There’s an old joke that says: How do you describe an atheist at his funeral? “All dressed up with no place to go.”
Now, all jokes aside, there is a place atheists can go on Sundays. There’s a new type of “atheist church” that has been founded by a couple from England, and apparently it’s taking off.
Writing for the AP (11/11/13), Gillian Flaccus penned an article called, “Atheist ‘mega-churches’ are now a thing in the U.S as popularity spreads from U.K.”
These groups, write Flaccus, are “people bound by their belief in non-belief.” They have had large gatherings in Los Angeles, “San Diego, Nashville, New York and other U.S. cities.”
The founders are “British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans,” who are on a “tour around the U.S. and Australia to drum up donations and help launch new Sunday Assemblies.”
The services consist of singing secular songs, inspirational talks, and times of reflection.
Basically, it’s religion without God.
It’s a free country, because of our Judeo-Christian base (and that of England), so the atheists are free to assemble or not, just as anyone else is. Only in nations tied to a Christian base does that freedom exist. (It certainly didn’t exist in the Soviet Union, which was based on atheism.)
But why accept a cheap imitation when you can get the real thing, possibly down the street?
These atheist churches meet on Sunday mornings, the traditional day of church. It’s a fact that the Jewish sect known as Christianity worshiped Jesus because all the earliest Christians (who were Jewish---Peter, Paul, and Mary, and all the Apostles) believed Jesus had risen from the dead on “the first day of the week,” i.e., Sunday.
The idea of atheists going to church brings home to me the notion that we are all hard-wired by the Creator to worship.
We all worship something. According to the Bible, we’ll ultimately either worship Jesus, or we’ll worship something less; we’ll worship the creature rather than the Creator.
The 17th century French mathematician and Christian apologist, Blaise Pascal, said there’s a God-shaped vacuum in every heart, just waiting to be filled.
The Bible says God created us, and we will give an account before Him one day. In the fourth century, St. Augustine wrote in his classic book, Confessions, “You have made us for Yourself, Oh God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”
The shorter catechism from the Westminster Confession of Faith from the 1640s asks: “What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
I remember years ago when an atheist acquaintance told me he loved to watch a certain preacher on TV every week. He loved his sermons because they were filled with motivation, goal-setting, uplifting stories. If the preacher mentioned God, the atheist would just edit that out, in his mind.
Unfortunately, many Christian churches have unwittingly done the same, removing essential tenets of the Christian faith. It’s sad to think that in some of our Sunday assemblies of professing Christians, there is no longer an emphasis on Christ’s atoning death for sinners and His resurrection from the dead. But that is the heart of the Christian message---from Day One to the present. Note the ancient creed, still repeated in many churches to this day: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”
In one sense, a “cross-less Christianity” makes just as much sense as an “atheist church.”
The Apostle Paul said to the Galatians, Do you think I’d still be facing all this persecution if it weren’t for my preaching the cross? He also said to the Corinthians, My goal was to preach Christ and Him crucified.
Meanwhile, the whole idea of organized atheism (especially the militant, full-time kind) seems contradictory: Because they spend all their energies fighting against God, whom they claim does not exist. If they really believed it, they wouldn’t care.
With Thanksgiving coming soon, and “atheist churches” apparently on the rise, I’m reminded of what G. K. Chesterton once said: “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.” He also said, “If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”