Atheism Culture

Why do atheist Protestants need symbols alien to their materialist beliefs?

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In “Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world” (BBC News 5 August 2011), Robert Pigott reportson the growth of openly atheist mainstream Protestantism, exemplified in the Exodus Church,

It is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord’s Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse’s sermon seems bleak – “Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get”.

  From the Web: “Dutch Protestant Church – 1 in 6 clergy atheist/agnostic”

“Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death,” Mr Hendrikse says. “No, for me our life, our task, is before death.”

Problem is, what if there is life after death, as Rabbi Jacobs argues? One cannot espouse Henrikse’s view without being certain that there isn’t. How? Also,

Stroom [a young people’s group] focuses on people’s personal search for God, not on the church’s traditional black-and-white answers.

In the days when churches gave black and white answers, they thought they were dealing with a fact base. Same as science, medicine, or straw polls.

Given that the symbolism of the atheist Protestant movement points in the opposite direction from its message, why do they retain it? Thoughts?

9 Replies to “Why do atheist Protestants need symbols alien to their materialist beliefs?

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    johnnyb says:

    As a side note, while I was at seminary I attended a lunch seminar, basically dealing with the question, “How do you preach Easter when you don’t believe in the resurrection?” Most of the faculty joined the discussion, each giving their view on how best to preach to an audience that believes in the resurrection if you do not. Only one professor questioned the premise (although he only partially questioned the premise – he pointed out that as a preacher for a denomination, it is not entirely about what you yourself think – you represent a larger group of people than just yourself in the pulpit).

    Anyway, while I was there I learned how leftists think and how they spread their message.

    Have you noticed how leftists always accuse right-wingers of using code-words for racism, when we ourselves have no idea what they are talking about? The reason is that they use code-words for everything. Nearly all of their speech is in code, such that the “faithful” know what they are talking about, and everyone else can more-or-less look past it. Likewise for ID — they view ID as a code-word for creationism because they are used to speaking in code. Therefore, they assume that we are. They don’t get that ordinary people generally talk plainly, and don’t have the time to make up silly little code words to speak to each other in.

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    fmarotta says:

    It is not that they need the symbols; instead they are members of the denominations that are paying them their salaries and they do not have the character to go it alone. It would risk their material comfort.

    It isn’t just an issue in liberal protestant churches. I recall a man who was a pastor in a conservative denomination, but rejected one of the articles of faith in his denomination. Rather than leave, he chose to be evasive in his teaching on that particular point.

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    lamarck says:

    There’s always the reincarnation option, here’s a video about a kid remembering WWII in detail.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72oCyrbgN_I

    Also the work of Doctor Ian Stevenson of the U of Virginia:

    “Instead of relying on hypnosis to verify that an individual has had a previous life, he instead chose to collect thousands of cases of children who spontaneously (without hypnosis) remember a past life. Dr. Ian Stevenson uses this approach because spontaneous past life memories in a child can be investigated using strict scientific protocols. Hypnosis, while useful in researching into past lives, is less reliable from a purely scientific perspective. In order to collect his data, Dr. Stevenson methodically documents the child’s statements of a previous life. Then he identifies the deceased person the child remembers being, and verifies the facts of the deceased person’s life that match the child’s memory. He even matches birthmarks and birth defects to wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records. His strict methods systematically rule out all possible ‘normal’ explanations for the child’s memories.”

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    kairosfocus says:

    There is of course yet another possible explanation. Doesn’t have to be accepted, just borne in mind, in the context of this also.

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    nullasalus says:

    Given that the symbolism of the atheist Protestant movement points in the opposite direction from its message, why do they retain it? Thoughts?

    Because it can be emotionally and politically useful, a means to an end.

    I don’t have a problem necessarily with a church engaging with some young people with the beliefs they have and encouraging them to explore topics. But if they want to make a Church of ‘believe whatever you want about Christ and Christianity’, at least we can identify what manner of Christian ‘faith’ Breivik belonged to.

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    “But if they want to make a Church of ‘believe whatever you want about Christ and Christianity’, at least we can identify what manner of Christian ‘faith’ Breivik belonged to.”

    Exactly!!

    If the atheist protestants (what are they protesting, BTW?) want to suggest that Breivik is a Christian, fine. He’s just the sort of Christian that would fit right in with their Religio-Utilitarian Scheme (Hey a new acronym: RUS). So their form of Christianity is a little RUSty.

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    groovamos says:

    Do leftists gravitate to the ministry because it is another way to get an easy, cushy job as the go-to man (woman) where they can exercise their impulse to bend society to their thinking? I mean they do dominate academia, government, and media, and tend to shun jobs where productivity is easily measured on a daily basis or so it seems to me. I (conservative) happen to belong to a church (Unity) where conservatives are a small minority, and have the opportunity to hear a wonderfully liberal minister, but wonderful just the same, and don’t believe I would categorize him as an answer to my first question. But I read about leftist clergy and really have to wonder about their motivations. I’m just now finishing “World Turned Upside Down” by Melanie Philips, a massive critique of modern society, meticulously researched, and she has put together reams of info on the clergy, much of it in the last chapter on the betrayal of Israel and Jewry at the hands of leftist clergymen.

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