Rage Against God

I sat with friends in front of Ravi Zacharias this morning. The world-famous apologist/philosopher came to Cincinnati and delivered his trademark thoughts about atheism, faith, and the Biblical worldview. Somewhere in his lecture he mentioned hostility toward the faith. It’s no secret some people have crossed over from passive unbelief in God to active rage against Him. Where is the anger coming from?

A few writers have tried to assure us that the unbelievers’ problem is not with God Himself, just with His followers. Years back a guy named Dan Kimball wrote a book called They Like Jesus, but Not the Church. It was a nice gesture granting the benefit of the doubt to non-believers. They would maybe come to Jesus if only Christians would be more Christ-like. If only Christians weren’t so narrow, so ignorant, and so combative. Kimball didn’t say it, but sometimes I wonder if there’s a consensus that if there weren’t any Christians on earth, maybe people would have a better view of Jesus. They wouldn’t have to battle their way through legions of intolerance to get to Him. It would just be Him and them. Right about the moment I might be inclined to agree, I remember there was a time when the followers of Jesus weren’t a factor at all. It really was just Him and the rest of the world. Yet the world took Him and killed Him. The Romans pounded nails into Him, not into a religious organization.

The rage against God has a source in something other than the “flawed middleman” of the church. In order to address this issue (I said, “address,” not answer), I asked Thad & Greg, twenty-somethings, their opinions.

Myer  

 

John: How about the excessive hostility toward biblical faith? Where is the anger coming from? It seems especially prevalent in your age group.

 

 

 

Greg: We’ll address the obvious one first. You always have to factor in the possibility of personal pain. Some people have been legitimately hurt/wronged by Christians or at least people using
the Christian label.  I think we can all understand how it works when you link the evil some people do to the belief system they allege to operate under.

 

John: So in some cases, blame doesn’t trickle down—it trickles up.

Greg: Yes. We need honesty to admit it, too. Christians do themselves a disservice by saying that all of the hostility toward biblical faith is unwarranted.  Peter spoke of gentleness and respect when dealing with those who don’t yet believe. Our responses at times, though, can be anything but gentle or respectful. Ultimately, God gets blamed

John: True, but what about anger not motivated out of personal pain? How should we see it then?

Greg: In that case, the outrage is coming from ideology, not personal involvement. People can become this way when standing on an issue so strongly that they’re primed to explode at whatever doesn’t agree with it—even the Bible. Sometimes the position is so powerfully held that it becomes self-contradictory. The whole idea of tolerance, for instance, commonly gets around to becoming the worst kind of intolerance. We are told to respect aberrant kinds of sexual behavior and the most eccentric forms of world religion, yet the same gurus of tolerance bitterly mock the Christian faith. Pride, elitism, and a misguided sense of right and wrong create a powerful self-contradiction that even intelligent people can’t perceive. As the whole thing becomes more entrenched, challenging it gets dangerous.

John: And yet the target of their anger ends up being something they don’t believe in.

Photo_of_Thadbw

Thad: It’s puzzling. If you believe in a Godless, meaningless world, religion shouldn’t bother you. After all, there is no judgment day. Yes, you might feel threatened if someone limits your personal freedom through power and influence, whether the tools used are religious, economic, or political. But does freedom as a virtue really exist? Atheists like Richard Dawkins say “nature really is red in tooth and claw,” and we’re all just dancing to the tune of our DNA. According to that thought, freedom and justice are an illusion anyway, so why obsess over it?   At the end of the day, non-theists are upset with a deity they don’t believe in and wanting to protect gifts whose existence they deny as well.

 

 

To be Continued

5 comments

  1. It’s funny that there is never rage against partying, rage against getting in trouble with the law, rage against crazy living, rage against divorce, etc. … but let somebody get serious about following Jesus, serious about going to church (even on vacation), reading the Bible, etc. and everybody starts to get nervous … what happened to you? We liked you when you were crazy, out of control partying dude … and then all of the sudden it some how becomes the Christian’s fault … here you are thinking everybody is going to rejoice over your change and instead you get this hostility. It almost like there was no rage when your life was going down the tubes … but now that Jesus has turned your world upside down and put it on the right track let’s rage against God .. be hostile towards these “flawed middleman” Christians. Makes no sense!!

  2. One of the things I appreciate about where things are headed is that it forces us (especially younger Christians) to deal with difficult parts of God’s word that we’ve overlooked for years. We might have to admit that a passage that confuses or repels a skeptic made us feel the same way. But the difference is that through our submission to God, we can be humbled and discover something about Him that we needed to learn. And hopefully the skeptic can go along with us.

  3. I have noticed that the “rage against God” seems to be among both non-Christians and Christians…similar to Dan’s comment about the unhelpful memes. Some of my more difficult conversations tend to be with Christians who treat the Bible like a buffet…picking and choosing what they like (usually “love” and the like) and then declaring as “Bible believing Christians” that they reject a God or Christians who try to present the God of the Bible Who happens to embody some of the qualities that they don’t like…such as judging some things as sin. It seems that trying to present the other side of the coin of God described in the Bible is quickly rejected by those holding a buffet line approach. It has been interesting and challenging to navigate this new form of hostility.

  4. Hi Dan. Thanks for weighing in on this issue. It’s hard to talk about declining cultural attitudes toward the Bible without sounding like a cranky fifty-something evangelical. Nice to have somebody cooler doing the heavy lifting. When your book first came out, we were planting our church and doing our level best to get educated on the issues young adults have. In fact, “They Like Jesus” was on our must read list, so we all went through it forwards and backwards. A big principle we derived from it: Don’t be afraid to engage people with Christian tact, education, and wisdom concerning the questions of our day. Still, you are right. The meteoric drop in respect for God and the Bible has changed the dialogic landscape quite a bit. On the faith end of the equation, it looks like God is all but demanding His people go deeper into His Word.

  5. it seems the tide has changed somewhat today. Where I think 5 to 10 years ago there was this sense of Christians themselves getting in the way of people desiring to follow Jesus (which does still exist). But there is a rising now of The Bible itself getting in the way. What I mean by that is the rising amount of memes, visual graphics, repeated statements of often the neo-atheists and even some Christians using The Bible to try and portray God as a genocidal, crazed God. Or the whole gay debate where Leviticus verses are pointed out and accusations of Christians picking and choosing verses, “God hates shrimp” etc. I’ve even read several times now the mantra of “The fastest way to turn a Christian into an atheist is for them to read their Bibles” indicating that most Christians have never really looked at the tough things in the Bible. Anyway, great blog post here and believe this is a very important discussion.

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