Monday Morning Apologetics: Answering an Atheist Accusation on Love

July 30, 2012 jamestuckerjr 8 Comments

The Accusation

Spend some time on the internet and you might run across an image like the one above.  They come in a wide variety, but the M.O. is the same: a photograph overlaid with text that oversimplifies or mischaracterizes theism with a special focus on Christianity.  The idea is that a believer might come across the image, begin to think about the premise it puts forth, and eventually side with the atheists and “evolve” to a point where he leaves his faith behind.

In his first epistle St. Peter tells us Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence (1Pt 3:15.)  As Christians we have the responsibility to answer accusations against the faith and offer a true account of the Gospel.  There will still be those who reject us as Christ was rejected.  He taught us as much saying: Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also (Jn 15:20.)  But we should at least give them the opportunity of rejecting the actual Christ rather than one imagined.

How, then, might we answer this image?

God loves us. God wants us to love Him as well and offers us the means to do so.  The Catechism says of Hell, To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice (1033.)  God, then, does not “punish” us for choosing to not love Him, but simply allows us the choice.  The pain of being without God comes from the emptiness that one has chosen, not from an action of that God.  Hell is not God influencing a soul, but rather God allowing that soul to experience the choice it made: a tuning away from God to a point of a complete lack of His presence.

The Christian believes God is Love (1Jn 4:8 & 16)  and that greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13.) God’s nature, then, is to be self sacrificing.  If we are willing to be self-sacrificing as well we can come closer to God, to experience His essence. Our goal as Christians is to move away from Hell, to move away from the absence of God into a complete embracing of His essence and presence. To love God, we make of our lives a sacrifice for God and neighbor. It is in giving of ourselves that we receive Him, the only being that can fulfill our deepest longing.

The image alleges that God is abusing mankind by not bringing all into Heaven.  I would ask the atheist, if God were to bring men and women unwillingly into His house would that not be abuse?  If those with free will have chosen that they do not want to be with God, how would it be loving of God to force it?  God sends an invitation to all, but he kidnaps none.

 

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8 Comments → “Monday Morning Apologetics: Answering an Atheist Accusation on Love”

  1. Hom 1 year ago   Reply

    >I would ask the atheist, if God were to bring men and women unwillingly into His house would that not be abuse?

    If God were to send people unwillingly into a land of fiery brimstone and gnashing of teeth, is that a lesser form of abuse than bringing them into his home? Why is hell the default option?

    • jamestuckerjr 1 year ago   Reply

      The description of Hell as fiery is an analogy for the pain. The pain of the soul in Hell comes from a complete seperation from God. The person that in life has decided that he does not want a union with God is granted his wish. God allows the soul to enter Hell and experience its desire of being removed from God.

      • Hom 1 year ago   Reply

        So why not allow people to repent after their earthly life when they realize they were wrong? There are countless reasons to believe and not believe, so why would a loving God cast them aside for all eternity when they only had 80 years on earth to decide?

        Yes, there would be arrogant people in Hell who would never admit they made a mistake, but wouldn’t a loving God accept those people who admitted they chose wrong for whatever reason? How is letting them suffer with no repentance better than taking them in after they feel the pain?

        • jamestuckerjr 1 year ago   Reply

          The Catholic Church teaches that God gives all persons the grace necessary to achieve salvation within those years. Why would God need to add extra time to that?

          Are you familiar with the Catholic teaching on Purgatory? Purgatory is a”third place/state” that is temporary. Those who have not rejected Christ completely, but are not pure enough for Heaven experience a Hell-like absence of God as a purifying time, like the chance for repentance that you mention.

          • Burneyca 1 year ago  

            The Catholic Church teaches that God gives all persons the grace necessary to achieve salvation within those years. Why would God need to add extra time to that?

            How does a child who dies before the age of, say five, have the time to achieve salvation? What about a child who lost his parents in a wartorn african nation and then became a child soldier himself?

          • jamestuckerjr 1 year ago  

            God takes into account all circumstances; so any situation that we might think up, God has His answer. Salvation comes from God, it is not a formula. So when you ask about the time to achieve slavation, I would answer that time is not a factor. When I wrote achieve, I did not mean to imply that it is based on merit, so perhaps I should use a better word like granted. So God may very well grant salvation to any He please; we are bound by revelation but God is not.

            As far as children before the age of reason go, we do not know. Some theorize they are taken straight to Heaven while others think there is a Limbo where they experience a natural happiness that is not the fulness of Heaven. I lean towards the more merciful theory, but the Church has not not made a dogmatic pronunciation.

  2. Totally not an Atheist 1 year ago   Reply

    How would you answer protestants on the other side of the argument who accuse the Catholic church of ignoring God’s love and caring only about rituals and money?

    • jamestuckerjr 1 year ago   Reply

      That question could warrant its own MMA post, but to be brief I would answer with the lives of the saints and Church documents on those matters.

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