‘a theist believes in at least one god, but denies the existence of many gods’ [the skeptic’s dictionary]
whereas an atheist denies the existence of god completely
and ‘at heist’ is just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that’s not important now…
a theist and an atheist – so vastly different and yet the difference between them is nothing… or ‘a space’ to be more precise…
[disclaimer: oh and by the way, this is one of those blogs that is more for me than for you – i am writing to think my thorts out loud, to process them, to do it publically in case anyone else is thinking/wrestling/engaging about the same kind of stuff, but i am not looking for answers, so please keep those to yourself – i am not asking you to solve anything – i am merely trying to process what is going on in my head, and maybe cause you to think a little]
i have worked as a pastory type guy at the stellenbosch vineyard church for almost 6 years now – in that time i have seen two christian guys become atheists – it’s kinda weird that to go from a theist to an atheist you have to lose the gap as opposed to creating one – it feels like it should be the other way around…
so if you were to be an outside evaluator of my work you would see that i started out with two christians and finished up with two atheists – i don’t think i’d score that well in pastoring school… and i know that i didn’t change them (i hope i didn’t change them) but it happened under my watch so to speak [which is ridiculous cos i don’t have a watch, except on my cellphone but to say it happened under my cellphone gets very confusing because it’s not that big a phone] and i didn’t have the answers or the proof or the experience to stop it from happening and so a part of me feels like it may as well have been my doing
[there are others who have been a part of our community in these last years who have moved away from God or christianity or both and that disturbs me as well, but to become an atheist is a step towards something, rather than just a step away from something, which is a lot easier to do]
so it does bother me in an i-failed kind of way to some kind of extent – i have something, my faith, my relationship with God, the purpose that gives me life – that is most-of-the-time so incredibly absolutely whole-heartedly real to me and even tho i don’t always understand it or have a complete explanational grasp of it, it is the very core of my being – and i have been unable to communicate or demonstrate or pass that on to these two guys in an adequate enuff way that had them going ‘this-is-real-this-is-for-me’ and that has to bug me, to frustrate me, to dishearten me. it has to. because i obviously believe that what i believe is truth and within that also lies the believed consequence for someone who doesn’t believe that (both when they die but even hugely now) and that should cause me great concern, and does…
but it’s not going to cripple me. it’s not going to knock me off my horse (and not just cos unlike mr terblanche i don’t actually have a horse, i have a rocking horse, but it’s a metaphorical one, and purely for aesthetics). i think i’ll be okay.
really? and why is that you may ask? [or i may go ahead and ask for you] – Because Jesus was okay with it!
there is a passage in luke i think it is (maybe john) where Jesus preaches a bit of a tough message and a whole bunch of His followers find it too strong a message and so they leave… and He lets them. and then turns to His disciples and asks them, “What about you? Are you also going to leave?” to which Peter replies, “Where shall we go? Only You have the words of Truth.” [And for me, that is a lot of the bottom line – i have struggles with some aspects of christianity, i don’t understand a lot of the Bible and how God works or doesn’t seem to work sometimes, but i have identified Jesus as having the words of Truth, it is in my gut and i cannot shake it and have not come close to hearing any other kind of more believable truth anywhere else]
then there is the story of the rich young ruler and one of the most powerful phrases in the Bible to me because when you read the story of Jesus you get the idea that in His interaction with the man, He knows from the beginning that it’s not going to be successful in terms of gaining another follower – and yet there is this phrase – ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’ And the rich young ruler walks away from Jesus disappointed and empty-handed, because the cost of following Jesus (all your stuff, I want you, and everything else you have made more important than Me in your life) is too much for him. And Jesus lets him go.
i don’t doubt for a second that the moment any one of those original followers or the rich young ruler had a change of heart and recognised Who Jesus really was and returned to Him and asked once again to be allowed to follow, that He would have instantly and with much joy received them back.
but He wasn’t going to chase them down to have them ‘follow’ Him for the sake of having extra followers… He wanted those who followed Him to be genuine. to believe (and even in the way of the father of the demon-possessed kid who, when Jesus challenged him, responded with, ‘I do believe – help me overcome my unbelief!” – that’s often my cry in certain areas of my faith at least). not to not have doubts, but to overcome their doubts (which is faith! – it doesn’t mean you don’t doubt, it just means the doubt doesn’t knock you down and leave you there)
and so i haven’t given up on these guys. i hope we will remain friends. i will pray for them. i will chat to them anytime they want to chat, and listen to them on their journey and hope that they will listen to me on mine. i won’t try and convert them (or unconvert them? reconvert?) but i hope we’ll still get to hang and play Settlers and whatever else comes along.
i do hope they will continue to challenge their beliefs now that they have walked away from one set. and not just settle for another because it is convenient. continue to wrestle guys, continue to question, hopefully continue to seek because God does say if you seek Me you will find Me and seeking meaning in the world always leads you to God at some stage. always. because He is the way and the Truth and the Life – it doesn’t take you believing it to make it true.
an atheist denies the existence of god completely
a theist believes in at least one god, but denies the existence of many gods