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Featured Atheists in the pulpit; an oxymoron or an improvement?

Discussion in 'Christian Debate Forum' started by shnarkle, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    There was a study done some years ago showing how many atheists were attending seminary and going on to pastor Christian churches. I can't find it anymore, but did locate one showing that 17% of pastors in Denmark, or Sweden were atheists. The thing I found intriguing wasn't just that they found the job spiritually or financially rewarding, but that so many of their congregation accepted them. This isn't the case everywhere. In some cases, a congregation can dwindle by two thirds as in a well known case up in Toronto Canada.

    It seems to be catching on with the progressive Christians. I spent some time monitoring a progressive website after reading a few of Jack Spong's latest books. His writing would lead most conservative or fundamentalist Christians to believe he's an avowed atheist, and yet he's quite tame in comparison to most.

    Thirty years ago I would have thought this to be one of the most ridiculous ideas imaginable, but today it not only doesn't surprise me, I applaud atheists and Christians alike for accepting people regardless of these arbitrary labels.

    The New Testament seems to be full of examples of heretics, unbelievers, etc. who Jesus not only accepts, but spotlights them for their supreme faith, and love. Perhaps if Jesus were alive today, he would present the Parable of the Good atheist to convict and turn the stubborn-hearted from their ways.

    If the message is essentially the same, I don't really see a problem. I also think that the atheist's ability to get beyond the superficial aspects of Christianity, i.e. the long dead doctrines that seem to only sap the life from a church, and get to the message puts them at a distinct advantage. Ultimately, it's just a pointless label.

    What do you think?

    Should atheists be allowed to pastor churches?

    Why This Atheist Is Going to Seminary | IFYC

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/24/atheist-pastor-canada-gretta-vospe...

    Atheists in the Pulpit: Clergy Who Are Non-Believers

    Progressing Spirit
     
  2. Windmillcharge

    Windmillcharge Well-Known Member

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    It is something I've heard about as well, mainly from people who have lived in these countries.

    The strange thing is they reported that some of these unbelieving preachers were more faithfull in preaching what the bible does say than some believing preachers.

    Does it matter.

    Ultimatly it does, it is like asking for marriage guidence from a celebate minister. What does he know about the reality of marriage equally what does an atheist know about the reality of knowing God. Both are depending on what someone else has said.
     
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  3. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    Plenty. Ministers are routinely sought out for their advice, and guidance. Most grew up in a family with parents as well. So they have first hand experience of what it's like to live with two parents and see how they resolved conflict themselves. Some ministers even take classes on the subject, and are trained to deal with these problems just like any teacher is taught whatever subject they teach. Numerous denominations allow for their clergy to marry as well.

    Both the theist and the atheist alike. They are both relying upon what the texts state as well as what they were taught in seminary or whatever school of theology they attended. Guess what? They can both take the exact same test and pass it.

    The atheist would agree with much of what Paul says, especially when it comes to what Paul actually says about knowing God which is that we don't actually know God, but "are known of God" Galatians 4:9

    Why does Paul say this? Probably because, by definition, an omniscient God cannot be known in the first place. All-knowing doesn't allow for God to be known. It's the difference between knowing and known.
     
  4. Stranger

    Stranger Well-Known Member

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    This is just so much bs from an atheist. If an atheist wants to be a marriage counselor, go ahead. But pastors due much more than 'marriage counseling'. And if one is not a believer in Jesus Christ, then they have not the Spirit of God. And if you don't have the Spirit of God, your words are empty when speaking to the children of God.

    The atheist is not going to teach the Bible truthfully. He will subvert it when he can. Just like you're trying to do. Even if an atheist reads the Bible word for word, and gives the correct meaning of the Scripture, which he won't, but if he did, he is still a fake and his words are nothing. They come across as nothing. If the Spirit of God is not in it, the words will be empty.

    Remember the woman with a demon. (Acts 16:16-17) "...The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation." Were these words true? Yes. But God would not have a demon doing His work. (16:18) "...Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour."

    If any want to see some real demonic activity, just put an atheist in the pulpit preaching to Christians. Such an invitation is too much for satan to turn down. he loves to take the preeminence.

