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Atheist Tuesday: A Non Seeker-Friendly Church

| 22 Comments

I want to invite all atheist readers of my blog to our fellowship, Hope Chapel. But I must warn you: We are not seeker-friendly, we are user-friendly. That is, we are not going to pander to you by offering a watered-down, man-centered, toothless message designed to make you feel good.

Oh! Here’s our church welcome sign from two weeks ago:

We are user-friendly though. That is, we will provide you with a very comfortable environment in which you may hear the truth of the biblical Gospel, taught verse by verse, in a message that is from 45 to 60 minutes long. (You can even bring coffee into our sanctuary.) You will also hear that you are a sinner, that you’ve broken the Commandments, that you are headed for Hell and the only way to be saved is by trusting Christ and repenting of your sin—nearly every week!

Oh! Here’s another of our church’s welcome signs from last week:

See you on Sunday? (Okay then, come Friday night at 7pm or Saturday night at 6pm.)

Whatcha waiting for? I’ll even buy lunch (or dinner).

Did you see this other church?

(Admittedly, this video is more for the Christian than for the atheist.)

22 Comments

  1. So you’re just offering a fear-based shtick. I think we all know that by now.

    Ooooooooo I’m all impressed over here.

  2. Wow, that parody had me laughing out loud. The best part: “Long prayer so the worship leader can get back on stage”. So true and yet so sad.

  3. If I ever get a chance to return to your area( I was at Redondo Beach back in 2003, I will definitely look you and Hope Chapel up.)

  4. Did you see that a Pastor crowing about laminin is the latest Golden Crocoduck nominee Steve? I thought that was a hilarious follow up to your recent column.

    The Golden Crocoduck being the annual award for most egregious disregard for the 9th commandment by a creationist.

    Ray of course isn’t up for it this year as he won it already.

    • Alright, well I hope you at least watched the link, Steve, I know I shouldn’t have posted it, but Bathtub did bring it up, I thought I’d check it out, pretty funny stuff, hopefully it also reminds you to be honest to your flock when discussing matters of science.

  5. You have no idea how much I long for a church like yours to be a part of…you are so blessed!

  6. (Admittedly, this video is more for the Christian than for the atheist.)

    The whole post is an appeal to Christians, we’re just the hook you use to reach out to your like-minded brethren.

    That is, we are not going to pander to you by offering a watered-down, man-centered, toothless message designed to make you feel good.

    That bit of Christianese is meaningless to me and probably meaningless to other atheists as well. I don’t believe or disbelieve based on what makes me feel good. And honestly, a personal God looking out for me and wanting to save me from fiery Hell is much more man-centered and feel-good than anything we’ve got.

    I have seen nothing to show that your myths are any different than other myths.

  7. “The weather never changes in hell”

    OK, so let’s go over this one more time.

    God knows everything.

    God made you. Since He knows everything, He knew you were going to Hell when He made you.

    Therefore, God made you in order to send you to Hell, to be tormented for all eternity.

    So, what word fits God best? “Loving”? Or “sadistic”?

    This is the guy you worship? Wow, good choice in deities.

    • Nameless Cynic, God gave you life and sent His Son to take the punishment you deserve, so that you don’t have to go to Hell.

      He knows everything, and He is all-seeing and all-powerful. Because He’s good and kind, He gave you a will, and He is always telling you His good news. Thus, if you do end up in Hell, you will have already had a chance to repent in your lifetime. God is not helpless or powerless, nor is He cruel.

      So what word fits God best? “Sadistic”? Or “Infinitely merciful”?

      So what god do you worship? Cynicism? As long as you have breath, you’ve got a chance. God is not to blame, sir (or ma’am!)

      • Counterpoint: we can only be saved if God has already decided that we’re part of the Elect. The “choice” we make is an illusion; it has always been already made by God.

      • @ Michael.

        But on this side of eternity you have a choice. The bible clearly teaches that, too. How can I reconcile these two truths? I can’t. This I know: You can make a choice now for God. If you don’t, you made the choice. You are not the elect. Don’t blame God for your inaction.

      • Maybe you can’t reconcile these because they can’t be reconciled.

        If God makes a decision on his side of eternity, then there is no true choice on my side of eternity. I can only make a “choice” for God if he’s already decided I’ll be on the team. I can only make a “choice” against God if he’s already decided I’m going to Hell for his glory.

      • Perdita has pretty well covered my response. According to Calvinist theology, what looks to us like a choice for me is actually just a reflection of God’s ineffable will. Predestination in action.

        If that’s the case, then the “you brought it on yourself” explanation for people who will (inevitably) end up in Hell is simply invalid. It’s not their decision, it’s God’s. It only looks like we have a choice because we’re separated from Him.

        But even if, somehow, both those things are true – even if, say, God chooses who will become the Elect based on the decision that He already knows they will make – then He is still responsible for creating all the other people in the full and certain knowledge that that they will:
        1. Live a finite life of joy, sorrow, love, pain, pleasure, frustration, etc.
        2. Make the wrong decision.
        3. Then spend eternity in a state of dismal pain and horror. Forever.

        This is why I say that Calvinism presents God as a monster while insisting the he is perfectly and utterly good.

