Remember when our jaws used to drop when we heard of pastors who didn't believe in the virgin birth, or that Jonah actually spent three days in the belly of a fish, or that Jesus raised someone from the dead? If you still have another jaw to drop these days, and it would be understandable if you didn't, listen to this report via Al Mohler's blog this morning:
A news report from the Netherlands points to a form of theological insanity that is spreading far beyond the Dutch. Ecumenical News International reports that church authorities in the Netherlands have decided not to take action against a Dutch pastor who openly declares himself to be an atheist.
The pastor, Klaas Hendrikse, serves a congregation of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. In 2007 he published a book described as a "manifesto of an atheist pastor." In the book Hendrikse argues for the non-existence of God, but he insists that he does believe in God as a concept.
I'll bet you didn't know that this is becoming pretty fashionable in mainstream churches. God as a "concept" and not as the living, omnipotent Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of mankind may still be whispered in much of this country, but it won't be long before the pews your children occupy on Sunday morning will face men (and women, heaven forbid) who have lost all shame and all pretense of belief. They, too, will proclaim:
"The non-existence of God is for me not an obstacle but a precondition to believing in God. I am an atheist believer," Hendrikse writes in the book. "God is for me not a being but a word for what can happen between people. Someone says to you, for example, 'I will not abandon you', and then makes those words come true. It would be perfectly alright to call that [relationship] God."
While this kind of theological language may be shocking, it is not all that uncommon. For years, many theologians have been moving away from realist conceptions of theology to various forms of non-realism. In classical terms, anti-realist theologians can actually be atheists, for they do not believe that God actually or necessarily exists. They do, however, find "God" to be a useful concept.
He's not necessary but perhaps "useful." For a while. Soon, perhaps, not even that.
Go read Mohler's description of the slide:
Labels: Theater of the Absurd