The Question: Can someone be an Atheist and Christian at the same time?
A person who quickly looks at that question and perhaps puts little thought to it would probably answer no. I speak from the concept that today, most people, who use the term atheist hold it as a word that means a person that does not believe in the existence of God. I mean nada, no God. This is the definition that I am applying to the question.
Not too long ago, I remember sitting in a room of mostly educators, many having their doctor degrees in various subjects. After finishing our first topic of discussion, the subject of believing in God came up. Then a request of the showing of hands was made?
“Raise your hands if you are Jewish or a Christian?” (They got everyones permission first) Out of a room of about twenty people, me and two others raised our hands. “Is there anyone else who believes in God?” Other hands came up. All of them knew I was a license and ordained Minister.
The next question was, “How many of you are atheists?” I and several others raised our hands. This nearly put the meeting into turmoil knowing that I was a minister and pastor. People were shocked. The room had to be called to order by the person in charge.
You just raised your hand that you are a Christian, so why did you raise your hand that you are an Atheist?
You see it dawned on me (and this what I told them) during some earlier chatter that I truly no longer believed in the existence of God rather to me His existence was common knowledge. I know Him, so there is no question in my mind of His existence. Just like a couple I know, Ron M. and Cindy M. I know them personally. I dont believe in their existence. I know they exist. Belief, no longer had anything to do with that specific question which relates to the existence of God.
I think of the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. In the New Testament Book of Acts in Chapter Nine, after seeing the bright, blinding light and falling to the ground, he ask the following question, Who are you, Lord? He may have believed in God before, but now he met God and began a personal relationship with Him. I think the Apostle would have laughed at someone today if they ask if him if he believed in God? Paul knew God. It is a personal and relational experience.
In another example of knowing God is seen in I John 2;12-14 The Apostle John address three levels of people who had come to God through Jesus. The first level that came was children or little children and the second level was young men (it could have been young women). The last was fathers and he tells the fathers that he is writing to them because they have known Him who has been from the beginning. He uses the terms know and known. He did not use the term believe in Him. It is also of interest here that he portrays at least three stages of spiritual growth.
Now is belief part of the equation? Yes, but only in the sense that I believe certain things about Him from His Word. Do I see dead people? No! Do I talk to God? Yes, I pray! Do I hear Him? Yes, not always verbally as some people might think of it, but I hear Him and sense His presence around me. So using the a widely used definition of atheist and the term Christian, I guess I am both. More importantly is the fact that I know God through His son Jesus and He knows me. Do you know Him Personally?
Hearing God Verbally: The Time Problem
Believing Sucks: The English Word that Is!
Christian: It Was the Pot I was Smoking