For those of you who have not been following the dialogue Chris Redford and I have been having, this is the 2nd part of a series of answers Chris, an atheist, gave to questions about his beliefs. He chose to answer as he would have answered when he was a youth attending an Assembly of God church and as an atheist.
The difficulty with this Sisyphean approach is the assumption that he can answer and “defend” a position he no longer holds. It is one thing to tell somebody what you believed, it is a whole other thing to defend it now, whcn you don’t believe it. As my friend Chris Levis says, it is a little like Protestants helping Catholics pick a new Pope, Christians advising Mormons on whether to follow Brigham Young or not, or otherwise helping a young Muslim decide whether the Sunnis or Shias are the true Muslims. It’s a fools errand.
I agreed to post his answers in full. But I must also put a disclaimer. Like the political candidate who ought to completely annul and disassociate himself from an endorsement by the Klu Klux Klan, so I must disavow his views supposedly defending a particular view of Christianity. I will not enter the charade by debating his answers “as a Christian”. I will challenge Chris to repent and believe the gospel. What follows are the questions I asked (in red) and his bifurcated answers.
Can a person be a Christian who does not believe in the death and resurrection of Christ?
Chris As A Christian:
No. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that he was resurrected and I believe that is a fundamental part of being a Christian. And I fear for anyone who does not believe that. I personally believe that the belief in Christ’s sacrifice and request for His forgiveness is the only way into heaven. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 14:11).
Chris As An Atheist:
Not really. Belief in Jesus’s resurrection and salvation by the grace of his sacrifice tends to be the central tenet of almost all branches of Christianity. From my understanding, this is typically what is meant by the dictionary’s phrasing of “A believer IN Jesus Christ”. I.e. a believer in Christ’s salvation, resurrection, and divinity.
However, can someone follow the most fundamental and practical principles of the New Testament without believing in Christ’s resurrection? Yes. They absolutely can.
Can a Christian lose his salvation?
As A Christian:
According to Hebrews 6:4-6, yes you can:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
Quite a frightening and horrible prospect to crucify Jesus again. It is a chilling reminder to stay vigilant in Christ’s teachings and in following the will of God through the Holy Spirit and not to fall away. I’m not too worried about this happening to me personally, though, because following Christ and keeping my heart focused on pursuing God’s will are the most important things in my life.
As An Atheist:
If God doesn’t exist, then the concept of salvation is a human one. Meaning: no one is actually saved because salvation is an illusory concept invented by human beings (probably innocently and unconsciously, not intentionally). If God does not exist, then there is no Hell to save anyone from and no Heaven to reward them. Given that I have seen no good reason to believe there is a God, I have no good reason to believe there is salvation or that salvation is even necessary.
Of course a person cannot be a Christian and deny the Resurrection. Among the most “fundamental and practical principles of the New Testament” are the existence of God, the veracity of Christ and His Word, and the power of the Resurrection to overcome sin in this life and obtain a resurrected body, free of sin, in the world to come. The morality of the New Testament is beyond the reach of the unsaved. Only a supernatural life-giving touch from the true and living God through Christ can bear the fruit of righteousness.
Chris wrote: “I’m not too worried about this happening to me personally, though, because following Christ and keeping my heart focused on pursuing God’s will are the most important things in my life.”
This is yet another reason for Christians to consider my claim that Chris was never saved. Chris based his salvation on what he was doing (following Christ and keeping his heart) and not on what Christ did. He wasn’t worried about losing his salvation because he was trusting himself, not trusting Christ. Whatever Hebrews 6: 4-6 means it probably does not mean Chris cannot be saved, because it appears he never was.
 I almost chuckle when Mormon Glenn Beck tells us that violent Muslims do not represent true Islam. How did he decide that? Would he want a Jihadist to decide whether Mormonism is true Christianity?