Two Questions for Christian Readers

Two Questions for Christian Readers March 10, 2012

Remember you can vote once per day for the About.com Atheism Awards.  I’m one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here.

Two atheist blogs in my RSS reader posted open questions for Christians, and since the the Christian commenters here play nice with others nearly all the time, I’d love to dispatch you to take a crack at them.

First up, John Loftus, a minister turned atheist and the author of Why I Became an Atheist and The End of Christianity.  Over at Debunking Christianity, he asks:

Christian theists make two claims about faith:

  1. That atheists define the concept of faith wrong, and
  2. That atheists have faith just like Christian theists do.

So here’s my challenge: Define faith in such a way that it fulfills both requirements!

I’d be interested to see the answers you guys give.  Is the faith that a Christian has supposed to be akin to my belief that I’m something more than a Boltzmann brain?  Is it like my belief that my mother loves me?  It seems like faith is more than the absence of radical skepticism, but I don’t know what definition you guys think is best.

And while you’re mulling that over, perhaps you’ve got something to say to the blogger at No Forbidden Questions, who has a question about 2 Thessalonians 2:7-14.  The verse (with NFQ’s bolding) is:

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You should read NFQ’s entire post, but the basic question is: why does this section not compel Christians to believe in some kind of Calvinist predestination?  After reading this selection, I’m mighty curious, too.  Feel free to answer with counter-texts or context or a broader explanation of how you resolve tensions in the Bible.

And remember, that although I’m interested in your answers, the bloggers who originally posted these questions are presumably even more curious, so cross-post your comments!

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