness all the time (and so too might the young man I mentioned, though “recovery” in this instance is hardly likely to be total) but prayer plays no role. Thus the fact that you recovered from cancer doesn’t automatically mean prayer works or miracles happen – it means sometimes doctors make mistakes, and sometimes the body shows itself remarkably resilient.

          • Dean Stewart says

            Chris, medical clinics, two which are known worldwide, have documented my case as a miracle. The last doctor to operate on my left lung, Dr Cerfolio, of UAB was considered at that time one of the finest lung surgeons in the world. He documented it as a miracle. I am sure his opinion on what happen is well respected around the globe. Miracles have been documented. You are wrong; you said prayer never works. All I can say is three different clinics confirmed my diagnosis. You choose ignore what the medical field calls a miracle. Good evening Chris, I have to leave for hospital visit in the morning at 4:30 AM. My motivation to do such a thing is I love Jesus and people. I will leave you to determine if I practice altruism or if I have more sinister motivations.

    • Dave Miller says

      FYI, Chris referenced an email he received, and even wondered if Dean sent it. Dean did not. Dean would not send such an email. Almost no one in Southern Baptist life would send such an email. It was vile.

      As soon as I read it, I immediately knew who had written it – a long time Voices commenter whose comments are permanently moderated. I checked the IP address and my suspicions were confirmed.

      I am not one to question someone’s salvation, but I have to wonder how a person who had been redeemed by the Blood of Christ could actually send such a vile email.

      How could someone who loves Jesus actually say that he would enjoy watching Chris burn in hell?

      That was not even the most offensive thing in the email, but it shows the kind of ungodly, vile, Satan-honoring language that he engaged in.

      If you can tell, yes, I am angry and disgusted.

      I have publicly told Chris that I am not interested in hosting a “Why I am an Atheist” forum in post after post. Since this post kind of opened that door, I’ve let it slide. But that constant line of argument has just about gotten worn out.

      But if we believe the Bible, which says that the church would be known by its love, then Chris is owed an apology here for the despicable email that was sent to him.

      For the record, NO ONE who has engaged in this comment stream was responsible.

        • says

          If you’ve ever seen the movie Joe Versus the Volcano (one of the greatest movies of all times (one of the few roles in which I actually like Tom Hanks (though he was also okay in Apollo 13 (which was quite an interesting movie in itself)) (I suspect the folks around here probably didn’t care for him in The DaVinci Code (nor did anyone else))) (though it did make me wonder if I had a brain cloud (I didn’t (in case you were curious)))) then you should be able to figure it out.

          • says

            Yeah, I’ve been on the receiving end as well. And, I actually did like The DaVinci Code, although Angels and Demons was better, I thought. Even though the books/movies were bunk, I am always interested in conspiracy theories and Dan Brown excels in making them up.

  4. says

    WOW! What an exchange. I came to say thanks for this post. I have recenlty been confronted with the whole, “if you disagree with my choices you are a hater” attitude. And I appreciate the encouragement to keep on loving and being truthful anyway. But I especially liked: “Never stop self-evaluating, since no one remains forever above reproach, but never stray from what we have learned to be true.” This little bit of “Non-self-congratulatory fluff”, which is so meaningless to some is a timeless, profound, self-deprecatory warning to me and I appreciate it. I think I already tend to do this but for some reason is hit me clearer and more important than I had considered lately.
    And one note on Christians having non-altruistic motives. Yes the Lottie Moons of the world baked cookies, but the tendency is (and should be) to give the cookies whether anyone is willing to listen to your message or not. And the message is one of freedom, not ‘selling something.’ I mean, I can’t sell something that only God has possession of. But I would like an opportunity to tell about it. I would be glad to buy an atheist a cup of coffee and tell them about the forgiveness and love I have found in Christ. But they can keep the coffee if they decline the conversation.

    • Ethan Moore says

      I’m glad this touched on something for you.

      I think sometimes we tire of having our actions challenged when in fact the problems lies in understanding our motives. There are surely Christians whose behaviors are driven by impure rationales, but as a general rule most of us strive for right actions for right reasons. As a result, we are astonished to read and hear comments in mainstream society that accuse us of terrible things.

      I’m just hoping we don’t use our frustration as an excuse to give up.

  5. andy says

    “Funny thing about that – similar transformations can be seen in the lives of people who convert to Catholicism, to other religions, or simply receive therapy. Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on seeing dramatic change in people’s lives. I grant that it can provide a source of stability for otherwise dysfunctional people, but so too can many other sources.”.

    You are correct about one thing, Chris: The fact that Christianity works for a lot of people is not proof that it is true. Placebo is a real possibility. However, I’m convinces that it is the opposite. Christianity works BECAUSE it’s true. The historical evidence for the person, life, teaching, and even resurrection of Jesus is really what all of our claims rest on. If Jesus rose from the dead, then the gospels are true, then Jesus words about the old testament are true, then Paul and the early apostles were truly God-sent.

