Friday, January 2, 2009

An Atheist's Perspective

Every Monday night I go to quasi religious group called "The Gathering" and listen to a podcast from a radio show called Speaking of Faith. It's an incredibly diverse group of less than a dozen very independent thinkers and most of us come from some sort of Christian background but don't really feel like we fit in at church. At the same time, we all enjoy the spiritual journeys that we are on, and our discussions are very interesting, as well as the podcasts themselves.

One of the goals of the group is to question and challenge each other's thoughts, so different perspectives are highly encouraged. We already have a Hindu girl who comes, I've been trying to get a Jewish friend of mine to come and some of us have joked that whoever can find an intelligent atheist to come will win some kind of award. This might sound weird, but I'm beginning to think that if you don't feel comfortable discussing your deepest spiritual beliefs with an atheist, there might be something wrong with your belief system. I'm not talking about explaining the gospel or referencing doctrine, but really contemplating who God is and how God fits into your individual life. I really think that this is more like the approach to evangelism used by Paul, rather than the scriptural approach used at church. I can't understand why God would give us free will if his intent was to confine us to answers found in the bible.

If there was any doubt as to why a differing perspective is a valuable commodity, here is a remarkable article about Christian missionaries called, "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God". If you are a Christian, this article should in no way validate your beliefs, but it should make you realize that outside opinion is important. The author does not believe in God, and probably never will, but he is a logical witness as to what God followers are doing in Africa. If the work of a missionary is not valued by the non Christian world, then maybe that missionary should find something more valuable to do. If you are a Christian, feel free to insert "your name" in place of the words "a missionary" and "that missionary" in the last sentence.

I'll even take it a step further for you Christians out there. What do criminals, prostitutes and thieves think about you? What would they think about Jesus if they saw him in the flesh?

The answer for myself is motivating if not altogether troubling.


Bill Cummings said...

Thanks for the challenge this has been to me this morning! You really made me think: "If the work of a [Bill] is not valued by the non Christian world, then maybe [Bill] should find something more valuable to do." You helped me really consider "what criminals, prostitutes and thieves think about [me]."

Chris Waluk said...

Bill, consider yourself the choir next my soap box in the casa de Waluk.

Amy said...

I completely agree. I think that far too many christians in our country are way out of touch with the remainder of it. It takes a strong person to be able to discuss their beliefs with someone who might challenge them, and I think this is one reason christianity in this country is so often "weak" (for lack of a better word). I love this article, and I think in not only faith, but also in many other things in life, the best result will come about when people with all different views are able to discuss and challenge one another.
I've been writing a series on things I learned in art school, and this was a huge one. I was surrounded by people who believed very differently from myself, and while it was not easy, it made me look at myself and how I was living my life in a very different way. You don't think so much about what you are doing when everyone around you is cheering you on.

On a related note... this is a quote I came across and really liked. “The global issues of injustice…the sufferings of the oppressed…demand that we bring the voice of the Spirit to these situations…This is the difference between true Gospel and mere political correctness or Band-Aid liberal responses. We are holding out for the greater Gospel, even though it takes much longer, is often less efficient in the short run, demands much of us instead of others, and will always gather smaller constituencies. But in the end, as even Napoleon is supposed to have said, “we men of power merely rearrange the world, but it is only people of the Spirit who really change it.”

We as christians must ask ourselves the question you posed....and we must act accordingly, and we must do it without being afraid to stand up and tell the world why we do what we do.