“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” Jesus
This post is the nineteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:
Harmful Effect #19: People who believe the world is about to end neglect their education, are not financially responsible, and in extreme cases take part in mass suicides.
No Christian has any biblical reason to neglect his finances or education because he expects an imminent end of the world. According to Jesus, as recorded in the gospel of Matthew, no one knows the hour when Lord is coming back. Jesus clearly stated that when He returned people would be carrying out the activities of everyday life such as working and eating. There is absolutely nothing in bible that encourages Christians to essentially give up on life in expectation of the Lord’s coming. In fact, the opposite is true. In his second epistle the Thessalonian church, Paul admonished the people of that church to work instead of idly waiting for the Lord’s return.
The clear biblical instruction for Christians to live a productive life has unfortunately been ignored, along with other clear biblical doctrines, by pseudo-Christian cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This particular cult has falsely predicted the time of Christ’s return and discouraged higher education among its members. However, their predictions have proven false. So, too, have those of radio evangelist Harold Camping. Camping falsely predicted the coming of Christ to occur in 2011. At least one of Camping’s followers spent his life savings advertising Camping’s false prophecy. After his prediction failed, Camping admitted that he sinned and erred in making an end of world prediction that clearly contradicted scripture. Neglecting one’s education and finances are not harmful effects of Christianity but rather harmful effects of ignoring its clear teachings.
Similarly, mass suicides ignore the Bible’s clear teaching to cherish life. Groups which have engaged in mass suicide are at best, as is the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses, pseudo-Christian. Notable examples of such groups are the David Koresh’s Branch Davidians, Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate, and the Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple. Each of these groups was involved in some form of sexual deviancy, mysticism, messianic claims, or communism. All of these things are antithetical to a biblical worldview. Jesus Himself correctly predicted that, “…many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” Believers in false messiah’s who commit mass suicide do so outside of the body of Christ.
Not only does harmful effect #19 make a false claim about Christianity, it ignores the hopeless nihilism inherent in the atheistic worldview. On naturalistic evolutionary models, human actions are determined and therefore morally meaningless. There is no hope of life after death and no ultimate purpose in life. Furthermore, the end of all human life can be anticipated in the Big Crunch, the eventual supernova of the Sun, or the universe’s inevitable heat death. Such catastrophes, though millions of years from coming to pass, are essentially unavoidable. In the short-term, calamities such as pandemic plague and global war threaten an immediate end to humanity and other forms of life. On a multi-verse model of cosmology life is meaningless as well. On such a model, every action a man takes, an alternate version of himself takes the opposite action. This, too, robs a man of ultimate meaning.
On a Christian Worldview, actions are meaningful and hope abounds. Mankind has been given dominion over the earth to work and learn.
When the Christian gets his reward, as song writer Jason Isbell puts it, he will sit “back in his chair beside the Father and the Son.” Until that time, the Christian should heed the words of the Apostle Paul:
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:
Harmful Effect #20: Long-term environmental issues ignored because of beliefs that the rapture/apocalypse or something will happen soon, so they don’t matter.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.