A Christian’s Apology To Atheists

Dear Unbelieving Friend,

I’m writing to apologize to you. My fellow Christians and I have misrepresented the Bible to you and shared a false message. In so doing, we have kept you from knowing the God who made you.

Our most serious failure is our traditional doctrine that after death, people who don’t follow Christ will suffer endless conscious torment in hell. Our message has been: “God loves you and sent His Son to die for your sins so you can live with him forever. However, if you don’t accept His gift, you will burn in hell for an endless eternity.” The endless hell part is not actually the Bible’s message.

Our tradition has blinded us to the true message of the Bible. In many ways we have held our orthodoxy as more important than the God of the scriptures Himself.

Rightly, you have rejected this message. Unfortunately, but understandably, you’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

Years ago, I was among those who held tightly to the church’s teaching on the subject of an endless hell. Even though it was unfathomable to me, I was a new believer so I just accepted the traditional view. I think most of my brothers & sisters in Christ are like I was.

After a few years as a Christian, I began an intense study of the scriptures for myself, and found that the Bible doesn’t actually teach that hell will last for an endless eternity. It teaches that God is loving and just, and his justice is measured, merciful and fits the crime. Those who reject Him will be punished for their sins, then will cease to exist in literal, endless death.

I also very much regret that I have kept silent for so long on the truth from the Bible. I have been cowardly, afraid to displease fellow believers who sometimes question the faith of those who question traditional doctrines like this one.

My sincere hope is that you would forgive us and reconsider your own views. If your foundation for rejecting Christ’s message is that his followers have condemned you to an eternal hell for rejecting him, then you no longer have that excuse.

The God who made you really does love you. He really did send His Son to die for your sins and mine, and raised Him from a literal death to credibly offer a real, eternal life to everyone who would follow Him. This gift is available to everyone.

Now that you have read this, please give God and the Bible another chance. Study it for yourself and see what it really says. Don’t be like I was, clinging to your unbelieving tradition so intensely that you don’t think for yourself anymore. What’s the risk in requesting our free e-book and learning to read the Bible for what it actually says?

I would love to have a dialog with anyone who is interested in finding out more, whether in comments here, privately through email, or in person. Please request our free e-book and post in the comments that you’d like to talk further about these things.

5 responses to “A Christian’s Apology To Atheists”

  1. Thanks for your faithful and courageous work here. Seems that even with a tool like the internet, conditionalism is struggling for traction. No wonder it was so effectively squelched before. I keep wondering WHY? Why does the majority really seem to PREFER the traditional view, inspite of all the horror it promises their own loved ones, and in the face of so many specific scriptures, as well as the tone of the Bible in general? Are they just hooked on the drama? Is it the same adrenaline rush that they get from scary movies? Do they secretly dislike their Christianity so much that they don’t think anybody else will want to sign up without the same extreme fear that once motivated their own repentance? And if they really believe what they say, why do they still spend any effort or time or money on anything ever, other than “saving” people they love?? Oh, actually I just meant to request a copy of your book. Totally collecting this sort of thing– do you think a “tipping point” is possible in the next FEW years? Think the Ed Fudge movie will help?

    • What a great comment, thank you so much! You are right on! I think that there is so much pressure against questioning doctrines that are considered “essential” that Christians don’t think about them, or if they do, they keep quiet about their objections. I know I have been silent for most of my life. When I have mentioned these things to friends, I have been met with very mixed reactions.

      Fear is a powerful de-motivator. When you fear being ostracized — or worse, possibly not being a Bible-believing Christian if you question doctrines — you’ll just avoid the issue altogether.

      It is time for Christians to study their Bibles and the history of the doctrine of an endless hell, and return. If only leaders like Francis Chan would go a little deeper, take the risk, shed the pride, and truly embrace the message of the scriptures, I’m convinced that a wave of freedom and a multitude of new believers would come.

      Conditional immortality is a much more Biblical doctrine, and it deserves an honest hearing both in and out of the church. I do hope that Edward Fudge’s new movie does contribute to a “tipping point”, as his book has done so much good for the cause of faithful Bible interpretation.

      I will write a blog post about Fudge’s movie soon, but until then, readers can check out: http://hellandmrfudge.com/.

