First it was Jim and Casper going to church. Now it’s I sold my soul on e-Bay. What will it be next? The Purpose Driven Atheist? Atheists are going to church and cranking out the critiques. Is it the end of the civilization as we know it? Was the Left Behind Video Game right after all?
What in the world is going on? Now we have church going atheists giving churches thumbs up and/or thumbs downs like pew sitting Eberts and Roepers? Holy Guacamole Batman.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Casper (author of book one) and Hemant (author of book two) have some ghostly good insights into some of the highs and lows of 21st Century church. (I perused Casper’s book and am just finishing Hemant’s). From what I can tell they did a good job of unveiling some of the “idiot”syncrisies we have in our church services. Among them? Boring sermons, weird practices, long music sets, lack of friendliness, etc, etc, etc. They also share some of the things that they liked, even loved, about some of the churches they attended. All in all, I think they were pretty fair in their assesment. The spirit of their writing seemed very cordial, funny and authentic (I actually wish more Christians wrote with their style and wit!)
My problem is not with these non-God-fearing dudes. My problem is with some of the pastors I’ve seen embrace their insights like they were the cure to cancer or something.
To be honest I don’ t know if I want an atheist fully at home in my church. I want him/her to be greeted, loved and truly accepted. But I hope and pray that the preaching of the Word gives him a little bit of the heebee jeebees (the greek words for “conviction” and “nervousness” and if you believe that I have some land in Iraq to sell you.)
What would happen if Casper and Hemant and friends went into any church in the early New Testament? 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 may give us a hint, “But if an unbeliever…comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'” or maybe they’d stop, drop, roll and run like an on fire Ricky Bobby or maybe they would write a book/scroll called “I sold my soul at the Parthenon”.
Again, I’m not at all upset that these guys who wrote these books. Their books are well written, thoughtful, cogent and convincing. It’s a very healthy thing to get outside perspectives and insights. But maybe the work we should be scouring and devouring to discover how to do church is from the Author they think doesn’t exist.