A New Kind of Atheism
“And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all.” (Acts 19:26 NIV11-GK)
Do you believe in God?
This is probably the most polarizing question we can ask in our society. Just follow a debate and you will see vitriol from both sides: "How could you be so stupid? You want to go to hell? Why do you have to force your beliefs on everyone else?"
A simple yes or no answer sets a trajectory for all other topics, but is the question so simple?
It depends what you mean by "God." (I'll save "Belief" for another day, but that's just as importnat to define too. See James 2:19 for a start).
Athiesm was one of the earliest accusations against the first followers of Jesus, people of "The Way." Acts 19:23.
The first Christians were labeled as atheists! How is that possble?
Gods were everywhere in the 1st century. There were god's of myth like the Greek Pantheon of Zeus. Others were god's of might like great rulers and heros like the Ceasars.
The first followers of Jesus had a radical notion these gods were not gods at all, and so the first followers of Jesus were charged with atheism. Their belief and practice negated their societal gods. This was considered dangerous.
Could followers of Jesus be charged with the same today? Do we dare deny the modern pantheon? Or do we worship and give allegiance to all the gods of our society: Wealth, Celebrity, Sex, Entertianment, Security, Nationalism, Politics, and more?
Christians have tried their best to argue against atheism. Perhpas, we could be more effective by demonstrating some atheism of our own, just like the first followers of Jesus.