    Stranger
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
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  5. prism

    prism Blood-Soaked

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    Matthew 15:14 NASB
    [14] Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
     
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  6. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    So do atheists.

    Strawman argument, and Begging the Question. There is no need to assume that these pastors do not believe in Jesus Christ. In fact, they will clearly point out that they do believe in not only him, but even more importantly, they believe in his teachings.

    We have more than enough evidence to prove that there are plenty of theists who have never taught the bible truthfully eihter. When an atheist does teach the bible truthfully, he isn't doing that because he's an atheist. He's doing that because he knows the truth.

    Try and address the argument rather than engaging in pointless ad hominem attacks.

    Non sequitur. It is a Given that the words are true. When one walks into a church knowing nothing about the pastor who is proclaiming the gospel message, there is no reason why a child of God isn't going to respond to the unadulterated gospel regardless of who is proclaiming it.

    If an avowed atheist reads Christ's words, they may not resonate within their heart, but when they read those same words to someone who is a child of God they necessarily must resonate within their heart. God's word is God's word regardless of who proclaims it.

    And the Spirit of God is in his word regardless of who proclaims it. Christ told his disciples that those who are with us are not against us. They told people who were casting out demons in Christ's name to stop simply because they didn't know them. Ignorance breeds bigotry.

    Christ himself points to the heretical pagans and Samaritans as examples of those who are living the gospel message. He points out that those who are thirsting for truth are the one's who find it rather than those who profess to have already found it, and stand outside the kingdom doing their level best to keep everyone else out as well.

    Who is an atheist more like to listen to; another atheist or a self righteous theist who already condemns the atheist to hell? What happens when that atheist who is actually destined to become a child of God hears the gospel? They're converted, that's what. Perhaps they may even be able to convert that same atheist pastor who brought the gospel to them in the first place.
    This reminds me of a not so well known example of a pastor who after pastoring his flock for over 15 years suddenly, during one of his own sermons, stopped and announced that he had just received the gospel. Obviously he knew the gospel message. He could articulate it for anyone who cared to listen to him, but he hadn't received it in his heart until that moment.
     
  7. Stranger

    Stranger Well-Known Member

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    They don't do 'Christian'. They are fakes. Imitators. False.

    Strawman? The whole point of your topic is 'Atheist's in the Pulpit'. So, don't turn around and say they are atheist's who are Christian. That is oxymoronic, and stupid. The atheist has nothing to offer the Christian. His words are empty and void.

    Another oxymoronic statement. If the atheist believes the Truth, then he would come to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. He would have a faith in God and in Christ, Who is God the Son. Your words are idiocy.

    The person is all important in this discussion. You have made it so with the subject. Try and pay attention. You argument is so ridiculous.

    Sorry, but your words are the non sequitur. You the atheist can read the words that you don't believe out of the Bible all day long, and it will not minister to the believer in Christ. You do not have the Spirit of God to give the power and inflection to those words.

    The atheist is not with Christ. You make another oxymoronic statement. Plus if you want to use the Bible to prove some point of yours, then give the reference. If you don't know, which you don't, go ahead and google it. Who knows, maybe you will learn something.

    I showed you that God cares not for the unbelieving infringing on the priesthood. When you go back to the Old Testament you will find there was dangerous consequences for those who infringed upon the priesthood. What makes you think God has changed? What makes you think God will not act against those who take such liberties?

    Just what is your purpose anyway? You say the most stupid things.

    Stranger
     
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  8. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    Why not? They're in Christian pulpits. They're claiming to be Christians just like anyone else does.

    The atheist has nothing to offer those who don't have the ears to hear in the first place.

    Sure, but then that's not the problem here. The problem is that some don't agree with their interpretation of the texts. They have come to Christ as their Lord and savior. They do have faith in God, just not some private or exclusive interpretation of God.

    Strawman and fallacy of Ad Hominem. This isn't about me, and I'm not an atheist. Kindly address the arguments rather than those posting them.

    Which point was made to an unspecified biblical reference?

    Perhaps I'm not the only one who doesn't know how to use google.

