Atheists and Jesus Christ

I know that Atheist don’t believe in God, but what are their disputes with the teachings of Jesus Christ?

That’s a very broad question, and the answer would depend on the particular atheist and the specific teachings you have in mind. I know there are atheists who respect some of Jesus’s teachings, such as those on peacemaking and service, but wouldn’t agree with his claims to be God’s son (or other references to the supernatural realm).

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I would say his claim to be God is high on their list of disliked teachings. They don’t believe the resurrection is anything more than nonsense. And many think Jesus didn’t really exist but is an amalgam.

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As an atheist, I find wisdom in many of Jesus’ teachings. One doesn’t have to believe in the divine in order to learn from wise people. Specifically, the parable of the Good Samaritan is one of my favorites. It’s a great story about one of the lowest members of society leading by example, and in the process the self righteous are given their comeuppance.

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There’s a vast spectrum of attitudes among atheists. I have respect for other peoples’ beliefs, and I don’t find it necessary to hold a bad opinion of them or their beliefs. However, there are atheists who don’t share my approach. Perhaps a good analogy is Christians who respect and speak kindly of people of other faiths, and those who speak ill of those who happen to be Muslim or Hindu. I don’t think it is necessarily an atheist thing, but more of a human thing.

On a related note, I am sure that Christians could find wisdom in the teachings of the Koran while also not believing that Muhammad was God’s prophet. The same for Buddhist and Hindu teachings.

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I have read documents from each of those religions. Yeah, there are some good things they say to do. No doubt.

You are correct, there are atheists, like my former boss with whom I had some wonderful discussions about theology and the meaning of life, and there are those who are so hostile as to try to stomp on anything Christian. Freedom from Religion organization comes to mind. We don’t really have a right to freedom from anyone’s ideas. Freedom from one’s adversaries ideas is called dictatorship.

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Most Protestants [content removed] atheists. Nearly to the same extent that Muslims do. It is their unforgivable sin even if repented of. Unlike shirk.

That’s not what those organizations are about. What they advocate is keeping government out of religion, widely known as the separation of church and state. Those same organizations overwhelmingly support the right of all citizens to believe as they wish and talk about those beliefs as part of their right to free speech.

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Most of the the atheists I run into has these few issues.

  1. Any of the miraculous and spiritual aspects.
  2. The teachings that condemn things like homosexuality or sex before marriage.
  3. They take issue with the teaching that if you die without Christ you go to hell where you are punished for all of eternity. ( though I don’t believe the Bible teaches that. I think at best there is torment relevant to each persons deeds in hell and then at the White Throne judgement the lost are destroyed and no longer exist in the lake of fire).

I also hear complaints about Jesus destroying the fruit tree because t was not yet it’s time to fruit.

Not from my perspective. We don’t have freedom from religion. Constitution says government can’t restrict the free exercise of religion–and even government officials and inmates have freedom to exercise their religion.

If a Muslim judge wanted to interupt his trials to pray towards Mecca, he should be allowed to do it. But this is as far as I will debate this issue, it isn’t my main interest.

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More often I hear atheists challenge that there ever was such a person or if there was, accounts of him were tied up with legends from earlier cultures. Of course they dispute his deity, otherwise they wouldn’t be atheists. Many resent the intrusion of religion into government or even just secular society generally. Rarely do I hear his teachings criticized directly. It is usually just religion as a whole. Frankly I find the hostility way over the top. Of course atheists in religious families are often treated very poorly by those who feel betrayed by their loss of faith. This seems to embitter some. Otherwise I can’t understand where the antitheist vehemence comes from. -

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Thanks. Yes, I was recently traveling in Turkey and visited the poet prophet and philosopher tomb we call Rumi who quite clearly is very wise and what I would call enlightened.

Just the same there are many people that have said they are gods or are divine in some way over the millienia. Some today still think that they are divine. So let’s take the God thing out and let’s leave the miracles that Jesus performed at the door for this conversation.

Is there anything that Jesus preached and not that which developed later from the Church that you dispute or think is false, untrue or wrong?

Thanks Laura. Yes let’s just take the God and all the miracles out of the discussion.

I know it’s broad and not all atheist as Christians think alike. I would ask specifically of Jesus teachings not those that developed from the church does an atheist dispute or say is false wrong and if that is the case then what do they claim is the truth.

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To ■■■■ is a proper verb.

I think the parable of the ten minas and the parable of the ungrateful servant, both in Matthew, are appalling.

They’re meant to be. But yeah, Jesus said some extremely, hyperbolically, hard things. No one reads the unbelievably good stuff. The universalist stuff. And if they do they dismiss it, minimize it, ‘Yeah but…’ it.

For me, “hard” is a euphemism and “hyperbolic” is an excuse. Those passages are appalling to me not because they are “hard” but because they are examples of awful moral reasoning. Be forgiving to avoid being tortured by a powerful master? A powerful master who delights in the murder of those who don’t follow him? These passages are perfect illustrations of why an atheist like me can’t say “I don’t believe in god but Jesus is great.” Jesus is a mixed bag. He said some great things, he said some okay or obvious things, and he said some awful vicious things. (This all assumed that he “said” any of this stuff, or indeed anything at all.)

The conversation, BTW, was about how an atheist thinks of Jesus.

LOL, I am sure that everyone in this conversation has, like me, read the gospels many times.

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I might add the parable of the wedding banquet here too (for me). The whole parable seems to be going along fine until one of the less prepared guests suddenly finds himself tossed out of the party. [oh yeah - and then there’s the minor detail in at least one gospel version I think where the master orders the cities burned of the people who were too busy to come - granted, they had mistreated and killed some of the servants … still not a party host that you want to appear to snub in any way or form I guess! A story starting with hospitality intentions and ending up with burned cities!] I do think you have to at least grant that hyperbole must have been a big part of narrative back then. Logs in eyes etc … it isn’t just moderns who are intimately familiar with the literary sledge hammer known as hyperbole

[and then also the ten prepared virgins and the ten unprepared ones … with the latter half just being “outside the realm of grace” as it were in the end. Jesus’ recorded parables seem to be quite the recorded blend of seemingly disparate things like the boy scouts’ “be prepared” motto yet mixed with extravagant grace that we give much more air time on Sunday morning. It would seem that nobody who desires a neatly gift-wrapped systematic theology is ever left comfortable when trying to take all this together.]

[sorry about the ‘spring-like’ growth of my post above. think I’m finally done editing it.]

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I agree Stephen. I mean completely. I have an atheist friend who is frustrated by my completely agreeing with him too, yet still believing, in my unbelief. Jesus was well ‘ard. Horrifying. Scary. Gave us Hell. But we’re being anachronistic. Projecting way post-Enlightenment liberalism back down the telescope. For the time, for the culture, this was the best moral reasoning by a country mile. He used racism for Heaven’s sake! And I bet you have no idea what I’m on about, even if I proof texted on Jesus’ universalism! I did it elsewhere here and still nobody gets it. You’d give it the time of day, but no one else can.

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You aren’t the only one here, Martin, that doesn’t run screaming from the room when the “universalism bogeyman” peeks around the corner. There are some of us here that do deeply consider - even hope on such things, and not without plenty of scriptural warrant.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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