"If you're not dead, you're not done." - Craig Groeschel, The Christian Atheist
The title seems rather oxymoronic or even ironic. You may have met such a person, or know someone who fits the title. I was a Christian atheist. According to his book, The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschel shares that a Christian atheist is a Christian who believes in God, reads his Bible, and shares an average knowledge of theology, but he doesn't walk the walk, more as he talks the talk. Before I share my confessional thoughts, I'd like to unravel a threefold point: on Christians, atheist, and finally the Christian atheist. Now, to clarify, many people feel uneasy when it comes to treading on religious discussion, or even uninterested. I find it healthy in conversation intellectually, it builds perspective and also character. Also, I understand that there are several beliefs of religion, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism being the top beliefs in the world, and I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My focus today is narrowing on Christianity and atheism and everything in between.
Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator
Growing up, like most children, I didn't have a clear understanding of the world, why humans exist, and even the belief in a God. I was raised in a Catholic home and we went to church, we prayed, took communion, sang hymnals of a liturgy, practiced prayer with the Apostles' Creed, Our Father, and Hail Mary’s and I even did confessionals with a priest behind a screen. I didn't understand it, but it became a mundane Sunday routine. Now, I do believe that some practices work for others with their spirituality, but in my case, I was as confused as a fish in a dishwasher. My foundational belief of God didn't resonate inside me until my junior year of high school. That was when I gave my life to become a Christian. Christianity is the belief and practices based on a man named Jesus. To an extent, Christianity is a religion, yet it's more of a lifestyle, a relationship, a guide for survival. Honestly, when I first became a Christian after a long period of Catholicism as well as atheism, I never knew how to explain it to people, other than, "I'm not the same person I was before, I was met with a miraculous event that changed my life," and yes I have received mixed emotions from different people when sharing my testimony, but nevertheless it didn't matter what anybody else thought or said, I knew I found a way of faith, hope, and love that looks much like a mural, the canvas is still empty at times, but with each blend of color and stroke from the brush, it creates a grand picture beyond all measures of knowledge and wisdom. The chances I could've gone to a secular university or even strived for a greater potential at a different profession, I chose to give my full attention to ministry. The heart I have for people aches daily. There's not one human being that I don't meet and that I can't help but feel compassion for because we're all human, we make mistakes and even commit sins on multiple occasions. The call to ministry isn't a game or a show, it's an ebb and flow of sheep and shepherds. We follow because we have faithful leaders to guide us in this walk, and we lead because it humbles us. The Christian walk is never easy, it wasn't meant to be, but it is worth the sacrifice, endurance, and patience to live faithfully each day and night, despite the highs and lows life throws. To my candor, converting to a lifestyle of selfless practices, knowledgeable teachings, and running with peers and Godly mentors is worth sharing the experience.
Like many confessionals, it's an honest statement of one's thoughts, feelings, life experiences, and what have you. My perspective when I was an atheist wasn't biased as stereotypically as it is defined by most persons today. Atheism isn't a religion or a form of beliefs; it's defined as the lack of belief in Gods and supernatural beings. It doesn't mean we despise people or condemn them for what they believe in, it just didn't apply to us. An atheist will respect your opinion if dealt in a civil manner. Atheists do not hate God or people who believe in God, it's an absurd thought to hate somebody, but they follow facts, science, logic, realism. There's nothing wrong with having a different opinion or belief; generally, we have no control on what somebody else thinks. We may not like or agree with what everyone says, but we can respect them as a person. I followed strong English literature, history, science, even logistical standpoints, but I didn't acknowledge the existence of a God or believed in miracles at the time. I was focused on trivial items. What really ground my gears a few years back was when I encountered "church" people. I went to a Baptist church that was devoted to their doctrines, yet I felt it was being shoved down my throat rather than shown in love. Almost every service felt like a ticket to a guilt-trip. I didn't want a part of it and the experience imprinted a disappointing and bitter perspective on many church goers. I figured if this is the way that most human beings follow, I didn't want to sacrifice any time or resources if it felt more of a mistreatment than a place of security and safety. Facts didn't add up between miracles and reality. Old circles I ran with told me, "miracles don't exist, you're speaking nonsense and wasting time." It was an internal war of truth and lies. I was easily convinced that everything was hopeless, to enjoy the life of the party. A statement used easily to sugar-coat everything. But while person argues, debate, and bicker about what is true and what to follow, nobody really talks about the gray areas.
The in-between I talk about is the view of Christian atheism. I admit I was half-convinced when I wanted to do this walk. I believed in going to church, praying, reading the Bible, but I did the opposite of what was said. I became selfish and only cared about certain parts or practices to follow, much like a cafeteria lunch line. That isn't how it works, though; a personal view has to be firm, strong, founded on bases of knowledge and truth. Becoming contradictory on one's standpoint proves nothing. If you want to persuade or become a voice of truth and reason, you have to have knowledge in that specific area, to respect and understand other viewpoints and have the courage to stand up. I didn't take my chances to defend my opinions, I gave up quickly, and with little regret in the back of my mind, I know this, I don't have all the answers and neither do you, but the mere importance of trusting something higher than yourself will grant the courage to speak into one's life, and one day may provide answers, not to be right, but to accept and understand why you and I are here, why there are causalities of turmoil and celebration, and why we follow what we trust. Ponder on it, and delve into positive, healthy, intellectual conversations, it will benefit you, I know this.