Monday, June 25, 2007

Interview with an Atheist

Got this from The Great News Network. Don't know much about their organization (they are involved with Kirk Cameron/Ray Comfort's ministry and with Gospel for Asia). Did like the video. Feel free to offer your thoughts.

To ponder:
If someone asked you to explain why you are a Christian and what you believe, what would you say?

2) In this atheist's description of Christianity, which statements do you agree? Disagree? Why?


Henriet Schapelhouman said...

Thanks for sharing this video. It's striking. If he really is an atheist, and he might be, then it's striking that he understands Christianity better than most Christians. Could we articulate their position as well?

Let's get serious about how we live out our faith.

Anonymous said...

My main problem with the video is that I think the evangelical doctrine about heaven/hell and belief/salvation is theologically out of balance. This theological imbalance is what leads to the practice of “Bible thumping.” The intentions are good, but the results are often counter-productive when it comes to “winning the lost.” Even when our intentions are good, yelling at people telling them that they need to believe in Jesus or they are going to hell does not sound like “good news” to most people these days. It makes God out to be much less than a loving God who goes to great lengths to bring us back into a right and loving relationship with Him. It makes Him look like a vindictive and manipulative God who is more coercive as those who present such a message. Here is a monkey wrench into the typical evangelical mindset: God is love so He sent Jesus to save us. So far so good. But here is the problem. “If you don’t believe and accept Jesus as your savior, you are doomed to hell.” In other words, God says, “Do it my way, or else!” What we end up with is presenting God as this manipulative, all powerful “white male” corporate boss in the sky who dangles the carrot on one side (heaven) and threatens with the stick on the other side (hell) to get us to do what He wants us to do but for our own good. That is not a picture of a loving God.

Anonymous said...

Brooke, i am curious about this imbalance that you speak of?

"My main problem with the video is that I think the evangelical doctrine about heaven/hell and belief/salvation is theologically out of balance."

I would love to hear you develop this clearly. I am curious to hear about this Scriptural "imbalance." Also, yes, God is indeed a loving God. But His love is more accurately seen in the truth of how sinful we are. Many people think that they deserve to be loved because God created them or just because they breathe. That couldn't be farther from the truth. God's love is eternally deep because before we were His children, the Bible says that we were sinners, enemies of God, ungodly and so on. These are very strong words. Until someone realizes the extent of their sin and their need for repentance, they cannot accept God's gift of salvation. Repentance is an essential part of salvation. Repentance was the first thing that Christ preached about. Although I am not a "Bible-thumper" per se, I do share the truth in love, and the truth is what God has revealed in His precious Word. You are very right, we do live in a world of extremes where people are lax and others are down right harsh. There is a great need for those who are living Spirit-filled lives, living the lives that Christ died for us to live.

Anonymous said...

It probably would have been better for me to say that that the way the doctrine of the atonement is PRESENTED by many evangelicals is out of balance.

I believe in repentance. But it is interesting to me that in the Gospels, "sinners" often were the ones who clearly knew their need for mercy. Jesus most often confronted the religious who were concerned with pointing out sinners and condemning them. The irony is that the "religious" were the spiritually blind ones who most needed to repent yet saw no need of it. They had it all figured out about who was "in" with God and who was "out." I hate to say it but evangelicals can fall into that same trap of presenting the "good news" the way the Pharisees did which was, "We're in, you sinner are out because you do not do what we do." The message we often give is, "We're in (saved), you sinner are out (going to hell) because you don't believe like we do. So believe and repent or too bad for you." The message of Christianity is beautiful and unique. However, the beauty of unique Christian core doctrines such as the Trinity, and the Christ event (Crucifixion/Resurrection), and most of all, grace are lost in this "turn or burn" approach. The central thread that runs through these doctrines is undeniably God's love.

Yes, Jesus began to preach repentance early in his ministry (Matt. 4). But to whom was he preaching? He was not preaching to gentiles and pagans. He was preaching to the Jews - God's children/people. "Repent for the kingdom is near" was a message that only the Jews would have understood in their religious context. It was a prophetic message. It was a message of good news; "The kingdom of God is drawing near! The time has come! Something new is about to happen. You (as God's chosen people), know the right direction to go. So if you are not going the right direction, turn around. Don't miss out!" What else could repent mean in the context of Jesus' early ministry? I'm sure he didn't go around saying, "You Jews have got it all wrong so repent and accept me as your personal Savior."

Paul makes it clear in Romans 2, that it is God's kindness that leads to repentance. Yes, Paul talks about God's wrath in the same chapter, but says that it is stored up for the stubborn of heart. Those are the ones he defines as unrepentant. He is warning here those who are hypocritical and judgmental - again if you will, those who are spiritually blind.

I wish these blogs were actually conversations. Printed text often becomes so flat/static and can fall short of conveying intended meaning. These theological issues are often hard to work out in short printed "blurbs."