Friday, May 28, 2010

Why Atheists Cannot Believe In God: A Response to Terry Sanderson, president of Britain's National Secular Society

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, addresses an article published in the Guardian (London) which can be found here, in which the writer of said article dismisses theology and theologians as a monumental waste of time. Terry Sanderson, President of Britain's National Secular Society, writes this, "given that theology is drivel, efforts to unpick it are hopeless." Apparently, Mr. Sanderson doesn't consider belittling theology to be hopeless; he hopes that by doing so, the thinking public will embrace his brand of theology. Wilfull ignorance, like misery, enjoys company.

Mr. Sanderson asks a question and answers it without actually answering it, i.e., "what is theology?" His answer is a non-answer in which he refers to the comments on theology by two prominent writers, "sci-fi writer Robert A. Heinlen," and Gertrude Stein. Heinlen said about theology, "Theology ... is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn't there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything." Stein, "The answer is: there is no answer." The real answer to Sanderson's question, of course, is that theology is the study of God and what he has done, is doing, and will do.

Christian theology is founded on the Bible and the works of countless theologians who have labored in their field over several millenia. And unless one is an unbelieving theologian (and there are many of those in the visible church and its seminaries), the study of theology is not only reasonable for the theologian, it is also greatly beneficial to Christendom or whatever religion the theologian may practice. The "Big Questions" that Sanderson dismisses so easily are addressed and answered by men and women of God whose world view is absolutely contrary to Terry Sanderson and his ilk.

What Sanderson rightly labels "The Big Questions," ... "you know, why are we here? What comes after death? What, indeed is the meaning of life?", are what we Christians call a "world view." Our world view is that God created the heavens and the universe including man for His glory and His purposes and His peoples' good. That man rebelled against his Creator and that same Creator has provided for the forgiveness of that rebellion and the sinful nature that it imposed on all mankind by sending a Substitute to take upon Himself our guilt, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves, i.e., earn God's approval and forgiveness through obedience to His will and His law. That is precisely what Christ did as our Substitute.

Sanderson's problem, and I call unbelief a problem of the worst sort, is that neither he nor Stein nor Heinlen are able to believe in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ except the Father reveal Himself to them, and clearly he did not in the case of Heinlen and Stein, and not yet in the case of Mr. Sanderson (Mt.16:17; Jn.6:44).

In an almost humorous sentence, yet very pathetic and sad, Sanderson describes the reaction of Christians to a sermon broadcast over television that Sanderson doesn't get, "And yet the people in the audience are nodding sagely, making notes and generally seem to understand what is being said. This is theology."

So it is only reasonable that Terry Sanderson hold the position that he holds. Faith is a gift of God which not all possess nor will they ever possess it (Eph.2:1-10; Jn.8:42-47). And while there is what theologians refer to as "natural revelation," it is both sufficient to prove the existence of God and insufficient to save in and of itself. Particular revelation is that gift of God whereby unbelievers are given the gift of faith that they may believe in Jesus Christ. Terry Sanderson, like the reprobates of Romans 1:18-32, has suppressed "the truth in unrighteousness," denying what even nature reveals. And at this point in his life as in the lives of all atheists and agnostics, natural revelation is all they have received. And except it be that God is gracious to some of these bringing them to faith in Jesus Christ, they will continue to be puzzled by theology and find themselves before the judgment seat of their Creator without any hope whatsoever of escaping the damnation that is due them.

Theology is not as Sanderson says, "a completely and utterly useless pursuit," but is of great comfort and benefit to millions upon millions of souls upon this dark planet. And its benefit is eternal. And its comfort ever present.