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A question for Atheists

January 27, 2016

A few days ago I saw a website that publishes lists of things Christians say to Atheists on Twitter that they compiled at #ThingsTheGodlySay.  It is quite eye-raising to say the least.  Most of the examples mix piety and profanity and cannot be repeated but here are a couple of the cleaner ones:  “I pray that Jesus kills you slowly” or “How appealing it will be when your skin is bubbling up and falling off in the heat of The Fire.”  Most of the postings seem to think they are speaking for God or, at least, are speaking with His hearty approval.

In addition to making me want to apologize for my idiot Christian brothers the whole matter has me thinking about things I might say to Atheist friends.  I’ve had the privilege of knowing several Atheists in my life and one in particular, a former boss, is a man who greatly influenced my life for the better.  While we had frequent clashes of worldview we were good friends and, in an odd twist, when I left to go to the mission field he was a generous supporter, donating more than 25% of our needed support, and he continued to do so until he died.  It made my wife and I oddities on the mission field; a couple whose largest supporter was an outspoken Atheist.

But it is clear from those horrific comments that not everyone agrees with me about Atheists being quite capable to be both intelligent and nice.  And it is not just those postings.  The wildly popular Christian movie “God is not Dead” gives such a horrible and unfair picture of Atheists that it turns my stomach.  All this vitriol makes me wonder what they must think of us.  It also raises a question in my mind that I’d like to ask Atheists.

What sort of God do you think doesn’t exist?

The question is neither a joke nor a trap.  They must have formed some sort of opinion of the God we worship and decided there is no way he could possibly exist.  I wonder what they think God is like; except imaginary of course.    The same question can be put in another, more dangerous, way.

How would you describe the God we Christians worship?

What keeps me from actually asking that question is the old maxim “Never ask a question if you don’t think you are going to like the answer.”  But it points to the reality that when Atheists, and everyone else, form their opinions about God they are greatly influenced by the Christians they know.  We collectively are giving them information about the God we worship every day.

Now, a disclaimer, I know that Atheists, like Christians, are not “one size fits all.”  This is even more true since I don’t think that atheists have “gatekeepers” like we do; those people who patrol the tribal boundaries of Christianity ever vigilant for people who stray.

As Christians we need to be mindful of the picture we paint of God through our words and deeds.  As a Christian I wish that all my brothers and sisters could have the experience of having a good and challenging friend like I did.  This is probably fruitless both under my worldview and his but Dick, all these years later, I still cherish our friendship.

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From → Christianity

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