Hearty Heresy

I Bet the Number of Heretics Is on the Rise, Too
September 15, 2007, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Faith, God, Heresy, Religion

I just saw an article in the Washington Post titled In America, Nonbelievers Find Strength in Numbers, and it’s got me wondering if the number of heretics in America is rising as well. Here’s a bit from the article:

A study released in June by the Barna Group, a religious polling firm, found that about 5 million adults in the United States call themselves atheists. The number rises to about 20 million — about one in every 11 Americans — if people who say they have no religious faith or are agnostic (they doubt the existence of a God or a supreme deity) are included.

That sounds like a pretty significant number for a “Christian Nation.” In fact, if I’m doing my math right (which isn’t one of my strong points), it appears that there are more atheists and agnostics in the United States then there are people who have a “Biblical worldview” (see this earlier Barna report I blogged on a while back, which says “only 4% of adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making.”) Sounds to me like reason is winning over Biblical literalism. Who says there ain’t no good news in the papers these days!


8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good news? Good news that there is not a loving God that wants to give us life and wants us to be happy? It’s good news that after this existence there is nothing? It’s good news?

The good news is that there is a God and we do have an opportunity at true happiness and fulfillment. The good news is that He gave His son Jesus to die for us so we wouldn’t have to spend an eternity getting what we deserve. The good news is that Christ is alive and nothing and no one can disprove that.

Atheists amuse me as much as I probably amuse them. Pardon me, I mean agnostics, cause there really are no atheists because no one can disprove God. But either way I hope you come to know the truth before you move on to the next life.

tim kurek

Comment by tim

Thanks for the comment, Tim. Actually, I do believe in a loving God, just not same the kind of God that folks who take the Bible literally believe in. I also believe that Jesus’ message was about living a loving life now–loving God and loving others. So I’m pretty happy with the truth I know now. Of course, as a rational being, I definitely believe in learning and growing until the end. I think St. Paul called it “finishing well.” Thanks again for stopping by!

Comment by heartyheretic

I don’t know how valid this is, but I read an article on Eastern Orthodox that basically said they had no concept of atheism until Western Christianity introduced it — as in, Eastern Orthodox Christians didn’t really leave the faith for atheism. And the article said this was because of Western Christianity’s focus on the pental substition atonement, as opposed to the Christus Victor atonement.

The writer, who was Eastern Orthodox, could completely understand why people left that version of Christianity. I think the writer is correct, in a way, and if Eastern Orthodox was more dominant in the west, we wouldn’t see such a schism between conservative-literal Christianity, and non-religion as we see today.

Comment by Heather

What a fascinating point! I wonder how many people who are “leaving christianity” (I place myself in that category) are really leaving penal substitution and all the problems tha tcome with it. And of course, it’s biggest problem is that it places the outcome of God’s love in doubt. Unless you believe and accept what Jesus did on the cross, you will … It doesn’t quite square up with being made in Gods image, or for that matter with Pauls majestic statement that “neither height nor depth or ….etc can ever seperate us from the love of God”. It seems like our current flavour of christianity has added a few things that do indeed seperate us! I say we find the tosser who came up with the penal substitution and feed him to the lions!

Comment by Jon F

@ Heather
Sounds like an interesting article–and very plausible. Eastern Orthodoxy is a completely different kind of Christianity, as far as I can tell. I’m never too surprised when someone from the west (like composer John Tavener) converts to EO. There just nothing like it in Western Brand Xianity.

I know that it’s the penal substitution stuff that I can’t tolerate. Either God loves unconditionally or God doesn’t. And there are parts of Paul where he does sound like a Universalist!

Comment by heartyheretic


I believe the penal substitution idea came out of the Reformation, in large part due to Luther and Calvin. Given what I’ve read of those two men, it doesn’t surprise me. Neither seemed to be very happy. Plus, the atonement theory itself really seems suited for a criminal justice society, and most of the mentions of justice in the OT really seemed to focus on restorative justice — the justice that rights wrongs, restores equality, and so on.

Like you and HH, I have huge problems with it, mostly because it puts God at odds with himself. Whereas EO, while taking sin and the ramifications seriously, painted a much more just idea of God.

Oh, and I found the article: it actually dealt with the nature of hell in EO, but the introduction was where the “West introducing atheism” came from. I pasted the link below.


Comment by Heather


Great post and great comments to you and everyone else (except Tim who seems much like a Parrot. He won’t get that but the rest of you will.)

I wonder how many are leaving Christianity not because there is no God, nor because of science, but because evangelicals continue to hold ancient beliefs that are obviously in error while not providing any thinking person an alternative?

Comment by WhoreChurch

Thanks for the link. I’ll definitely check out the article.

Wow! What would it take for Brand Xians to really look at themselves and realize that the reason Christianity leaves such a bad taste is so many people’s mouths is because they present it with such, er, bad taste?

Comment by heartyheretic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: