“Believing in God, but living as if He doesn’t exist.” It’s quite the punch for a subtitle. This small phrase perfectly sums up Craig Groeschel’s latest book entitled The Christian Atheist. Goeschel reexamines the age-old tension between what we know and how we respond and act as believers of Jesus. Taking from his own story, Groschel explicates in his book that he had once lived as the quintessential Christian Atheist. “At the age of twenty-give,” writes Groeschel, “I was a full-time pastor and a part-time follower of Christ” (26). Groeschel identifies his journey into Christian Atheism vividly: “My mission had become a job. Instead of studying God’s Word out personal devotion, I studied only to preach. Instead of preaching messages to bring glory to God, I preached to bring people to church” (26).
Here are some notable quotes from The Christian Athiest:
- “Some of us try to earn God’s acceptance without truly knowing his heart” (36).
- “What do you call God? The way you address him or refer to him just might reveal the depth of your intimacy. Or lack of it” (40).
- “Has God transformed you? Are you different because of him? If not, perhaps you’re a Christian Athiest” (43).
- “…we are not our sins. And we’re also not what others have done to us. Rather, we are who God says we are: his children” (52).
- “Move the focus from yourself onto God. That’s the beginning of making prayer fresh and exciting. Even fun” (78).
- “Prayer reminds you that you’re not in control and keeps you close to the one who is” (80).
- “Jesus never criticized prayers that were honest, only those that were long and showy” (81).
- “The root of bitterness grows in the soil of hurt that has not been dealt with proprerly” (115).
- “The longer I allowed the root of bitterness to live, the harder it was to kill” (116).
- “If you’re not dead, you’re not done. God still has something important for you to do” (137).
- “If we are worried about losing our jobs, we are essentially saying that our jobs are our providers” (149).
- “Our actions confirm that a disturbing number of us truly believe this equation: better possessions + peaceful circumstances + thrilling experiences + the right relationships + the perfect appearance = happiness” (169).
- “The challenge is that many believe heaven is the default destination when, in fact, the opposite is true” (202).
- “The problem with thinking ‘we go to church’ is that it gives us a consumer mindset…” (220).
- “God created me in his image. I returned the favor and created him in mine. The kind of God I wanted to believe in was this: if he’s not what I want, then he can’t have my whole life” (234).
Altogether, the book was a simple and fast read. The book was refreshing and challenging at bits. The toughest part of the book for me was actually Groeschel’s main point. After a while, the lines delineated between a Christian and a “Christian Atheist” seemed blurred. I know it was outside the scope of the book to make a salvation claim (i.e. whether a Christian Atheist was actually saved); however, I felt something needed to be said early in the book about the difference be a Christian Atheist and a Christian who is confronting a sin struggle.
Read if you’ve consistently struggled to understand what it looks like to truly follow Jesus and call yourself a believer.