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Atheists Are Right That Christianity Sounds Absurd, but I Believe in It

From an outside observer’s standpoint, Christianity is kind of absurd.

Think about it.  We believe in an invisible man who lived over 2000 years ago in a series of backwater towns in the Middle East, was killed by some religious zealots, and then was magically raised from the dead three days later, after which he floated up into the sky and disappeared, thus becoming the invisible man we now believe in and pin all our hopes to.  Oh, and on top of that, we believe in other invisible beings: angels and demons—who are all around us, helping and influencing us.  Meanwhile, another invisible Spirit (the Holy Spirit) is constantly at work behind the scenes around the earth, keeping the whole thing straight and intervening whenever He can.

When put that way, even I think it sounds crazy.  I consider myself a fairly intelligent person.  I’m a former University Professor, an author of two books (Filming God and Finding God In The Bible), and I’ve become something of a spokesperson not just for the existence of God through my films (Finger of God, Furious Love, Father of Lights, and Holy Ghost), but for the idea that this invisible God is alive and well and doing amazing things in our world today.  How then can I, as a rational, intelligent human being, actually believe in invisible men and spirits?

I ask this question because it seems that lately a good number of people have been coming out and saying that no, they don’t believe this nonsense anymore.  From Christian rock stars (Tim Lambesis — As I Lay Dying; George Perdikis — co-founder of Newsboys) to pastors (Ryan Bell), former Christians seem to be taking a long hard look at their faith, and are finding the courage to step forward and voice their opinion: that they think this is all nuts.  I have a feeling they aren’t alone in their struggles with belief, and the reasons for this crisis of faith are surely varied and compelling.  But like everyone, at the end of the day I am only truly responsible for myself, and I wanted to step forward and try to explain why I will continue to believe in an invisible God-man, no matter what.

For a good portion of my life, I lived a kind of Christianity that I have a sneaking suspicion most people do as well.  It was built around a set of pre-informed beliefs and its orbit was made up almost exclusively with well-meaning principles—all of which were gleaned from the Bible and were designed to both make my life better and make me into a relatively nice person.  Jesus was the centerpiece, of course, but He was more of a benevolent, distant brother figure.  God was relatively silent on most things—and He always loomed large in my “be good or else” mentality.  The Holy Spirit was like smoke, a guiding force if you will, but one that was totally unknowable.  This was Christianity, for sure, but it was a neutered one.  I simply had to believe the right things, be a good person, and not do too much bad stuff.  If I did make mistakes, I had to make sure I said I was sorry, otherwise a kind of logjam of sin would start to build up, which was not good.

When your life is centered around trying to “be good”, there comes a point when it all just feels fake and forced.  I mean, if Jesus is real, shouldn’t my life be different?  Shouldn’t I have this peace He kept talking about inside me?  Should I really have to try THIS hard to change my behavior?  And after a while, when principles are all that generally guide you, it just becomes too much and you wind up doing the Christian thing simply because you think you should and because that’s what you’ve always done.

But then something happened, and this is where everything changed for me.  I experienced God.  I am a rational person and I am not prone to manic episodes, hallucinations, or strange behavior.  I’ve never done drugs a day in my life.  I don’t “feel” things spiritually, have never been “slain in the spirit”, and I’ve never even spoken in tongues.  But while making these films of mine, I experienced the reality and presence of God.  I felt Him inside me and around me.  My behavior changed, I felt peace for the first time, and my Christian walk was no longer about following principles, but about following a Person.  And yes, that Person was invisible.

How do you explain experiencing God to someone who has never experienced Him themselves?  It’s a lot like trying to explain love to someone who has never been in love before.  They can be surrounded by people in love, can see how strange it makes people behave, can understand the concept of love; they can even see the dangers of falling in love with that person over this person, but unless you’ve actually fallen in love with someone, you’ll never be able to understand the feeling it gives you or the certainty that you are, in fact, in love, and that it is very, very real.

So it is no surprise to me that a pastor who decides to “take a year off from God” comes out the other side as an atheist.  Honestly, it would be impossible for me to take even a week off from God, because I have experienced Him firsthand.  I know He’s there, I can’t ignore Him.  No one who actually experiences God will ever deny His existence.  For instance, for my new film, Holy Ghost Reborn, I filmed a ministry in Colorado that provides prayer and teaching almost exclusively to military personnel.  Most of the participants go into this 3 day intensive as either atheists or nominal believers at best.  All of them—a full 100%—come out of these 3 days believing in Jesus.  Why?  Because they just experienced Him for themselves.  And you can’t deny something that you have actually experienced.  My guess is that the vast majority of people who have turned their hearts from God never actually experienced Him in the first place.  They may have heard and believed, but the reality of His presence never took root because believing something logically is not the same as experiencing it relationally.