  2. I was compelled to write an answer to your post because I had the feeling that grossly misunderstand and misrepresent the Atheist position.

    Your whole post is based on the assumption that most if not all Atheists reject a religious view of the world because they are scared off by the eternal punishment in hell that Christianity “officially” teaches. Disregarding that this point ignores that there are numerous other religions who both teach and DON’T teach such punishment for sin – which tells me that you are consciously or subconsciously equate Christianity with religion, which I find somewhat egocentric – I can tell you that that is HARDLY a reason why people become or are Atheists.

    The God who made you really does love you. He really did send His Son to die for your sins and mine, and raised Him from a literal death to credibly offer a real, eternal life to everyone who would follow Him. This gift is available to everyone.

    Disregarding that you present as fact what is clearly belief – I don’t want that! I actually, consciously, do not want that. I don’t want the universe to be ruled by a all-powerful madman who thinks he has to torture and kill his son/himself just to forgive people who broke HIS OWN RULES! Why not JUST FORGIVE THEM?! “A tooth for a tooth”, or what? And I certainly don’t want to live eternally – I can think of nothing more horrible than that. Live long – yes. Forever – never! Sometimes the concept of heaven seems even more scary to me than hell. Think about it – a perfect, eternal life! Nothing could change, nothing could improve, you could not learn anything new, you could not help anyone because everything is perfect already. Eventually, after 100, 10000 or a googolplex years, you’d get bored – but you still have eternity before you. You’d get MAD! No, thank you!

    I WANT to die eventually. And I WILL. That realization makes every second on this planet so much more precious and wonderful, every day you get up, every time you eat, every time you hug someone, kiss someone or meet someone new is such a invaluable thing because it will end one day, because it is limited. Every of your accomplishments is so much more valuable because if you’d have infinite time on your hands, you could theoretically do EVERYTHING (like, everything)!

    Those who reject Him will be punished for their sins, then will cease to exist in literal, endless death.

    And that is supposed to make me feel better than the view that I just die, skip the middleman and immediately go to the endless death part HOW? I’m not even going to mention how disgusting and repulsive the idea of an all-powerful, cosmic judge, who deems physical or psychological punishment – outlawed by most western cultures – an acceptable form of punishment, is!

    And I don’t want a “loving” god above me. I want to be the master of my own destiny. I want humanity to decide what it means to be a human being on its own. And want humans to decide what is good and bad on their own, without such “truths” being dictated from above. The idea of a loving “father” might seem consoling to many, but to me it is like a golden cage taking away our freedom and the yearning for it seems like the admission that humanity is weak, immature and needs guidance – to stupid for its own survival!

    But here comes the kicker.

    If you’d knew about the Atheist position, you’d realize that all the things I mentioned so far are not actually “reasons” for rejecting religion. No, they’re more like “assets”. If they’re reasons for something, they are reason for fighting religion and wanting to end it. But for being an Atheist, there is actually only ONE, valid reason:

    There is not the tiniest amount of factual, scientific evidence for the existence of a deity.

    This. That’s it. Period. I’d go so far as to assert that a vast majority of Atheists – more than three quarters – are nonreligious because of this solitary reason.

    No evidence for X – no reason to hold X as true.

    That simple. Everything else is secondary – the religious values, which are either obvious (kindness, generosity etc.) or disgusting (sin, salvation, all-powerful madman, …); the enormous political and social power churches gain from their “flock” which they almost always misuse; the continuous hindrance of scientific progress that lasts to this day (“Teach the controversy”, anyone?); the enormous and almost uncrossable gap that religions create between people – all secondary.

    Your apology seems sincere, and I think you for the effort of wanting to cross the gap between the religious and the nonreligious. But I think that you’d be much more effective at it if you would not grossly misrepresent the position of the side you are talking to.

    I think most people are religious because of the moral guidance, social function and emotional support it gives and not because of the “truths” about the universe which it teaches – which are provably wrong. And the question whether or not one or more Gods exists is a matter of fact, not of emotion, preference or belief. When it comes to facts, science is our most powerful tool, and if there is no scientific evidence for the existence of a deity, then everything except nonbelief in such a thing is nothing but delusion at best, and madness at worst.

    If you want to be a good person, you don’t have to swear eternal allegiance to an invisible cosmic force.
    If you want to be a good person, just be a good person.

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