Why Atheists Think Christians Are Arrogant

Preaching God's wordMy post today is actually in response to a comment from an atheist on another site. We had a brief exchange of ideas, and in his last comment, he said I shouldn’t bother responding because he wouldn’t be reading on that thread any more. Then he repeated his charge that I, like other Christians, am arrogant.

This individual isn’t saying anything I haven’t heard before, but it’s not a charge I’m willing to accept in the context he’s delivering it.

As it happens, I am arrogant—it’s a part of my sin nature which causes me to be deceived into thinking I’m better than I am, more truthful, more intelligent, more kind-hearted, more . . . you name it, and I’ve probably thought it if it puts me in a good light.

But that’s not the arrogance I, and other Christians, am being accused of. Rather, the idea is that because I believe there’s a right and true view of the world and am unwilling to say, “If it works for you, then it’s all good,” I’m arrogant.

By that definition, everyone is arrogant (which is actually right on the money) because clearly this commenter thinks I’m wrong, so words of tolerance (“as long as it works for you”) only mask a smug attitude (stupid Christians).

The truth is, not all worldviews can be right. Consequently, Christianity can’t “work for me” and Buddhism “work for you” because the two systems aren’t different flavors of ice cream. They’re not even languages. They are more like differing addition facts.

But in reality there is only one of those.

To say, in my system one plus one equals three, may be “true for you,” but it isn’t true. You may believe it, but in so doing you aren’t going to increase the number of apples if two people each give you an apple. Believing that one apple and one apple equals three apples still only leaves you with two apples.

So too when it comes to the philosophical understanding of the world. There aren’t multiple truths and each person gets to pick and choose the one that fits there personality best. The world doesn’t work one way for Christians and a different way for atheists. If God is real, then, like the sun, He shines on us all—the just and the unjust. Believing in Him does not increases His reality, and disbelieving in Him does not detract from His existence.

Anyone taking a “whatever works for you” view, simply doesn’t believe that there is Truth; consequently, according to this outlook, it really doesn’t matter what you believe in—as long as you don’t believe that there is an absolute Truth.

The fact is, believing that there is no Truth is the truth in which this person believes. The idea that anyone who says “whatever works for you” is not arrogant, but whoever says, only one thing works, is arrogant, simply demonstrates how deceived people are who take this “whatever works for you” position.

But atheists also believe Christians are arrogant because we “send people to hell.”

This, of course, is inaccurate. No human sends anyone to hell. I dare say, God Himself doesn’t send anyone to hell in the way the atheists mean it.

Jesus said clearly in John 3 that our rejection of God and His Son condemn us:

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

It’s this “not believing” that sends people to hell.

The patrolman waving people away from a downed bridge is not thought of as responsible for sending someone who ignores him into the icy river. And generally speaking no one thinks he’s arrogant for doing his job.

Christians have more incentive than the patrolman does, in many instances, because we know the people we’re warning—or we’ve had some level of interaction with them. They are rarely anonymous faces whizzing past our “Bridge Down, Take Alternate Route” signs.

We aren’t shouting warnings because we want to rub it in the faces of others that we’re right and they’re wrong. We also aren’t sticking our tongues out and Naa-naa-naa-ing them because we’re in and they aren’t, or that they will never get in since we have the secret and aren’t telling them what it is.

Paul lined up with this position when he said, The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23). Those ultimate wages belong to each of us, and the free gift is offered to us all:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Where then is boasting? It is excluded (Rom. 3:23-27a, emphasis added)

In short, the charge of arrogance is true of all people, but doesn’t apply to Christians as a group. 😉

We all have deceitfully wicked hearts, but Christians have been washed by the only cleansing agent that can deal with the stain on our souls. Jesus Himself took our guilt and shame and put it on His own shoulders, then went to the cross and died in our place. Here’s how Jesus Himself put it:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16, emphasis added)

It’s an open invitation, one that Christians feel compelled to pass along.

Is it arrogant to invite people to believe? On the contrary, I think it’s a humbling thing to stand exposed before the world, saying, I’m a sinner, you’re a sinner, we’re all sinners. It’s a lot more comfortable to think I’m good enough on my own. It’s a lot easier to say, “Whatever works for you.”

But the truth is, there’s a day of judgment awaiting and only one thing will work for you—faith in Jesus Christ. Any other notion is a lie.

It’s not arrogance that drives Christians to speak the truth. It’s obedience to God’s command and love for those who still need to hear.

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8 Comments

  1. Ad hominem attacks are commonplace. But you know that, and should be the last to be surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. They have come from the best known atheists such as Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins. I can recall a recent exchange we had over Hitchens’ habit of calling God’s Kingdom a celestial North Korea. Interestingly enough, there is a YouTube video floating around of Dr. William Lane Craig admitting to labeling Hitchens “a stupid moron” (paraphrase, it might have been worse), so even the most gracious (normally) of Christians occasionally get sucked in. And if it makes you feel any better, two days ago an atheist, unable to mount a good argument, labeled me delusional.

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  2. If you can believe it. (you probably can) I’m still wrangling with our friends who showed up here over your Bathsheba article a couple weeks ago. Arrogant is an accusation I get constantly and while yes, it is a real struggle for me too, on the whole I’ve actually been a good boy over there.

    What was once admired as principled conviction is today denounced as “arrogance”. Any certainty about anything except being uncertain gets you labeled an elitist snob. No matter how gracious your presentation. You saw how they came after you 😦 They have not been nice to me either. (except one)

    Great piece here. I AM gong to read your two testimony pieces. I love testimonies and I’m very interested in yours. I’ve just been really tied up.

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  3. One thing I’ve learned about atheists, they’re kind of like a mirror. What they try to say about God, they’re really revealing about themselves. What they accuse others of is often a projection, a
    self accusation.

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    • I meant to add this to my first comment, but got distracted. I think Luke 6:22 is a nice summation to this fellow labeling you, or all Christians, as arrogant. It speaks directly to the heart of the matter. It fact, it goes much deeper than just being called arrogant. We are trying to keep unbelievers out of eternal hell, and that’s love not arrogance. And I know all of us feel immense frustration at not being more effective in this role. I want to jump up and down, scream from the rooftops, tear my clothes, and cry a river. That is just for a start.

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    • Great point, IB. It’s understandable. The real sin of atheism is two-fold: rejecting God and setting oneself up as God, for the latter is the only way we can get to the former. So it fits that someone considering his thoughts as supreme would then find fault with God for not doing what he wants and with others for not agreeing with his right to make himself supreme.

      Becky

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  4. Reblogged this on Country Inspiration and commented:
    Here is an exceptionally clear and helpful post.

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  5. What a great article. And what a valid question…why ARE we labeled arrogant just because we hold a position? It’s ok to say there is not truth, but not ok to say there is? But isn’t stating that there is not truth in a definite way actually stating a truth? Sort of a self defeating argument.

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    • Thanks, Wally. And you see the point exactly. Anyone who says there’s one right way, in this day and age is going against the grain of society. Yet, the very concept that we should all be allowed to believe what we want, is itself a truth statement (even as it does not reflect the truth. 😉 ) Clearly the idea is a self-defeating fallacy.

      Becky

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