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Why I Am a Christian 1 (atheism)

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“Why I Am a Christian”

#1: “…and Not an Atheist”

Pastor Greg Henneman

January 7, 2007

Text:          Psalm 53:1

Theme:      The Christian faith is more compelling than atheism.

Goal:          To arm us with information and inspiration that will strengthen our faith and enable us to dialogue with skeptics.

Introduction

For the next four Sundays we’re going to look at atheism, Islam, and Hinduism. We’re going to reflect on the evidence for our faith. We’ll ask questions like, “How do we know we’re right? Maybe we’re all right? Maybe we’re all wrong? How tolerant should we be? How should we treat people of other faiths?” My goal in this series is to deepen our faith and to equip us to be better salt and light.

Take out your outlines and your Bibles. Today I want to talk about atheism. An atheist is a person who says there is no god. Now you’ll see on your outline…

1. The Importance of Worldview

Everybody has a worldview. It might be a sloppy worldview. It might be a poorly thought-through worldview. But everybody has basic assumptions about life. I put on your outline…

          A worldview is the way you view the world. It is an interpretive framework or paradigm by which you make sense of the world and order your life.

Our Christian faith is a worldview. We believe there is one personal God who is infinite and all powerful and all loving. We believe that he is our Creator and all of life is sustained by him and accountable to him.

Atheism is also a worldview. Atheists believe that there is no personal god. There is no all powerful and all loving infinite being who created. Life just happened.

The major world religions are also worldviews. Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, the New Age Movement –they’re all worldviews, in that they are paradigms, they are frameworks that try to explain and make sense of the world.

Now your worldview is very important. It’s not just an academic exercise for the few people who happen to like philosophy. Your worldview is important because it impacts how you live.

If you believe that there is a God and that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and calls you live your life a certain way –that worldview will likely impact how you live!

If you believe there is no God and purpose for life –that view will likely impact how you live.

If you believe in karma –like Hindus do – then the reason you were born into the bottom rung of your caste system in your culture is because of your sins in a prior life; and the people who were born into the higher rungs of the caste system are under no obligation to help you because the law of karma says you have to pay off your own sins.

If you’re a radical Muslim who believes that God’s will is to spread Islam to the whole world, even by force, and if you believe that you will go to the highest heaven with the highest rewards if you kill some heathen, then you’re apt to become a terrorist or a suicide bomber!

So you’re worldview is extremely important! I put on your outline…

          Results of Atheism               Results of Theism

          Moral Relativism                Moral Guidance

          Devaluing human life         Sanctity of life

          Lack of purpose                   Purpose Driven Life

Jean-Paul Sartre, the famous atheistic philosopher, said, “[Without God] all activities are equivalent…Thus it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone, or is a leader of nations.” In other words, if you see a lady walking across the street, it doesn’t matter whether you help her across or run over her! It doesn’t matter if you’re Mother Teresa or Hitler! If there is no God, all activities are equal. Who’s to say what’s right and wrong. (Kennedy, “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?” 229)

Now it’s a fact that many atheists are upright, moral people. There are many kind, polite, thoughtful atheists; and there are many rude and insensitive Christians! It’s a fact! It’s sad; but it’s a fact! My point here is simply that if there is no god you have no solid basis for morality.

Personally I’m convinced that the major reason our society has legalized abortion and probably before long will legalize gay marriage and various forms of euthanasia is because most people have become moral relativists. And the reason they have become moral relativists is due to at least a form of practical atheism. Although most people say they believe in God, when push comes to shove, many people are embarrassed to say that they believe in a real, live, personal God, who has spoken clearly through the Bible, and that some things are wrong and some things are right.

So we have moral relativism and the devaluing of human life. Likewise, people today are screaming for purpose.

Illust: Paleontologist Stephen J. Gould concluded: We are because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of million years ago, had managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook.  We may yearn for a "higher" answer but none exists. (BI atheism)

We teach our kids that the universe started on accident with a Big Bang, that we have evolved by random chance, that we’re merely the most evolved and intelligent animal on the planet, and that there is no meaning or purpose to life…and then we wonder why many of them act like animals!

Which is all to say: our worldview is very important!  Now let’s talk about…

2. The Place of Reason

Someone might say: Greg, as Christians we have faith! We don’t need reason. We don’t need facts or evidence or arguments. We just believe –that’s all!

Well, I agree that the heart of Christian faith is faith. But biblical faith is not contrary to reason. Biblical faith is not a leap into the dark, but a leap into the light! The Christian faith does not ask you to turn off your mind or to believe in something absurd!

It’s helpful to realize that there’s at least…

(To Everyone an Answer: 32-34; Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics: 14)

          Three Kinds of Faith

          Emotional faith – assurance (2 Timothy 1:12) READ IT.

Illust: I believe in my wife. When I say, “I believe in my wife”, I’m not saying that I believe she exists in some intellectual sense; I’m saying that I trust her. I am totally confident and assured that she would never cheat on me. I have no feelings of jealousy. I am emotionally secure. I have faith in my wife.

          Intellectual faith – belief (1 Peter 3:15) READ IT.

We should be able to give reasons for the hope that we have. We should be able to articulate why we have faith in God.

          Volitional faith – commitment (Mat 25:21) READ IT.

Here is faith in the sense of commitment –faithfulness. So, to say that I have faith in God means that…

·       I believe –intellectually – in him and in his teachings

·       I have assurance –emotionally – that I can trust him

·       I am committed –with my will –to actually obey him

Now let’s be very clear…

 

Reason cannot force people to faith, but it can keep people from faith.

I can’t argue you into becoming a Christian; but I can help you process your thoughts and feelings and remove the barriers that are keeping you from becoming a Christian. But ultimately it’s you and the Holy Spirit that make that leap into the light.

So what’s the place of reason in a Christian’s life? Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (emotion) and with all your mind (intellect) and with all your strength (will and commitment).”

Now at this point I’d like to get very personal. I want to explain to you…

3. Why I Am a Christian

As I have reflected on this, I am a Christian for two primary reasons…

          a. Personal experience

          b. Evidential confirmation

I asked Christ into my life when I was 11-years old. I grew up in the church. My best friends were in the church. My mother was the church organist. But one day, while I was sitting there at the end of church service, God grabbed my heart! I had a sudden awareness, “Wow! God is for real! He loves me! I literally felt the Presence of God stirring my soul and making me realize that he loves me!”

So I did not become a Christian because I had explored all the intellectual options and had reasoned my way to a logical acceptance of claims of Christianity. Not at all!

I became a Christian because I fell in love with Christ! My heart was warmed. My soul was stirred. My mind, my heart, my whole being became aware of this Holy Presence that was so satisfying and fulfilling and attracting that I had to say yes!

But as the years went by (especially into my early adulthood) I started to think seriously about my faith. And as I’ve wrestled and struggled and studied and doubted, there are two major reasons why I continue to be a Christian.

In addition to God’s Holy Presence that still stirs my soul there are two more…

          Evidences that Affirm My Faith

·       The starry skies above (Psalm 19:1-6) READ IT.

·       The moral law within (Psalm 19:7-14)

I look at this universe and I marvel at its design, its order, its beauty. Frankly, it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian!

And then I look at the moral law within. (Psalm 19:7-14) READ IT.

Where did the idea of morality come from? Why do we think some things are right or wrong? Why is honesty better than lying? Why is stealing wrong? Because we’re made in the image of God. And God is honest and truthful and loving and kind and just, and we have ingrained deep within us his image, his character. And so we’re fulfilled and happy when follow God’s moral law, and we feel guilty when we don’t.

Sure we try to suppress it and deny it and we try to not feel guilty. And some people have gotten quite good at not feeling guilty. But when push comes to shove almost everybody agrees that love and trust and kindness and honesty are better values than hate and selfishness and greed. Even the atheistic philosopher who says there’s no difference will be the first one to take you to court if you break into his house and steal his stuff.

Illust: I want to show you a picture here. [PUT UP PICTURE OF CARY AND SETH] My family just had a fantastic vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. And what made it extra special was that my daughter Cary, got engaged to Seth Hawthorne, a fine, handsome young man. The Panorama Restaurant… 

Look at this picture. Notice the gorgeous sunset. I was captivated by the beautiful sunsets and the spectacular Banderas Bay. We saw humpbacked whales. We swam with the dolphins. You can’t tell me that sunsets and whales and dolphins –you can’t tell me that this universe just happened by chance. In a million different ways it bears the mark of intelligent design! “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Look at this picture again. Notice my gorgeous daughter and her handsome fiancée. You can’t see it here, but you should see the love in their eyes. Man they’re in love! What is love? Is love just chemical reactions snapping through your body? It surely involves that. But you can’t tell me that the love between a man and woman or the love of a mother for her child is simply the result of evolutionary processes for the survival of the species!

