The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”1
This is an unfortunate one that Facebook gives way too much press to, especially around April 1. Far too many Christians are happy to proclaim that they believe atheists are fools. I’d like to say they are ‘well-meaning Christians’ as I have in most other cases where scripture is misunderstood, but I have a difficult time seeing how this could be meant in any positive way.
This one really upsets me. I spend a lot of time talking to atheists. They are people too, and they’re not so different from us. Primary difference: we believe in God and they don’t. While I understand some of what David is driving at here (he wrote this), but this use is hardly helpful. And before getting too carried away, let’s look at the end of the chapter. “Oh that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!”, David laments. Wait a minute… it has! We are in an entirely different situation than David was. Hope has come. We ought to be talking about that, not identifying who is most foolish.
Let’s think tactically for a moment. We’re not running crusades here. Our goal is not to strong arm all dissidents into agreement. Our mandate is to be prepared to give a defense, but to do so with gentleness and respect.2 We are supposed to contend for the faith.3 We are to defeat faulty arguments with reason.4 Nowhere do I see instructions to be belligerent or hostile. Does calling someone a fool sound gentle or respectful? As I mentioned, I spend a lot of time talking to skeptics, and I can promise you this: if you use this line you will be very lonely. You may claim the moral high ground and say that you stand on the truth of scripture, but no one will listen. You may feel vindicated, but you will have no audience. What is the value in that? I don’t see that as a win. We are to talk to people, disciple them, and exemplify Christ. We can be on the offense without being offensive. If we are not winsome, we will get exactly nowhere. When April 1st rolls around, please don’t post this verse on your Facebook wall, no matter how clever you think it is. You are ruining your chances of having an impact and you are making it much harder on the rest of us.