    • Christiane says

      the first witnesses to the Risen Lord who saw Him with their eyes . . . many were eventually martyred for their proclamation of Him . . . the word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness’, and these men were eye-witnesses in actuality . . .

      people who die for declaring what they have actually seen with their eyes and cannot deny . . . those people have credibility and their act of martyrdom gives a gravitas to their proclamation of the Risen Lord

  6. says

    O Chris, have you ever read Alfred Whitehead’s Science and Religion in the Modern World where he says science took its rise from Christian doctrine? And I noticed that you avoid the issues of intellectualism for the discussions of dysfunctionalism. Well, God can strike a straight blow with a crooked stick (we are all crooked sticks, including you too friend), and I applaud His giving relief to needy folks…Nothing wrong with it. Having been where you are now, I can laugh about the skepticism that ]produces such unbelief, knowing there is another skepticism that can do much better. Ever read C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy?

      • says

        Well, Maybe you have been where I am and, then again, maybe not. But I have, indeed, been where you are now and your knowledge is wanting and limited in many respects, regarding both atheism and the Christian Faith.

  7. says

    Chris, as I head out to start my day I want to clarify a couple of my statements. They need further explanation. My reference to God taking pleasure in sending some to hell is certainly something I do not believe and you know that. However, I am appalled that you could pastor a church for years and benefit from the goodness and generosity of God’s people, benefit from their love for you because of their love for Jesus and then later make fun of that very God and those people who were good to you. I wondered out loud if God would take delight in condemning such a person. However, there is no way as a believer I could delight in your soul’s damnation. If you read my contribution to Voices you will find I am a consistent defender of the church. I don’t like when people who have been in about a dozen churches decide to write what is wrong with the church in America and you certainly struck a nerve when you ridiculed the prayers of the saints.

    My comment about an email being a waste of time is that I honestly see any discourse with you as casting pearls before swine. It’s pointless to me at this point. You make a mockery of the things I consider sacred.

    Finally, I am sorry you were sent an ugly, hateful email. Rest assured any email I send will have my name attached to it. I found it hard to find the civility a Christian should display when addressing another when you were a pastor determining who was a heretic and who was not. I am afraid I might not do much better now that you are an atheist mocking who I love but I would never say I would enjoy watching you burn in hell.

    Dave, thanks for defending me. By the way, it is not said very often but thank you for hosting Voices. I am better because of the things I have read here through the years. You do a good job – jerk.

    Dean Stewart

    • says

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t think you sent the email, though your Hell comment did raise the question.

      As for making fun of God and mocking prayer – when did I do either? I don’t believe God exists and I don’t believe prayer does anything, but that is hardly mocking or making fun.

      • says

        Chris, “for what its worth,” it’s worth a lot. I am grateful you do not believe I would delight in your condemnation ( I know you don’t believe in hell) and that you do not believe I would send you a hateful email.

        I am familiar with your tone and beliefs so maybe I read the mocking into your comments about prayer and God. If so, I apologize.

  8. Bill Mac says

    I started this comment last night but decided against it. Not sure why. But here goes:

    Chris: Why are you here? Don’t get me wrong, I think engaging the arguments of atheists is sometimes worthwhile. I also disagree with folks psychoanalyzing you to try to discover some trite “cause” for your atheism, just as they always search for hidden abuse in the lives of homosexuals.

    Having said that: Why are you here? What do you want to accomplish? Are you so happy and content now that you just have to share, in hopes that we miserable and unhappy Christians can join you in your happiness? Do you want to free up our Sunday mornings and the portion of our money that we give to church? To do what? Are you also working on your family and friends, to de-Christianize them (those that are Christians)?

    You mentioned two reasons for helping people: One, to share the Gospel. That is certainly true. Two, to receive rewards. This one may be true for some but I doubt it factors highly. Such a selfish reason to do good can hardly be sustained. You missed one: Three, we care about people (and the first is tied up with the third). Now perhaps the third didn’t apply to you when you considered yourself a Christian, but I assure you it applies to me, and to a lot of us. Frankly, I think some of the notions of “rewards” is heaven is way off base. I don’t know what they might be, but I doubt it is some kind of hierarchy of stuff or status received in heaven. Doing good is its own reward.

      • parsonsmike says

        People who dont believe in little pink martians dont waste their time debating about them.

          • parsonsmike says

            Chris,
            Our belief explains why we invest our time and money.
            It doesnt explain your continued interest,
            Or as the formerly blind man asked the truly blind men,
            ‘Do you want to become his disciple as well?’

          • says

            Because I think beliefs have implications on the world at large, and to try and shape the world’s directions based on human writings that are claimed to be the unerring words of the divine – that has serious implications for the world.

            Christianity is capable of much good, and many Christians have done much good. But at the same time, Christianity is inherently capable – and has been the source of – much harm.

          • says

            Chris,
            I asked about the why of your continued interest and you said because of the implications Christian belief has on the world.

            It seemed to me that you are saying you comment here to help shape Christians beliefs for the good they can do rather than the evil they have done, is that correct?

            Assuming that to be so, …really?
            I don’t believe you believe that lie.

            Do you think these pastors are giving you any credence or allowing your words any sway over how they think and act? The comments point away from that completely. They, like mine, are based on the beliefs you do not have, and seek to show you the light to the place you once thought you were.

            Maybe you are bored, possibly unemployed, with a whole lot of free time on your hands.

            Think on this, if you would, what was your life like before you became ‘saved’? Washed pigs return to the sty, and dogs eat their vomit. The house cleaned is re-inhabited by worse than before.

          • says

            Mike,

            I expect to change no minds, but the discussions can still be interesting. The comments on this particular article have for the most part ceased to be so, but yours has a point or two worth response.

            You may reject my reasons for still being here – that is your prerogative – but all I can do is repeat myself. I continue coming to Voices because I’ve been coming for some time now. I have no lingering interest in returning to Christianity (though I am sure you – and perhaps others – believe that nonsense that “the Spirit is drawing you, that is why you are here”). I am employed, quite enjoyably so, though my present situation has me working remotely while trying to sell my house.

            While a pastor, all my relationships were with people in the church. When I left the church, I left most of those relationships behind, as is common for pastors. I don’t wish to be a presence among them in their search for a new pastor. As a result, I find myself living in a town in which I have no real connections to anyone since the church connections are over, and all of my co-workers are a few states away. Until I can sell my house and move up to the workplace, all my socialization is limited to my wife and kids and people on the internet, which for now includes arguing with you fine folks.

            As for my satisfaction with my life before and after exiting Christianity, as I have mentioned elsewhere, I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I have dealt with doubts of various sorts for years and over the last couple of years those doubts grew and grew. It caused a bit of psychological angst to push those doubts away. Now I no longer need to reject doubt, now I no longer need to accept problematic answers to the inconsistencies in Christianity, now I am free to face reality for what it is – something Christians are not even allowed to do, as demonstrated by several of the comments on this article. I was once as bound as all of you, but now I am free. You may not believe me when I say this, but rest assured, this is true freedom and it feels quite good.

          • parsonsmike says

            Chris,
            You say you have freedom, but didnt you think the same thing many years ago when you first claimed to know God?
            Certainly the burden of no longer living a lie is a great release.
            There will be the day, sooner or later, when one reaps what one has sown.
            I imagine that you will reap soon enough. Though God may have mercy on you before that day, or maybe through that day, or maybe not at all.

          • says

            Mike,

            Of course, there will be no reaping of any kind. And as for my former “freedom”, it sure felt like a chain, no matter how much I called it free.

          • says

            On the judgment/hell/last account/fire and brimstones bit, I’ll repeat an amusing tweet I once saw:

            Threatening an atheist with Hell is like a child telling an adult he won’t get any presents from Santa.

  9. says

    Well, another one, who is going down the path of “they left us, because they never really were one of us to begin with” is the lead singer of the Michael Gungor Band. He’s heading down the same road of trying to pick and choose, which passages of the Bible he believes, and doesn’t believe. He believes in Darwinian Evolution over Creation. He’s also drifting into a God is our mother view, as well. And, when someone starts drifting down that road, then it won’t be long before they’re denying essential doctrines. I mean, if you can’t believe that God created the Universe in 6 days, or you think God should be called our mother….well, you’re not far from having a hard time believing in the virgin birth and the resurrection.

    http://christiannews.net/2014/08/06/award-winning-worship-leader-generates-controversy-for-rejecting-genesis-as-literal/

    • Jess says

      volfan007,

      I don’t believe God created the universe in six days. There are billions if not trillions of years between Gen. 1 verse one and two. I do believe God recreated the Earth and all that’s on it in six days, as it pertains to Gen.

      • John Wylie says

        That’s called the Gap Theory and although I’m not in that camp, lots of great, orthodox men of God held to that view. J. Vernon McGee and W.A. Criswell to name two.

        • volfan007 says

          John,

          I know that these two men did NOT believe in Darwinian Evolution. They did not believe that we climbed out of the primordial ooze and become a monkey and then become a human. Also, I don’t believe these men would call God, our Mother.