Yes, believing in someone who is invisible seems, on the surface, a little crazy.  But just as Billy Graham once pointed out, we believe in the wind not because we can see it, but because we can see the effects of it.  We can feel it on our faces, see it whipping through tree branches.  I believe in an invisible God not because I can see Him, but because I can see the effect of Him on my life, and on countless lives around the world.  I can feel Him inside me, around me, even working through me.

I’m not sure people leaving the faith is an assault on Christianity as much as it is simply showing the danger of building faith on principles instead of relationship.  As good and as important as principles are, nothing will ever compare to the vibrant, healthy, Biblical relationship that we were all created for with a God who is more real and more alive than many of us realize.

8 Comments

  • Stephanie

    I love these films. Have really inspired me to look at my faith in a TOTALLY different light. It has ignited a passion in my life to step out. Get to know God in a way like never before. I especially love "Furious Love" and seeing all the deliverances from bondage. I have began following Todd White, too. So enjoy his encouraging teaching. That's exactly where my heart is. To feel the heartbeat of my Savior. Wow! What a ride! : ) I definitely have found that "Peace that passes ALL understanding". I can never go back. Why would I even want to?

  • Deb Wilson

    AMEN, AMEN, AMEN. I grew up outside the church and didn't meet God until I was 18. But when I read a book about a man who said God was a part of his life everyday, I asked God to show Himself to me and no one can ever convince me that God did not make Himself known to me in a very real way. I describe it as if someone "turned on a light switch inside of me." This was before I even understood who Jesus was or what He did for me on the cross. 42 years later, my husband and I are more excited about knowing God than every before. Currently, we are missionary associates in Africa and finding God to be more present than He ever has. He has intervened in our lives too many times for us to ever deny He is real and that He takes part in the lives of everyone who will allow Him to.

  • Diane Blaylock

    Thank you for putting "hope" in words: they will know we are Christians by our love. This has always been the key, ever since the Roman days. Love always wins!

  • Michael Morejon

    Thank you for writing this. I felt exactly the same way about those people who have left their faith in Christ. I read all three of those articles, about the two singers and the pastor that took a "year off". I too, can't take even a week without Him in my life. It wouldn't even make sense to me! Where can I hide or take a "vacation" from God, when He is everywhere and anywhere. I cannot hide from my Father, nor would I want to either. Like you said Darren, relationship is so much more important than principles, which is why like Pastor Bill Johnson said, we owe the world an experience with God. God bless ya!

  • Sabrina Weneck

    That relationship, that intimacy is critical. He needs to be our obsession. I so desperately want Him to always be my obsession, my point of fixation. Thank you for writing and thank you for saying yes to His prompting to make the films. They serve as constant reminders and constant sources of encouragement to keep going deeper.

    • Sister Marie

      When you are in a relationship, you do not have Obsession. It comes naturally. Please, I don't want you to think that I am putting you down. But, REST..... and feel GOD.

  • Paul Andrulis

    Satan, like a roaring lion, roams to and fro in the earth seeking whom he may devour. People that are weak in faith and are not well grounded in the doctrines taught by the bible are weak in their walk, with little to hold them in place. The problem with Christianity today is ten thousand doctrines, all declared so by men, yet they are doctrines not backed by scripture. They invade every aspect of a believers walk and are evident to everyone that reads their bible. They are extremely evident to non-believers that have read much of the new testament at all, which are more than a few. We need to remember that we are not saved by men, but by Christ. The bible itself has even become an idol for many, with authority given to it that was never imparted by its creator. Authority has been scripturally corrupted, taking it from Christ and his believers and placing it into the hands of a select few in the church. I say this AS a deacon within the body. (Doctrine of the Nicolaitins - see Rev, think "laity". Has to do with power over believers which are unscriptural. We with offices within the body are all servants, supposed to lead by example and not by command.) The spirit moved me many years ago to prove all things and hold fast to that which is true, a command to all believers in 1 Thess. I applied that to all things, including the doctrines I had been spoon fed practically from birth. It opened my eyes how badly scripture has been corrupted, cajoled, contradicted, or even flat-out ignored in preference to the commandments of men. Modern churches tend to be little different in practice with the attitudes of the pharisee and sadducee of yesteryear. How many people here know that in Gal there is a mighty curse placed upon all who would change the original gospel? (Gal 1:6-10) That it itself should open eyes.

