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A Conversation with an Atheist – Friday Q&A

Last weekend I found myself engaged in an interesting discussion with a new acquaintance on twitter. He (or she – this fact is not revealed in the twitter profile) is an atheist and took issue with a post I put up.

I thought I would share the conversation with you all, and allow us all to toss it about a bit.

Remember, please keep the Friday Q&A rules in any comments you make or I will have to delete them. The rules are:

Be polite.
Be honest.
Be gentle.
Be friendly.

Here is the conversation. (@MrBnd is my twitter name – please join me over there and say Hi, if you are a twit too!) I am going to leave my new friend’s ID out so as not to antagonize him/her, but I will shoot him a note so he can join us if he wants to.

@MrBnd: But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn't put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. ~ Jesus (CEB)

@NewFriend: Oh dear (with this picture posted)

@MrBnd: Guess we best avoid derisive heart attitudes and mocking words - I sure need a Savior!

@NewFriend: Jesus seems to have blown it though! According to your tweet.

@MrBnd: I am not sure giving instruction on how to avoid foolishness is the same as calling someone a fool - i am glad for the wisdom

@NewFriend: So the people that did not put his words into practice are what? Or has everyone ever, always put his words into practice?

@MrBnd: I could tell you it is foolish to smoke, You can decide how to behave. I have not called you a fool, just shared wisdom

@NewFriend: Yes of course. Silly me. But wait! Maybe not so silly me. Given the word 'foolish' was not used. So answer my previous question.

@MrBnd: "like a fool" - aka foolish - I suppose neither of us is going to change opinions here, but thanks for the dialog

@NewFriend: exactly 'like a fool' therefore, those not "putting words into practice" are, by definition, fools. So who's right, Jesus or Matthew?

That is the extent of our conversation. I had to be elsewhere and did not come back to it later.

Here are some further thoughts of mine.

First, I don’t feel I need to defend Jesus. His words are Truth, and if I don’t get them on first pass, rather than pick at the words and set them up as reasons to be offended with Him, I assume the short fall is somewhere in my heart or mind. There is plenty that I don’t get yet, and there are depths and layers to Jesus’ words that I can not fathom.

Jesus’ discourse in John 6 about the Bread of Life is a perfect example. He says to the crowd and the disciples some things in a manner which made Him sound like a crazy person – you must eat My flesh and drink My blood if you want to be My disciples. Not only did it make Jesus sound a bit crazy, anyone who would follow Him had to be suspect too!.

In the end of this discourse He turns to the boys and says “does this offend you?” (John 6:61)

A few verses farther down the page we have this

You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” ~ John 6:67-69

So I have two thoughts rumbling around in my head in regard to the conversation above.

First about the process of questioning Jesus’ words – does it make me a non-thinker because I accept something I do not understand. This is what my friends profile expounds, that because there are things that are in tension in scripture, you have to turn your brain off to believe.

To this I would have to honestly answer that the most intelligent person on the planet probably knows less than 1% of all there is no know even of the natural realm in which we spend most of our time, and I am not that guy. There is so much more to the natural that I don’t understand that I could learn new things every minute of every day and still not reach the 1% mark.

Now add to that all that goes on in other realms – i.e. in the spirit realm – and, well, there is just some stuff I don’t know.

My friend’s profile actually states “it’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new.” Clearly he and I agree here. Neither of us know everything, else why would we both want to learn something new every day?

Now to the second part – the actual discussion about what Jesus said, contrasting His comments:

Is it hypocrisy to on the one hand say:

Don’t ever call someone a fool.

And on the other say:

You are a fool if you …

The “don’t call someone a fool” was in the context of an outburst of anger or insult, and would be like when my mother said to me growing up “don’t call your brother stupid.” It is not that people are not stupid, or fools, it is just not your job to point it out to them. It dishonors them.

On the other hand, any time someone smarter, or wiser than I wants to point out to me what actions I might be taking – what path I might be walking that make me out to be a fool – have at it. I would love to learn from other’s folly, rather than my own.

Well – I see I have gone way to long on this post, but now it is your turn.

What do you think?

Ben NelsonThanks much for coming by today. I really appreciate you!

See you tomorrow for SoS Saturday.


0 thoughts on “A Conversation with an Atheist – Friday Q&A

  1. Selah

    Jesus is wisdom personified so yep! needs no defence... why stay in the discussion and prove a needless point... Thank you for stopping by, God bless you real good!

  2. Heidi Viars

    Everyone is foolish/a fool until the Holy Spirit reveals to Him His foolish ways. He remains a fool, unless He does something with that knowledge, namely admit that only God is wise and that in our foolishness we need Him and Jesus Christ's provision for us.
    While we can do wise things apart from God, and with that avoid consequences of foolishness for a while, the ultimate foolishness is to reject God and His provisions for eternity (especially since we do not know when our lives are required of us and we have to give an account for all we have done).
    Just my thoughts this morning ... thanks so much, Ben, for your always stimulating conversations and pointing us to the hope within us, despite us being fools. 🙂


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