          I do know that some good and godly people believe in the gap theory….even though I disagree with them wholeheartedly. But, Gungor takes it to a whole nother level when he says, “I have no more ability to believe, for example, that the first people on earth were a couple named Adam and Eve that lived 6,000 years ago,” he wrote. “I have no ability to believe that there was a flood that covered all the highest mountains of the world only 4,000 years ago and that all of the animal species that exist today are here because they were carried on an ark and then somehow walked or flew all around the world from a mountain in the middle east after the water dried up.”

          Then, he said, “I have no more ability to believe these things than I do to believe in Santa Claus or to not believe in gravity,” he continued. “But I have a choice on what to do with these unbeliefs. I could either throw out those stories as lies, or I could try to find some value in them as stories.”

          He is denying that Adam and Eve were real people. He seems to be denying the flood and Noah. He calls the historical things that happened in Genesis “stories” that he tries to find some “value” in.

          Gungor is departing from the faith.

          David

        • John Wylie says

          Vol,

          I was actually addressing Jess’s comment earlier and it would appear he believes in the gap theory.

        • Jess says

          Volfan007,

          I do not believe in Darwinian Evolution. What I’ve just stated has nothing to do with Darwin.

  10. says

    The idea of skepticism is that it can be used by either side against the other side, making for no progress by anyone. It is funny, in one respect, to see such games played by folks who refuse to take one another seriously, and it is not funny in another respect. As to conspiracies and silly stuff like Dan Brown’s novels (I was reading the materials upon which he based them some 25-30 years ago)(the Knights Templars, etc.), we do have grounds for the former and stuff that will not stand up to critical scrutiny for the latter. The conspiracy stuff will endure a close careful examination. Why? Because the folks who take part in those things cannot resist telling others about it. I will recommend a few volumes like Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope and his The Anglo American Establishment. There are families involved in this mess, and the more skeptical of them have come to the fore with some really good propaganda for evolution, agnosticism, and atheism. O, and by the way, the families will kick out members who do not go along to get along. A friend of mine had one of those booted out members in his church who tried to tell him all about it as well as provide him with the first volume by Quigley that I mentioned above. My friend had been so brainwashed by the very effective stuff that is sold to the public that he could not believe the evidence, when it stood up and smacked him in the face. The same goes for the evidence of the Christian Faith. I noticed, Chris, that you ignored my reference to Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, a fellow whose reason led him rather reluctantly to the Faith. Amazing what we can ignore, when we want to do so. Of course, my unbelief many years ago was due to complete deadness to the reality of God. I saw the transformations which you mention, up close and personal, and they meant nothing to me. It was only after God made Himself known to me that those things had any meaning at all. Then I went in for the long and detailed research across the past 50 years, being trained in critical thinking to a far greater degree than most people can imagine. I even had one of the theoreticians for world communism (technical word is Marxism) for a professor. One of the things I discovered is that the scientific method suffers from several problems (I discovered this some 43 years ago, when I was writing a Master’s thesis in American Social & intellectual History and trying to handle a truth was in two parts which parts were apparently contradictory and yet true). O by the way, Chris, have you ever read the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn? A commie professor I had at an Ivy League University (not the theoretician: that was somewhere else) recommended his One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich. After that I read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, a real eye opener on the consequences of atheism. Even I who had taken notes on the Inquisition was impressed. However, like the latter had a Christian relief in folks like the Waldensians, so atheism had their Christian relief in people like the peasant that Solzhenitsyn described in the novel and the Christian Jewish doctor who saved his life in the camp at the expense of the doctor’s own life. While we are at it I might well add the African Americans whose history I studied, and they did not surprise me at all when they forgave people for their transgressions against them. They really took the Christian Faith seriously. One can learn a lot from the poor and, supposedly, ignorant folks who believe in Christ. I am grieved at your unbelief, Chris, finding it is poorly based. And the fellow who said God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked was just quoting the Bible. One has to come up against the great tragedies of life in order to discover thee might be other answers. However, I remember one fellow who wrote me many years ago, “Those who don’t move don’t die, but those who don’t move are already dead.” I was seeking to win him to Christ in the first summer after my conversion. That Fall we went off to different schools, and I would find out at Christmas that he had been killed in a car wreck over the Thanksgiving holiday. I still grieve over his loss, and I still hope that some how he found peace with the God many say does not exist.

  11. says

    My previous comment was caught in the too-many-links moderation, here again with one less link:

    In case anyone is wondering how things progressed with my comment above (#54 at this time of writing), tragically, neither prayer nor medical science were sufficient and a young man’s life came to a full end today, just over a week after his terrible accident. Deepest condolences to the family, no life should have to end that young.

    https://www.facebook.com/770331806353121/photos/a.770829319636703.1073741829.770331806353121/774459762606992/?type=1&permPage=1