Some may think this would be a strange topic to bring up being as I am a person of Faith, a Christian, a Pastor, and I writer on such issues. However, no matter how odd you think it may be, I have a real appreciation for several friends, authors, and bloggers who see things much differently than I.
I am not offended, scared, or destroyed because someone has a different opinion than me. In fact, having questions, doubts, and discussions are needed. It is through these we learn, grow, and formulate our beliefs and world-views. Even if you don’t agree with everything I write, it is still an opportunity to learn why I think, believe, or act a certain may. It has been through listening to others that I have grown.
So how did I move into an appreciation for this movement? There are actually plenty of reasons which I won’t discuss in this post, such as an appreciation for free thought, an appreciation of science, of debate, and freedom from repression. But, for today, I will just stick with a few. First, it has caused me to examine why I believe what I do. I have had to ask myself some tough questions about the Bible, God, and those who call themselves christians. This has not led me to the end of faith however, but rather a new and better understanding of it.
In 1 Peter 3:15 believers are actually told to be prepared to give an answer as to why they believe, or for the hope they have. Because of the questions that I have been asked, the books I have read, the videos I have watched, I have had to do just that. I do not think I would have grown to be in the place I am now without being pushed to examine what I believe, and why. It has forced me to accept a faith on my own, not just based on anything passed down to me. Now, because of this study and questioning, I feel I can actually give a real answer when someone asks me about faith, life, doubts, or questions they have. I owe this to those who have challenged me.
Sometimes we are almost totally blind to our own faults and failures. At the same time, I am all to aware of the craziness that some people do in the name of God. One thing that the atheist movement has done is to go out of their way to point out the failing of anyone who has faith in some deity. If you are a Christian you may find this quite offensive, and I have had those feelings to. Partly, because I have no desire to point out failings of people whether they are people of faith or not. Sometimes, because I don’t want to be associated with those being attacked.
For some, atheists or people opposed to faith, the reason they want to point out all of these failing, or weirdness, is because it is meant as a personal attack against people of faith. For some they are trying to rid the world of things that harm others. Some may be looking to expose hypocrisy, as they see it. No matter what the cause it can all be seen as a negative.
However, there are some very big positives happening because of this. Corruption and abuse are being exposed. This is one area that I believe people of any faith, belief, or not, should be unified. Abuse and corruption must end. I for one will stand up beside those fighting against these things and join my voice with theirs. There should not be any room or tolerance in the Church, or any organization for that matter, for the sexual abuse and corruption that has taken place. If the atheist movement wants to hold the church, any organization, and itself, up to a higher standard than more power to them. I think is wonderful.
What I am most excited about, however, is that I believe the atheist movement is going to force the church to be what it was when it started. This is where I hope the atheist movement is totally successful in some of it’s goals. Let me explain what I mean.
There was a time in history when Christianity was not the accepted religion of the masses. Instead they only represents a small fraction of the population. Christians were not involved with politics as they were persecuted by the state. Churches didn’t have charitable status as they weren’t organized and recognized by governments.
To some Christians the thought of this being their reality would be a disaster. A loss of our buildings, no income tax receipts, no Christians in government, a total separation of Church and state, and persecution. It would be terrible. This may sound like just what some people opposed to faith are longing for.
I have begun to see things differently now myself though. I now am hoping they get all of these things. You see I don’t believe the outcome would be what everyone expected at all. I don’t just do say this blindly or without reason. If you study the early church it will show what happens when all we have is a faith that is based on loving God and others like ourselves. Or more recently you can look to China as an example.
If we lost everything else it may be the best thing that ever happened. When the church didn’t have politics, wealth, popes, hierarchies, superstars it grew and transformed nations. It was when it was simple and lacking of all these things it was the most powerful. It was when it was in that state it was a world transforming force and growing. Whatever, can get us back to that place, bring it on.
– This topic and many others are discussed at greater length in the the upcoming ‘Beautiful Christ’ book.