Giftwrapping God’s Authority


The very-bright, 30-something atheist father of three young church-going children was explaining his revulsion for all things God to his life-long-Christian parents.

In his mind his views have nothing to do with confusion – moral, intellectual, cosmic, or otherwise.  They have everything to do with logic, reason, lack of “God” proof, what he sees as the empty crutch of faith and the hypocrisy of anything called “church.”   To his continually prayerful, loving, patient parents, he offers a distressing, emptily resolute, self-centered and unimaginatively standard litany of non-belief.

Its authority adds up to, “What has God done for me lately?”

The young atheist’s militantly lapsed-Catholic wife doesn’t think too hard about such issues.  They both love their three aforementioned children with all their hearts, and allow the aforementioned Christian grandparents to take the kids to church regularly.  Somehow, it works for everybody, sweetened by the kids’ Saturday night sleepovers with the grandparents.  Reflecting on her father’s conviction of there “not being a God,” the middle daughter said out loud on the ride home from church one Sunday, “Grandma and Grandpa wouldn’t lie to us about Jesus.”

Thank God for little children who see truth by the light of Christ.

Upon hearing this story, it occurred to me that the son neither sees nor appreciates the prayerful love of his parents, nor comprehends the gift God is giving to his children.  To boot, he has the bold manners to belittle and insult his parents’ faith.  Many parents can relate, as can faithful young adults with non-believing parents.

But there is one thing lacking in the son’s appraisal of God, faith, and religion; one thing lacking in his vacant atheism: Authority.  There can be no authority in atheism because atheism is defined by there not being objective, righteous, cosmic, this-is-the-final-answer authority in anything.  The only thing with that kind of authority is God.  So: no God, no authority, no truth.  What’s left are strong personal opinions.

The believing Christian is assured by the authority of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Bible, tradition and the fellowship of all believers, not to mention baptism, prayer, communion, spiritual gifts, faith, hope, love, peace that exceeds understanding, and every breath and moment of life that are great, mysterious, and entirely valid gifts from God Almighty.

In the Bible’s “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19) Jesus directs believers to “make disciples of all nations.”  But for the authority-claiming atheist, there is a “Great Omission” one verse before where Jesus says, “All authority … is given to me.”

Atheism offers functional worldly logic, but the Bible giftwraps God’s authority.

Walters ( embraces mystery, noting that the great fun of Christmas is the mystery of what’s under the tree.