Tag Archives: Atheism

Christians are Atheists? Part 2

Justin Martyr was a 2nd century apologist, and is considered as one of the Apostolic fathers in church history. His writings, along with many of the Ante-Nicene fathers, which means prior to the council of Nicaea in 325 AD, were highly influential on the early church and continue to encourage Christians today. Justin Martyr wrote an important work which is titled First Apology, where he addresses Antoninus Pius, his sons, and the Roman Senate in which Justin gives an apology, or defense, of the Christian faith. Particularly, Justin responds to the accusations of Christians being atheists in chapters 4 through 6.

Here is chapter 4 of Justin Martyr’s First Apology:

Chapter IV.—Christians unjustly condemned for their mere name.

By the mere application of a name, nothing is decided, either good or evil, apart from the actions implied in the name; and indeed, so far at least as one may judge from the name we are accused of, we are most excellent people. But as we do not think it just to beg to be acquitted on account of the name, if we be convicted as evil-doers, so, on the other hand, if we be found to have committed no offence, either in the matter of thus naming ourselves, or of our conduct as citizens, it is your part very earnestly to guard against incurring just punishment, by unjustly punishing those who are not convicted. For from a name neither praise nor punishment could reasonably spring, unless something excellent or base in action be proved. And those among yourselves who are accused you do not punish before they are convicted; but in our case you receive the name as proof against us, and this although, so far as the name goes, you ought rather to punish our accusers. For we are accused of being Christians, and to hate what is excellent (Chrestian) is unjust. Again, if any of the accused deny the name, and say that he is not a Christian, you acquit him, as having no evidence against him as a wrong-doer; but if any one acknowledge that he is a Christian, you punish him on account of this acknowledgment. Justice requires that you inquire into the life both of him who confesses and of him who denies, that by his deeds it may be apparent what kind of man each is. For as some who have been taught by the Master, Christ, not to deny Him, give encouragement to others when they are put to the question, so in all probability do those who lead wicked lives give occasion to those who, without consideration, take upon them to accuse all the Christians of impiety and wickedness. And this also is not right. For of philosophy, too, some assume the name and the garb who do nothing worthy of their profession; and you are well aware, that those of the ancients whose opinions and teachings were quite diverse, are yet all called by the one name of philosophers. And of these some taught atheism; and the poets who have flourished among you raise a laugh out of the uncleanness of Jupiter with his own children. And those who now adopt such instruction are not restrained by you; but, on the contrary, you bestow prizes and honours upon those who euphoniously insult the gods.

Chapter V.—Christians charged with atheism.

Why, then, should this be? In our case, who pledge ourselves to do no wickedness, nor to hold these atheistic opinions, you do not examine the charges made against us; but, yielding to unreasoning passion, and to the instigation of evil demons, you punish us without consideration or judgment. For the truth shall be spoken; since of old these evil demons, effecting apparitions of themselves, both defiled women and corrupted boys, and showed such fearful sights to men, that those who did not use their reason in judging of the actions that were done, were struck with terror; and being carried away by fear, and not knowing that these were demons, they called them gods, and gave to each the name which each of the demons chose for himself. And when Socrates endeavoured, by true reason and examination, to bring these things to light, and deliver men from the demons, then the demons themselves, by means of men who rejoiced in iniquity, compassed his death, as an atheist and a profane person, on the charge that “he was introducing new divinities;” and in our case they display a similar activity. For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ; and in obedience to Him, we not only deny that they who did such things as these are gods, but assert that they are wicked and impious demons, whose actions will not bear comparison with those even of men desirous of virtue.

Chapter VI.—Charge of atheism refuted.

Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.

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Christians are Atheists?

When we hear the word “atheist” these days, we think of an individual who denies the existence of any sort of deity. Moreover, the atheist is typically a naturalist and a materialist who rejects the notion of any supernatural influence, and embraces a humanistic worldview where man is simply an autonomous creature not bound or restricted by any transcendental entity. The American Atheists website defines atheism as follows: “Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity, which implies that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own.”

Recently I have been reading Justin Martyr’s, First Apology, and I found it interesting the charges he was refuting made against Christians during the 2nd century. What was so interesting about the charges being refuted? Christians were accused of being atheists. How can Christians be considered atheists? Well, the term “atheist” not only means to deny any form of deity, but it also carries with it the idea of a person who believes in a particular deity that is not the same deity worshiped by the larger society. In other words, if 20 people worship a tree and 1 person decides to worship a rock, the rock worshiper is considered an atheist since he refuses to worship the God that is worshiped by the consensus of the society. Christians were considered atheists because they refused to worship all of the idols and false gods that were being worshiped during the 1st and 2nd centuries. These days, atheism is the complete opposite of what was going on during Justin Martyr’s day, but it does exemplify the continual decay of our culture. I remember reading in Francis A. Schaeffer’s book, Death in the City, his assessment that man used to believe that something was out there, but nowadays people believe nobody is home.