Now I’m not making a case for or against evolution right now. I’m simply saying that when I reflect on love and relationships and morality and nature…the most reasonable explanation for it all is GOD! For me, it would take more faith to be an atheist!

Now let’s move on to some…

4. The Objections of Atheism

          The atheist says there is no god.

          The agnostic says he’s not sure (or no one can be sure).

There are…

          Three Major Arguments

…that atheists make as to why they don’t believe in any kind of God. Now it’s important to understand that not all atheists are the same. Just as not all Christians believe exactly alike, so not all atheists believe exactly alike. But in general terms, atheists have three major reasons why they don’t believe in God. They say that…

·       A good God would do something about evil.

 

Illust: The tsunami that killed thousands of people. Cancer that takes the life of a five year old kid. The holocaust, where millions of innocent people were murdered by Hitler’s regime.

There can’t be a God, because God by definition is all-loving and all-powerful and all-knowing. So if there was a God, how could he just stand by a let little kids die? How could stand by and let Hitler kill millions of people? How could God let the tsunami rip across the ocean and crash onto the shores to kill thousands of unsuspecting people?

There can’t be a god, atheists say, because of all the evil in the world. They also say that…

 

·       Religions are the cause of hatred and division.

Look at the Middle East! Look at Iraq! It’s people of one religious group trying to kill the other! Look at Northern Ireland…the Catholics against the Protestants! Look at the Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir trying to kill each other. Look at the Christian crusades and inquisitions that killed thousands of people!

Illust: A couple of months ago I heard comedian Bill Maher on the Jay Leno Show.  Bill Maher says he’s an agnostic, but he really comes across as an atheist. (And I’ve got to say that I’m normally not up that late and I don’t necessarily recommend you watch Jay Leno. But I happened to up flipping channels). And Bill Maher was ranting and raving on how he despises religion. He thinks that religion is the cause of almost all the hatred and war and division in this world.

Illust: I read a book recently by Sam Harris, an atheist. It’s called, “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.” It was a New York Times bestseller. Sam Harris believes that all religions are unreasonable and the cause of most of the problems on the planet.

The third major beef that atheists tend to put forward, especially to us Christians, is that…

·       The Bible portrays an immoral God and unbelievable miracles.

How could a good God destroy people with a flood? How could a good God tell the Israelites to go into the Holy Land and wipe out every man, woman, and child? What kind of God would torture his own Son on the cross and then send millions of people to hell for not believing in him?

So these are three huge arguments. And…

          How Do We Respond?

Obviously, we could take weeks on each of these three topics. But I want to put it as crisply and clearly as I can.

First, the issue of evil is a tough subject for any worldview, including atheism. It’s not as if Christianity is irrational and atheism has it all figured out. The issue of evil is difficult for any worldview. But I believe that when you really dig into it, the Christian faith makes the most sense of it. And I’ll show you how in a moment.

Secondly, it’s simply a bad reading of history to say that religions are the cause of all the hatred in the world. The fact is, atheists like Lenin and Hitler and Stalin and Mao Tse Tung have killed more people in the 20th century alone than Christianity ever has! Estimates are in the 130 million range!

Besides, if an atheist kills someone or does evil, he’s just living out his philosophy. If a Christian kills somebody or does evil, he is disobeying Jesus who said to love your neighbor as yourself and to love even your enemies.

Thirdly, there are tough passages in the Bible that are hard to understand. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out. But rightly interpreted, the Bible presents a moral, good God, who loves us and calls us into a loving relationship with himself and with each other.

We don’t have time to unpack all of this today, but I put on your outline a brief…

The Biblical Response to Evil (Biblical Worldview)

·       Evil is an intrusion to God’s good world due to free will.

 

The atheist asks, “If there is a good God, why does he allow all the evil in this world?” The short answer is “freedom.” God created us in his image with the freedom of choice. Free to love him and obey him or not. And most of the evil we see in the world today is because misuse their freedom to be selfish and to make choices that hurt other people.

