Luke 4:18 “God the Father has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted. To preach deliverance to the captives, and to free those who are oppressed.”
Over 20 years ago, Tom Bisset published his book ‘Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith’, where he listed the top four reasons: “1) They had troubling, unanswered questions about the faith; 2) Their faith was not “working” for them; 3) They allowed other things to take priority; 4) They never personally owned their faith.” All these reasons are alive and well today in our young people, especially in many atheists I know.
But are these reasons valid? Questions 2-4 are not valid reasons, since following Jesus Christ isn’t about making Him ‘work’ in your life, nor is your personal relationship with Christ ever going to work if you don’t own it by making it a priority (just as claiming to love someone doesn’t cause you to realign your priorities).
That leaves reason number 1. For the next few weeks, I will address several of the most common questions from atheists that, because they claim are unanswerable, have caused them to reject the God of the Bible. The first question I often get, for why atheists reject the God of the Bible, rarely points to the character of Jesus Christ. Instead, they point to what they claim is the abusive character of God the Father.
This questioning of God came at me in a post from an atheist who quoted the latest defender of godlessness, Jamie Lee Finch, a self-proclaimed ‘sex witch’ who abandoned her Christian faith in favor of living a self-centered life that she claims freed her from the shackles of a God who demanded obedience in order for her to feel loved. Here’s the quote from Finch’s book ‘You are Your Own’.
“So often for those raised within evangelical environments, any single moment of perceived failure, any mistake, any step outside the previously established lines can paralyze with life-altering fear, anxiety, shame, and dread, because the trauma of early teaching is essentially playing on a loop within us.
Our brains developed in a state of restriction, hesitation, and lack, rather than a state of permission, wholeness, and freedom. This is why any misstep threatens identity, threatens worthiness, and threatens belonging. Because of being raised on such thin ice in relation to our human nature and the whims of an abusive deity that Jesus had to come and pacify and prevent from torturing and abusing us forever.
When raised to believe that left to our own devices we deserve to be punished and tortured forever, worthiness, belonging, and safety are entirely conditional. Our comfortability with our own identity is conditional. Pleasure becomes dangerous. Pain becomes discipline. And discipline masquerades as love.”
In these short paragraphs, Finch claims: 1) the abusive deity of Christian teaching is responsible for her brain developing away from feelings of freedom and wholeness toward restriction and lack; 2) and because of this, she lived everyday on ‘thin ice’ that separated her desire to follow her human nature versus the ‘whims’ (which means ‘sudden unexplainable changes of mind or mood swings) of an abusive deity, which finally led to 3) this abusive deity forcing His only Son, Jesus Christ, to come and pacify His whimsical character so He would be prevented from torturing and abusing her forever.
My response was simple: “I don’t know what kind of perversion of Christianity you must have been raised in, but it wasn’t based on the clear message of Jesus Christ: ‘The Father has sent Me to heal the broken hearted.’ (Luke 4:18). ‘Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.’ (John 8:32).”
Our verse for this week, from Luke’s gospel, was spoken by Jesus Himself. He read from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, which is a prophecy of God the Father’s promise that He would send a Savior to mankind who would free anyone with a broken heart from the pain that sin has wreaked in their lives.
And even more, this Savior, sent not by an abusive deity but by a loving, merciful Father, would deliver anyone, even Jamie Lee Finch, from their captivity of their sin. Jesus ended His speech by saying “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21).
In other words, God the Father’s promise is fulfilled in Jesus. He physically came in 32AD, and He is alive today, and He is the gift from a loving Father who esteems you to be of such immense worth to Him that He has personally acted to provide the way for you to reciprocate that love He has for you back to Him. This isn’t child abuse. This is amazing grace from a loving Father.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #367