I recently had a very civil online conversation with a fellow who describes himself as a quasi-atheist. I could say that many of my online conversations with atheists have been less than civil but would quickly have to add that many of my online conversations with believers have also been non-civil. It’s apparently a human thing. Anyway – among other things, this fellow sees himself as ‘not a sinner’ because he feels that ‘sin’ requires an offense against a divine law and he cannot see why he should trust that the Bible (or any other holy book) contains an actual law communicated from God. From his point of view I think breaking human laws would qualify one to be a ‘criminal’ rather than a ‘sinner’. I understand this point – Jesus was convicted as a criminal but the Bible says and I believe – was not a sinner. I spoke to him of how the Bible describes the law of God written in our very being and so the man who knows right and wrong and does wrong is convicted by his own conscience as a sinner quite apart from his status as a criminal/non-criminal. I allowed that some call this ‘natural law’ rather than ‘divine law’ but it seems to me that the universal nature of basic moral precepts can’t be fit into a godless universe. He replied that, to the contrary, there are far too many disagreements and divisions to believe in a universal divine law as part of our creation. He cited disagreements among believers on matters like Sabbath observance and dietary matters (eat pork or not eat pork as a religious issue.)
While I understand what he is saying I think he’s missing a few key points.
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church