A “church” in my hometown is advertising this as their current sermon series. When I saw the sign I was reminded very clearly that the Postmodern mindset has all but taken over the majority of the institutional church just as it has our overall society. I have no idea the thought process behind the series or whether they actually believe that such a creature exists. What I believe is that in their attempt to be “relevant” they’ve been “conformed to this world” system.
Interestingly the same day that I saw that sign I also read that Campus Crusade for Christ is dropping both the “Crusade” and “Christ” from their name. Now they are just Cru (?!). Nonsense, but cool, hip (borrowed from the 60’s) and most importantly, relevant (somehow). It is my intention to address these two subjects in this post.
As far as the “Christian atheist” is concerned. I realize that in a Postmodern world a word means, as Humpty-Dumpty said, “Just what I choose it to mean – neither more or less.” However, communication is dependent upon words. Sentences are built with words. Paragraphs are formed by sentences, and conversations occur in the realm of sentences and paragraphs. If words mean what each individual or group decides they mean, then anyone beyond the individual or those included in the group are helpless to know what the individual/group is attempting to say. At that point, communication is impossible. When a church begins to buy in to the Postmodern usage of words then the ability to communicate the message of Scripture is forfeit. And if the Church forfeits the ability to fulfill its only legitimate task – making disciples for those of you who are wondering or wandering – it is like the salt that Jesus spoke of, it is useless and needs to be cast out.
Can there be a “Christian atheist”? If you have to ask the question then you don’t have a rudimentary understanding of Scripture. “And without faith it is impossible to please (God), for he who comes to (“to turn to,” “seek association with, agree with”) God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). The atheist by definition is one who “says in his heart, ‘there is no God'” (Ps. 14:1). This same verse identifies the one who makes that statement as a fool. Make of that what you wish, but I think that it is saying that the one who says there is no God is only going against what he really knows to be true (read Romans 1). If one wishes to be faithful to biblical teaching then we must conclude that there is no such thing as a real atheist. The Holy Spirit stated, with Paul as the human instrument of the message, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident (“clear, plainly to be seen”) to them” (Rom. 1:18-19). Therefore the first portion of the question is answered. According to God there is no such thing as an atheist.
If one says that he is a Christian but doesn’t believe in God he is also revealing his Christology – his beliefs about Jesus Christ. If there is no God, then Jesus Christ is not God. If Jesus is not God because there is no God, then Jesus was neither a good man nor a good teacher, but a liar, deceiver, and false teacher. He told Philip that, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). If the Father does not exist then Jesus lied to His disciples and is not worthy of their, or our, devotion and the foundation for what we call Christianity crumbles. Therefore, if there is no God then Jesus THE Christ is no Christ (the One anointed and sent by God) and logically there is no foundation for Christianity. Thus there are no Christians other than there being a false belief system and those of us who follow it. BTW – If Jesus Christ is not God His death was just another mortal death and has no more significant value than any other human, we are all still dead in our sins.
A church that dabbles with the idea of a Christian atheist does not make itself or its message relevant (I’m so sick of that concept). Instead it perpetuates the lostness and darkness that covers this world and makes the Church’s message irrelevant. If the church that advertised this as a sermon series adequately answers the question of whether there exists a Christian atheist, then maybe I can overlook the usage of the term. But not without choking it down. There are better ways to address the idea of God’s existence and man’s beliefs and needs.
Now, back to the story of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). Part of the explanation the leaders of Cru offered was that most churches and religious organizations don’t have the word Christ in their names. I think that might be a straw man argument or some other logical fallacy. Churches by their very nature carry the name Christ implicitly without it being part of the title. Other organizations that don’t have Christ in their names haven’t removed it in order not to offend or to become more widely accepted.
But the name Cru? First of all I fail to understand why that has been the organizations nickname for years, but I’m on the outside looking in. Secondly, to adopt a name that admittedly has no meaning or definition makes even less sense. However, the Postmodern/Humpty Dumpty mindset has taken hold as can be seen in what one of the defenders of the move has said: “It is a name we intend to give meaning so that when people hear it they know that it’s a caring group of Christians who are passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus” (emphasis added). The same mindset can be seen in a statement on their website. After removing the name Christ from their title the website states:“We were not trying to eliminate the word Christ from our name.” True. You’re no longer trying to; you’ve already removed it. One has to wonder if they read that before they posted it. (Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/07/21/campus-ministry-drops-christ-from-name/#ixzz1SrUMV0vp)
My argument is not against them changing their name. That is their decision to make. But at least choose a name with meaning that clearly identifies who you are and what your mission is. To say that they aren’t bending to political correctness at least looks disingenuous.
These two incidents reveal just how far Christianity and Christian thought has strayed from its biblical moorings. As always, Scripture offers a clear warning. Hebrews 2:1 states, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” Sadly, we have and are drifting from “the standard of sound words which (we) have heard (through Paul)” (2 Tim. 1:13). God help us!