Johhny Bradford, a guest poster over at Unreasonable Faith, has posted his essay on why he no longer believes. It’s filled with all of the usual things for which I thought Christian apologetics have provided adequate answers, but I suppose not since I repeatedly see these same tired old arguments popping up in deconversion story after deconversion story. Let’s analyze this one and see if we can clear matters up.
The first one is typical: how could a loving God send people into a state of eternal torment for simply not believing in him? Well, the problem with that notion is Bradford’s theology of man. He believes that people are basically good, that we begin life with an “A” and gradually decline in points until we have an “F.”
But that isn’t what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that we are dead in sin. Keeping with the grading scale metaphor, we are born with an F. But it goes deeper than that: we can’t earn an A, no matter what! Hell isn’t what God wants for us, hell is what we deserve. A fair and just God would send any human being that comes before his judgment to hell.
Thank God that he is also merciful. Because it isn’t his will that any should perish, but that all reach repentance, he has sent his only Son Jesus to pay the penatly for us and die in our place. All a person has to do is have faith that God has already accomplished his (or her) salvation, and that’s it.
The Old Testament sacrificial system pointed the way to the New Testament’s single sacrifice for all of our sins. The book of Hebrews makes that quite clear. So this sacrifice was necessary in order to appease the justice of God, which demands that he take action against sin rather than ignore it.
People go to hell on their own merit. I read once on a T-shirt that free will never brought anyone to heaven, but it sent a lot of people to hell. I forget now who said that (I want to say it was Spurgeon), but there is much wisdom in that saying. Whether you believe in Christ or not, you still sin and God must punish sin. Any sin, no matter how minor, makes you hell-bound. It has nothing to do with believing in or not believing in God. Only by placing your faith and trust in the finished work on Calvary can you avoid hell.
Which leads us to Bradford’s next point. Christians behave the same way as their non-Christian counterparts. The fancy terminology here is hypocrisy. Here, I agree with him. According to the intro to dcTalk’s song “What if I Stumble,” the speaker says that “The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowlege Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.”
Christians aren’t suddenly made perfect by belief in Christ. Salvation is a once-in-a-lifetime event, but sanctification is an ongoing process that is often neglected. I blame the church in this case. There is a servere lack of discipleship in the church today. The main congregations are measured by baptisms, not retention. In reality, both should be a factor in determining the health of the congregation. In this, Bradford should take some of the blame as he is termed a “recovering Christian pastor.” So, as shephard of a flock, what did he do to help out with that problem? We wonder.
The atrocities of the Bible are discussed at great length here. The justification for what can only be described as mass genocide lies in the same theology of man previously discussed–man doesn’t start life with an A, he starts it with an F. Since the penalty for sin is death, those deaths were deserved. No one can stand innocent before God.
Of course, if I believed that hell was unjust, that hypocrisy was part of the case against the church, and that the atrocities of the Bible were unwarranted, then I would discard this faith, too. But I don’t believe in any of that stuff. Nor do I believe the typical atheist mischaracterization of those things, as Bradford clearly demonstrates that he does.
In all, I stand amazed that ministers of the Word can be duped by the secular opinion of the Bible and its contents. After all, we are taught that the world sees the Bible through a darkened lens, that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness doesn’t understand it. Yet, these same criticisms keep popping up over and over again, even though they are answered by apologists like myself.
Posted on March 6, 2009, in Apologetics, Morality, Sin, Theology and tagged atheism, Sin. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.
I thought Johnny Bradford’s article was excellent and well written. The belief (something accepted as real, not fact or verifiable) that people are born evil is probably the foundation for much of the damage done to people by Christian beliefs.
That belief is the foundation for treating people as if they have no innate ethics, and for believing that they need to be conditioned, Pavlov-like, as if they were animals. Use reward/pain-and-punishment, which uses threat to survival to force conformity, and with that you send the message upon which it is based: “you have no higher reasoning capacities or soul; we must condition you like an animal”.
Look at a newborn baby and think, “That thing is born evil”, and treat it as such: no wonder it learns dishonesty, self-hatred and hatred of others.
No wonder Johnny Bradford experienced the cognitive dissonance that he did.
Calvinism is evil. It is not true Christianity. I am waging a lifelong battle against it but it just won’t die.
“The Bible teaches that we are dead in sin. Keeping with the grading scale metaphor, we are born with an F. But it goes deeper than that: we can’t earn an A, no matter what! Hell isn’t what God wants for us, hell is what we deserve. A fair and just God would send any human being that comes before his judgment to hell.”
Born to be tortured. That’s truly repugnant. Whenever someone questions the sadistic idiocy of christian beliefs I will only need to point at this piece of text.
Knowing that we are born into sin and that we can never please God through our works, it doesn’t amaze you that he would send his only Son as the perfect sacrifice so that we don’t have to go to hell?
Of course not–you’re still stuck on the fact that I believe humans are born sinful. Why would I believe such a thing? We’ve treated our fellow man with such respect throughout history!
We weren’t born sinners. And “dead in sin” means the same as when Paul says “the body is dead” in Romans 8:10, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Is my body literally dead right now? No, just “on death row,” and that is exactly what Paul means in Col 2:13 with “being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh,” he means dead in the sense of “on death row” not already dead. I thought you said you weren’t a Calvinist anymore?
Because that statement IS idiotic, and wrong. True Christianity understands that by “dead” the Bible many times means “on death row” not already dead. But Cory used to be a Calvinist and is still recovering, so I’ll cut him some slack. Calvinism teaches that we are born so dead we can’t do nothing good at all not even respond to God in the slightest and therefore God has to do everything for us to save us making our actions totally meaningless in life. True Christianity does not teach this. We are born spiritually alive and accountable for our choices, we can respond positively to God and can choose to believe and do not need to be possessed an “irresistible grace” to do so.
And even here we are only born “on death row” as to the body. To get on spiritual death row you must personally sin, as is clear from Ezekiel 18:20 and Romans 7:9. So, spiritually, we are NOT born with an F. We are born with a blank and what “grade” we get depends on our choices.
Why on earth would I want to believe in a god who created me to either 1) kiss ass and believe in him out of fear of the alternative, or 2) spend eternity in the alternative (hell)? I’m amazed that you don’t see the absurdity in this proposition.
This description is of a bully, not a god.
Let me see if I have this right: You don’t want to believe in God because you don’t want to worship him? That makes no sense to me. God created us, loves us, desires so much to meet us where we’re at that he sacrificed his only Son for our sins, and he sustains the universe by the word of his power–all for us. And you don’t want to worship him? Why don’t you feel that your Creator and Redeemer deserves your worship?
Everything that he’s done for us, and you can’t offer him any gratitude in return? Seems petty.
The questions is whether god exists.
Invoking the alleged things that god has done for us, and accusing the unbelieving as ungrateful, does not very well veil the fact that you are not honestly asking the question about whether god exists.
If you say you don’t believe in Santa, and I accuse you of being an ingrate who is ignoring all the things that Santa brings us, it is I, not you, who has made a flagrant error in reason.
You might check out the account of my own deconversion for more on this.