  • Steve

    I generally agree with you, Darren, but losing faith because you've never truly found relationship with God is not always the case. I've been a Christian now for eight years, and I began exploring it two years prior to that as an atheist of 14 years. I have a lot of friends who all played parts in kick-starting my relationship with Jesus, but one of the strongest influences--and the guy who started everything for me--was the youth leader of the church I now call my family. He opened my heart to God because he opened his heart to mine. The first thing out of his mouth wasn't "What do you think about God?" or "Are you saved?" It was "What kinda stuff are you into?" "Video games and anime," I said. "Dude, me, too! What do you play?" As time went on, I came to know him personally and came to experience his deep love for God on multiple occasions.As much as he loved God and people, one of his weaknesses was that he seldom confessed his sins to anyone. He had a deeply repentant heart, but he often kept his heartache to himself unless his sin affected someone close to him. Over several years, he has been pursuing a career as a digital artist and Twitch streamer (and his pursuits, in turn, inspired me to try my hand at creating video game Let's Plays for YouTube), but the drive to succeed and the draw of popularity made his life grow darker, more private. He would put on a brave face for his streams, but he would often work himself until 4am on art commissions or new channel upgrades on top of the 6-8 hours that he would stream almost every day. Before, I would be able to hang out with him 1-2 times a month, but that dwindled to once in 2-3 months if I was lucky. As an emerging young adult, I was learning that sometimes people were just busy, but this was different. I usually only got to see him at youth group, which was a suitable compromise for me, where he would pour out his heart to God in worship and in the lesson that he had prepared. However, as time went on, his attendance dwindled to the point where his wife (who was perfectly capable and willing to lead us) had to take the reigns on certain nights, and, eventually, every night. As it turns out, the degree to which his life was getting messed up was catching up with and defeating his repentant heart. This man new that true commitment to Christ means that change needs to occur in the midst of forgiveness and grace, yet by keeping himself from his family he was slipping further away from the light. At the same time, he had been struggling with temptations of lust for a good portion of his life, as most of us--including me--have or still do even in the midst of Jesus' love. As his popularity on Twitch grew, he inevitably gained female fans who decided to flirt with him through online messaging. To my knowledge, he never physically cheated on his wife, but of course this action deeply troubled his repentant heart. I don't know if his wife found out first or if he had the courage to confess to her, but either way she was hurt. Still, she was willing to work with him, and they decided to confess this turmoil to the congregation. You would think that this would be the beginning of a wonderful healing process, but the pain that both of them felt was too much for them. My friend, despite his confession, continued to fall further into his depraved lifestyle. And, to make matters worse, even though the church seemed supportive during the initial confession, I later heard rumors of condemning words and judgment being passed on both of them behind closed doors. This made me furious! Absolutely livid! But I couldn't do anything: not only did I not know from whom the gossip was spreading, but my friend and his wife had had enough at this point. They were bitter toward the church as a whole, and while they still loved specific individuals, like me, they had made up their mind: they were moving. I couldn't convince my friends to keep fighting and rely on God to mend their broken relationships with each other and the church, but their mind was set, and I couldn't mediate for them, either. Not only did my proposition to mediate for them offend them, but I didn't know enough about either side to be effective, anyway. (I was desperate to help, and didn't understand until much later how foolish it was for me to suggest this.) Originally, those two were planning on moving away together to continue their healing privately, but, unsurprisingly, they separated in the end. My friend moved to be with his brother in California (clear across the country, as far away from us as you can get), and his wife (whom I also consider a friend, by the way) moved to be with her parents again, who are in the area, but she stays away from the church. (I believe that she still has faith and possibly goes to another church, but I cannot confirm this for sure. In the last year, I've only seen her once as she happened to come through my line at the store I work at. She must have not known it was me, because she got this awkward look on her face when she saw me and intensely avoided eye contact. If she hadn't already placed her moderately large order on the conveyor belt, she probably would have relocated to another register.) My friend, by no means, is much better off. You may think that running into your family's arms would be a blessing, but this brother is an unbeliever. Now, don't get me wrong: as an atheist of 14 years who hated all things religious, I am not threatened or judgmental of unbelief. In fact, half of my close friends are atheist, and I love them deeply. However, we all know that there's a danger