Most people believe the jerseys are either black or white. On the black team are materialistic unbelieving atheists. On the white team are all the “people of faith.” But if you think this way, change the channel. You are watching the wrong game. The real game, going on under our noses, is much more complicated.
Modern day atheists are not all they seem to be.
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, who comes over as a rationalistic materialist, actually said in an interview on BBC radio interview, Dec 9, 2007, (I was awake and heard it!) that he is in favor of mystical spirituality.
Sam Harris, one of the popular atheist du jour, who in his book, The End of Faith excoriates organized religion as dangerous and absurd, also says: “We need a positive statement of…spiritual experience,…[though without] any endorsement of divisive superstitions.”
Phillip Pullman, author of the children’s novel and movie, The Golden Compass, presently seen as the great enemy of the Church, is both a self–styled admirer of atheist Richard Dawkins and a detester of C.S. Lewis. However, according to his screen writer Chris Weitz, Pullman’s work is “very spiritual.”
Things have not changed. 150 years ago, David Friedrich Strauss (1808–1874), the father of rationalistic biblical criticism, who rejected the miracle–working theistic God of the Bible, was nevertheless in constant touch with the occult channeler, Frederica Hauffe, the Seeress of Prevorst. (This became known through private letters.)
Such atheists are in deep communion with certain kinds of “people of faith.” In other words, not all people of faith are on the same team. Elly Row is staying with the Episcopal Church even as her local San Joaquin diocese splits from the national body, a denomination it considers totally compromised. Elly cannot believe this is happening. “We all believe in God and I can’t believe that he would look down on people who aren’t totally alike.” This dear lady has no clue. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, in his address at the consecration in 2003 of the openly homosexual V. Gene Robinson (who now wants a June wedding with his male lover), spoke of a field, beyond good and evil, where we all shall finally meet. His episcopal colleague and spiritual brother, John Shelby Spong, knows that that field spells the end of biblical theism.
It turns out that people of faith are a motley crew. Spiritual Buddhists say that they do not believe in God. Today’s best–selling atheists are very particular atheists. They do not reject the divine spark within all human beings. They reject, with all their creative spark, the God of the Bible. The mystical Dawkins, following what he calls “a normal Anglican upbringing,” objects to the absurd notion of God as Creator and Redeemer. The very spiritual Pullman, also raised an Anglican, in his third novel, finally identifies the real villain: “the Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty, names he gave himself.” Sam Harris who allows for a certain kind of spirituality, was, in his own words, “raised in a Christian fundamentalist home, by parents, who [are convinced] that I’m going to Hell….” and now believes that “mythic–literal fundamentalist religion is quite possibly the single most destabilizing force on the face of the planet.”
In the field beyond good and evil gather all kinds of “people of faith”: spiritual atheists; liberal Christians who believe in natural human religiosity; all the non–Christian pantheistic religions, and all the deeply religious neo–pagans. They all agree that the real villain is the triune transcendent God of biblical revelation. At Winter Break, they meet to celebrate his non–existence and to proclaim the “truth” that humanity is divine. They sing a carol once sung (no kidding!) by an Interfaith choir, “Joy from the World.”
This is why the season is losing its reason for any connection with Christmas. Christmas is the joyful celebration of Emmanuel, “God with us,” who at a specific moment in time comes to save us. At “Winter Break” (as in “Give me a break!”) our culture worships a different kind of God, the “God within us,” so that we can joyfully save and enjoy ourselves.
As you watch the games this Christmas, remember that the composition of the teams is not so obvious. First, there are only two teams. Second, both teams are made up of “people of faith.” Third, the “game” is between those who have faith in themselves as divine beings and saviors, and those who have faith in God, the one who alone is divine and thus alone capable of being our Savior, who made the worlds and comes to our world as the only worthwhile “joy of man’s desiring.”
This Christmas, go figure out which team you’re on.