In any number of online discussions I’ve had with atheists, a couple questions eventually surface. One purports to get at the root of sin—basically, it’s God’s fault because He made us capable of sin.
In response I’ll generally say that God made us with free will, to choose Him freely, not as a puppet with no options of our own. But the comeback then gives rise to the question: why did God make a law in the first place? Why did He “invent” something that He could hold against us?
Another way of asking this, of course, is, Why did God make right and wrong? Why did He determine wrong needed to be punished? Why didn’t He simply make us so we could choose whatever we wanted, without any consequences?
That kind of libertarian freedom seems to be what many atheists want.
In essence, this approach judges God. He was wrong to make a law we had to obey. He was wrong to judge those who broke the law. I suppose in the one element of consistency, the conclusion of such a view is that a wrong God is no God at all; thus the conclusion that God does not exist.
The argument, of course, hinges on the rightness or the wrongness of 1) God creating humans with the ability to choose; and b) God determining right and wrong.
The irony of the argument is that in declaring God wrong to do what He did, both in giving humans free will and a moral law to follow, the person standing in judgment of God is acting like God. He’s determined that his own value system is superior, that he knows what’s best for all of humanity, that life without moral judgment is best.
This view, of course, exposes the greatest sin: pride.
But it also reveals something else, something equally vile.
God determined to make humankind in His own image, in His own likeness. To create humans without free will and/or without a moral compass would have violated God’s very nature. In essence, those who think God made mistakes or created the world wrongly are repudiating God’s very nature.
They are, in fact, rebelling against their Creator. They are following in the steps of the father of lies:
“How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!
“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’ ” (Isaiah 14:12-14)
“Like the Most High.” I don’t think many atheists would acknowledge this is what they want. After all, they don’t believe in God. Why, they don’t even believe in belief! But behind all their spiritual anarchy—their pursuit of absolute individual freedom—is simply rebellion. It’s spitting in God’s face. Kicking against His moral demands. Turning their back to His right to rule.
Professing Christians who doctor the Bible are in the same boat. They don’t like that God is the judge of all the earth, so they invent the belief that all people will be saved at some point. One school of thought is that everyone is already saved—they just don’t all know it.
Some of these accept sin—it is pretty hard to ignore—but they reject the idea of Jesus Christ canceling the debt of sin by substituting Himself for us, by dying in our place to satisfy the requirements of the law.
I presume this latter camp is divided—some believing that they must do good, like Jesus, in order to earn their own salvation, and some believing that God simply dismisses the charges because He’s just that kind of guy.
No matter how these individuals identify, the reality is that denying God’s revelation of Himself is rebellion.
No Christian can say, We believe in God, His great love for humankind, His Son Jesus and the example He set for us to follow—we just don’t believe in that wrath and judgment stuff. That’s not how I view God.
As if we have a say in determining who God is.
Just like the atheists who so often say that humans invented God, this progressive “Christian” view has humans determining what kind of God they are willing to believe in. In fact, they are trying to make God to their own specifications. They are unwilling to believe in Him as He has revealed Himself.
Aside from the fact that they are wide of Truth, they are also missing a true relationship with God, who loves us and gave Himself up for us.
Why did God make us as we are? Because He desires relationship with us. He desires to shower us with His love and grace and kindness and generosity and sense of belonging and security and purpose and wholeness. He wants us to talk with Him and walk with Him—not for His benefit, but for ours. That’s the way love is.