Thinking Out Loud

December 27, 2011

So How Would You Respond?

First, someone who subscribes to some faith-focused view of things decided that this was an appropriate response to atheism:

But then, as often happens in these situations, someone subscribing to atheism decided to fire back across the bow with this:

At this, the majority of Christ-following blog readers here are expected to be offended.  However, for some reason, I’m not.  I rather like the rather quaint way of putting the story because it highlights that this is indeed a story of “foolish things that confound the wise.”

Cosmic?  Yes, in the sense of ‘out of this world.’  In fact, I would think it very important to begin the story with the premise that the intersection of God and mankind is very much the intersection of different dimensions.

Jewish?  Yes.  Christianity is birthed out of and is very much the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham, even the promise given to Adam.

Zombie?  Well, that’s a little extreme, but it fits.  Personally, I always viewed Zombie-ism as a kinda a lifestyle thing, so for me it could describe both Jesus and John the Baptist in their respective wilderness days.

Live forever?  Indeed!  Eternal life starts now.

Eat his flesh?  No self-respecting Christian I know has ever denied that this is a “Top 5″ entry in the category, “Hard Sayings of the Gospel.”   But non-Catholics would say the language is figurative inasmuch as we partake of his sufferings on the cross; Catholics would claim a more literal experience of actually eating his flesh.

Telepathically tell him you accept him?  I’d say the person who wrote this has a better understanding of the gospel than the average church-attender, because at least he/she grasps that the centrality of crossing the line of faith has more to do with an act of believing faith than it does with trying to earn acceptance on the basis of helping little old ladies across the street.  Apologies to elderly females reading this.

…As your master?  Again, bullseye!  There are references in the New Testament to Jesus as Savior, but they outnumbered by references to Jesus as Lord by a ratio of 215:1.  Besides, if you’ve bought in to this point — if you’ve gotten past flesh-eating and zombies and telepathy — you probably feel you’re on to something that you’re going to dedicate yourself to, right?  In for a penny, in for a pound.

So he can remove an evil force?  Sorta.  The Apostle Paul acknowledged the ongoing presence of sin and temptation in the life of the Christ-follower.  I’d refine that one to read, “So he can give you the power to conquer an evil force” on the basis of the conviction that he already conquered it.

A rib woman was convinced by a talking snake…?  God created beings with totally free will including the ability to both reject his authority and to reject his love and desire for community with mankind.  But that had to both be tested out, and also be demonstrated for the man and woman to see for themselves.  There might be dozens of ways to do this, but if you’re looking for a good story, you really can’t make this stuff up. In the first chapter of The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey quotes Walter Wink as saying, “If Jesus had never lived, we never would have been able to invent him.”  That’s how I feel about this.

Makes perfect sense?  Depends to whom you’re speaking.  “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” II Cor. 4:4 (NIV) On the other hand, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. ”  John 1:12 (NLT)

Thanks for reading today.  If you’ll excuse me now, I’ve got to spend some time in telepathic communication, and then me and the rib-woman are gonna have some breakfast.

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8 Comments »

  1. I just read a post on Internet Monk (internetmonk.com) on nearly the same subject. It’s actually a sermon on the absurdity of Christmas, but the cross being foolishness was central to the idea.

    Atheism teaches that everything came from nothing in a process that we do not understand. Christians believe everything that exists came from nothing because God told it to. From a purely scientific basis, using the laws of physics as we understand them, both ideas are pretty far out. Neither makes rational sense. Good science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. I hate it when science and religion get pitted against each other; it’s a big case of using the wrong tool.

    I’ve also heard Christians say things like “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” That is some weak theology to stand on right there. They need to read both posters above. Good treatment Paul.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — December 27, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    • @Clark, not really sure I understand your criticism of “not enough faith”. Both systems of thought require faith (though it is rare to find an atheist that will admit this). It’s neither uncharitable nor inaccurate nor “weak theology” (at least, in and of itself) to hold to the belief that — given empirical evidence and “[g]ood science” like the second law of thermodynamics — the former requires *more* faith than the latter.

      Now if “not enough faith” is the *sum total* of a Christian’s reasoning for his beliefs, then yes, we’ve got a problem. And maybe that’s what you’re decrying here. But I see nothing wrong with the statement as it stands on its own.

      Comment by Brendt Wayne Waters — December 30, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

  2. I see both sides equally valid and equally absurd. Before this gets me into trouble, let me clarify. No two individuals in this world will ever view any thing in the exact same way. Life requires diversity. No two people will view their existence identically either. Sometimes, when encountering a point of view that is radically different than our own perspective, we tend to label it “wrong”. But for the one who believes, regardless of who is doing the believing or what it is they believe in, their belief is perfect for them. Interesting posters to contrast each other. I enjoyed the perspectives.

    Comment by MoonLightened — December 27, 2011 @ 9:06 am

    • I get what you’re saying. But I tend to characterize things less in terms of “right or wrong” but more in terms of “true or false.” On some of the ultimate issues of life, it’s not a matter of what “fits” as though one is trying on a sweater, but what is “truth.” In postmodern culture, we’ve tended to think things through in terms of, “Well, that works for you and I’ll find out what works for me.” But if you read through one of the gospels — which only takes 12-15 minutes — that’s not what Jesus was all about. He goes for more than that, claiming to be, “The way, the truth, the life.”

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 27, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  3. One of my best friends is Atheist. She grew up in a Christian home but she just can’t and does not believe. God said he would leave no rock unturned. Therefore each person will have a chance to believe or not believe. I’m thinking we need to make a stronger case for God if we want non believers to believe. Why do some believe and others not?

    Comment by Tina — December 27, 2011 @ 10:20 am

    • Your question has to be one of the weightier questions in the entire theological realm. Matt 7:13 & 14 says, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (NLT) I think our job is to keep living the message, and to keep putting the truth out there, but ultimately, we can’t force conversions.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 27, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  4. Most people will not believe. That’s the sad truth taught in scripture. I think Christians should be well informed and articulate when it comes to defending the faith, but souls will not be won in debates. We must present the gospel and move on. We need to be relational and Christ-like, but at the end of the day the vast majority of people hearing the message will reject it. Consider the parable of the sower; there is stony ground, a hard path, weeds, seeds that spring up and wither and others that are eaten by birds. Some seeds fall on good soil and produce fruit, but look at all the different ways there are to fail. The Bible says straight and narrow is the way that leads to eternal life and there will be few that find it. As Christians, we must cast the largest net possible then rely on the Spirit to do his work at drawing souls toward God. Paul says one sows, another waters, but it is God that gives the increase.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — December 27, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  5. Tim Keller — possibly quoting someone else, IIRC — has stated that in a debate, one should be careful not to misrepresent the other side’s viewpoints. Both posters are in violation of this rule, though (your breakdown notwithstanding) the latter is in grosser violation.

    Comment by Brendt Wayne Waters — December 30, 2011 @ 5:37 pm


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