Are You a Practical Atheist?

“If a time-traveler from the early Church secretly followed you from Monday till Saturday evening, would they be able to tell you’re a Christian?”

This question raised by John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris from caught my attention early yesterday morning.

In a post entitled “Practical Atheists: Living as if God is Irrelevant,” they suggest that for many professing Christianity the answer isn’t really clear.
This is a not a new question or novel topic, but one I haven’t thought about in quite a while.

“Practical atheism,” wrote Rubel Shelly is “holding an intellectual commitment to belief in God but thinking, feeling, and behaving as if there were no God.”

Craig Gay in his book, “The Way of the Modern World,” said the problem isn’t atheism. The problem, he said, is “practical atheism.”

“It’s not that people do not believe in God, it’s that they live as if God is largely irrelevant,” observed Stonestreet and Morris. “That’s what secularism does to us. It doesn’t disprove our faith, it dismisses it. It makes faith an issue of personal, private belief, disconnected from the outside world.”

“The most dangerous type of atheism is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism — that’s the most dangerous type. And the world, even the church is filled up with people who pay lip service to God and not life service,” opined Martin Luther King, Jr. in a 1950’s sermon.

“There is always a danger,” King said, “that we will make it appear externally that we believe in God when internally we don’t. We say with our mouths that we believe in him, but we live with our lives like he never existed. That is the ever-present danger confronting religion. That’s a dangerous type of atheism.”

Consider these five comparisons.

Behold Our God!

About 53 million light-years from earth is a supermassive black hole that is the core of Messier 87, one of the largest galaxies known to man. Several billion times the mass of the sun, this black hole (like all black holes) has such a gravitational pull that nothing, not even light, can escape it (which is why we see it as a black hole). It’s hard for me to imagine a force so strong that it deforms spacetime and not even light can escape. Where does such energy come from?

Behold our God!

On the side of a large cliff is a nest made up of twigs and carefully lined with deer fur. Nestled inside are several young ravens who are too young fly and gather their own food. Miles from anyone, who will hear their cry and feed them?

Behold our God!


How You Can “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled”

~ Frank KIng

Biblical Warnings About False Prophets

The number of false prophets has exploded in the last few years, so to prepare you for their deception, here are some powerful Bible verses about false prophets.


In Matthew 7:15 Jesus warned us to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves,” and Jesus prophesied that prior to His second coming, that “many false prophets will arise and lead many astray” (Matt 24:11), and we know that these wolves love “Sheep in a Can” because they can shear the sheep and fleece the flock without their even knowing it. Their goals include these three things (at least):

#1 Money

#2 Absolute Power/Authority

#3 Unquestioned Teachings

Jesus knew their hearts and warned us to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt 7:15-20).

Read the rest:

Wise to the Ways of the Worldly: 4 Ways Worldliness Sneaks In, and the Scriptures to Slay It

Lately, every time I turn around, I keep bumping up against the same biblical concept. It’s showing up in my personal Bible study time. In Sunday School. In sermons. Even in a revival my husband and I served at this week.

Worldliness, and the need for Christians to be set apart.

Understanding Why Many Non-Christians Hate the Bible

By Michael Brown

Many Christians read the Quran (or, at least select quotes from the Quran) with abhorrence. “The God of the Quran is bloodthirsty and cruel!” they exclaim. But many non-Christians read the Bible with the same abhorrence. They come to the same conclusions about the God of the Bible, especially the God of the Old Testament. Is there any justification to their conclusions? And how is it that Christians can read the same Book and see it so differently?

What Do Critics Say?

Critics would point to things like these in the Old Testament:

  • God destroyed the entire world, save just 8 people, with a flood.
  • God tested Abraham by telling him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice.
  • God gave the Israelites a law that they could purchase slaves from other nations.
  • God gave the Israelites a law that a man who raped a woman was required to marry her and never divorce her.
  • Moses told the Israelites that they should kill every man, woman, and child among the Canaanites.
  • Moses gave the Israelite men permission on one occasion to spare all the virgin women for themselves but to kill everyone else.
  • The psalmist said that those who smash Babylon’s babies on the rocks would be truly happy.
  • In the New Testament, critics would object to the frequent talk about the judgment of hell fire along with the concept that Jesus was the only way to God, among other issues.

How, then, can Christians so highly prize a Book like this? How can they find it to be the epitome of love, compassion, kindness, justice, liberation, and truth?

There is more at:

How to know the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error

What Did Luke Know, And When Did He Know It?

I am struggling with a celebrated New Testament passage, and I’ll use this blogpost as a way of working out my thoughts. It relates to the issue of the origins of the gospels as we have them, a topic about which I have blogged often enough in the past. As in most such cases, the issue at hand has a vast literature attached to it, and my main goal is not to be overwhelmed.

Luke’s Prologue

The text in question opens the Gospel of Luke, and in the NIV, this prologue reads “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,  just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.” My question is: what did he mean by “many,” polloi, and how many of those accounts do we possess in any form? To put this in context, assume that Luke is writing around 90-95. What  narratives were available at or before this time?

The word “many” is open to interpretation, and perhaps it is a rhetorical flourish. Quite possibly, Luke is using a standard rhetorical device in ancient history writing, as exemplified by a scholar like Livy. But as an exercise, assume he means it literally. So what could “many” mean? A dozen? Twenty? Could it just mean five or six? Based on what we have from that era, or what we plausibly can reconstruct, I can think of a fair number of accounts of Jesus that likely did exist by that point, and I will list them shortly. By the way, Luke says that many have put together such accounts, not that he has seen any or all of them personally.

Yet there is a problem. Luke speaks of to compile (anataxasthai) an account (diegesis), and that last word can be translated as narration or declarations. But diegesis is an unusually strong word, which means not just an account, but more like an account that is thorough or comprehensive. At first sight, that would mean something organized in the sense that we think of as a gospel, although with no necessary implication about length.

But what could that term cover? Might the term apply to something like the Gospel of Thomas, which is a collection of sayings without any particular sequence or organization? In fact, Thomas is nothing like this early, and I just use it as a hypothetical. To take an example that Luke assuredly did know, would he apply the term to the reconstructed Q gospel source, which lacks most of the narrative structure we know, not to mention not referring to the crucifixion? On the other hand, could it apply to accounts of the crucifixion, which might have circulated independently of other sayings or narratives? How about a source that described Jesus’s miracles, without much other narrative, or a crucifixion? The answer to any of those questions might be that yes, Luke was indeed applying the term diegesis to such items, but he would be stretching the language.

Read more:

The Reason Love Is So Great

~ Colin Smith

“You loved me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

Before anything else existed, there was love.

Read rest of the blog:

The Biggest Challenge Facing the Church Today