·       The Bible is the story of what God is doing about evil.

The atheist asks, “Why isn’t God doing something about evil?” He is! He sent his Son Jesus Christ to teach us to love and to care! Jesus took all the sin and evil of the world onto himself and died and rose again to conquer it! If you want to talk about unfairness and evil look at the cross! The cross wasn’t fair! Jesus was the most perfect, the most loving, the most innocent person who ever lived! And they spit on him and whipped him and killed him!

God said, “I love you so much that I’m willing to die for you! I’m willing to take your evil and your sin and absorb it into myself and die! I will forgive you and will rise again to show you that evil will not have the final say, but light and life and love will have the final word!”

The resurrection is God’s promise to us that…

 

·       God will one day bring an end to evil.

·       We can live (in this fallen, messed up world) with faith, hope, and love, knowing that life is a test, a trust, and a temporary assignment.

…and that one day we’re going to have new bodies, and a new heaven and a new earth; where there will be no sin or sickness or pain or death!

Now this is key. Listen: “The problem of evil” is not a puzzle to be solved. It’s not an equation to figure out. It’s a painful reality to cope with. When a loved one dies or a tragedy happens, logical explanations will not take your pain away. What you need is comfort! What you need is strength and hope and perspective! And that’s what the Christian faith supplies!

God offers you his Presence. He offers you his promises. He offers you his people, the church, the family of God…to cry with you and laugh with you and go through life together and hold each other up in the hard times.

Personally I am convinced that it’s not argument or logical explanations that will win people to Christ. It’s our love. It’s our character…our integrity, our honesty, our compassion…that will impress people more than any argument.

And so I challenge today to be real Christians. I challenge us to be a real church…a community of faith that really lives out the life that Jesus calls us to live! So when skeptics and unbelievers look at us they might say, “I don’t know about your Jesus. I have all kinds of questions. But I have to admit I admire your lives. And I like your love and your compassion and your energy for life…and I’d like some of that for myself!” And as they SEE Christ’s live in us, we will have opportunity to tell them about the way, the truth, and the life. Amen?

On your outline you’ll see…

5. Evaluating Atheism

We’re running out of time so let me get through this quickly…

(New Dict. Of Christ. Apol.: 93; Baker Encyl. Of Christian Apol.: tenets of atheism)

          The Beliefs of Atheism

·       The universe is eternal

·       Everything has evolved by chance

·       There is no purpose or meaning to life

·       The human mind is merely chemical reactions

·       Morality is whatever works

Right and wrong are not moral absolutes but preferences and opinions. I like vanilla; you like chocolate. I think stealing is wrong; you don’t. It’s just opinion, or a social convenience; whatever helps people get along.

(Baker Encyl. Of Christian Apol.: tenets of atheism)

Questions to Ask an Atheist

·       Do you really believe chance explains us?

·       What is the basis for morality?

·       What is the basis for meaning?

·       How do you explain love?

·       What is the basis for beauty?

 

I’ve studied this off and on most of my adult life, and I am convinced that…

Theme:      The Christian faith is more compelling than atheism.

Goal:          To arm us with information and inspiration that will strengthen our faith and enable us to dialogue with skeptics.

Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life. As we start this New Year, 2007, we live in a world that’s increasingly diverse, increasingly pluralistic. We meet people of all faiths and of no faith. And we’re challenged, Lord, to know what to think, how to respond, and how to treat people. We ask you, Father, to give us wisdom. We want to deepen our faith. We want to be able to give reasons for the hope that we have. But most of all, we know that you call us to reflect your love, your compassion, your light and life. I pray for my dad, who’s an atheist. I pray for some of my acquaintances that are atheists. Turn their hearts toward you. We pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Resources:

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright

What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? By D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe

 


Material and Resources:

Worldview: maybe download one of Rick Warren’s sermons on worldview for some good info.

See the “Humanist Manifesto” online

See “The Case for Faith #7: A Messed Up Church”…

Michael Brown “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus” pp. 205 (Just look at the church! Who’s right?) (See related chapters such as 2.5 “Christianity is a religion of hate)

Strobel 150-151: other faiths persecute Christianity today, but no Christian country persecutes other faiths.

