People often assume that we must determine whether or not God exists before we can raise the question of what this God is like.
In other words, why bother with the question of the nature, attributes, and characteristics of God until and unless we first determine the existence of God?
But this exactly what we must do. The question of the existence of God must be secondary to the question of the nature and attributes of God.
Well, for one reason, how can a person look for God if they don’t know what God looks like? If a person doesn’t know what to look for in God, they cannot very well look for God.
Furthermore, if we begin with the question of the existence of God without first seeking to understand what this God would be like (if he existed), we run the danger of looking for a God who does not actually exist.
And in fact, this is what I think has happened to most atheists.
Many atheists, I believe, have rightly declared their non-belief in a god that truly does not exist.
They have gone looking for a god that does not exist, and, having failed to find him (and how could they?), have declared that god does not exist. Christians take offense to this, and come up with all sorts of arguments for the existence of God, but fail to recognize that they too are arguing (in many cases) for the existence of a god that does not actually exist.
In such cases, it is the atheists who are the true worshipers of the true God, for they have recognized the non-existence of the non-god.
The Christians who seek to defend the existence of the god who is not God are the idolaters, for if they are seeking to call people to believe in a god who is not God, they are calling people to believe in an idol. In such a case, the rejection of this false god by the atheist is an act of pure worship.
Let me get real concrete and specific.
The vast majority of atheists I know today have rejected a god which is believed in by the majority of Christians, namely, a god who hates people of other religion, hates homosexuals, hates democrats, and hates “sinners.” This god of popular Christianity commanded Israel to commit acts of genocide, drowned millions of people in a flood because they sinned too much, and is planning to send the vast majority of the people of this world to an everlasting torment in flames and boiling lava.
Since the God which Jesus revealed to us is nothing like this sort of violent, blood-thirsty, people-torturing god, the atheistic rejection of such a god is an act of true worship of the God revealed in Jesus Christ.
If God is not like what we have been taught, then when we declare, “God does not exist,” we are not denying the God who does truly exist, but the god who is nothing more than a figment of human imagination, philosophical speculation, sociological superstition, and religious wish-fulfillment.
To deny a god who does not exist is to say nothing about the God who does.
When atheists deny a god who does not exist, this is an act of pure worship to the God who does.
A Call for Christian Atheists
So this bring us back to the idea I began with: Before we can discuss whether or not God exists, it might be best to discuss what sort of God we are looking for.
I propose we invite people to look for the God revealed in Jesus Christ, for this is a God who not only exists, but this is a God who can be found.
I believe that if those people who have rightly denied the existence of a god who does not exist were properly introduced to the God who does, they would no longer deny the existence of God.
In my experience, it seems that the vast majority of atheists have not rejected the God revealed in Jesus Christ, but the false god of popular, power-based, political religion.
I reject and deny the existence of that god too … Does that make me a Christian atheist?
So Christians, let us follow our atheist friends in denying the existence of this false god of power, money, bloodshed, and violence, and instead call people to believe in the enemy-loving, all-forgiving God who is found in Jesus Christ dying on the cross.
Only once we present God as what He is like in Jesus Christ can we expect people to “find God” as He truly is, because the God who looks like Jesus is the only God who can be found.