    Claims don't show anything.

    I'm not referring to priests.

    God doesn't require sacrifices anymore. God's presence is no longer in the Temple those Levitical priests served in.

    What liberties? Studying God's word and proclaiming the gospel? Isn't that the liberty we all have in Christ?
     
  9. Stranger

    Stranger Well-Known Member

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    Then they are liars. Such a stupid argument you are presenting. You can't be an atheist and a Christian. If you as an atheist want to pretend to be a Christian, then you are a liar also. Keep digging that hole you're in. Why do you want to pretend to be Christian?

    The atheist has nothing to offer the Christian period. The atheist does not have the Spirit of God, and now he wants to be a liar and impersonator.

    What a lie. If an atheist comes to faith in Christ he is no longer an atheist. The atheist has no faith in God. That is why he is an atheist. If an atheist has a faith in God, then he is not an atheist. How stupid can you be. Are you related to aspen? You seem to share the same jeans...I mean genes.

    Oh yes, it is about you. It is your topic. And it reveals much about you. For one, you are an idiot. To say an atheist has faith in God and Christ is complete idiocy. I am kindly addressing your silly argument. And I am addressing you. Does that bother you? Scared? When you present such foolishness don't be surprised when you are brought to task.

    Your post #(6). You gave no Scriptural reference. Now you don't even remember what you wrote. Makes me wonder how many are there of you. You should have no problem with what you wrote. Yet you don't have the slightest idea. This makes you and your friends idiots.

    Claims from the Scripture mean everything. And I gave you the Scripture. Yet you now say, that means nothing. Yet you say you are not an atheist. You are both an atheist and a liar.

    Yes, you are referring to priests. Every believer is a priest of God. And you want to impersonate the priesthood. So, go back into the Old Testament and see what God thinks about that. Or do I need to lead you by the hand because you have never heard of it?....I thought so.

    Priesthood is priesthood. It is of God. God's attitude toward infringing upon His priesthood has not changed. Yet you the atheist, want atheist's to present themselves as believers in God and Christ and become priest's in God's Church. How stupid can you be?

    The atheist does not study God's Word and proclaim the Gospel. He is against God's Word and the Gospel, just as you are. You arn't fooling anyone.

    Stranger
     
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  10. Windmillcharge

    Windmillcharge Well-Known Member

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    Yes they are both relying on the same text and have past the same exams or similar.
    Where they defer is in there experience.
    The atheist believes there is no God and has no relationship with or practical experience of God.
    The Christian believes in God and has a relationship with and experiences of God.
    That difference is as great as the difference between an unmarried marriage councelor and a married councelor.
    The first has a theoretical knowledge while the second has actual experience.

    It says a lot about the lack of discernment and wisedom of the church elders who appointed or continued to employ an atheist as the minister.
     
  11. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    That's a claim in need of some further evidence.

    In general, atheists don't believe God exists, but to say they have no practical experience of God isn't saying much of anything. An atheist may have many, if not all the same practical experiences we all gain throughout life. God has a relationship with all of his creation, whether they know it or not.

    Then those Christians are experiencing gods that are not transcendent. The atheist in the pulpit understands that a transcendent God cannot be experienced. The atheist understands that the biblical God cannot be compared to anything one knows or experiences. The atheist knows that whatever they're imagination comes up with for God is not God. The atheist understands that the relationship God has with creation is that of an all knowing God with the known creation.

    The lack of discernment is in not being cognizant of the fact that the kingdom of heaven cannot come by observation, nor does it come to those who feel the need or compulsion to judge others in ignorance.

    Again, when Jesus is asked what must be done to enter into the kingdom, it is what is in one's heart that matters, not the doctrines they profess. Christ points to those who have no part in religious affairs. He points to the heretical Samaritan, and the pagan Centurion. Today he would point to the atheist or the homosexual as those who will be parading into the kingdom while those who stand in judgment wait outside.
     
  12. Windmillcharge

    Windmillcharge Well-Known Member

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    Jesus talked about the 'faith' of the centurion and to the faith of the foriegn woman and of the faith of those who believed in him.
    That is still the difference between a Christian and an atheist, pagan etc.
     
