Are atheists helpful for Christians?
Roger Olson is rarely unchallenging or shallow in his writings. Nor is he in a recent blog post Thank God for Atheists! His contention is that atheists do Christians a service – unintentionally. And he sets out multiple reasons to establish his position. It’s as good read.
Here are two sections that caught my attention:
“…having said all that, I do think that belief in a god, the sole supreme being, the creator and moral governor of the universe, is more rationally satisfying than its denial. I think Mortimer Adler’s wonderful little book How to Think about God is a good example of how that can be demonstrated. Hans Kung’s book Does God Exist? is compelling. Adler uses a form of the cosmological argument to show that without belief in god there is no explanation for the universe. Kung uses a form of the moral argument to show that without belief in god there is no escape from nihilism. These arguments have value when believers in a deity (theists) are up against aggressive atheism (e.g., in some secular schools).”
“So, where should Christians turn to find a true alternative to atheism and theism? Nicholas Ludwig Count von Zinzendorf said “If I did not believe in Jesus, I would not believe in God.” I think this was best interpreted and lived out and proclaimed by his distant spiritual descendent Christoph Blumhardt who cared nothing about a vague God of explanation (theism) or God as security blanket. Blumhardt (who inspired both Barth and Moltmann) preached a God of the future Kingdom who both loves us all AND judges all our ego-centered attempts to use God and religion for our own purposes. Blumhardt’s motto was not “Believe in God” or “Fight atheism” but “Die so that Jesus may live!” In other words, live solely and exclusively for the coming Kingdom of God in the here and now. That’s authentic Christianity and atheism can be one tool that corrects us and turns us in that direction and away from reliance on arguments or proofs or angry denunciations of atheists.”
On 1st January at 6pm we’re going to interact on ‘God and the New Atheism.’ There’ll be a Q&A time before enjoying a Summer night BBQ.