The famous philosopher Antony Flew died a few of days ago. Many Christians applauded when he renounced atheism a few years ago as if this was some sort of accomplishment. This seems a bit strange to me.
Christianity is not about theism/deism; Christianity is about the God revealed through Christ who unites with us by the Holy Spirit. I am not sure why we are so prone to see atheism as worse than general theism. In fact, after Christianity, I prefer atheism. If I was not a Christian I would probably be an agnostic because as Stephen Colbert once said, “An agnostic is just an atheist without balls”. I don’t think I would be bold enough to be a full on atheist.
Maybe it is better to be a theist than an atheist, but I am not sure why. In the end we can (and should) respect Flew for being a brilliant mind. Nevertheless, when somone like Francis Beckett can write, “Flew enabled me to abandon the faith of the priest who educated me”, it does not seem to me that this is anything a Christian should be pleased to hear. I have to agree with James White who wrote the following (quoted by Nick Norelli here):
“I never understood how non-Reformed apologists rejoiced over someone moving from atheism to deism, as if this somehow proved something. It is the “better to be a little closer to the truth” concept—which leaves the person under the wrath of God (since you don’t get salvation by getting closer to the truth, you get salvation by repenting and believing).”
I know the exclusivity of Christ is unpopular today, even amongst Christians. If we are going to compromise this aspect of the gospel it seems to me that we should not stop with deism or agnosticism. We may as well go all the way to including atheist as well. In the end the difference for people like the Apostle Paul was not atheism-theism; it was “in Adam” or “in Christ”. When we are satisfied with someone renouncing atheism while rejecting Christ it is my humble opinion that we have compromised our gospel.