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Sun Mar 25, 2018, 12:28 PM

Why Christian Theology Needs (Former) Atheists

A lot of prominent 20th century Christian thinkers used to be skeptics.

Source: Christianity Today, by John Woodbridge


Walter Hooper, C. S. Lewis’s personal secretary, once commented to the great Christian writer about a clever inscription engraved on an atheist’s tombstone: “Here lies an atheist. All dressed up with no place to go.” Not bemused, Lewis quipped: “That atheist probably wishes now that were true.”

Impertinent as Lewis’s one-liner might first appear, it was not a malicious verbal barb. Lewis was deadly serious. After all, he viewed atheism as having deadly serious consequences. Rather he sought to woo and warn atheists they faced a desperate future apart from Christ.

Lewis’s specific apologetic endeavor to thwart atheism possesses an intriguing backstory: Lewis had been a convinced atheist himself. He knew very well of what he spoke. He had “been there, done that” credibility. In Surprised by Joy, Lewis recounts his conversion to theism, a sinuous path from childhood belief to atheism to theism and finally to Christian faith.

My personal “surprise” in reading the book was caused by the discovery that Lewis’s account contained experiences with which I could loosely identify. The simple reason—one for which I am not proud—is that as a young person I, too, had rejected the Christian faith. It was reassuring to learn that Lewis had experienced an unconventional journey of faith similar to the one I had experienced. Not everyone becomes a Christian by going forward at an evangelistic altar call in a church or camp. God sometimes chases people down in very surprising ways.

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Read the rest at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/february-web-only/why-christian-theology-needs-former-atheists.html




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Reply Why Christian Theology Needs (Former) Atheists (Original post)
yallerdawg Mar 2018 OP
guillaumeb Mar 2018 #1
yallerdawg Mar 2018 #2
Igel Mar 2018 #3
yallerdawg Mar 2018 #4
muriel_volestrangler Mar 2018 #5

Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2018, 12:31 PM

1. Recommended.

From Mere Christianity:

“If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake.”

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 25, 2018, 12:49 PM

2. Atheism has one clear single definitive philosophical outlook.

If life teaches us anything, it's how little we know.

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 25, 2018, 02:43 PM

3. Oddly, I rather thought that was what religion taught.

For all the "we don't know much," most atheists I've known fairly well think they have it all over anybody who's religious.

Which was funny at times, a high-school atheist feeling superior to somebody with a string of patents and research papers that helped define a field of inquiry.

Then again, I've known the same flipped: "I'm smarter than Hawking because I know Jesus is Lord."

Humility has never been a strong point for people.

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Response to Igel (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 25, 2018, 02:58 PM

4. If someone tells you they are a person of faith, that defines nothing.

If someone tells you they are an Atheist, that defines everything.

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2018, 03:37 PM

5. I prefer the secretary's sense of humour to Lewis's lack

(and the article writer's ignorance of the difference between "amused" and "bemused" is disappointing. The writer also seem to have a poor sense of humour if he thinks what Lewis said was a "quip" or "one liner".)

In fact, Woodbridge seems ignorant of English culture, if he think that converting to Christianity would typically have been done, by a man of Lewis's age (and class) "by going forward at an evangelistic altar call in a church or camp". Or he is desperately pandering to his readers to make them think that their attempts at conversion are universally useful in any country and time.

I'd much rather read a man who's been a Christian all his life, and shows a fine regard for all his fellow humans, like Fred Clark, than someone who spent a few years as an atheist and now writes for a publication that think same-sex marriage "is ultimately destructive to society" (see https://web.archive.org/web/20150611165823/http://www.christianitytoday.com:80/ct/2015/june-web-only/breaking-news-2-billion-christian-believe-in-traditional-ma.html?start=2 ) . Why post stuff from the conservative Christianity Today here?

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