Sunday, 16 January 2011

Atheists and Christians

On Friday night I visited a friend and his partner. He's an atheist. (She is also, kinda.) I often find it quite peculiar how well I get along with many atheists. Granted, I do not know that many self-professed atheists. There are far more people that don't seem to care either way -- agnostics by default, since they don't have much of an opinion on the matter. But back to atheists . . . I know a number of them, and have a couple of friends who accept the title. The more militant type of atheist (like the more militant Christian) I tend to avoid at all cost. However, the few atheist whom I call friends are truly people I appreciate and whose company I quite enjoy. For one, my atheist friends are quite intelligent. They're persuasion is an intellectual one, not one based one merely inherited by culture and tradition. Secondly, they are respectful of my conviction as I am of theirs. Thirdly, we share some common beliefs. The reason they do not believe in God is exactly the reason I do not associate myself with mainstream Christianity. If the God held up by mainstream Christianity -- the one that would keep people alive eternally so that He could torture them in hell through all ages -- was the only option, I would have chosen to cop-out of believing in God too. Luckily, I believe, there is an alternative. There is a God that does not command worship at the threat of torture. A God to whom freedom of choice is of utmost importance.

Yesterday I came to Potchefstroom to spend some time with a community of Christians here that I have come to care for deeply. A number of them share my idea of God. To some of them the Gospel is truly Good News. The message that God is not a vindictive, megalomaniac that doesn't say "love Me or go to hell." An alternative message: One that says that God is really on our side and that God actually do love us, no strings attached. A God that respects our freedom of choice so much that he would not force us into hell or heaven. Those that want to spend eternity with this God will. Those that do not, won't. God won't force you either way.
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