DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

January 9, 2009

                                                           

Imagine All the People….

I read a recent article about atheists and Christians in England.

And after what I read, I have to admit that I may closer to the atheists than the Christians.

Can I say that and still keep my job?

There may be a few of you saying, “Well, of course, Bob thinks like that. He studied in Berkeley.”

But the thing is…I grew my faith in industrial-city-Lima, Ohio. I first expressed my faith in Christ in the Christian Mission field of Zambia when teaching at a United Church of Zambia Boarding School many years ago.

But I still lean towards the atheists. Let me explain.

In London on a bus there was an advertisement and a passage from the Bible and an advertisement for a Christian web site. When this one person went to the web site she was “startled to learn that she and her nonbelieving friends were headed straight to hell, to ‘spend all eternity in torment.’”

I do not know what the scriptural passage was, nor do I know what the website contained but evidently it assigned non-believers in a direction that did not include heavenward.

It was then that she decided to put atheist message on the busses to counteract the religious messages. The atheists said things like…

“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
“Why believe in a god. Just be good for goodness’ sake.”

But somewhere between the Christian messages and the atheist messages we have to ask the question… “Are there only two ways to see this religious/God thing?”

  • Are we either bound for eternal torment if we deny the existence of God, as the Christians would have us believe?
  • Is the Christian life one that is without joy and happiness, as the atheists would have us believe?

 

How about a third way?

  • I am a Christian who believes in God and Christ and yet I find a lot of joy and happiness in this life (indeed, mixed with much sadness.)

I suppose I am closer to the atheists because I do not believe in a God who assigns eternal torment to those who do not believe. Indeed, Jesus spoke to others about having faith and was touched by those who expressed a faith in God. But this stuff about eternal torment…I just don’t believe that way.

But where I disagree with the atheists is that they assume that ALL Christians subscribe to the “eternal torment for non-believers theology.” We don’t. I don’t.

I don’t think my life is better than the life of an atheist, nor do I think that as a Christian that I cannot have sadness or tragedy in my life. I just don’t see Christianity as a magic shield against the ills of life, nor do I see this atheist thing as the only path to true happiness.

Atheists have become much more vocal in the past few years, probably in response to the more overt claims of certain Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews who claim that their way is THE way. 9/11 certainly pointed up the excesses of religion when a few radical Muslims claimed to be pleasing God by killing thousands. The world is much smaller and at times angrier and our beliefs rub up against the beliefs of others like never before. The consequences of our faith are much more dangerous to us and to others.

So why bother with religion then? Why even bother with a god or God?

All I know is that when I confirm a fourteen year old girl or baptize a three month-old boy there is something indescribable about the moment and the Holy Spirit which fills the sanctuary and touches every person there. It is in those moments that I feel most strongly that there is more to life than just what I see and hear.

And I can only ascribe that to God.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing