It is tough being a Christian. In fact so many are finding the association with that term so unbearable that they are choosing different roads. Fortunately some of those detours are simply to shed the term “Christian” and pick up the term “post-Christian.” Some simply have decided to call themselves spiritual and keep the Bible as their primary reference. Websites like theooze.com give people who no longer feel comfortable with being in a church building a way to interact and have “fellowship” with other believers.
Unfortunately some turn to atheism.
It is no secret, and in fact it is something that is stated boldly and directly, that many atheists have had much experience within the church. If you would take the time to read about atheism and what many atheists care about, you will discover that there is much “anti-church” conversation and specific concerns that the church had turned its back on empirical truth for what they would label as unfounded “truth” that is represented when people read the Bible as a scientific proof-text.
Okay, so that it perhaps an extreme example. Perhaps not so extreme, however, when you consider the perspectives of people in England who are getting certificates that decry their baptism and who are formally leaving their churches because they do not want to be counted among those faith groups and inadvertently inflate their numbers.
Even more pointed are personal friends who have shared with me that they are so disgusted not only by what so called pastors are saying and doing in the name of Jesus (a recent post for example), but what is happening in their own congregations. These daily actions and lifestyles that are represented even in local congregations have given many over to consider not being a Christian any more.
Fortunately those I know personally have enough strong faith and direct experience that they believe has come from God that they are not leaving the faith completely. It is this “unChristian” behavior that continues to find home in our sanctuaries that are turning our sacred foundations into sludge.
Good news: this is not new. Look at what Jesus himself warned 2,000 years ago:
Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Today I discovered a post by Brian McLaren speaking about this very issue. His perspective is that he becomes an atheist in situations where people praise our God for destruction of human life and when they beat down groups of people rather than embracing them in love. The following video is a song that he wrote. Let it speak to you and move you to consider what is happening to faith and religion in our world today.
I am an atheist when it comes to the violent god of jihadI am an atheist when it comes to the lord who converts by the swordI am an atheist when it comes to the mission of politicians using religion as ammunitionBut I believe in You, the artist of trees and galaxiesBut I believe in You, the poet of oceans and rivers and streamsBut I believe in You, the God of compassion who calls us to actionI believe in YouI can’t believe what they believe, but I believe in YouI believe in you, majestic designer of space and timeI believe in you, composer of beauty and music of lifeI believe in you, the holy forgiver and wild reconcilerI believe in youI am an atheist to the gods of the greedy ignoring the needyI am an atheist to the gods who make others torture and sufferI am an atheist when it comes to the view of the chosen few, who judge and codemn all who differ from themI believe in you, mighty in meekness and gentle in powerI believe in you, the word who has spoken good news to the brokenI believe in you, transcending mystery, with us in historyI believe in you