There has been a rise of atheist thinking among the intelligentsia in Africa in the recent years. This of course is nothing new in Zambia as there was a similar rise in the 70s and 80s among the university communities as young people bought into the Marxist beliefs of communism. One trait this group of people has is a scornful attitude towards Christianity and Christians. With the easy flow of information on various platforms, the new breed of atheists has gained a daring boldness in their talk and mockery of Christian beliefs. What has contributed to the rise of this thinking?
- Frustration with legalistic Christianity
Traditional Christianity has often wrongly assumed holiness equals adherence to rules and regulations. This kind of Christianity (traditional, legalistic) is often a reaction to the trendy Christianity that is basically worldly and simply seeks to indulge in one’s fleshly desires in the name of liberty and staying current. Both are wrong, unbiblical and not Christian at all. But a lot of young people who have grown up in strict, legalistic and often hypocritical Christian homes have grown disillusioned and frustrated with a suffocating religion. They have been fed and taught a misrepresentation of Scripture, and they have seen that it does not work since the people who often preach mere rules and regulations are often living double standards (i.e. a strict father who is respected at church and yet he is a womanizer and harsh to his wife and children). These young people have grown weary of being forced to conform.
- The rejection of authority
People do not like authority unless they are the authority. The biggest problem atheists have with Christianity is that it teaches the absolute authority of God over everything and that does not sit well with them. It is no wonder that in the recent years any institution that has an order of authority has come under severe attack. People have attacked headship, roles and commitment in marriage, submission to a local church and its leaders through membership, and now even governments are under attack, and there has been a rise in protests and the forceful removal of leaders around the world. Anything with authority is viewed as an enemy, and God has been public enemy number one! These guys cannot stand the fact that God is sovereign and will hold them accountable for their lives.
- Senseless versions of Christianity
Yes, I am talking about the word of faith movement and their health and wealth gospel: their preoccupation with miracles and sign gifts; their belief in superstition to explain away suffering and people’s genuine struggles; their ridiculous mantras and illogical talks; their despicable and immoral acts including undressing and abusing women; their preying on the poor; their promoting laziness and blaming the devil for people’s sinfulness. The list is endless, but this kind of senseless Christianity which is predominant in Africa has caused many to look down on Christianity and assume we are a bunch of illogical fanatics that throw away our senses when we gather together. If this was the truth about Christianity, even I would be an atheist. Suffice to say there are versions of Christianity that have bordered on the ridiculous and have made those with an informed mind think that religion is nonsensical.
- Absence of a clear and logical presentation of Christian beliefs
The old saying is true: while truth is lacing up its shoes, error has traveled around the world. The young budding atheists have been putting up arguments to discredit Christianity; the only problem is they have not properly understood biblical Christianity, so they are often discrediting their own version of Christianity or a misrepresentation of Christianity. This is largely due to the fact that there seems to be a lack of clear and logical presentations of the Christian beliefs by those of us who actually know the truth. Dear Christian, heed Peter’s charge to give a defense of the hope that lies within you (1 Peter 3:15). If people are going to deny and reject Christianity, it should be because they have fully understood what Christianity actually is.
With all that said, it is important to realize that people reject the truth because they have chosen to. Unbelief is man’s biggest problem and no amount of eloquent argumentation can transform a soul. We need to remember that salvation is a divine work and the proclamation of gospel truth must be accompanied by great striving in prayer. It is said that before the death of actor W. C. Fields who was an atheist, a friend visited his hospital room and was surprised to find him thumbing through a Bible. Asked what he was doing with a Bible, Fields replied, “I’m looking for loopholes.”
We need to faithfully, accurately and clearly declare the gospel of Christ, and yes, we need to make a defense of our faith regularly to all who ask the reason for our faith. These young people are asking for a reason; oh for the sake of Christ’s name, dear Christian, let’s give a defense for our faith with gentleness. Preach, teach, write and engage in discussions to proclaim the Truth!