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Posts Tagged ‘Atheism’

The essence of the Christian faith can be found in this amazing sentence:

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14)

Genuine Christianity includes belief in Christ, joined to a personal and ongoing experience of Christ’s deliverance of us. It’s not an abstract set of dogmas. It’s an unfolding story of escape.

Escape Gospel

I wrote about the in whom we have aspect in this prior post. But let’s back up and look at what this passage tells us about rescue.

1. First of all, note that deliverance/rescue/salvation is not a mere bullet point in a list of orthodox dogmas. “We believe in a; and in b; and in c; oh, and by the way, we believe in rescue; and in this; and that; and the other…” While the Christian faith, like any and every other belief system and worldview (including atheism), includes a series of beliefs, the biblical gospel involves far more that a mental framework. It is founded on an individual and corporate experience of escape – a rescuing from moral and spiritual darkness – performed by the hand of God Himself through Jesus Christ. This is an audacious claim. We don’t adhere to dead truths from a mythical God; we believe in a living and active God who does miracles in people. Darkness-defeating deliverances. Today.

2. Also, the Scripture is very plain about the reality of darkness. It is moral. It is spiritual. It is universal. And it is powerful – such that every single human being is in its grip, and we cannot escape without rescue from a much more powerful God of light and love. The first step in God’s rescuing work is making us realize how hopelessly we are enchained in darkness. We’re not good. We’re not neutral. We’re not filled with enlightened intelligence. And, enslaved in our chains of moral folly, we cannot free ourselves. The gospel is for the hopeless leper; to the self-sufficient soul still in the grip of darkness, it simply sounds like foolishness.

3. We’re not independent operators, as much as we’d like to imagine ourselves to be. We belong to a kingdom, and this is a binary (zero or one) reality. The kingdom of darkness. The kingdom of Jesus. No middle ground, no other choices. Until and unless we are delivered by Jesus, we remain enslaved in darkness. This, by the way, is why people so violently oppose the gospel. It undercuts our arrogance and imagined self-determination right to the taproot. The gospel is astonishingly inclusive – any and all are welcome – but also terrifyingly exclusive. One way to God. Only Jesus can deliver the darkness-shrouded soul. We need a specific cure, not a random medicine chest, for our deadly disease.

4. In the midst of all these hard and uncomfortable truths, love is the answer. Not some wispy ’60’s view of hippie mush-love, but the all-powerful love of the Father for His Son, and His love for us expressed through His Son’s sacrifice for sins. We need redemption and forgiveness first and foremost; and that is exactly what God extends to those in darkness. Cleansing where once was only impurity. Restoration where there was hostility. Healing in the midst of brokenness. Sight where once spiritual blindness ruled. Love is not smooth words afraid to offend. Love breaks chains and makes rescues.

5. The conclusion we draw from this – and it is reinforced over and over throughout the Scriptures – is that mere human moral effort is inadequate. Just adopting orthodox beliefs is insufficient. Taking on Jesus’ name with the lips while retaining a heart in love with the practice of sin is a lie. Real, living Christianity is seen where thankful, delivered, spiritually-awakened people worship the God who loves them, and love other imperfect people within the body of Christ and outside of it.

Do you want to witness the reality of God’s work on earth? Don’t crave signs and wonders in the sky. Look for the people of the great escape. That is the hand of God – and He invites you to come to Him for deliverance. Weak, wounded, broken, scarred, blind, enslaved, addicted, impure, dying – Jesus, the great physician, calls the sick to Himself for healing.

 

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Christopher Hitchens, the increasingly visible militant atheist who never hesitates to skewer those that differ from his exalted opinions, has recently criticized (in Slate) President-Elect Barack Obama for choosing Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the upcoming presidential inauguration.

Now, Mr. Hitchens is entitled to his opinions, as are those who disagree with him, and Mr. Obama is entitled to his choices of affliliation/non-affiliation, just as Mr. Hitchens is entitled to those choices he wishes to indulge. However, his primary reason for castigating Mr. Obama’s choice – that Rick Warren, in the infallible and inspired Hitchens Lexicon, is a bigot – exposes Mr. Hitchens for the bigoted hypocrite that he truly is.

