Can an atheist further the kingdom of God? Can God take sin and use it for his glory?
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
Acts 4:27, 28 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Unevangelist Chris Redford, who goes by the moniker “Evid3nc3” on YouTube, has produced a series of videos about his “deconversion.” He attempts to show that belief in God is supported by a series of sociological or psychological props, which he intends to kick out from underneath Christians everywhere and convince them that atheism is the true perspective of the world. Previously articles I wrote dealt with a video of his “testimony” and his denial of the efficacy of prayer.
While Redford’s efforts are a great evil, in some ways he unwittingly does a service to the church. Though his attacks on God’s existence are totally ineffective, his shots often end up as friendly fire, useful fodder to destroy views that are really contrary to the Bible.
In the second video, for example, Redford goes after prayer. The fatal flaw in his approach there is that he has a simplistic, selfish, and materialistic view of prayer. Earlier I deduced he thinks prayer is primarily asking God for things, as if God were a cosmic vending machine. If he can show praying doesn’t increase the probability of getting things, he concludes either God doesn’t really answer prayer or, in keeping with his desire, God does not exist. But this atheist’s view of prayer is skewed. Personal requests are a very small part of prayer, when compared with Biblical commands to give the Lord thanks, seek His Face, and offer praise to God.
In his third video Redford challenges the idea that morality comes from God. But once again, his understanding of Christianity is grossly deficient. (see discussion below vide0)
False View Number One: We Can Keep God’s Commandments
Redford attempts to show that the Bible is an insufficient guide to morality starting with the premise that he, in fact, kept the Ten Commandments as a child, and didn’t do “obviously wrong things…like disrespecting my parents.” (but see Matthew 19:20). Though he believes he was once “a Christian,” it is apparent he never trusted Christ but relied on his own righteousness instead. The plain teaching of the Bible, from cover to cover, is that all of us have broken all of the commandments, and that we were enemies of God, prior to conversion. We hated Him and wanted Him dead. God’s wrath was also upon us. Righteousness is not just outward. It must be inward, which can only occur if you are given a new heart by the true and living God.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Mark 7:20-23 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Matthew 5:21, 22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.
False View Number Two: God’s Word is Insufficient.
Redford says “It became clear pretty early on in my life that the Bible wasn’t always enough, it didn’t always have specific information on how to handle every situation in my life…what was I supposed to do with my time…how was I supposed to interact with girls… None of this was very clear at all from the Bible alone. This is where my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and guidance from the Holy Spirit stepped in. I would see visions and have feelings and have inspirations that I knew were holy…. By the time I was 19 or 20 I felt I had morality pretty much figured out.”
Guidance is not the same thing as morality. The Bible never claims to be like a mumbling soothsayer dishing out advice or guidance on what shirt to wear or how many hours to study. However, the Bible sufficiently addresses every moral issue, without requiring that Christians resort to totally subjective notions such as visions and feelings.
II Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.
Redford thought he had latched onto mature Biblical Christianity, but it was actually quite childish. We grow in wisdom by gaining knowledge of God’s Word, not by abandoning it in favor of our own inventions and experiences.
Atheists are fond of creating conundrums they think will stump the believer. In Redford’s case, he thinks “The Euthyphro Dilemma” taught to him by his college professor puts an end to the idea that God is the source of morality. The following questions are supposed to baffle us into the notion we don’t need God to determine what is right and wrong.
1: Is something moral because it is commanded by God?
2: Does God command us to do things because they are inherently moral?
The first possibility is ruled out by Redford way too quickly. He says that if something is only moral because God commands it, then it opens the door for God to command great evils. This would make God arbitrary and capricious. Why does he start, however, with the assumption that God is less than perfectly holy and righteous? Righteous standards come from a God who IS Righteous. His commands are an extension of Who He Is. Someone has put it this way: “The righteousness God requires is the righteousness God’s righteousness requires him to require”.
Answering the first question “no” meant answering the second question “yes”: There is a standard of morality higher than God. By then Redford had already chosen to abandon the God of the Bible. Brimming with self-righteousness and the thought that morality exists outside of God, he began a quest to find out what is right apart from God, all the while clinging to the notion that he was pleasing God. But this was not the God of the Bible, but a god of his own making:
Jeremiah 2:11-13 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Redford is not alone in this. Many professing Christians deny the sufficiency of Scripture, especially in the area of morality. They seek consensus in the culture, as Redford did among his college classmates. Or they seek answers in their own wisdom. Or they pick and choose what parts of the Bible to believe.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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