Evangelical Atheism. Atheist apologetics. I’m not entirely sure what you call it — if it even has a name — but there’s a growing segment of the unbelieving world that exercise not only their right to not believe (and it IS their right to do so), but also seek to convert those who do believe. It’s kinda the flip-side of the anti-Christian culture. Instead of looking to destroy Christianity through lawsuits, they hope to depopulate it. It’s taken the most ludicrous turns at times. I’ve even seen a WikiHow page on “How to convert a Christian to atheism”. I might find it an INCREDIBLY offensive page, if I were the type to take offense to such as that, but all I can do is chuckle and shake my head in disbelief. They obviously have no clue what real faith looks like.. though I’m sure the Osteen-esque church of today might be an indication as to why this is.
As a believer, this comes as no surprise. This time in history was prophesied in the first century, featuring a “latter rain” revival to faith as suggested in James 5:7 , followed by the “falling away” foretold in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. It makes perfect sense to me that those who chase after the “Jesus fad”, eager for the service that Jesus provides and paying little mind to the life He expects us to live, become disillusioned easily. But I’d like to answer such evangelical atheism on their own terms.
I should forsake my faith? Okay, fine. Why? What possible good would it do me? Those of you who know me, know me to be a fairly intelligent person. Would foregoing faith make me smarter somehow? These same people know me to be a fairly compassionate man. Would becoming an atheist make me more compassionate? Even though I disagree with the morality of a great deal of libertarians, my politics are UNSHAKABLY libertarian. Would my hypothetical atheism somehow make me more libertarian? I’m not the world’s strongest optimist, but I do have an INCREDIBLE capacity for hope and peace. Would me rejecting Christ somehow bring me more peace, more hope?
You want me to disbelieve the God I serve? Okay — to what end? What would be the point? How would it serve me? What would I gain? What would the world gain?
Granted, this is not your typical approach to evangelical atheism. Usually, they beat us over the heads with their microscopes, and we respond by beating them over the heads with our Bibles. Lather, rinse, repeat, and nobody is the better for it. There is no dialogue. There is only the two sides, talking AT each other.
I’ve never been that type of guy. The way I’ve always seen it, cream always, always, ALWAYS rises to the top, so I have nothing to fear in putting my faith on the table. I don’t have to shore up my beliefs against an atheist assault — not talking about apologetics (there is definitely a place for logical argument in Christianity) but about blocking my ears out of bias. See, if Christ is true, then He can WITHSTAND the assault WITHOUT my bias. Further, if there’s some place in my faith that has holes in it, such a confrontation tends to point those holes out. It’s win-win!
But this is how I approach faith, and I’m talking about how I approach unfaith. Why SHOULD I give up my faith? What could I hope to gain? It’s not the typical question to ask, but to be fair, I’m not the first person to ask it…
John 6:66-68 — After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
In John 6, Jesus described Himself as the Bread of Life, a divine “food” given by God for their consumption. Now, this passage has been interpreted a number of different ways, most notably in support of the doctrine of transubstantiation. The typical Jew of the day probably thought He was talking about cannibalism. I personally see it as a spiritual metaphor, using the physical digestive process to illustrate spiritually what we are to do with Christ (His identity, His ministry, His teachings).
Either way, the disciples that followed Jesus had a hard time with this illustration, and many chose to “unfollow” Jesus at that point (you can thank Andy Stanley for that word hehe). As they walked away, Jesus turned to His disciples and asked them if they wanted to leave too. Simon Peter’s reply was simple — “To whom shall we go?”
To what end? How would it serve me to leave? Yeah, I don’t get You sometimes, and yeah, Your teaching can be rough, and yeah, I could go away FROM You, but where would I go TO? No, I don’t understand sometimes, but if I left, would I understand more?
Where could I find the hope that I find in You? The peace? What good would it do for me to leave? What would be the point? How would I be the better for it?
Atheists think that they have the market cornered on logic. Not all atheists, mind you — I do have a few friends of that persuasion that don’t reach that level of arrogance, just as I have a few Christian friends who surpass it — but enough that it feeds this growing movement of evangelistic atheism. Amazingly, they presume that Christians lack the capacity for rational thought, simply because Christians reach a different conclusion than they. It’s to these atheists that I pose the question…
What would be the point? How would I be the better for it? To whom shall I go?