Romans 1 and Atheism

Yes they actually do hate God:

Having just penned another piece on the war against God, I of course got the usual angry atheists writing in with their fists flying. They hate it when you dare challenge their derelict worldview. And they always go on about how they do not really hate God. Yeah right.

Of course they hate God. Their entire life screams out this hatred. And it is no wonder: when they are told that they are NOT the centre of the universe, but only the one real and living God is, that incenses them. That outrages them. Atheists hate it when you point out the truth that there can be only one true God. And the reasons are obvious:

They want to be king, not subject.
They want to rule, not be ruled.
They want to give orders, not take orders.
They want to call the shots, not be told what to do.
They want to determine what is true and false, not God.
They want to determine what is right and wrong, not God.
They want to be independent, not dependent.
They want to do their own will, not God’s will.
They want to live like the devil, not God.
They want to rule in hell, not serve in heaven.

Scripture of course often speaks about atheists. Twice in the Psalter for example they are called “fools” because they refuse to recognise God (Ps. 14:1 and 53:1). Rejecting their creator – and judge – is the height of foolishness. And this is a deliberate, defiant rejection of God. D. A. Carson, commenting on Psalm 14:1, puts it this way:

The word rendered ‘fool’ is in Hebrew a term of moral opprobrium suggesting perversity, churlish and aggressive perversity. . . . The Bible’s view is that in the last analysis atheism is less the product of misguided searching, a kind of intellectual mistake, than a defiant and stubborn rebellion. . . . The fact that atheism is not widely seen that way is itself an index of our depravity. In fact, the best-informed atheists commonly acknowledge the connection between morality and belief, between immorality and unbelief. There is a famous passage in Huxley that acknowledges that one of the driving forces behind atheistic naturalism is the desire to tear away any sort of moral condemnation of otherwise condemned behavior. In a passage scarcely less famous, Michael Foucault, one of the theoreticians behind postmodernism, frankly acknowledges that it became important for him to destroy traditional notions of truth and morality, because he wished to justify his own sexual conduct. A few years ago, Foucault died of AIDS.

But the classic text on the atheist mindset and value system is found in Romans 1:18-32. It reads:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

There you have it. And verse 30 actually says the very thing I have been talking about: these people are “haters of God”. They know God exists, they know they have moral obligations to recognise this reality and live accordingly, but they refuse to – that is why they hate him so much. They are guilty and they know it.

Atheists do not spend all their time and energy hating on and railing against flying spaghetti monsters for the simple reason that they know there are no such things. But they DO know that God exists, and they hate him for it. If God exists, then they cannot be god.

Or as Ray Comfort put it: “Atheists don’t hate fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns because they don’t exist. It is impossible to hate something that doesn’t exist. Atheists — like the painting experts hated the painter — hate God because He does exist.”

And they refuse to bend the knee. But of course one day every knee will bend. Everyone will bow one day. We either do so willingly and in love and gratitude now, or we will do it against our will at the final judgment. The choice is ours. But let me finish with a few more quotes specifically on the Romans 1 passage. R. C. Sproul wrote:

I was invited to a university campus several years ago to speak to an atheists’ club. They asked me to present the intellectual case for the existence of God. I did, and as I went through the arguments for the existence of God, I kept things on an intellectual plane. All things were safe and comfortable until I got to the end of my lecture. At that point I said, “I’m giving you arguments for the existence of God, but I feel like I’m carrying coals to Newcastle because I have to tell you that I do not have to prove to you that God exists, because I think you already know it. Your problem is not that you do not know that God exists; your problem is that you despise the God whom you know exists. Your problem is not intellectual; it is moral—you hate God.”

Image of Romans: An Expositional Commentary
Romans: An Expositional Commentary by Sproul, R.C. (Author) Amazon logo

And James Montgomery Boice said this:

There are three failures in all. . . . First, we have suppressed the truth about God, being unwilling to come to God to whom the revelation in nature leads. Second, we have refused to glorify (or worship) God. This is in spite of our genuine knowledge of him. Third, we have forgotten to be thankful. To know God is to know ourselves as his creatures and thus to know that all we have and enjoy is from him. Yet, because we willingly block the knowledge of God from our minds, we thus obviously also refuse to glorify God as God and are ungrateful….

 

We reject the things God has revealed because we do not like the God to which the truth about God leads us. We do not like him for his sovereignty; God’s sovereignty negates our autonomy. We do not like him for his holiness; God’s holiness opposes and condemns our sin. We do not like him for his omniscience, as his omniscience terrifies us because we fear exposure. We do not like God for his immutability, because immutability means that God will never be other than he is in all his other attributes. We cannot stand these truths. So, we repress them, denying their existence. It is obvious that if we do this, we are not going to praise God for these same characteristics.

Of course the opening chapters of Romans lay out the necessary bad news, in order to help bring in the necessary good news, found in the rest of the epistle. As Sproul states: “Every human being knows of God and clearly perceives God but rejects that knowledge. For that, every person is exposed to the wrath of God. The only possible way someone can be rescued from that wrath is through the Savior. Paul is setting the foundation for the urgency of the gospel.”

And that good news is available to all who will receive it. To tie in what was said about atheists really having a moral problem, not an intellectual one, let me conclude with a well-known passage spoken by Jesus. But I present it here in its full and proper context (John 3:16-21):

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

[1663 words]

12 Replies to “Romans 1 and Atheism”

  1. Excellent article once again. It always goes back to the Garden. Man wants to be like God and in our society we want to replace God with self. Is it any wonder then that man believes he can control the climate, determine one’s sex and morality? Claiming to be wise, they expose their foolishness. Is there any greater foolishness than believing men can get pregnant, rejoicing in the surgical mutilation of children, rejoicing in the depravity of pride or that man has the power to control the climate?

  2. I’ve been reading your writing for roughly a year now, and I want to tell you how much I have enjoyed it.

    Actually I typically order books from Amazon that you reference. A lazy man’s vetter 🙂

    I discovered you through Michael Browns article on the Christian post when you were banned from Facebook. If it hadn’t been for that I would never have found you.

    The banning was happy luck for me, I bet for others as well.

    Thanks a ton

  3. Of course, most self professed atheists are really ‘anti-theist’. I heard of one genuine atheist and he said that for most of his life God was just irrelevant. He did not hate God or love God. For him, God just did not exist. Thankfully he finally turned to God.

  4. Great word, Bill! As always. Never stop, brother. Keep writing, keep speaking, keep teaching whether people hear or whether they don’t. You have been gifted with both discernment and the ability to make things plain. I have always enjoyed reading your articles over the years. You may not be popular in some circles but God didn’t call any of us to be popular! He called us to be faithful to His Word. No matter what the enemy tells you, you are making a difference and one day God will reward you richly.

  5. On the same subject, here is a pertinent CS Lewis quote

    “I was at this time living, like so many Atheists or Anti-theists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.”
    CS Lewis: Surprised by Joy. (1955; p. 115)

  6. Benjamin Smith, Bill Muehlenberg was also cancelled / deplatformed by Wikipedia, back in 2007, because Wikipedia in its wisdom said Bill was ‘Not Notable’.

    The WebArchive remembers this cancelling:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20111215172541/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Muehlenberg

    Facebook has also cancelled Bill Muehlenberg. Bill wrote at the time:

    “I am now persona non grata in the eyes of Facebook”
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2021/05/27/erased/

    ———–

    Bill. I would take all that, both as an acknowledgement and a complement, as to what you are achieving.

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