        And really, why shouldn’t I blame God for my lack of faith? I am as He made me, right? And if He truly is both all-knowing and all-powerful, I can’t see any way that he could not be culpable. After all, if I see something bad about to happen, and I do nothing to stop it even though I could, then I’m party to that evil. Yet somehow God is all-knowing, and all-powerful, but still permits evil to exist… and remains all-good?

        It would be so easy for God to reveal His truth to me. Effortless, in fact – that’s what being omnipotent means. Yet He doesn’t. The only reason I can see for that in Calvinist terms is that I’m not one of the Elect, and therefore not worth answering.

        In materialist terms, which is where I basically operate, the most likely answer is that He’s simply not there. I see no evidence, so I do not believe. You say I must have faith first, and that may be true; but it goes against the way that every other useful belief I’ve ever found seems to work, which is that you start with observations and move from there to conclusions.

    • OK, Alice, let’s consider that.

      (Incidentally, to answer your question, I don’t worship anything. I dote on my wife a little, but that’s not the same thing at all.)

      He knows everything, and He is all-seeing and all-powerful

      Right. Omniscient and omnipotent. Gotcha.

      So, we have the New Testament, books written, at best estimate, 50-200 years after the birth of Christ – so probably not by the people involved (and incidentally, the oldest surviving fragment of the original documents are scraps of Matthew and Revelations, which date to about 150 AD).

      Which means that in documents of questionable authenticity, we are told a story that contradicts itself in several places (you’d think that all the accounts of His death would at least match, right?), and there is little or no historical evidence to support it.

      On top of this, we have Jesus, the Son of God (who is also God Incarnate), who was tortured and died to appease God, to forgive man for breaking rules which God set up in the first place.

      Now, you tell me that God, who, it is claimed, created me with free will and the ability to think logically, wants me to accept this story, despite all of the contradictions.

      But let’s go further. You tell me that God gave me free will (well, you say “a will,” to be exact), but… really? If God is, in fact, all-knowing (omniscient), then, by definition, God knows how I’m going to choose.

      (I swear somebody said this just recently. And incidentally, that means, of course, that “free will” is an illusion, but let’s ignore that.)

      So, if an All-knowing God already knows how I’m going to choose, then I was created for no reason other than eternal torment. Because that’s the way He made me. So the God you worship is a sadist.

      Alternatively, if He doesn’t already know how I’m going to choose, then He isn’t all-knowing after all. Do you support the idea of a fallible God? Is that who you worship? And if so, why?

  8. The worst thing in the world is to leave church feeling good.

  9. Someone want to answer Nameless Cynic?

    • Okay I’ll give it a shot.

      Hi Nameless,
      You’re just confused, these aren’t the contradictions you are looking for. Move along. The reason why my particular deity is not subject to the problem of evil is (select one of the following extremely fulfilling answers):

      a) If you lie for one second you have broken the rules. Lying for one second has the punishment of hell for eternity and you knew that so its fair.
      b) My deity loves free will, and free will is good m’kay? Ignore that free will is not possible when my deity knows the future and implements the past.
      c) Evil is just the absence of my deity, so you must have got him to ignore you.
      d) You cant argue with my deity because, after all, he is a deity and what he is doing is actually moral by definition. My definition.

      Oh and by the way, are you a good person?

    • Now, hang on there, Vagon.

      Evil is just the absence of my deity

      So Satan is just a big, God-shaped lack of anything? No, that can’t be right.

      Of course, Satan is an interesting idea by himself. (I’m assuming I should only capitalize the name of Satan, and not the pronoun. Please advise if I’m wrong…) So, Satan runs around destroying and tempting all of God’s holy works. And God hates that.

      So why doesn’t God just squash his rebellious (fallen) angel? What happened to the idea of “all-powerful” (omnipotent)? Either God is just letting Satan exist, or He doesn’t have the ability to win this Eternal Conflict.

      Does Satan actually exist? If so, why does God allow it? Or are they just equally-sadistic buddies? (Don’t get me started on the story of Job…)

  10. I love when you challenge me; it’s when you are a little bit nasty or rude that I delete your comments. Or if you include an objectionable image or video.

    This is what happens when you do not have God holding you accountable. Generally, people sink to the lowest common denominator in terms of humor or argument.

  11. So people who practice ancestor worship, or are Buddhist are incapable of restraining themselves? I guess that’s why Japan is awash in anarchy and rudeness…. not like America I suppose.

    Also welcome to the internet Steve! Beware of the trolls, they’re not all atheists, you know…

  12. Steve, I’ve got a question for you in regards to evangelism. I’ve asked it before, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever received an answer (from any Christian) different than “I don’t know”…

    Do you think any person who’s been living in the United States has somehow not heard the idea that they’re a sinner in need of salvation?

    It seems to me that this message is ubiquitous here, yet Evangelicals seem fired up to repeat it endlessly – and I don’t understand why.

    I do understand that you feel the Bible instructs you to repeat it, so in that sense you’re just obeying God. But – you’re not just repeating it simply because you think you’re supposed to (or am I wrong); you’re repeating it and trying to convince people that it’s true.

    This latter behavior is what puzzles me. I know you believe it’s true, and I’ve heard it hundreds/thousands of times by now. Why would God want you to spend so much time repeating the same thing over and over? ESPECIALLY since (according to Calvinists) whether I accept that message or not has already been predestined for me.

    Why would God ask you to repeat a message that ultimately will have no impact on my salvation?

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