Many Christians appear to hold to the mistaken belief that atheism is a cheap cop-out. Atheists are often viewed as cowards who don’t really believe what they say they believe; it’s merely a position that’s adopted for the sake of being allowed to live a life freed from any moral authority, it’s assumed.
“There is really no such thing as an atheist,” has smugly crossed the lips of more than few of my conversation partners over the years. That accusation was even thrown in my face several times by Christians when I was an atheist. Trust me, that doesn’t encourage atheists to listen to whatever else is said by the Believer, including any gospel presentation that might follow.
By God’s grace, though, I am no longer an atheist, having repented of my sins and placed my faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ over 15 years ago. Because of my past and present (and glorious future), I am frequently asked by those who are praying for atheist friends and family members, “What caused you to stop being an atheist?”
That’s a legitimate question derived from a worthy concern, and it deserves serious consideration. What does cause an atheist to break free from atheism?
The Sunday school (and correct) answer, of course, is the work of the Holy Spirit. All sinners who have ever turned in faith to Jesus have done so because the Spirit has replaced their heart of stone with a heart of flesh; they have been given new life in Christ. But, as true and reassuring as that answer is, that’s not the answer that people who are concerned for their atheist friends and family members want. They are looking for practical things they should be saying and doing as they share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the unbelievers in their life.
Unfortunately, that’s not really a question that can be easily answered with a series of objective truths that are practical in their implementation. My experience of renouncing atheism and turning to Christ is unique, as are the experiences of other atheists. Much of what the Holy Spirit used in my heart is neither repeatable nor advisable, like the time a fortune teller in New Orleans unknowingly took part in the destruction of my atheist worldview.
As a committed skeptic of all things supernatural, I entered the dimly lit parlor that reeked of incense solely to appease my ex who was Wiccan. She had offered to pay for it, after all. To keep her happy, all I had to do was sit there and keep my mocking thoughts to myself.
Settling into the hard chair as the lady turned my hands over, palms up, I knew how the “con” of fortune telling worked. When the fortune teller began by predicting that she could see great artistic success in my future, I knew that was simply a product of having working eyeballs in her head. Anybody with half a brain could’ve realized that I was in the arts in some shape or form by how I presented myself. Except, as she continued, moving past the expected “well, duh” observational based predictions, the fortune teller began to reveal very specific information about my past and present. Information that there would have been no way for her to know unless someone had told her. I hadn’t filled out an information card prior to pushing aside the hanging beads and stepping into the room. No assistant had asked me questions about myself before I sat down. To this day, I don’t know if she was just a good guesser or something demonic was at work. Regardless, I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit used that fortune teller’s insights and words to help shake me loose from my purely materialistic outlook on the world.
However, I would never encourage anyone to take an atheist to a fortune teller. In fact, I would strongly advise against it.
The most valuable words of wisdom I can offer those concerned with the eternal state of an atheist is to be faithful in lovingly sharing the gospel and to pray and then pray some more. And don’t be afraid to say something as simple as “God loves you.” There is no way of knowing how the Holy Spirit is working in your atheist friend or family member’s heart; you have no idea what other things are being used as weapons to break his or her heart of stone. Even a brief word can be used by the Holy Spirit in ways that you could never predict. That’s what happened to me.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Ellis