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Should Christians be considered atheists?

Postby Mephistopheles » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:11 pm

There have been many gods in the past, and to be christian I would assume you would claim that none of them ever existed, which is a definition of Atheism. I also assume that there are some rules that don't allow you to believe in them in the first place, but do you consider that to be Atheistic? what are your thoughts?
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Re: Should Christians be considered atheists?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:12 pm

I'll need to correct some of your sentences by way of response.

"There have been many false gods in the past, but one true God, and to be a Christian I would assume you would claim that none of the made up gods were true, but the true God did exist, which is a definition of monotheism. I also assume there are some rules that don't allow to to believe in them in the first place—such as the rule that truth has to correspond to reality."

> But do you consider that to be Atheistic?

No. Theistic, and monotheistic in particular. Those other gods were made up. They're false, fictional, mythological. There is one true God who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The other alleged gods don't existence, let alone co-exist, with the true God.
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Re: Should Christians be considered atheists?

Postby Mephistopheles » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:28 pm

Ah ok, I understand this now. But this raises a couple more questions for me that may go off topic a bit. First off, is there punishment for believing in them? For example, if you die believing in any false god, would you go to hell? Also, if that is the case, would everyone that died before they had the opprotunity to learn about the true god face the same punishment or some form of punishment? And lastly, if everyone is created equal, then that would mean they should all have equal opportunity to learn about the true god and not face any punishment in the afterlife, but that obviously is not the case for someone born in the middle-east or India or even back 2000 - 3000 years ago, they would be doomed from when they were born because they will be brought up with false religions based on their geographical location. So on that premise, how is that fair for them?
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Re: Should Christians be considered atheists?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:40 pm

Wow, this really is a different question. OK, we'll head down your rabbit trail.

> Is there punishment for believing in false gods?

Yes, because the knowledge of the true God is possible, at least in concept if not by name. It is apparent, according to the Bible, that there is such a thing as deity (since we can observe many things in nature pointing in that direction), and that deity is different from nature. It is also discernible (according to the Bible), that people have a conscience and that they have morals (of some sort), both of which point to an objective standard behind them. And if there is an objective standard, there has to have been a source for that objective standard. So anyone who ignores the evidence is accountable for that decision.

> would everyone that died before they had the opprotunity to learn about the true god face the same punishment or some form of punishment?

No, not at all. Hell is not "One Fire Tortures All." Fire is just the image of untold suffering, which is what one will experience when separated from God. In the Bible we have strong hints that there are different degrees of punishment in hell (totally unlike the different levels of hell as in Dante's Divine Comedy, which is not Scripture).

- Matthew 11.22-24 & Luke 10.12: Jesus says it will be “more tolerable” for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than for the people of Capernaum. That would indicate to me a more harsh punishment and a less harsh punishment.
- Matthew 23.14: Jesus tells the Pharisees they will be punished more severely for the way they are deceiving the people and living as hypocrites.
- Revelation 20.13: Each is going to be judged according to what he has done. Since that is the case, then the punishments and rewards can’t be the same for everybody.
- and finally, Luke 12.47-48 (workers are punished with more or fewer blows). There are degrees of punishment, and even sins of ignorance are treated differently than sins
of intention.

Why I bother to point this out is because often those who consider hell to be unfair are picturing the same punishment for all, which is most likely not the case, and infinite punishment for finite crimes, which may also not be the case. People will be punished according to the works they have done (2 Corinthians 5.10; Rev. 20.13).

C.S. Lewis makes some interesting observations about hell. I'll reword them and summarize some of them here: You object to the doctrine of hell. What are you asking God to do? To wipe out past sins at all costs and to give anyone who wants it a fresh start, smoothing difficulties and offering help? But He has DONE that. That's what his death and resurrection were all about. OK, then, are you asking God to forgive you? It's a RELATIONSHIP. He will forgive anyone who wants it, and cannot forgive those who choose not to be forgiven. To leave you alone then? Well, I'm afraid that's what hell is. If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it. If there is a way that must be found by the will, and by love, then it must be possible to refuse it. If the happiness of a person is honestly the result of self-surrender, then no one can make that decision except himself, and he may refuse. I would love to say everyone will be saved. But then I'd have to ask, "Will they be saved against their will, or with it?" If I say "against their will," I'm in the middle of a contradiction; how can self-surrender and love be involuntary? But if the answer is "With their will," it begs the question: "What if they will not give in?"

> if everyone is created equal

Everyone is not created equal. This is not a biblical teaching.

> then that would mean they should all have equal opprotunity to learn about the true god and not face any punishment in the afterlife

Therefore, subsequently, this is not true either.

> What about people who never heard, or who were before Christ, or who haven't had the opportunity?

In the book of Romans (5.13), Paul says people will only be held accountable for the information they had and what they did with it. There is a principal of reasonable accountability. According to Romans 5.13, people are not held accountable for what they had no possibility of knowing or knowing about. In Deuteronomy 1.39, the children who were too young to make a realistic decision are not judged, but are shown mercy; their level of accountability was directly related to their moral awareness. Isa. 7.15-16 teaches the same thing: God deals differently with people based on their knowledge. So we're getting a sense of the fairness of God, and that he takes many things into consideration as he makes his perfect decisions. So people who haven't heard will be judged according to a fair standard.

So what about people who lived in Asia, or on Papua New Guinea, or South Africa, or Alaska, who never heard of Jesus but lived and died? They will be judged fairly given their own motivations and actions. People will be judged according to the information they had, what they did with it, and their motives behind it. Every judgment will be fair based on what information people had, what they knew, what their motives were, and how they behaved given what they had access to. Otherwise, it wouldn't be fair. So if someone hasn't heard of Christianity, they can't be held accountable for Christianity. But they will be held accountable for what they do know.

C.S. Lewis wisely said: "We do know that no person can be saved except through Christ (John 14.6); we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved by Him."
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Re: Should Christians be considered atheists?

Postby Mephistopheles » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:34 am

Thank you for taking the time to make this well thought out response. This has shown me alot about your perspective and gives me a lot of insight on this topic to further my conclusion.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:34 am.
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