Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Are We Practical Apatheists?

Jonathan Rauch is a gay-activist who writes for the National Journal and The Atlantic Monthly, and when asked whether he was religious or not, he was about to say “atheist” when he was struck with the reality that he was an “apatheist.” (Apathy about a God)

“Apatheism—a disinclination to care all that much about one's own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people's—may or may not be something new in the world, but its modern flowering, particularly in ostensibly pious America, is worth getting excited about.”

In an article called “Let It Be” (in the Atlantic Monthly several years ago), Rauch shares his excitement about the modern/post-modern American that has been strongly affected by apatheism. Less people who say they are Christians attend religious worship on a regular basis. They “believe” but there belief does not really make a difference in their lives, and it surely doesn’t make a difference what others believe.

Atheism is a passionate belief in no God, which is much different than apathesim. Apatheists can believe in God or disbelieve in God, but it really doesn’t matter, they are apathetic about it.

“’A world of pragmatic atheists,’ the philosopher Richard Rorty wrote, ‘would be a better, happier world than our present one.’ Perhaps. But best of all would be a world generously leavened with apatheists: people who feel at ease with religion even if they are irreligious; people who may themselves be members of religious communities, but who are neither controlled by godly passions nor concerned about the (nonviolent, noncoercive) religious beliefs of others.” (“Let It Be”)

Rauch and others with his point of view must be thrilled by the lasted survey on "Religious Tolerance" in America. In many ways it is a survey of religious indifferentism. You can read a New York Times article on it here. Christians are to show tolerance towards people of other faiths. This means we should love mormans, atheists and Muslims and not desire to put them in prison or kill them for their beliefs. Tolerance, however, does not mean that we think their beliefs are OK. Salvation is in Jesus Christ alone by faith alone through the power of the Gospel alone. Are we apatheists when we fail to actively pursue relationships with unbelievers and believers of other religions with the purpose of bringing them the TRUE GOSPEL by life and word? I wouldn't confess to be apatheist, but my lack of evangelistic fervor often says otherwise.

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