of corruption in this as well. I have come face-to-face with this myself, in the midst of strong love and dedication to Jesus Christ. How much more dangerous, then, is it for a man who is lost and broken, has betrayed his wife, and feels that he is so far from being able to receive the healing grace of God, that he has literally fled across the country in an attempt outrun his shame and guilt, only to enter into the fold of a man who rejects God and will most likely encourage the poor lifestyle choices that led him to his pit of despair in the first place? Now, I personally don't know his brother. I also have been in the atheist mindset long enough to know that people aren't automatically pieces of crap because they don't have Jesus, nor are Christians always making good decisions. Perhaps my friend's brother has been a positive influence in certain areas, but it's reasonable to suspect (again, from personal experience) that there would be a lot of bad stuff as well. In fact, I can confirm this. My friend has chosen to remain distant, but it's clear from his demeanor on Twitch (which he continues to do) that he has "embraced" what was originally tearing him apart. Instead of keeping his stream chat "clean and PG," as he would say, he allows and even participates in sharing crude jokes and profanity. Instead of listening to clean music, he listens to whatever he wants and personally relates more to Eminem than Lecrae or Andy Mineo. His Twitter feed is interspersed with tweets about self-worth, forging your own destiny, and admitting that, when the action of the day stops and he's lying in bed, he weeps and has many restless nights. It is clear that, while the choice to follow this path was ultimately his own, the friends and family that he has surrounded himself with have encouraged this. He goes about acting as if he has found his true self, but it in moments of rest, he finds that he is just as broken as the rest of them. All of this, happening over the course of a few years, starting slow and picking up frightening momentum within the last year. A man who I can personally attest to truly having a strong, loving relationship with God--the man who was the driving force behind me finding Christ myself, the greatest event in my life--being reduced to nothing because of fear. Not lack of understanding or lack of relationship. Because of fear, guilt, and shame that was allowed to fester under Satan's manipulations and temptations until he was able to convince my friend that he was too far gone, despite my--and many other's--pleas to the contrary. The main point of me writing this was to say that I totally agree with your article here, Darren, but I think that you've forgotten that fear and isolation can also lend to individuals forsaking God. And the difference here is that it's very much possible that someone who buckles under the fear actually had a real relationship with God. Still, the point of this was not as a overly-long, snobbish correction. I have no idea if you, or anyone else on this website will read this, but the main point was to just bring it up in case this is truly a new revelation for you, so that you can utilize this knowledge in the future. There's always the possibility that it just didn't fit the article you wanted to write, or you didn't bring it to mind during writing it, or simply that it would have made the article much too long, etc. Speaking of too long, this was originally only supposed to be a few paragraphs, but after coming to the conclusion of writing my own article in the comments section, I realize that the frustration of being unable to reach my dear friend has led me to venting my feelings through writing, which is something that I haven't done in three years. I used to want to be a writer. And an artist. My goal in life after coming to Christ at age 14 was to one day write, illustrate, and publish my own manga that glorifies God--that first and foremost entertains, but secondarily would (hopefully) show my audience the character of Christ. I won't say that won't ever happen, because God's ways are glorious and mysterious, but I haven't seriously touched a pen for either of those passions in years. All of my time is already taken up by school, work, and creating videos for my YouTube channel. Perhaps, at the very least, even if I don't accomplish my childhood dream, I could use my art and writing to vent my frustrations and express myself for my own satisfaction. The one final thing that I want to say is this: for anyone who may make it to the end of this story, please pray for my friend as I have been. I won't ask that you remember him every day when you haven't met him and don't even know his name. God has given us all a heart to consistently pray for certain people, and I am certain that between every Christian that has been given a heart for certain people, the whole world is covered in the loving embrace of the Father. Just a single prayer for my friend before the contents of this story fade from your memory will go a long way. I truly believe this. Other than that, I just hope that this has been a truly entertaining experience. As I have been learning from watch Darren's films, reading this blog, and haphazardly creating art of my own design, one of the most important things that I've learned is that creating an engaging story is the only way to effectively share your message. To that end, I pray that my friend's story has been effectively shared with whoever decides to scroll down the comments section. God bless you, and peace be with you all!

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