One of the interesting differences I have found between formerly Christian atheists and currently Christian believers is, the former Christians among us often took our religious beliefs more seriously. That is, we took them seriously enough to look long and hard at whether or not the things we believed were actually true.
We looked into the origins of the Bible, and, like many Bible scholars, concluded that they are highly suspect, even from a Christian perspective. The Bible doesn’t mention anything about God endorsing the modern Bible canon, so upon whose authority was it assembled and declared to be the, “Word of God”? Hmm? The answer turns out to be, these books were selected not for their factual or “spiritual” accuracy, but for their popularity within the church at the time they were selected. As such, the Bible is as much a product of Christian doctrine as a source.
Not only that, those of us who studied the whole Bible–not just the carefully selected snippets children are permitted to hear in Sunday School–discovered that its contents are, to put it politely, morally questionable. See Genesis 38, Numbers 31, Judges 11, and numerous other Bible chapters extolling the virtues of deception, prostitution, theft, genocide, rape, human sacrifice, and worse. As Isaac Asimov put it, “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
Yet, for some reason, Christians continue to cling to the belief that prayer and the Bible support their beliefs better than they support our lack of belief. Consider the following essay I recently received from a believer:
Read the Bible and Pray
Editorial #2 by Joseph Yosuk Lee
If you are a non-Christian, please let me warn you that this editorial is a band-aid solution in order to help you become a Christian. This editorial cannot help you become a Christian. Only Gods efficacious grace can save you. There is no way you can earn Gods grace by praying or by reading the Bible. However, reading the Bible and praying to God can help.
My Band-Aid Advice:
Whenever I talked to other non-Christians, they bitterly complained that Christianity is a religion such that the pastor brainwashed the congregation to believe in God. I told them that they should read the Bible, and they said that they have already read it. As I tested their knowledge about the Bible, they were not able to answer the important questions such as being born again and many important stories mentioned in the Bible. I told them that they did not read the Bible carefully. Many non-Christians complained that they already read the Bible, and yet they fail to notice the important messages in the Bible. This is proof that many non-Christians do not read the Bible very carefully.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans
Of course, there are many religious studies professors, who read the Bible very carefully and can recite more verses than the pastors, and yet they still do not believe in Christ. The reason why most religious studies professors fail to believe in God is that they probably fail to pray.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of
thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
When I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, I met a physics major, who told me that he read the entire Bible twice, and yet he did not believe in the Bible. I asked him whether or not he ever prayed. Of course, he never did pray, and I told him, Not praying for a Christian is as same as not doing an experiment for a physicist. The reason why I mentioned the importance in doing an experiment is that most physicists do not like to do experiments and want to be like Albert Einstein by reading their physics textbooks to find some theory how the universe works. So, how can you make a discovery in physics without doing an experiment? Most world renown physicists, who won the Nobel Prize, are experimentalist and are not theorists. In fact, Albert Einstein did not win a Nobel Prize for thinking about relativity. He won a Nobel Prize in setting up an experiment of the photoelectric effect. To win a Nobel
Prize in heaven, you should read the Bible, but you need to pray. Some people find a way to accept Christ by only reading the Bible. However, a person who prays has a greater chance of accepting Christ as his savior because it shows an attitude of submission.
Of course, my dad told me that he read the Bible and that he did pray, and he said, If I prayed and read the Bible, how come I still do not believe in the Bible? So, I told my dad about my physics friends at Berkeley, who tried to calculate the acceleration of gravity. There were about 30 physics and engineering majors in my physics class, and I told my dad that the average acceleration of gravity was calculated to be 6.0 m/s2 in our course when the acceleration of gravity is 9.8 m/s2 . So, did my physics friends at Berkeley discover the new acceleration value for gravity? My dad said, They did not perform the experiment correctly. I said, You answered your questions, dad. You did not pray correctly either. I can tell that my dad was very frustrated with me, and he just does not want to read the Bible carefully or to pray according to Gods will. My dad prayed that I get into Harvard and MIT, and he never prayed again when I did not make it to those schools. Despite my dads good intentions in praying for me, he never prayed that I would be like Jesus Christ. Prayer allows to conform our will to that of Gods will, but we do not take control of God through our prayer.
Last of all, there are probably some people, who did pray according to Gods will, read the Bible carefully, and yet their hearts were hardened. In order to be a Christian, God has to soften and open your heart to the gospel. Other words, there is no way that you can be a Christian by praying or reading the Bible. You become a Christian by Gods efficacious grace. Although he may not believe in God now, he can still believe in God in the near future.
Please share this editorial to your non-Christian friends by forwarding this e-mail.
Well, here I am, sharing it all. Does anyone feel like converting yet? I sure don’t. What a lame effort. It’s a bit disappointing, really. Band-Aid advice, indeed. Maybe God’s grace just isn’t efficacious enough, or something.
The author goes on with a boilerplate statement of how to become “saved”:
Steps in becoming a Christian.
1. You need to know that you are a sinner.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
The Hebrew translation for sin is missing the mark (of perfection in terms of thought and action).
2. You need to know is that there is a price on sin.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death.
3. You need to know is that Jesus paid the price.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
You must trust his death on the cross as the sacrifice for your own sins.
4. You need to know is that you must call upon the Lord in order to go
10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Whosoever means everyone-it includes you. Calling upon the name of the Lord means to cry out to God in prayer and ask Him to save you. Being saved means to be saved from your sins and from Hell. You must believe that Jesus Christ is full God and full man in order to be saved. See John 3:16, John 20:28-29, and Colossians 2:9.
5. Last of all, Jesus will sanctify (to purify or make you holy) you as time progresses.
Hebrews 13:12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
*Just pray and call out to God through this simple prayer like:*
Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, who deserves to go to hell, but thank you for paying the price for me. I invite you to come into my heart right now and forgive me for my sins that nailed you to the cross. Save me and take me to Heaven when I die. In Jesus Name. Amen. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the son shall not see life; John 3:36.
I lost track of how many times I prayed that prayer or one like it as a child and adolescent, often a little fearful that I didn’t follow the formula just right, or say the little prayer with enough sincerity, despite literally being in tears. Yet, when I asked this fellow his opinion of my case, he insisted that in order for me to become an atheist, I must never have been a “real” Christian in the first place. So much for sincerely believing and following the prescribed protocol! Shucky darns, I guess nobody is a “real” Christian, then!
Christians, if you want to understand why I and many other former Christians lost our faith in God and the Bible, just try, for once, to take your own beliefs seriously!