With all that being said, I wanted to share with all of you some of Justin Martyr’s writings from his First Apology, where he responds to the accusations of Christians being atheists. I will be posting citations from his writings in the following days so stay tuned. May we be challenged and encouraged by Justin Martyr and his unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ.

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“Why I hate religion!”

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I can’t stand religion, one look at my “About Me” and you notice I make it known in the very first sentence that I am not a “religious person.” I know it might sound like an oxymoron,” how does the Christian kid not like religion?”. Well I saw this video about a year ago for the first time and believe it will answer that question for you. Mark driscoll does a great job explaining the difference between religion and redemption. Take out 10 mins of your day to watch this video and I’m sure you will be blessed also.

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The Dilemma of New Atheism

 

Humanity in the 21st century is particularly bent on bettering society and revolutionizing the world. Political correctness and the embrace of universal indifference has discernibly infiltrated the mindsets of people and brought awareness for self empowerment; thus causing an exclusion of any religious concept, especially Biblical Christianity. Apart from lack of faith in God, most refuse to be subject to a higher power; let alone a mandated lifestyle and the thought of restraint or submission is unbearable. Today, unbelief and lack of acknowledgment towards God is no longer an individual reserved personal thought, but rather a strongly outspoken view that longs to disprove and annihilate faith in God.

 As active atheist Richard Dawkins puts it in The God Delusion, “I do everything in my power to warn people against faith itself.” Others attacking the thought of special creation, Atheist Stephen Jay Gould claims “we are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because comets struck the earth a whipped out dinosaurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise available…” Atheist Carl Sagan believed that extraterrestrials would be able to explain to humanity and justify the billions of dollars spent on listening in on outer space waiting for some contact. Philosopher Betrand Russell claims the universe is “just there,” but holds to no scientific explanation. Francis Crick, the co discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule who believes life came about “probably because a spaceship from another planet brought spores to seed the Earth.”

It seems that these men of renowned intellect cannot give a remotely intelligible answer for creation and it would be safe to say that these answers are rife with ignorance. What is confusing about New Atheism is that these individuals are militantly seeking to destroy faith and God, but the question the author has is thus, if God does not exist why argue? This militant approach New Atheists are taking to destroy faith and religion is not any different than accusations they raise against organized religion being responsible for hate. Is not what they are promoting in effect the same thing? New Atheists have one thing in mind, world domination. They desire a world that has their worldview only and will not stop until that comes to fruition. Their first objective, eliminate Christianity in the western world. Evidently, these New Atheists are not historians. Christianity has faced a myriad of attacks throughout its history: Valerius Diocletian persecuted Christians and tried to destroy every bible. Then 25 years later, the Roman emperor Constantine ordered that 50 perfect copies of the Bible be made at the governments’ expense. The French philosopher Voltaire, a skeptic who destroyed the faith of many people, boasted that within 100 years of his death, the Bible would disappear from the face of the earth. Voltaire died in 1728, but the Bible lives on. The irony of history is that 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society moved into his former house and used his printing presses to print thousands of Bibles. These attacks have only made Christianity stronger, as it adds to its numbers daily with new converts.

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The Folly of the Fool: A Reprise

When we call someone a fool we usually mean it in a condescending manner. What we are really substituting the word fool for the is word stupid. Is that what the bible is implying in Psalm 14:1? Which says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Not at all. The actual render for the word fool in the passages context is the Hebrew word nabal which refers to a moral fool or a completely amoral person. When a person is born again (Gr. anothen – born again from above) there has been a constitutional and moral change; the old has passed away and they are now a new creation in Christ Jesus. The moral change is where the atheists have the issue, why? Because to them if the God of the bible exists, then they know that He would require them to have His standard of morality. How often do you see atheists scambling to disprove the existence of elves? You won’t, because the existence of elves does not require them to have an absolute standard of truth or morality. So, they rid themselves of the existence of God and free themselves up to live as morally or immorally as they see fit, giving them freedom from accountability and a license to live without restraint. This type of thinking abolishes the concept of moral absolutes. Which always leaves me with this thought, if there is no absolute moral standard then how do they judge what’s right and wrong? By what standard then is stealing, rape, and murder wrong? I have seen throughout my years as a christian that the main reason why people have an issue with God is because they cannot see themselves being subject to His rule or lordship. They either profess there is no god or create for themselves a factitious god to suite there needs and desires. Trying to rid the world of an absolute standard of morality, accountability, responsibility, and God will only result in chaos and their own ruin. I will conclude with a great quote by Ravi Zacharias, “Wickedness is always excused as anything but the moral degeneracy that has resulted from each one of us becoming the god of God.”

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