Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sermon Notes: Functional Atheism -- not atheism proper -- is what Psalm 53 is all about

The sermon's text Psalm 53:1-6 (NRSV).
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
 They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts;
 there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven on humankind
 to see if there are any who are wise,
 who seek after God.

They have all fallen away, they are all alike perverse;
 there is no one who does good,
 no, not one.

Have they no knowledge, those evildoers,
 who eat up my people as they eat bread,
 and do not call upon God?

There they shall be in great terror,
 in terror such as has not been.
 For God will scatter the bones of the ungodly; they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them.

O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
 When God restores the fortunes of his people,
 Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
  • This text is not about atheism proper i.e. what Richard Dawkins spends time thinking about and what Christian apologists think about refuting; rather, it is about functional atheism.
  • Functional atheism says "omniscience [God] does not see sin."
  • Every sin presupposes a functional atheism.
  • Paul quotes Psalm 53 in his indictment of the whole human race. Paul's point was that Jews and Gentiles are estranged from God.
  • "Not the village atheist, and not the village priest" does good (Psalm 53:1).
  • Functional atheists end up hating the people of God (Psalm 53:4). 
  • "Atheists devour ex-atheists," that is, atheists in the functional sense, which would include atheists proper.
  • Atheists proper are very tiny in proportion to functional atheists.
  • Living in sin is living with functional atheism.
  • Sins happens in the presence of God.
  • Sin is always personal with God.
  • The atheist -- the unrepentant sinner -- would kill God if he could. The incarnation, when God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, made that possible.
  • This [our murder of him] revealed our nature, and it revealed God's loving nature.
  • "Salvation Grace is shaped like God." 
  • Yes, there should be a difference in the lives of believers and non-believers, functional atheists and functional believers, but the difference is in knowing what God is like.
  • We should confess our sins because we messed up our relationship God -- not because we messed up our slate of good deeds that we wanted to perfectly present to God on the Day of Judgment.

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