31 August 2009

A "better" God?

I read an interesting article from the Washington Times over my lunch hour today entitled "On Seeking a 'Better' God." The premise of the article, as I read it, was that twenty-somethings today often favor atheism because 1) they don't like the Christian God they see and 2) in many ways, feel morally superior to God because they see Him as vengeful and vindictive.

As I drove back to Eau Claire, thoughts raced through my head. I wondered to myself, "how could anyone adopt such an egregious, heretical view of God, to the point where they feel that they are better than Him?" Below, I fleshed out two possible reasons why I think today's young people adopt this dangerous viewpoint, fully acknowledging that there are likely other contributing problems as well (e.g., moral relativism, poor theological & philosophical education).

First, I believe that young people today do not understand God's holiness. God is utterly and completely without sin; He is perfect. As sinful beings, we could not even stand in His presence. Consider again Isaiah 6:5 "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” This chosen prophet was filled with dread having simply gazed upon perfection--God's holiness. Isaiah did not respond in this way because God was vindictive or because God was morally inferior, he responded because he was, in an instant, tormented with his own utter depravity. Even a whisper of imperfection (i.e., sin) falls far short of God's magnificence, or as Romans 3:23 reads, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." As imperfect beings, we all miss the target and deserve separation from God. This is not malicious or vindictive, this is justice. Furthermore, God fairly applies the same standard to every human.

This leads to my second point. Today's 20-somethings were raised by a generation of parents who were probably more influenced by modern psychology than they were by their church. They grew up in a child-centered culture that promoted self-esteem and well-being. They were regularly fed a diet of "you're OK just the way you are" or "you can do anything you want to do" without any call to discipline and responsibility. They received this message from their parents, their friends, their teachers, and from television. Because they grew up believing that they were something spectacular, to even speak of their sin, much less their depravity, is unthinkable. As they matured became adults, they adopted worldviews that reinforced their sense of excellence and self-importance. When confronted with the God of the Bible, they simply reject Him saying, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, I'm better than God." They then become atheists, without ever pondering what it actually means to come to the conclusion that there is no God.

Unfortunately, by rejecting God out of a sense of their own self worth and God's perceived inferiority, these young people prematurely miss out on God's grace, demonstrated through Jesus's sacrifice. Even when they do learn of Christ's crucifixion, they reject Him as a fool because to accept Him would involve a) admitting that they are not perfect and b) that God is. We don't need to seek a better God, we need to seek a better understanding of our sinfulness and the only way to life--Jesus Christ.

John 1:12-- But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

(To be fair, I later discovered one of these points fleshed out by Skye Jethani, but I decided to proceed with my analysis anyway, but included his for consideration. It is worth the read).

HT: Zach


Donalbain said...

You ask how people can think they are better than your God. Well, for me, it is simple. I have never committed genocide. Therefore, I believe I am morally superiour to someone who has.

Darcyjo said...

Interesting. I've been seeing a lot of commentary on this online this week. I am a non-traditional student at a major university, and I don't get that impression from my fellow students. (admittedly, they're young enough to be my kids) From what I see and hear, most of them have enough "spirituality" that they feel religious, but don't feel much of a need to go any further.
Followed your link from SCL. Nice blog. :o)