Slipping into atheism
Over time, Christians have seen extraordinary things happen in the faith. There have been times when the light of Jesus has shone bright through the ministry of extraordinary men and women of the faith. And there have been other times when it seems there was no light at all. The modern age is a mixed bag. Although we have seen God’s magnificent grace move through countries that seemed impervious to the gospel (Iran, China and North Korea come to mind), it seems many in Western nations are intent on finding ways to destroy the core message of Christianity in order to make it more appealing to the carnal amongst them. However, in the process of doing so, these so-called “progressives” begin to have more in common with atheism and less in common with Christianity.
To be clear, when I talk about Progressive Christianity, I mean the relatively recent movement in Protestantism which focuses strongly on social justice and environmentalism and often includes a revisionist (or non-traditional) view of the Scriptures. Since the movement entails a number of different beliefs and views on various topics, it is difficult to label the whole movement decisively as “biblical” or “unbiblical”. Yet, as we examine certain characteristics of the movement, we will see that there are certain elements of which we have deep concern.
There have been many recent examples of men who have supposedly decided to leave Christianity and pursue atheism or secular humanism. One rarely makes this decision overnight. Usually, it is a gradual process over years or decades in which the person moves through certain aspects of theology – usually from conservative to liberal to secular and then nothing at all.
The aforementioned minister who has abandoned the faith believes that in 10 years, 30 to 40% of so-called progressive Christians will also become atheists. He believes that progressives have already abandoned the faith – it is just that they have redefined what the faith means to them so they hold onto some semblance of it until they are ready to transition to not having faith in their life. It is probably no surprise that progressives eventually choose atheism because their beliefs become more and more aligned with those that hold an atheistic worldview. To begin with, progressives generally adopt a belief that the Bible is unreliable. Naturally, we expect atheists to claim the Bible is mere fable. Unfortunately, many progressive Christian authors also question the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures, leading many away from the faith.
They generally also have an unresolved answer to the problem of evil. This is a favourite topic for atheists. They often ask, “if God is good, why does evil and suffering exist?” TV personality and avowed atheist Stephen Fry was once asked what he might say to God if he died and discovered He did indeed exist. He responded, “Bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right.” Fry ended by saying if God exists, He’s an “utter maniac.” Although C S Lewis became a much-loved brother of the faith, he was an atheist. He wrote, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” For Lewis, the problem of evil led him to faith in God. But in the case of progressive Christians and atheists, it often leads to further deconstruction and unbelief.
What is the answer to those slipping into progressive beliefs? Hold fast. Hold fast for the sake of your faith; hold fast for the sake of your joy; hold fast for the sake of your freedom; hold fast for the sake of your holiness.