Am I Afraid of Atheism?

Revolution Church — which was founded by Jay Bakker and has followed him from Phoenix to Atlanta to New York City to its present home in Minneapolis — is a unique faith community. Yes, it’s small (at least in person; its online footprint, via the podcast, is much larger). But the people who attend are there for something that very few churches offer, and that’s brutal, unadulterated honesty. That’s what Jay brings each week, and that’s what those who attend are hoping for.

I cannot claim to be as honest or humble as Jay, but when he asks me to guest preach, I try to get in touch with my Inner Jay. That’s what I did last Sunday, in a talk entitled, “Should We Be Afraid of Atheism.”

Jay talks openly about his doubts. Several times, I’ve heard him admit at Revolution that he doubts daily whether God exists. At many churches, this would be disconcerting (see, for example, where the Archbishop of Canterbury admits his own doubts), but at Revolution, that’s the very thing that people come to hear.

I, too, doubt God’s existence — though less today than I used to. But that’s not what I talked about last Sunday. Instead, I talked about the doubts of others, and whether atheism is part of the legacy of the emerging church movement.

[Read more...]

Arguing with Atheists

There’s a very big difference between, on the one hand, making a theological, philosophical, or scientific argument for the existence of God and, on the other hand, making a personal statement about why you still believe in God despite your doubts. Those are two very different types of communication.

I am keenly aware of the difference. I’ve written many posts here that are the former, and I’ve got an entire chapter already written for a forthcoming book that is along those lines, arguing with Aquinas’s famous “Five Ways.”

Yesterday’s post was surely not that. Yesterday’s post was the latter, an honest accounting of one of the several reasons that I continue to profess faith in God, in spite of the fact that I am beset with doubt.

But the biggest atheist blogger in the world picked it up, mocked it, told his readers that I had made the worst argument for the existence of God that he’d ever read, and pointed them here. They came, they told me I’m an idiot, and they left. (It’s shocking — shocking, I tell you! — that atheists don’t find one of my reasons for belief compelling.) I don’t imagine they’ll be back anytime soon.

So it goes in the blogosphere these days.

For those of you still reading, I was simply trying to say this: One of the reasons that I continue to have faith is that so many in the world do; so many — the vast majority, by anyone’s reckoning — that I cannot help but pay attention to that. I don’t think that all those people who believe in the divine, and all the billions who’ve preceded us on this plant who have believed similarly, are stupid lemmings. I think their belief deserves enough respect that I cannot shuck it off so very easily.

Take it or leave it. But I stand by it.

“Why Are You Still a Christian?”

Faith and doubt coexist for Jay Bakker.

That was the question asked to me yesterday by a dear friend as we drove to lunch. And it’s a good one.

As I’ve written recently, I’m disheartened by the number of friends of mine who are no longer theists. The latest is Ryan Bell, who is starting a Year Without God (I blame AJ Jacobs for all the “Year Of…” madness; I think that meme has pretty much run its course). Ryan is a former pastor, and now a former instructor at Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University. (In a post about being let go from those positions, he says that Christian institutions of higher learning are afraid of faculty asking tough questions. I have not found that to be the case at Fuller, though I do have my concerns about other schools. Fuller has continued to employ me in spite of the objections raised by several high profile alumni.) Is Ryan really living as an atheist for the year? Some atheists don’t think so.

But back to the question my friend asked me. As someone beset with doubts, she wondered what it is that keeps me Christian. I have several answers to the question — many of which relate specifically to Jesus of Nazareth — but here’s the one reason that’s most significant to me these days:

[Read more...]

A Friendly Atheist Critique of Evangelical Acceptance of Gays

Fellow Patheos mega-blogger, Hemant Mehta, watched my video on evangelicals like Rob Bell and Jim Wallis coming around on marriage equality, and he has some thoughts of his own:

[Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X