When a secular TV network announced “Christian singer makes shocking announcement: ‘I no longer believe in God,’” I had mixed emotions.
First of all, grief, because many in the church (and in the world) will see this is an affirmation of the intellectual nature of atheism, and secondly, cynicism, because atheism is so stupid. It’s worse than stupid.
When a professing Christian comes out of the closet as an atheist, he is admitting that he never knew the Lord (see John 17:3). Despite growing up in church as a pastor’s son, he faked it for all these years, and now he’s embracing the bankruptcy of believing that nothing created everything. That’s both senseless and scientifically impossible.
Jon Steingard, lead singer for the group Hawk Nelson, renounced his faith on Instagram. “This is not a post I ever thought that I would write, but now I feel like I really need to,” Steingard wrote, explaining the loss of faith didn’t happen overnight and it came with questions about God, the Bible, and his upbringing in a Christian home.1
It’s not that answers to questions about God, suffering, etc., are not available. For instance, we have a number of resources, such as The Evidence Bible, which give reasonable answers to almost every question (it addresses over 200 commonly asked questions and objections). However, many times these unanswered “questions” are in reality a symptom of a deeper disease.
I have found that when a professing Christian embraces atheism, two questions more often than not bring the real issue to the forefront. I ask when he last looked at pornography. I don’t ask if he looked at it, but when. It’s hard to lie because the question is so direct. Then I shoot the second arrow. Is he having sex with his girlfriend? Of course he is. And so I find that the issue typically has nothing to do with God’s existence, and everything to do with his love of sin. Atheism is the “far country” of the prodigal son. He just wants to get away from God and His moral accountability. He wants to roll in the pigsty.
When Adam sinned, he immediately hid from God (see Genesis 3:8). Just like the deluded atheist, our first forefather had really bad theology. No one can hide from God (see Proverbs 15:3).
Instead of diagnosing the disease and pointing their friend to the only cure, the rest of the band members gave him the placebo of God’s love on Instagram. They think that all is well, because God still loves him. However, all is not well. This man should be confronted with the reality of Scripture. God’s wrath abides upon him (see John 3:36). He’s an enemy of God in his mind through wicked works (see Colossians 1:21). He then needs to be told that if he dies in his sins he will be damned in Hell. No one lets go of sin because they see God’s love. It may sound nice to talk about it to an impenitent sinner, but it’s not biblical. Love comforts and brings a robe for the prodigal, but the prodigal won’t seek the father until he understands that he has sinned against Heaven. He must see that his appetites are unclean.
This rebel needs the fear of God. He needs the Law of God applied to his conscience—so that he will flee from the wrath to come. That’s when he will understand the Father’s great love and mercy, revealed in the cross. And until that time comes, this poor, deluded, and intellectually deficient sinner will carry on in his beloved sins as he has done for years. May God help him.