A: I don’t know if there are more atheists than there used to be, although it’s possible, since there are more people in the world. But it does seem they are more vocal, and because our society is getting more secular their message often gets more of a hearing.
An atheist is a person who believes that God doesn’t exist (in contrast to an agnostic, who says he doesn’t know whether or not God exists). But look carefully at that definition: An atheist believes God doesn’t exist. He can’t prove it; he can’t verify it; he can’t demonstrate it. He lives only by faith — faith that he is right, and everyone else is wrong.
Often, however, people who claim to be atheists don’t reject God because they’ve examined all the evidence and concluded there is no God. Instead, they reject God for one reason: They don’t want anyone (including God) to interfere with their way of living. Not all atheists are bad or immoral; some live commendable lives. But it’s also no accident that some of the worst atrocities in human history were committed by regimes that were based on atheism. No wonder the Bible says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and their ways are vile” (Psalm 53:1).
Pray for your cousin; only God can convince him of his sin and open his eyes to the truth of Christ. Also, pray that you will be an example to him of Christ’s love and compassion, even if others in your family reject him.
Q: My college friend says every religion has some truth in it, and therefore he’s not going to commit himself to any one religion. As a Christian, I don’t agree with this, but I’m not sure I could tell him why. What should I say to him? — K.P.
A: I’m thankful you’re concerned for your friend, and I hope you will pray for him. He may or may not be seeking God, but God is seeking him, and God wants to use you to point him to Jesus.
My first suggestion is a negative one: Try to avoid getting involved in debates over the good or bad points of various religions. Elsewhere in your letter, you indicate that your friend has made a study of the world’s major religions, and he probably knows much more about them than you do. Therefore, arguing about them probably won’t be helpful.
Instead, urge him to study the life of Jesus Christ as it is found in the Gospels of the New Testament. The reason is because Jesus made a startling claim that sets Him apart from every other religious leader who ever lived: He claimed that He was God in human flesh. He declared, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
Is His claim true? Yes, and He proved it by rising from the dead. You can visit the tombs of other religious leaders — but not that of Christ. He rose from the dead by the power of God, proving for all time that heaven’s door has been opened for us.
Yes, challenge your friend to look at Christ. But may his questions challenge you to live more completely for Christ, and to be an example to others of His compassion and truth.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.