Church: the right place for doubters and atheists
Christians come to their faith in manifold ways. Faith is a personal journey as unique and complex as each human being. So it is with non-believers and skeptics who find reason to doubt God’s existence. It’s this last group I’m writing for today.
If you are not already persuaded by evidence in support of Christianity, it’s doubtful that 600 words or less will convince you to follow God’s word. Instead, I hope to encourage you to visit North Central, where you can either shore up your position or change your mind. (Naturally, I hope it will be the latter.)
Here are four reasons atheists and agnostics should give church a chance.
Attending church does not obligate you to anything. Church attendance is not a commitment. (Frankly, even some Christians don’t get this one.) In most churches, the fact that your body is seated in a pew only increases the likelihood that you’ll hear God’s word. That’s all. Whether you take it into consideration, study it further or allow it to change your thinking or way of life is totally up to you. Of course, people of faith are interested in sharing information that has given them a new lease on life and hope of an eternal home, but we won’t coerce you into making any kind of spiritual decision. Even God doesn’t force his will on us. Becoming a Christian is a choice—your choice.
Get a better historical perspective on the gospels. An intellectually honest person engages in study before making any declaration of faith or disbelief. If you haven’t studied the Bible in much depth, then you may lack the necessary context to make a reasonable decision about whether to believe the gospels. We can be a resource to help you explore God’s word deeply and point you to some of the most recent and compelling scholarly work concerning Christ’s resurrection. If you haven’t studied lately, then you owe it to yourself to start again. In recent years, there have been some groundbreaking discoveries by modern historical scholars. These new sources can be helpful complements to the overwhelming evidence presented within the Bible, a book written by hundreds of God-inspired authors over a period of centuries.
Meet intelligent people who have the critical thinking skills to engage with you about your beliefs. People of faith are often labeled as naïve and lacking in their ability to reason intelligently. I’ll grant you that not all Christians can articulate elegant, logical explanations for their beliefs, but that shortcoming doesn’t justify such a shallow and unfair characterization of Christians as a whole. My contact with other Christians has granted me friendships with the world’s keenest minds—men and women in science, medicine, engineering, business and education. Not that God cares how sharp we are or what we do for a living. The Bible suggests that he is more interested in how we can expand the borders of his kingdom and serve, working with whatever we have. If you avoid churches because you think they are filled will dumb people, I urge you to think again. Come and take the risk of meeting people who may cause you to reconsider the plausibility of an intelligent God who has organized an integrated, complex universe. From Galileo and Einstein to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, the best minds have acknowledged the mystery of a world so brilliantly organized that we cannot completely comprehend its creator. Through inquiry and experience, anyone can come to a better understanding of this intelligent designer.
You could be mistaken. Have you ever been dead wrong? If so, then you know how humbling it can be to learn that things are exactly opposite of the way you once thought. Being wrong about God is kind of a big deal. He is the source of all truth, goodness and beauty, the one who separates goodness from evil and light from darkness here on earth and for all eternity. The fact that we may not be able to wrap our minds around eternity, the purpose of life and the grandest scheme ever devised is not that surprising. Even Jesus’ best friends were, at times, incredulous about his role in God’s plan to bring everyone close to him. Our inability to grasp such things doesn’t make them false. The existence of God is not so much a scientific question as a philosophical one. The way we respond to it matters more than any other decision we make on this side of heaven.
If you’re interested in gathering and following evidence of God wherever it leads, North Central is a good place to begin your search. Our studies and lectures are designed to support people in their search for God and to encourage those who’ve already made a commitment to live according to his wisdom. Please join us at one of our regularly scheduled times for study and worship.
Crystal Hammon works as a non-fiction writer and corporate storyteller. She is currently working on two books—a biography about a well-known fashion designer and a guide to caring for aging parents.
Crystal spends free time caring for family, reading, playing golf and appreciating music, theatre and the arts. She also writes a personal blog that started in 2010 as a celebration of vintage clothing/iconic women and became a dumping ground for this-that-and-the-other. Her favorite posts are tributes to people she has loved and lost.
Although she has been a Christian since the mid-1980s, Crystal considers herself a late-bloomer and feels the need to travel at the speed of light to compensate for decades of spiritual immaturity.