Home > Uncategorized > Functionally Atheist Part 2

Functionally Atheist Part 2

This is just a quick follow-up to my February 1 post, “Functionally Atheist.”   Despite what Christians profess to believe, most live their daily lives as if God is not present, and they really don’t expect him to show up.  A prime example can be found in attitudes towards stewardship.

Most denominations lift up tithing–the practice of giving ten percent of one’s income to the church–as the benevolence goal that Christians should strive for. (Deuteronomy 14:22 is a key passage supporting this concept, but there are others.)  I can’t tell you how many times I have had heard the stewardship campaign testimony of somebody who claimed that when they made a generous gift to the church God poured out all kinds of blessings in their lives–material and otherwise. The idea is do your part, give to God, and God will guarantee a return on the investment. Most church fund-raising drives work on some variation of this theme.  In reality no major denomination that I am aware of even comes close to achieving the ten percent goal.   The typical mainline Protestant member will give around 1.5% of his/her income to the work of the church.  Roman Catholics do worse–less than 1%.  Evangelicals do slightly better than mainline Protestants.  Mormons do best of all.  They are more rigorous than others in enforcing the tithe, but even they only achieve 5.5% on average.  (For a Mormon to earn the exalted status of receiving a “temple recommend”  they absolutely must demonstrate that they have given ten percent.  How can the church authorities prove that?   They check tax returns, of course.  But the majority of Mormons do not earn a temple recommend and that’s why the giving average for the whole denomination is much lower than ten percent.)

If Christians really believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation and that everybody who does not become a Christian is destined for an eternity separated from God, then you would think no task on earth could possibly be more urgent than the church’s work of evangelism.   If the eternal salvation of every soul on earth were really at stake, then a Christian would spare no expense to achieve the salvation of as many souls as possible.   An old missionary hymn still sung frequently in Protestant congregations urges:  “Give of your own, to bear the message glorious,/  Give of your wealth, to speed them on their way.”

Clearly most Christians do not believe this to be true in any way, shape or form.  Despite what they may claim to believe, they simply do not order their financial priorities as if the eternal destiny of billions of souls were on the line.  Why?–because deep down they don’t buy any of it.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Cindy
    March 4, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I am a former believer who only recently left the faith. I was heavy-duty — pillar of the church, Sunday School teacher, youth worker, etc. None of it ever made sense to me but I kept assuming I just wasn’t ‘faithful’ enough. I recently found your blog and find it amazingly refreshing. I know you are working to get out of the ministry but I want to thank you for your insights. Yours, along with other blogs, are helping me along as I figure out how I managed to not use my own brain for 50+ years. Thank you.

  2. kt
    March 4, 2012 at 5:39 am

    To paganpreacher, very accurate observation on one aspect but what you cannot see and cannot calculate is not everyone that is affiliated with a denomination are really Christians and not everybody who says their a Christian really belongs to God. My question to you would be did you ever the Jesus story of how He died on the cross for your sins and that if you confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth and believed in your heart that he died and has risen that you will be saved?…. Well if you have heard that then you have received the offer. And the person giving it to you did not charge you or was not paid to tell you, the Gospel itself is free to us. So how much money the church receives or does not receives is by no means an indication of how much work of evangelism the church does or is doing.

  3. Slavador
    March 10, 2012 at 7:41 am

    As a Byzantine Catholic for my 46 years I know of no 10% rule. When a sola scriptorum lunatic (we have a few protestant refuges) has asked our Bishops about biblical prescriptions on percentages we always receive the same answer. “Give what you can for the needs you perceive”. SInce the Christian in the Church is not asked for a percent of his income, calling him faithless due to low contributions is not reasonable!

    One thing you totally miss in your little essays is the true reason (IMHO) most peaople believe. Personal experiences with the unexplainable rather than wishfull thinking is what brings this practicing scientist to Church. Those in the skeptical community do not except any sort of testimony on events they cannot reproduce. I am not convinced why God would give the apostates such control over him. Collections of exposes by angry folks like James Randi on charlatans like Peter Popoff and Uri Geller are provided to discredit any statements. Somehow because Uri Geller lied on TV about bending spoons, all amazing personal experiences must also be fraud! Perceived spiritual experiences lead people to church and from my experiences the Church is a conduit that connects us to the source of these things.

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