Category Archives: Deconversion

“Are Atheists Sent to Hell?” – No, But They Choose It Anyway

I will not deal with the nature of hell (do we eventually go into non-being?) or the duration of hell (is it eternal punishing as in conscious torment or is it eternal punishment as in consequences that last forever?) – even though I have my beliefs on these issues.

Hell is described in many different ways in order to wake us up to its reality (blackest darkness – Jude 13; everlasting destruction – 2 Thessalonians 1:9; weeping and gnashing of teeth – Matthew 8:12).

But the plea of those in hell is not so much “God, let me out, let me out, let me out.” Rather, it is “God, you get out! Leave me alone, you cosmic Sadist.” Hell is a place where people have barricaded themselves in, in order to keep God out. So hell then is a courtesy for those who insist that they want no part of forgiveness, no part of God. Hell is simply the only place left to go for those who will not accept their acceptance by grace. They are successful rebels to the very end.

Lewis held that there are two kinds of people in the world: (I’m paraphrasing) those who say to God “Thy will be done.” And those to whom God will finally say, “Thy will be done.” If you really want to walk away from life eternal and barricade me out, I have made you with free-will and will honor your choice. Hell is the greatest monument to human freedom and the choices we make. Love cannot be forced. Hell exists because love and grace can be refused.

Having tried to win them, God will ultimately say to some, “All right, have it your way.” This is not cruel or unloving at all. It’s the ultimate expression of a self-limited God who refuses to violate free will.

So yes, to the person who refuses to believe in God, acknowledge him as God, and surrender to His love, and persists in these views throughout an entire lifetime – hell is, in effect, chosen.

George MacDonald talks about the “one principle of hell” in one of his sermons written decades ago. “The one principle of hell is: ‘I am my own. I am my own king and my own subject. I am the center from which go out my thoughts. I am the object and end of my thoughts… My own glory is…my chief care… My kingdom is comprised of as many as I can bring to acknowledge my greatness over them… It is my right to have what I desire.’ (Truth in Jesus)”

But always remember when you are in any discussion on hell, that Christ says, “You can go to hell if you want, but it’s over my dead body that you’ll do it.” Love…true love…

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Deconversion, Free Will, Hell, Rebellion

Legitimate God Questions + Cliche Answers = Atheist

Nancy Pearcey in her book Total Truth tells just a part of her story. She said she went to a church in her childhood that would never answer her questions. She had all these God Questions that she would ask, and what she got was a pat on the back and cliché statements like “Just pray about it” or “You’re just in a phase right now” or “Don’t worry, we all have doubts sometimes honey” or “Just get in the Word” or “Stop rebelling. You’re not supposed to ask questions like that!”

Since no one ever bothered to answer her deepest questions about why and how Christianity is true, she decided the best thing to do would be to reject the faith and to search out all other faith systems and that’s what she did. Several years later she encountered L’Abri in Switzerland, the residential ministry of Francis Schaeffer.

Writes Pearcey: “It was the first time I had ever encountered Christians who actually answered my questions – who gave reasons and arguments for the truth of Christianity instead of simply urging me to have faith (53).”

She recovered her faith. She writes: “No one can live without a sense of purpose or direction, a sense that his or her life has significance as part of a cosmic story. We may limp along for a while, extracting small installments of meaning from short-term goals like earning a degree, landing a job, getting married, establishing a family. But at some point, these temporal things fail to fulfill the deep hunger for eternity in the human spirit. For we were made for God, and every part of our personality is oriented toward relationship with Him. ‘Our hearts are restless, Augustine said, until we find our rest in Him’.”

But in the mean time, let’s give better answers; well thought-out, cohesive replies to those with God Questions, minus the cliches. Blogs like the De-Conversion blog is where people end up when we settle for pat answers and cliche responses.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Conversion, Deconversion, God, Larger Story, Life Purpose, Questions, Reconversion, Theism

A Faulty View of God and De-Conversion

I spent some time exploring a blog recently dedicated to those who have “de-converted” from Christianity to atheism or some other belief system. As I explored the site, one thing became apparent. These individuals have a faulty view of God.

What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us (A.W. Tozer). This tells us what kind of God we believe in. Most nonreligious people are rejecting a god that they don’t even understand. And if they did, they would probably call a truce and stop fighting against Him so much.

It sounds to me that the kind of God they want is a “genie” they can rub or a “vending machine” they can deposit a prayer into and have Him to dispense their fix. It’s God in their image and it distorts who He is. God is very particular in how we think about Him, describe Him, and define Him. We want a god who is safe, nice, pampering, just so long as he keeps his distance. Provide, don’t intrude. Protect, never demand. Care, but don’t judge or meddle in my business. Don’t crowd me. And if you don’t do as I ask, then I’ll stop believing in you and this will be my way of getting back at you. This is what I sense over at the De-Conversion blog.

A former chaplain at Harvard, George Buttrick, recalls that students would often come into his office and declare, “I don’t believe in God.” The wise chaplain would then reply, “Sit down and tell me what kind of God you don’t believe in. I probably don’t believe in that God either.” See, if I can declare that God doesn’t exist or that he is like one of so many misguided concepts of God, then it relieves me from the responsibility of being one of His creations and wrestling with the hurt of life. These misled images and concepts of god have become our idols. And we have become our own gods.

So where do we get the right picture of God? After George Buttrick would ask his Harvard students that question, then he would go on to talk about Jesus, the corrective to all of our assumptions about God. “He is the aperture through which the immensity and magnificence of God can be begun to be seen (J.B. Phillips, 85).”

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Filed under Atheism, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Conversion, Deconversion, God, Jesus Christ, Rebellion