The Soft Atheism of Low Expectations


Not many Americans would call themselves atheists; only about 3% according to Pew Research.  But that doesn’t count the practicing atheists.  I’m thinking about all the people who religiously go to church on Sundays but live the other six-and-a-half days as though heaven is empty and the Bible is fiction.

I’m not even talking about secret sins that weaken our testimony. Think about all those honest, open conversations between Bible believers, those of us who call ourselves Evangelicals.

Surely, we can all agree that friends must be able to speak honestly to each other, and without condemnation.  But when another follower of Christ confides in me that he’s undermining his jerk supervisor at work, what am I supposed to do with the New Testament idea of honoring God by the way I treat those in authority? (1 Peter 2:19) Atheism says the boss is a loser: he’s got it coming.  But a godly friend ought to sympathize, “Man, I understand why you’re so angry.  But I’m wondering if there’s a place for your faith in all of this. What do you think?”  No condemnation there!

When a married woman confides that her conversations with the new single guy at the office have gone well beyond innocent flirtation, what’s a friend in the faith to do? Atheism says we’re living in a whole new world: this seems harmless enough. But a friend who is also a believer has a different take. “Can we pray about this together?  It may feel harmless right now, but are you running away from sexual immorality, or tip-toeing toward it?” (1 Corinthians 6:18)  True friendship does require honesty, right?

In this week’s message on dealing with bad bosses, Pastor Cole reminded us how often we give each other a pass for doing evil.  Instead of coaching our fellow saints with faith and wise counsel, we tend to shrug and suggest we’re all only human. But that’s what atheists believe.  Followers of Jesus counter with 2 Corinthians 5:17.  “I am a new creation in Christ: the old has gone, the new has come!” Saints encourage each other to set our affections on this above, not the things of this world.

Suggest to a child that he’s not as capable of a B-average, and you’ll soon have a D student on your hands!  Tell a teenager it’s impossible to resist fornication, and she’ll soon agree with you wholeheartedly.  Imply to a Christian friend under fire that nobody seriously expects to be holy all the time, and you’ll soon have an unholy friend in an ungodly dilemma.

Being the salt of the earth requires more than merely influencing pagans and unbelievers next door.  It means we are willing to rub off on our friends at church as well.

To catch this week’s message, click Take this Job and Love It.

Lift up the Cross!




5 thoughts on “The Soft Atheism of Low Expectations

  1. I definitely agree with you. I hate those “I’m only human” excuses. Even God orders us to reach perfection even if we can’t, so we can at least get to the highest point of the good things we do.

  2. Where does atheism “say” the things that you credit to it? I’m not an atheist, but I know plenty who take their marriage, friendships, work relationships, etc. very seriously. What would be wrong with focusing on what is good about what your faith teaches you, rather than comparing it to the faults you perceive in others’ beliefs?

    1. Hi Doug, you’re right. I should have said atheism could lead you to believe some things. I didn’t intend to critique atheism; rather to encourage Christians to talk more honestly with one another. Mea culpa.

      1. It is reasonable to compare and contrast Christianity and atheism. The book of Proverbs often does as much while not using those exact labels. If you consider the foundation of atheism, which involves the evolution of everything without a Creator, it is logical to assert that there are no absolutes or rules of morality. It is not to say that there are no atheists who conform to Christian morality. But, it just happens to work out that way. If an atheist does not conform to Christian morality, so what? Who sets the rules in a “survival of the fittest” environment? Atheism leaves the door open to each person deciding what is right or wrong or even if that matters at all. And, your article did not address “the faults you perceive in others’ beliefs” as Doug stated. Those issues are very real and being taught and modeled all around us. There is a battle going on in our world. It has God and His followers on one side and everyone else on the other. I think that would be a fair summation of what Jesus taught. We must speak the truth in love without slipping into the politically correct trap of sacrificing content for the sake of sparing someone’s feelings. I think your article contained a message that needs to get out and can stand as is with no apologies. BTW, I’ve worked with and for many people who do not share my beliefs. Most of them have been pretty decent folks. But, without a relationship with Christ they will end up in a very bad place. But we, although imperfect, have the hope (assurance) that the Holy Spirit will protect us from the lies of the enemy. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s