Kennedy “Skeptics” 115: the Crusades

Illust:  Paul Cedar, a pastor and writer, tells a story of when he was a student at Chicago theological seminary in the mid-1960s.  You may remember the famous "God is dead movement".  One of the well-known "God is dead" people was invited to Chicago to debate one of the leading evangelical scholars.  They debated whether or not God was dead.

A huge crowd gathered to hear this debate.  Paul Cedar was a student at that time, and he was there.  Paul said that the evangelical scholar easily won the debate in terms of truth and content, but he felt that he lost the debate in terms of personal conduct.

Amazingly, the "God is dead" theologian was a gracious, kind man who shared his position with an open spirit.  But the Bible-believing scholar was critical, negative, unkind, and sarcastic.

Paul said:  It's sad when an atheist is more "good" than a Christian!

Illust: Psalm 53:1:    An atheist complained to a friend because Christians had their special holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, and Jews celebrate their national holidays, such as Passover and Yom Kippur. "But we atheists," he said, "have no recognized national holidays. It's unfair discrimination."

   His friend replied, "Why don't you celebrate April first?"

   The Fool says in his heart, "There is no God."

Psalm 10 “no room for God”

Look for other Scripture that describes practical atheist’s life: materialism, selfishness. Not all atheists are this way. But the major atrocities of all history have been performed by atheists: communist China and Russia, Marxism, Hitler?

Illust:  Years ago in Germany there was a young Jewish boy who greatly admired his father. The life of the family was centered on their religion. The father was zealous in taking the family to worship.  They learned the Torah and observed all the feasts and fasts.

But one day, while the boy was still a teenager, the family was forced to move to another town in Germany.  In the new location there was no synagogue.  And all of the important people of the community belonged to the Lutheran church.

Suddenly the father announced to the family that they were all going to abandon their Jewish beliefs and join the Lutheran church. When the stunned family asked why, the father said, “I need to do this to help my business.”

Well the teenage boy was bewildered and confused. His deep disappointment gave way to anger.  He became dominated by an intense bitterness that plagued him the rest of his life.

This young man left Germany and went to England to study. He sat daily at the British Museum formulating his ideas and eventually, he wrote a book. In that book he introduced a whole new way of thinking, a new world-view.

His goal was to start a movement that would change the world. In his book he described religion as an "opiate for the masses".  Religion, he said, was a kind of drug that keeps people from facing reality.  So let’s get rid of religion!

Do you know his name?  Karl Marx.   Karl Marx, who wrote “Das Kapital” and who influenced millions of people with Communism and Socialism.

I can’t help but wonder what Karl Marx might have been if his father had not been such a hypocrite.

 

Illust:  Has your faith in God ever been weakened because of the hypocrisy of someone you admired?  Have you ever been tempted to say, “Well, I know I believe in God, but I know I just can’t go to church!  There are too many hypocrites in the church!”

Illust:  Someone has said, "The number one cause of atheism is Christians. Christians who proclaim God with their mouths and deny him with their lifestyles.”

   Imagine a family of mice who lived all their lives in a large piano. To them in their piano-world came the music of the instrument, filling all the dark spaces with sound and harmony. At first the mice were impressed by it. They drew comfort and wonder from the thought that there was Someone who made the music--though invisible to them--above, yet close to them. They loved to think of the Great Player whom they could not see. Then one day a daring mouse climbed up part of the piano and returned very thoughtful. He had found out how the music was made. Wires were the secret; tightly stretched wires of graduated lengths which trembled and vibrated. They must revise all their old beliefs; none but the most conservative could any longer believe in the Unseen Player. Later, another explorer carried the explanation further. Hammers were now the secret, numbers of hammers dancing and leaping on the wires. This was a more complicated theory, but it all went to show that they lived in a purely mechanical and mathematical world. The Unseen Player came to be thought of as a myth--. But the pianist continued to play. (BI – atheism)

The number one cause of atheism is Christians.  Those who proclaim God with their mouths and deny Him with their lifestyles is what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable.

emailed by Julie Lamphier and Teri Scotten...

THIS ONE IS FABULOUS!!! It was written by an 8-year-old named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula Vista, CA. He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment, to "explain God". I wonder if any of us could have done as well?

EXPLANATION OF GOD:

"One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers."

"God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off."

"God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have."

"Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista. At least there aren't any who come to our church."

"Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K."

"His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important."