According to Mr. Hitchens, virtual pastor of a growing flock of non-believers (and, undoubtedly, making serious coin for his columns and books spouting his hitchologies), Mr. Warren is an unsuitable choice because he actually believes – and dares to speak consistent with those beliefs! – that there is religious truth. That, in fact, there is an actual God, an actual truth, a genuine and non-subjective pathway of relationship to God, and (horror of horrors to all Hitchenites!) people who may be on the wrong side of all that. Of course, Mr. Hitchens accuses Mr. Warren of being a huckster and strongly implies that he is unworthy of such a task as participating in an inauguration because, in the opinion of the Exalted Chris, anyone pastor-figure who actually thinks religious beliefs matter must be a dangerous bigot. This is clearly demonstrated by his closing paragraph, in which he states, “But if we must have an officiating priest, let it be some dignified old hypocrite with no factional allegiance and not a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker who believes that millions of his fellow citizens are hellbound because they do not meet his own low and vulgar standards.

Now here’s the rub. Mr. Hitchens utterly dismissed anyone who disagrees with his religious non-belief as some lower form of life, and thereby reveals his amazingly blatant and hypocritical bigotry. It’s not enough for him to mis-characterize and slander the various religious figures he cites in his article with the most odious of terms. He excoriates the notion of revealed truth itself – while clearly holding forth his own dismissal of objective, God-revealed truth as…well, objective, Hitchens-proclaimed truth. And if you disagree with the bigoted atheist – if you’re on the wrong side of Hitchens-mandated disbelief – you must be a bigot.

This is hypocrisy. Whether or not you agree with Mr. Warren, Mr. Hitchens, Mr. Obama, or none of the above, if you’re going to stridently reject the notion of objective, revealed truth, then don’t pretend to be an oracle of the same. For Mr. Hitchens to say that Mr. Warren is wrong, and that Mr. Obama is wrong for inviting him over for an invocation, is to imply that, of course, Mr. Hitchens is right. And on what basis, then, can the man be “right,” if there is no objective truth, and no God who has declared such truth?

Simple. Because Mr. Hitchens thinks it’s so. He’s right, those who disagree are wrong, and therefore he is, by his own definition, a bigot.  A hypocritical one. Frankly, that’s just exchanging a “big-G” God for a “little-g” god, named Hitchens. Whose blessing, I hope, no sane leader would ever seek while embarking on an enterprise such as leading a free nation of diverse people.

Addendum – let’s have a little fun with what a Pastor Hitchens invocation would look like:

“Oh, not-so-mighty Nothing that no-one here believes in, please turn your blind eye and deaf ear to your needy servant, whose race was spontaneously generated by chance from nothing and who owes nothing to your Non-existent Being, and favor us with your Absence as we embark on the noble, but ultimately meaningless task of leading this great (in our opinion – your results may vary) nation forward in its quest to define itself by whatever politically correct agenda may be hatched by current grievance groups that gain power through survival-0f-the-fittest strategies of subduing lesser citizens that cling to outmoded notions of your Absence. We are a diverse people, and we confess that we’d be a better people if only stupid fools like those benighted God-believers who founded our nation would get out of the way so that the superior chosen ones – those who now invoke non-existent non-deities to non-interfere with our human affairs – could rule unfettered in our arrogance and intellectual acumen. O nameless and purposeless force that accidentally evolved us, allow us to honor whatever you are or aren’t – actually, we really don’t care one way or another, but this kind of thing is an old tradition, so we’re just spewing words as a feel-good gesture until we can get down to partying – may we be successful in repressing, suppressing, and oppressing those who oppose our view of truth and obstruct our agenda of allowing the fittest to rule (by our definition of fitness, of course), and in all things, may our version of reality reign, and be jammed down the throats of the ignorant, until they are converted or extinguished from the earth, so help us…us. Amen”

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