Some folks might find it strange that an A-Theist even bothers to go to church where there is a great deal of talk about an UpThere God who isn’t UpThere—as far as he’s concerned. Wouldn’t it be easier just to stay home and do something more interesting? It seems so hypocritical to waste time hearing about God, Jesus, the Trinity, and all that other dogma and doctrine when you don’t believe any of it.
As many of you know, I call myself an A-Theist, but I still go to church every Sunday. There are myriad reasons why I go, but first let me clarify what I mean by hyphenating this word. In my mind, A-Theist has a very different meaning than the word atheist. I am not against the idea of there being a Higher Power, or as Paul Tillich—one of the great theologians in the twentieth century—defines it, “the ground of all being.” I call that force Creation primarily because Creation
- has no gender
- occurs all over the universe
- is happening 24/7
- includes every living thing
That’s the furthest I’ll go in defining the idea of God. The rest is all conjecture. In my own wishful thinking, I’d love for Creation to be about love, especially the agape kind, but no one could ever prove God is love.
For me, the A in A-Theist means against because I am adamantly opposed to or against the idea, any idea, that the world is a flat three- or four-tiered place ruled over by some old man with a white beard, white skin, and white flowing garments who “lives” UpThere—a Master Puppeteer who makes everything happen. Even though the UpThere God was rendered dead eons ago, I am amazed so many folks still buy into that concept.
My finding, as a believer in science, space exploration, and reality, is that heaven and hell are figments of people’s imaginations. There is not one iota of proof for a place above the sky where a god and his son live, nor is there a place way down below where the bad guys go. So much of the church’s dogma and doctrine revolve around these erroneous ideas. In the 1500s, Copernicus proved that the sun, not earth, is in the center of our planetary system, thus rendering God homeless. The church’s response: ignore Copernicus and keep building dogma and doctrine built on false premises. This is part of the reason why I am an A-Theist.
So, why do I go to church? Here are my most important reasons:
- I love participating in this community of intelligent, communicative, open-to-new-ideas folks who are extremely sensitive to the needs of the hurting world and willing to go out and do something about it.
- We have an outstanding music program with a choir of more than fifty-five plus voices directed by a man who is extremely talented.
- Our pastor is an excellent preacher.
- One of the foundation stones of the congregation is to be open and affirming to all; no matter where they are on life’s journey, they are warmly welcomed.
- We have outstanding educational opportunities for children and adults, bringing in world-renowned speakers.
There are more reasons, but those are enough to get me out of bed on a Sunday morning.
For me, the way we define a Higher Power is not nearly as important as the fact that this community knows where it’s going and how it is going to get there. I see in this church a prototype of the church of the future.
Do you think the institutional church has a future?