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Sermon Notes: Responding to New Atheists in the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Introduction

New Atheists have become very much active on Social Media ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 or Corona pandemic. Who is a new atheist, you might wonder? A new atheist is a follower of the philosophy called New Atheism, which is a much innocent term for Antitheism or Anti-God.

The Got Questions website points out that Antihiests are the “scoffers” or the “mockers” mentioned in Psalm 1:1 and 2 Peter 3:3. They are not old school atheists. Most atheists don’t hate God, after all, because you cannot believe that God doesn’t exist and still hate Him.

Unfortunately, the average Christian would respond to a new atheist, (Mark 5:40) the same way he would answer an atheist, (Acts 17:16-21) because most Christians don’t know the difference. This approach is wrong because while atheism relies on faulty reasoning to conclude God doesn’t exist, new atheism is all about blasphemy.

Therefore, we need to respond to new atheists differently. In my message tonight, I want to share a three-fold passive response to new atheists. If you were surprised when I said “passive,” keep listening, and you will know why?

1. Don’t reason with a Mocker

George Bernard Shaw once said this. “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” Two thousand years ago, Jesus said something similar. He said, “…do not throw your pearls to pigs…” (Matthew 7:6)

Blasphemy is a new atheist’s only defence strategy because he cannot reason. Hence reasoning your beliefs with him is like wrestling with a Pig or placing your precious pearls before one. For the new atheist, even a deadly pandemic like COVID-19 or Corona is just another opportunity to speak blasphemy.

For instance, an atheist would reason if there’s a God He shall not permit the outbreak of an evil pandemic like COVID-19 or Corona. A new atheist, on the other hand, will say something like, “When COVID-19 strikes, science becomes an elite soldier while God becomes a toddler hiding under the Momma’s skirt!”

Application:

The Word of God in Proverbs 26:4 discourages us from reasoning with people like the new atheists. It’s meaningless and useless. It’s a waste of time and energy. You cannot convince him of the truth because he is ignorant. Don’t throw your pearls before the Swine by explaining the reasons for COVID-19 or Corona Pandemic based on the doctrine of suffering. You don’t expect a Pig to understand and adore Christian doctrines, do you?

2. Don’t defend the Lord

Charles Spurgeon once said, “The Gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended. It just needs to be let out of its cage.”

We treat God like a fragile, wounded kitten that needs nursing and protection when we defend Him. But He doesn’t need our protection. One might say if it is right for the apologists to defend God, it’s not wrong for us either. Have you ever noticed that apologists defend the faith, not God! God doesn’t need defenders or Lawyers.

In Judges 6:31, Joash, the father of Gideon, challenges the mob that sought to kill his son, saying, “If Baal is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

Not even God defends Himself because He cannot be offended (Galatians 6:7). The puny insults of a new atheist can break our hearts if we let him, but there’s absolutely nothing he can say or do to hurt God.

Application:

Often, when we take defensive positions in the name of God against blasphemy, we do so for the wrong reasons. We like to think we are defending God, but the truth is we get offended, and we end up defending ourselves instead.

Further, don’t stoop down to their level by seeking to offend them. Remember, God commanded us to love our enemies. He didn’t command us to wage crusades against them or called us to become Christian Jihadists.

True, man cannot blame God for the COVID-19/Corona pandemic. It’s a deadly virus that originated in a lab in Wuhan, China. In other words, it was man’s doing. Everyone knows that by now. But some people are hell-bent on blaming God, and they will always find a way to do just that. What matters is God doesn’t care, and neither should we.

3. Don’t cease to Intercede

Charles Bent once said this. “Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbor on our knees.”

We shouldn’t reason with new atheists because we cannot have an intelligent conversation with them. We shouldn’t defend God against them because God doesn’t need to be defended. However, we can, and we should intercede for new atheists as much as we pray for our atheist friends. The Word of God in Acts 26:18 says that we must pray for the salvation of the lost souls. There are three more reasons why we must pray for the new atheist and the atheist alike.

A. We are saved by grace. Not because we are holier than the others. You believe in God today because someone prayed for your salvation.

B. Nothing is impossible with God if we believe and pray. When we do, the Holy Spirit will convict the hearts of the new atheists, and make them more responsive to the Gospel.

C. We may see a theist, atheist, monotheist, polytheist, or a new atheist/antitheist. But God sees a soul worth dying for, and he died for that soul.

Isn’t it interesting that prayer is a passive and active response to new atheists at the same time? In prayer, we don’t confront them or correct them. Still, it is our most powerful weapon, and it has proved it’s power over and over again throughout history.

Application

The Word of God in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 urges us to pray without ceasing. Don’t permit delayed answers to discourage your prayers. To answer your prayers or not is strictly business that belongs only to God. Your responsibility, on the other hand, is to keep praying. Don’t be overcome by frustration and disappointment because intercessory prayer is God’s expressed will for you.

God is never too early or too late because He is always in control. Even the COVID-19/Corona pandemic is under his control. He is the God of creativity. His answers to prayer are creative. So creative, it’s beyond our imagination. Every time He answers prayer, that answer is unique.

Conclusion

True, the word of God says in 1 Peter 3:15 to be always prepared to explain our beliefs. But you cannot tell the truth to a new atheist. Remember, new atheists, hold antitheist beliefs. How do you discern a new atheist from an atheist and an honest seeker?

An antitheist (formerly known as miso-theist) will never introduce himself as an antitheist. At least I still haven’t come across someone claiming to be an antitheist. Often they present themselves as ‘New Atheists’ or the followers of the philosophy called ‘New Atheism.’ Truth be told, Antitheism and new atheism are two sides of the same coin! New Atheism relies on contempt so much even the unbelievers criticize it for being intellectually and philosophically shallow.

You will know a new atheist by his behavior. For example, Richard Dawkins, hailed by new atheists as the prophet of modern atheism, mocked the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation at the “Reason Rally” held in the year 2012 and urged his fellow participants to keep all the religious beliefs in contempt.

In the year 2015, Stephen Fry expressed his hatred of God in public in a TV show when he called God a ‘maniac.’ It’s not so surprising that Fry calls himself a new atheist. In the year 2018, Fry was given the Richard Dawkins Award for his lack of faith.

Real atheists don’t speak blasphemy. I have never heard celebrated atheists like Pen Gillette speaking blasphemy. They don’t mock God or religion for that matter. As you can see, there’s a clear difference between being an old school atheist and a new atheist. You just cannot respond to the latter the same way you would react to the former.

If this sermon was helpful to you, please consider leaving your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. It would be a great encouragement to me personally.

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