Saturday, 26 May 2012

Things Christians say: part 16. You were never a true Christian.

A weekly series of responses to the things Christians say to atheists, based on the video reproduced here on 30th January 2012.  The aim is to tackle one every weekend, to give both a moderate, polite response to each question ('Piano'), followed by a more forceful rebuttal of the same question ('Forte'). 

Delayed a week due to poor health, here is the next installment!

If you were a Christian and now you are an atheist, you were never a true Christian to begin with.


This is an interesting type of argument that can easily be used both ways, (and often is).  In fact, it is an argument that I can't completely disagree with, even though it has little logical value.

I know people who claim that they were once atheists, but who also claim that they have now been saved.  Do I believe that they were ever real atheists?  Obviously there is a spectrum of possible answers to that and it all depends on the circumstances.  Do I believe that there is any evidence that they are now 'true' Christians?  I can only claim to be agnostic on this topic.

In particular it depends what they mean by 'atheist'.  If they mean "not a nice person" then they didn't understand.  If they mean that they were very rude to Christians (for example) then they also failed to get it.  And in general terms, if they never quite comprehended the concept that life doesn't have to be for anything, or that there is nothing to say that there has to be hope of an afterlife, then I would say that they never really detached themselves from aspects of theism (or at least deism).

Was I ever a real Christian?  I doubt that many would say I was, even though I feel that I was deluded for over 40 years by something for which there is no evidence.  I admit it.  I never babbled incoherently in a pentecostal service.  I never experienced the pleasure of 'knowing the living Jesus' (whatever that means in everyday English).

That admission has no bearing on the truth though.  It doesn't affect whether any gods exist or not.



Given the above, I would only ask further questions of anyone who uses this supposed 'accusation' (which is not offensive to me in any way).

What gives you the right to assume a special place for the Christian God(s)?  Most Christians divide the world up into a kind of 'us' and 'them'.  For some reason they count many supposedly like-minded 'cults' with radically different views as 'fellow Christians' even if they are not 'true' Christians.  The disagreements go very deep - even down to the question of how many Gods they have - e.g. is Mary divine?  But still these people are in the 'us' category.

The 'them' category would include the 'evil religions' like Satanism, and this other group called 'atheists'.  These are the things that visibly threaten Christianity.

Somewhere sitting on the fence or in some kind of theistic no-man's-land are the 'other' religions.  They're not quite as bad as the 'thems' and after all, perhaps they really 'know' the same God but just haven't yet found the right way to worship him.  But the fact that they have a belief in some supreme being makes them better than the 'thems'.

This happens even though those same atheists would actually lump Christians and Satanists into one category - namely that of 'religionists', and atheists into another.

None of this helps.  It doesn't matter what labels you apply to people and  I don't see what it has to do with the fact that I don't believe in Zeus,  Shiva, or Thor.  In the same way, it is now clear to me that there is no sense in believing in the illogical Christian 'Pantheon' either.

Small note:    The Christian Pantheon might include God, Jesus, Mary, the Holy Spirit, the Saints and the 'all host of heaven'.  I heard recently about a poll of Catholics which revealed that Jesus was only the 6th most likely to be appealed to in prayer!

Last week:  Your atheism is just a way for you to persecute Christians
Next week:  They want to be their own free agents - free of any consequences

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