A couple of days ago, I posted a comment on another blog, basically saying what I’ve said in this space more than once: that before declaring they’re atheists and rejecting God altogether, people should read the Bible for themselves. They owe it to themselves to “begin at the beginning, go on until [they] come to the end, and then stop,” (as the Red King said in Alice in Wonderland).
In a couple of hours, a reply was posted to the comment, to wit: “There is no god.”
I’m sure you’ve encountered that, yourself, so how do you respond? Do you dismiss the person as a troll, just wandering back and forth around the Internet, looking for Believers to shake up? Could this be someone who needs a dose of Witness? Is it someone who’s examined the facts and come to the Only Reasonable Conclusion?
Do you construct a well-reasoned argument, maybe quoting at length from Lee Strobel’s The Case For The Creator? Do you simply tell the person to look around them with open eyes and a mind to match and not be such a pride-deluded nincompoop?
Careful! We’d be wandering into an area that Jesus warned us about.
“But when they deliver you up do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
— Matthew 10:19-20
Part of the context of that instruction was for His disciples not to be afraid of the circumstances they were walking into (sent as “sheep in the midst of wolves”) and that they’re not to try to come up with their own “defence”, but wait on the Holy Spirit. But another part is this: as humans, we tend to approach opposition to our views in one of two ways:
- Reasoned, logically-constructed arguments
- Withering, paint-peeling personal attacks (like calling someone a closed-minded, pride-deluded nincompoop, as above)
Now, the aforementioned Lee Strobel does an excellent job of constructing the “cases” for God, Jesus, Easter, etc., in his books. So does CS Lewis in Mere Christianity. But I’ve found lately that people who reject God don’t really want to hear a contrary argument, and will shout you down, try to turn it into a joke, walk away, or mumble something about “we all have our belief systems”.
The second one is soul-satisfying, but doesn’t advance the Kingdom.
With [the tongue] we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude [image, likeness] of God.
— James 3:9
In other words, if we speak disrespectfully of others, we’re speaking disrespectfully of people made in the likeness of God — James says we might as well be offending God Himself.
So we come back to the initial question: how do you respond to “There is no god”?
Well, not reacting is a good start. A reaction, as opposed to response, be it physical or intellectual, is generally an outgrowth of our base-instinct “fight or flight” reflex. Then pray – ask the Lord how you should respond, or even if you should respond at all.
I was perfectly willing to let the matter go: some guy reads a comment by a Believer and replies by saying “There is no god.” OK … nothing I say will change his mind.
Or will it?
As I was considering this, the Lord pointed something out to me: here’s an opportunity to plant a seed. It may land on rocky ground and wither in the sun; or someone else may come along and do something to water it or take a spiritual mattock and make the first couple of cracks in the hardened earth of this person’s soul.*
So He gave me the words:
Sure there is, old chap. You may not believe in Him, but He believes in you and He loves you very much. One day, you’ll find out just how much. Be blessed.
(Actually, I added the “old chap”: I thought that was casual and disarming, without being over-the-top “friendly”.)
It’s likely that you’ll get different words in a similar situation, but the trick is to resist the temptation to strike back and wait on the Holy Spirit. As I say, He may tell you not to say anything, but then again, He could give you words that could start the ball rolling that will lead to someone’s Salvation.
*Fun fact: the term “Cracker” for a white person in the US South comes from the fact that the farmland was generally so hard, they had to take an axe or a mattock and crack the ground to plant the seeds. Over the years, the term has come to mean an old racist person, but I met some people in the Atlanta area who were actually proud of the term — not for the racist connotation but for the reference to their forefathers and the struggles they went through.