"You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time." "You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God!

Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway."

"If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids."

"But..you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases.

And...that's why I believe in God

   At the request of his father, Karl Marx was baptized at 6 years old into the Evangelical Established Church.

   Marx's adolescent writings exhibited a spirit of Christian devotion and longing for self-sacrifice on behalf of humanity.

   Later at the University of Berlin, he fell under the influence of a young lecturer in theology named Bruno Bauer who was developing the idea that the Christian gospels were a record not of history but of human fantasies arising from men's emotional needs and that Jesus had not been an historical person. Marx also enrolled in a course of lectures given by Bauer on the prophet Isaiah. Bauer taught that a new social catastrophe "more tremendous" than that of the advent of Christianity was in making. He would eventually call religion the opiate of the masses.

   When Marx wrote his book Das Kapital, he wanted to dedicate it to Charles Darwin. Darwin also was once a theology student and eventually repudiated the Bible and became an agnostic.

See:  1 Tim 4:1; 2 Pet 3:15-17

   If we have full employment and growth--if we have cities of gold and alabaster--but our children have not learned to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then the American experiment, no matter how gilded, will have failed.  In modernity, nothing has been more consequential, or more public in its consequences, than large segments of American society privately turning away from God, or considering Him irrelevant, or declaring Him dead.  Dostoyevsky reminded us in Brothers Karamazov that "if God does not exist, everything is permissible."   We are now seeing "everything."  And much of it is not good to get used to.

n    William J. Bennett, The Washington Times Pulpit Helps, March 1996, p. 10.

   Paleontologist Stephen J. Gould concluded: We are because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of million years ago, had managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook.  We may yearn for a "higher" answer but none exists.

   -- Stephen J. Gould, Quoted in Donald M. Culcough, The Trivialization of God (Colorado Springs: Nav Press, 1995), p. 16.

See: Psa 10:4; Psa 14:1; Psa 19:1; Rom 1:18-20

Emailed by Len Gallegher…
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
 
If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
 
He sends you flowers every spring.
 
He sends you a sunrise every morning.
 
Whenever you want to talk, he listens.
 
He can live anywhere in the universe, but he chose your heart.
 
Face it friend, he is crazy about you!
 
God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun
without rain, but he did promise strength for the day, comfort for the
tears, and light for the way.


“Why I Am a Christian”

#1: “…and Not an Atheist”

Pastor Greg Henneman

January 7, 2007

Text:          Psalm 53:1

1. The Importance of Worldview

          A worldview is the way you view the world. It is an interpretive framework or paradigm by which you make sense of the world and order your life.

          Results of Atheism                Results of Theism

          Moral Relativism                  Moral Guidance

          Devaluing human life           Sanctity of life

          Lack of purpose                     Purpose Driven Life

2. The Place of Reason

          Three Kinds of Faith

          Emotional faith – assurance (2 Timothy 1:12)

          Intellectual faith – belief (1 Peter 3:15)

          Volitional faith – commitment (Matthew 25:21)

Reason cannot force people to faith, but it can keep people from faith.

3. Why I Am a Christian

          a. Personal experience

          b. Evidential confirmation

          Evidences that Affirm My Faith

·       The starry skies above (Psalm 19:1-6)

·       The moral law within (Psalm 19:7-14)

4. The Objections of Atheism

          The atheist says there is no god.

          The agnostic says he’s not sure (or no one can be sure).

          Three Major Arguments

·       A good God would do something about evil.

·       Religions are the cause of hatred and division.

·       The Bible portrays an immoral God and unbelievable miracles.

         

The Biblical Response to Evil

·       Evil is an intrusion to God’s good world due to free will.

·       The Bible is the story of what God is doing about evil.

·       God will one day bring an end to evil.

·       We can live with faith, hope, and love, knowing that life is a test, a trust, and a temporary assignment.

5. Evaluating Atheism

          The Beliefs of Atheism

·       The universe is eternal

·       Everything has evolved by chance

·       There is no purpose or meaning to life

·       The human mind is merely chemical reactions

·       Morality is whatever works

Questions to Ask an Atheist

·       Do you really believe chance explains us?

·       What is the basis for morality?

·       What is the basis for meaning?

·       How do you explain love?

·       What is the basis for beauty?

Resources:

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright

What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? By D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe

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