  13. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    Christ pointed to the heretical Samaritan, not because of his heretical beliefs, but because of what was in his heart which manifested as God's will. The Samaritan kept God's law because that's what was in his heart. The fake keeps God's law because that's what they're supposed to do if someone is watching.
     
  14. Windmillcharge

    Windmillcharge Well-Known Member

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    Something we can agree on.

    Christianity is not about looking good while doing good, but about what one believes about Jesus and then does as an act of love for Jesus.
     
  15. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps. I think of it more in terms of the love of God overwhelming the new creature in Christ. In other words, it's not so much the object of one's love, but the fact that is must find an object to love, and that is ultimately found in Christ; it is the love of Christ manifesting in, with, and through Christ into the objective world.
     
  16. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    In other words, there is no essential difference between the atheist, the pagan, or the Christian. We are all one in Christ. Doctrines are a way to understand the world around us, but eventually they must be discarded for forms that fit the wider horizon that a life in Christ requires. This is required because Christ enters into, or returns to that transcendent nature. We must enter into it as well, if we're in him.
     
  17. amadeus

    amadeus Well-Known Member

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    No, there would have been no difference indeed before the atheist and pagan met the Master:

    "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Gal 3:27-28


    All of those who have been "baptized into Christ" are then the same in the eyes of God, but any, be they atheist or pagan or Jew or Greek, who have not been so baptized, they remain equally dead in the eyes of God. I purposely did not include the word "Christian" which you @shnarkle because it appears to that some so named have really been baptized in Christ and others have not. That is not for me to judge so I left them out this time.

    "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Acts 2:38-39


    "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8

    "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Matt 24:14

    The power of the Holy Ghost makes it possible for them to be witnesses, but when they are, they will certainly no longer be pagans or atheists. The witnesses have been converted and/or changed so that now they have a testimony of their own about which they can speak/preach/teach to others who are hungry and thirsty for the righteousness of God.

    "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matt 18:3

    Those who are one in Christ, or who really are to be one in Christ, must be converted or they will not be a part of the kingdom of God; they will not be a part of the Body of Christ. When they are a part, the pagan or atheist that they were is history. There is now a "new man".
     
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  18. aspen

    aspen “"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few

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    This in an interesting topic - thanks for posting it, snarkle. I think atheists in the pulpit in Denmark makes sense because the majority of people in Denmark are indeed, atheists.

    I’ve read several books by Bishop Spong and I have to admit, I am not a fan. His arrogance is palpable and as a left leaning Christian, I see him as a person I do not want to emulate. Taking theism out of Christianity has already been done well, it is called Buddhism and the Bishop really needs to get to meditating because he has a great deal to learn about himself.

    So for me, I believe the church is a hospital for the sick and I need doctors around me who are educated and believe in the cure they are providing - my justification and sanctification suffer without it. I understand that some can love well outside the church, but I need it.

    Finally, conservatives seem to be obsessed with their exegesis and end up reducing the Bible to nothing - “what is the the mean of is?” And liberals try to reduce God to nothing, “He is an absolute mystery, an unrecognizable force”. All I want to do is have a loving relationship with God and learn to love perfectly like I was created to love.
     
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  19. shnarkle

    shnarkle Well-Known Member

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    I've also read a few of Jack Spong's books. I don't blame you. He's somewhat of a wanna be troll. As much as I find most of his writings to be just so much blather, I must admit that he does make a few points, I can't disagree with. His book on John's gospel isn't half bad, although he breaks his own rules and asks some of the most ridiculous questions imaginable. He's got another book "Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy" which I think is quite good, if you can get beyond his pompous condescension. I did my best to wade through his arrogance, and was rewarded with some quite startling information which I think all Christians should avail themselves of which is that much of the bible simply isn't meant to be taken literally. The evidence he presents is overwhelming.

    It's difficult to search for the truth when what is found bears no resemblence to what we were brought up to believe. Having some self satisfied troll like JSS gloating about it doesn't help matters.
     
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  20. Enoch111

    Enoch111 Well-Known Member

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    The answer should be obvious, should it not?
     
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