We have a comment from a friend, an atheist (former Christian--I keep telling him he still is one)
Mike aka MonolithTMA said...
People that argue that God doesn't hear the honest and honorable prayers of unbelievers, remind me of the folks who think Jesus was actually named Jesus, and that he spoke in King James English.
I recall the part in Lewis' Narnia Chronicles, in The Last Battle, mentioned here in this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tash_(Narnia)
"Emeth, who expects Tash to smite unbelievers with heavenly fire, goes searching for Tash in Aslan's Country, but instead meets Aslan. It is revealed that Aslan and Tash are opposites, with each existing as the antithesis to the other. Aslan tells Emeth that 'all the service thou hast done to Tash, I accept as service done to me' and further explains that 'no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him'. He explains that Emeth's pious devotion, because it was rooted in a love of justice and truth, was really to Aslan rather than to Tash, although Emeth had not been aware of this; Emeth finds great happiness in this revelation."
I like that passage. That's pretty much what I'm saying on the thing about Acts 17. In connection with that I will continue the discussion on Monday by taking up the question "then what good does it do to be a Christian?"
One thing I like the most about this passage is that it identifies God with ideals like truth and justice. To me I identify God with Love. I know the passage in 1 John "God is love" is a metaphorical statement but metaphors have their reality. The reality is that God is the source of love. If we understand and appreciate fully that love is more than just an emotional feeling, but embrace it as a philosophy then we see that understanding is derived from a basic description of God's character. God's character is love and that is the true and original source of love. Thus in that sense God is love.
God is truth in the same way. Truth is what is, God is the basis of all that is. This is a way of thinking that is less and less understanding in the postmodern world.I laugh as the CARM atheists just boggle their minds trying to ridicule such ideas and saying things like "how could God be truth, it's truth that i have do nut on my desk, is God the fact that I have a donut?" That's what comes of literalistic thinking.
I think Paul was saying that those who seek the truth source of goodness are following Jesus defacto even if they don't know it's Jesus. That does not mean all non Christians are automatically saved, any more than it means that all people who sit in churches on Sunday morning are saved. Being in a chruch doesn't make you saved any more than sleeping in a garage makes you a car. So I distinguish between being in the Christian social club and acutely "knowing Jesus." It is possible to do one without the other, but salvation is not automatically guaranteed for the chruch goer, and non salvation is not automatically befallen upon the "non Christian" adherent. But salvation is promised by God for all those who seek him and who gives their lives to Christ. Giving your life Christ makes you born again and that is salvation. I'll discuss this more on Monday.