Make no mistake, engaging a hard-core atheist can be extremely frustrating for a Christian. It requires a Christian to live out Galatians 5:22-23. If we treat atheists with love, joy (which will be toughest), peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, we cannot lose…in God’s eyes at least. What we can’t do, though, is judge. While the dialog will be blasphemous, we have to remember that atheists are just defending their faith as Christians should defend ours, minus the hatred.
From the very beginning of this Facebook conversation, Mark made a couple of points very clear about what he expects from Christians when we engage and defend our faith. Any time he debates God, he demands that Christians read the Bible not just as individual verses but in its entirety in order take notice of its “inconsistencies” and “contradictions.” By doing this Christians won’t be able to simply “cherry-pick” broad, all-encompassing passages to explain away anything controversial. And, let’s face it, the Bible is controversial to those who don’t truly know it. Mark also demands that personal interpretations be kept at a minimum. If the Bible is truly the word of God then the parts that are hard to explain cannot be overlooked or minimized because we are simply uncomfortable with them.
Here’s how atheists view these Christian scriptural oversights according to Evil Bible .com:
“I hear so many Christians now a days claim that the Old Testament is defunct for Jesus was the “lamb” to clear away its rules and regulations. This is just another bullshit scapegoat that Christians use to ignore the atrocities and bizarre laws commanded by their god. Their preachers spoon feed them that the Old Testament is no longer binding so that they can excuse the majority of evil that the bible promotes. I am so tired of Christians manipulating the scriptures so that they can assign a kinder nature to their God…”
Do we use Jesus as a scapegoat? He played the part of the sacrificial lamb but do we know enough about the entirety of the Bible to explain why? We need confidence there is a valid explanation but we’ll never know it if we don’t study the entirety of the scriptures. We’ll never understand if we don’t study!
Mark’s demands are valid. We should get to know the Bible well enough to be able to defend all of it. Many atheists know scripture as individual verses and stories but they don’t understand how it is intertwined from Genesis to Revelation. It’s the same issue for many Christians, unfortunately. I would have been destroyed by Mark in this conversation 10 years earlier when I only knew the CliffsNotes of the Bible. We owe it to God. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to all the lost souls to meet Matt’s demands.
In addition, Mark tires of hearing the same “circular logic” that Christians use to verify our faith. He does not have a relationship with God so he does not understand the personal relationship side Christianity. He does not know what it means to be a child of God. Mark does not understand how a Christian can enter into a relationship with someone unseen so he defines Christian faithfulness as, “…the same circular logic. God said it, I believe it that settles it.” While that works perfectly for us, he does not understand how Christians can trust in a God they cannot scientifically prove. In his defense, though, God wants us to understand why he said “it” and why we should believe “it”, whatever “it” is. Atheists believe this circular logic is our feeble attempt to simply rationalize the acts of a villainous god by basically ignoring them. Mark wants explanations of either human or scientific logic, which, of course, is not what the Christian faith is based on.
More to come…