In this post, the final in my series on why I’m not an atheist, I will address the topic that the post’s title references (nominal “Christians”) and offer some summarizing and final thoughts on the entire series of posts.
Yes, I’m being very blunt here: If you do not go to church; if you do not pray regularly; if you do not read the Scriptures regularly; you are simply not a Christian and have no right to call yourself such. You are, in fact, a functional atheist. You are practicing atheism while claiming to be a Christian. And there are far too many people who do this; I myself was raised this way.
Practicing atheism while calling yourself a Christian is a slander on the name of the faith. It is a slander against the millions (more than 50 million in the 20th century alone!) who have given their lives for being Christians. The Christians of the ancient pagan Roman Empire, of the Islamic empires of the Middle Ages, and of the Soviet Union in the 20th century risked arrest, torture, and death to be able to attend church services, pray in their homes, teach their children about the Faith, and read the Holy Scriptures. These are Christians; those who have full and unimpeded access to the services, to prayer in their homes, to tools for teaching their children about Christ, and to the Scriptures, but choose not to utilize these things, are not Christians.
I’ve heard many reasons (excuses, really) for why people choose not to go to church. Some people think that the church just wants their money. Others view church-going Christians as self-righteous and judgmental. Many will point to the sins of the clergy, such as sexual abuse by priests. But there are two obvious questions that need to be asked of those who present such excuses:
- The Church is a hospital for the healing (salvation) of those (sinners) who are sick with the disease of sin. Do you go to a hospital and expect to find healthy people or sick people? (“I have come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32)
- Why are you letting the sins and shortcomings of others (whether real or perceived) be an obstacle between yourself and Christ? The Lord has told us what we must do to serve him and each of us individually are accountable to him for what we do. (“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” – Romans 10:14)
There is simply no excuse for being a nominal “Christian,” especially in America today where our religious freedom is our guaranteed right and there is no fear of persecution as there are in so many other places around the world today. Christ himself does not give us the option of being nominal followers of him; he states very bluntly, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
If you don’t want to pray; if you don’t want to read the Scriptures; if you don’t want to go to church — fine; but stop claiming to be a Christian and just embrace the title you’ve already put into practice: atheist.
Now I want to offer some final thoughts on my series on why I’m not an atheist before I end this final post in that series.
There are many today who would like to see Jesus Christ as something other than the Son of God sent into the world to save mankind from eternal death. Each new book that makes its way to the “Christianity” section of the bookstore proposes some new and innovative theory about “who Jesus really was.” He was a feminist, some exclaim. No, he was a social revolutionary, others yell. On the contrary, others say, he was a simple Jewish rabbi. Harrumph!, others spit, clearly he was a great mystic and moral teacher.
Each new author in each new book attempts to come up with a “new and amazing” theory about Christ, remaking and reshaping him into their own image — into what they would like him to be. Even atheists attempt to claim him, many accepting him as a great moral teacher and social revolutionary, ahead of his time on feminist issues and economics. But the truth is that the Gospels and the clear tradition held to by the earliest Christians all the way to today do not allow for such interpretations to be made in any honesty.
C.S. Lewis, the famous 20th century Christian author, famously wrote that the Lord offered us only three options for the way in which we are to view him. Either he was a liar or a lunatic or the Lord. Jesus Christ spent several years traveling around ancient Palestine claiming to be God come in the flesh. Imagine someone came to you and told you they were God. You’ve got three options:
- He’s lying.
- He’s a lunatic.
- He really is the Lord.
Atheists and other non-Christians have no right to claim him; they are being dishonest with themselves and others if they say anything but that he was a liar and/or out of his mind.
So now the choice is yours to make. I’ve demonstrated, in this series of posts,
- that Christianity is the root cause of modern morality,
- that without Christianity the natural (and logical) tendency is toward utilitarianism and nihilism,
- that atheists, in order to be consistent, must view human beings as no more than animals,
- that atheism is incapable of producing great individuals like Mother Teresa, while Christianity regularly does so,
- that atheism is a religious choice, not a choice against religion,
- that the Resurrection of Christ is a historically verifiable fact,
- that the common stereotype of Christianity found in the minds of evangelical fundamentalists and atheists alike is not real Christianity, but a later invention under pagan influence,
- that the Orthodox Church is the Church founded by the Apostles and, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, continues to hold to the ancient Apostolic Faith,
- and that Christianity does not give the option of nominal adherence, but only active faith.
And now it is time for you to give your answer to the question Christ puts to us all: