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Friday, February 27, 2009

Atheist Counter-Evangelism (part 1)

"Evangelism is the systematic use of propaganda promoting a religious ideas for the purpose of gaining converts. Fliers, tracts and "witnessing" techniques are marketing tools to advertise a product."

There is a movement within so-called "atheist" circles called "Atheist evangelism" that promotes these kinds of ideas; however, if so-called "atheists" are concerned that "Evangelism is the systematic use of propaganda promoting a religious ideas for the purpose of gaining converts," then they must find another name and means to deliver their message. So-called "atheists" are doing the very thing that bothers them the most through conferences, seminars, websites, blogs, books in order to "counter-evangelize."

Immediately one cannot help but wonder why a so-called "atheist" would use the term "evangelism" to describe their anti-Christian movement. The English word "evangelize" comes from a combination of two Greek words εὔ = "good" and ἀγγέλλω = "I bring a message" which in it's final form means "good news." The meaning has been shifted to presently mean, "militant or crusading zeal." What has so-called "atheists" in an uproar that they would militantly crusade against an evangelistic message? Why must a so-called "atheist" stand against religious ideas for the purpose of gaining converts of his own? What is the message so-called "Christians" are bringing? Any message that says "get saved and go to heaven" is incomplete. Any message that says "join in how we think and be a member" is no message at all.

The central message of biblical Christianity is not a product that must be marketed and/or sold. The message of biblical Christianity is the glory of God in the Lord Jesus Christ, who by His death, burial and resurrection makes available forgiveness and cleansing from the penalty, power and presence of sin when He comes again. This is a message that must be proclaimed regardless of how it is received; hence, "good news." "Athiest evangelism" is dangerous because the movement seeks to convince that "Godlessness is good news."

Two facts come to immediate attention: first, what most so-called "Christians" today preach is not really the "good news." They might as well be preaching Godlessness because if God is not glorified by the work that He has done in Christ Jesus, then man gets the glory and this is idolatry. Second, most outside biblical Christianity know the message they are hearing is not quite right. The conscience is at work and they are looking for the truth.

Nowhere in scripture is there a mandate to go into all the world and market a product for the purpose of counting membership. This kind of religious ideology should be shunned! Rather, the mandate is to go into all the world and preach the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:18).

Salvation from what? Lack of church membership? Failure of being a convert? No. Salvation from the penalty, power and presence of sin.

The sum of the biblical gospel is found in verses like John 3:16:

1. “GOD LOVED THE WORLD” God created man to enjoy a perfect relationship with Him, but the first man (Adam) sinned. Because we are descendants of Adam, we also sin against God and the fellowship is broken.

2. “PERISH” Sin is when we break God’s perfect law. We see God’s perfection and our sinfulness by looking at just a few of the Ten Commandments:

1) How many lies have you told in your life? God commands that we do not lie.
2) Have you ever stolen anything, regardless of value or the reason? God commands that we not steal.
3) Have you ever looked with lust? Our Lord Jesus Christ says that lust is adultery, and God commands that we not commit adultery.
4) Have you ever hated anyone? God says that hatred is the same as murder, and He commands that we not kill.

This is just four of the Ten Commandments. Scripture says that if we break just one of these commands, then we have broken them all. Scripture says that sin is to break the law of God. Sin has broken our relationship with God. Scripture teaches that the soul that sins shall die; in other words, sin has separated us from God and we deserve to die in our sins.

3. “ETERNAL LIFE” God does not want anyone to perish, but for all to have eternal life; that is, enjoy a restored relationship with Him. God does not want us to die in our sins. The problem is that our good works are sinful to God.

4. “ONLY BEGOTTEN SON” Since there is nothing we can do to fix our sin problem, God has done it for us. God stepped into time and space in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and lived a perfect life so that in His death on the cross He could pay the penalty for our sin. Scripture teaches that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Three days later, He rose from the dead.

5. “BELIEVES IN HIM” This means that we confess our sins to God. He sees our heart and our sinfulness and simply desires that we agree with Him—we are sinners (liars, thieves, adulterers, etc.) and by faith as God ask Him to put all His righteousness on us, and all our sin on Him. “Believe” does not mean to look at Jesus on the cross and go on our way with our sin. It means to cast off your sin on Him.

6. “WHOEVER” This is you. Will you pray to God and trust that what He did for you in Christ Jesus will save you from the penalty, power and presence of sin when He comes again?

Please make Psalm 51 your prayer.

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