Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Christian Atheist

This one caught my attention when I saw it sitting on the bookshelf in the Christian bookstore. Maybe it was the simple red cover. Or the title. Whatever the "it" factor was, my hand reached out, seemingly of its own accord, and plucked The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel down. Then I saw the subscript (or would it be superscript?) above the title: "Believing in God but Living as If He Doesn't Exit." Hmmmmm. Intriguing.

So I flipped to the table of contents to see what kind of subjects Groeschel would cover. The chapters got to me next. "When You Believe in God but Don't Really Know Him." "When You Believe in God but Not in Prayer." "When You Believe in God but Pursue Happiness at Any Cost." I heard faint echoes of myself in those chapters and I knew I had to bring this book home and read it.

I'm glad I did. Pastor Groeschel's basic premise is that there are two kinds of atheists in the world today. There are the honest atheists, who don't believe in God and don't have a problem telling you that in both word and deed. And then there are the Christian atheists, people who profess to have faith and can talk the talk with the best of them, but their lives tell a completely different story. They say they have faith but in reality, all they have is an act. Groeschel's purpose is to shine the light of Christ into these so-called believers' lives and help them see where their faith is false.

He certainly doesn't pull any punches. He goes after attitudes that are quite prevalent in modern, American Christianity and tries to expose them as the lies that they are. But he does so with a pastor's heart, with a great deal of wit and humble insight because, as he explains early on, even though he was a pastor of large church, he too was a Christian atheist. He's been there and now he wants to help others shed this empty faith and come to true belief in God.

Now there were a few times when I thought that Groeschel made things a bit too simplistic, maybe a bit too basic, but then I realized that the people who would need to read this the most would need that grounding in basic Christianity. But even still, what he had to say was a refreshing reminder for me as well, because as much as I hate to admit it, I saw myself lurking in those pages. I too have harbored atheistic attitudes in the way I've lived my life and with the help of God's grace, I'm hoping I can do better.

What I really hope I can do is make it to what Groeschel calls "third line" faith. And I'm not going to explain what that means here. Instead, I'm going to urge you to get the book yourself and see what Groeschel's discomforting mirror reflects back to you. Trust me. It'll be good for you.


Brandon said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I like it's subtitle! Rather poignant.

Keanan Brand said...

Somewhere I've read a review of this book in recent months, but -- at the time -- I was more interested in thinning out my library than adding to it. However, I just may have to change that.