The Cardiovocal Atheist


Vocal atheist returns less than 11,000 results, says Google, but I ran across it at least three times in items I read last week. In contrast, vocal Christian returns 127,000 Google results.

Funny thing is, atheism doesn’t start with what is voiced with the mouth. I guess Google, fount of all theological wisdom it might be, got this right.

Psalm 14:1 begins like a punch to the solar plexus:

The fool says in his heart, There is no God.

I did a bad thing there in that quote. I left out the ESV’s quotation marks around what the fool said. Instead, I went more for the formatting style of an internal thought. You see inner monologue formatted that way in novels. Sometimes, it’s even written like this:

The fool says in his heart, There is no God.

That second style seems even more ominous than the first. Almost like a shout. Or the whispered thoughts of the heroine in the horror flick who is walking the “empty” house, and we hear her inner trepidations–and all the while we know the deranged killer is right behind her.Inner wasteland

Regardless, what is said in Psalm 14:1 is internal only. It reverberates inside the heart. Call it cardiovocal. A resonate dissonance that ends up shattering the whole man, like some cheap crystal facing Ella Fitzgerald on Memorex.

One gets the sense that it’s a ruminated internal saying, too, a cardiovocalization people repeat over and over as if looped, a repeating sample people dance to.

I think if you could hear the cardiovocalizations of the average person, you would hear There is no God loud and clear. A person doesn’t have to say it with his or her lips because it never stops echoing in the chambers of the heart.

Which is why I think that Alister McGrath, the noted theologian, is wrong in his The Twilight of Atheism. There is no God is the mantra of atheism, and it is being cardiovocalized by millions, if not billions. It is not a saying fading into twilight but a reality expressed nonstop in the world today. Even if we do not hear people saying it with their lips, we see it practiced ad nauseam. People living as if there were no God. Some mantra must be driving that reality.

While the silent cardiovocalizations of some people do come out in practice or in veiled writings, the nature of such inner monologue is to be hidden. You won’t get a judge who claims to be a moral person yet who makes immoral judgments admit that There is no God drives his decisions. Or the pastor who can’t stop checking out the ladies. Or the soccer mom who lives solely to buy more stuff.

Funny, though I’ve learned a lot in 50 years, one of the most important lessons goes back to my childhood and a children’s story. In that story, it says, What is essential is invisible to the eye.

Might I substitute ear for eye, in this case? Because that interior cry of atheism is rampant. It is essential to understand its prevalence, what it means, and what its ramifications are.

Christians are not immune to cardiovocalized atheism, which should sober us. Every day, I read material written by supposedly devout Christians who deny the gifts of the Spirit, mock the supernatural, make peace with the things Christ gave His very life to destroy, and craft endless mitigations of truth, which masquerade as “enlightened” spiritual treatises and “doctrinally pure” systematic theologies. In short, there is no difference between such people and atheists. The cardiovocalizations are the same. There is no God is at the core.

Sounds like a conflict, right? How can believers in Jesus have a heart that says There is no God?

Simple. They decide that they don’t like what the real God is saying and substitute a god of their own creation. If that’s not a denial of God, then what is? There might be a god, but there is no God.

No person is immune. What is your heart silently saying?

If Christians don’t understand this broken message of the heart, then we will not understand why people appear OK on the outside, yet the world keeps moving forward in the wrong direction. We will not understand motivations that seem to clash with spoken intentions. We will assume everything is fine with the people we encounter, yet inside they are screaming something that should appall us.

The Coming Religion


Genuine vs. CounterfeitAs I noted a few posts ago, my church is going through The Truth Project, a series from Focus on the Family that outlines a Christian worldview. I have enjoyed the series so far, and I think it is excellent. But I have a problem with the third lesson, which asks the question, “What is Man?”

The lesson contains an excellent outline of the case of biblical anthropology against an anthropological theory that many would immediately recognize as that of atheism or secularism. You know, the favorite bogeyman of those enmeshed in the culture wars.

My thoughts? I absolutely agree that the secularized worldview portrayed in the lesson (as epitomized by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with its pinnacle of self-actualization) is definitely a problem. What troubles me is that I don’t feel that a secular worldview is the threat against genuine Christianity that the lesson makes of it. Atheism? Secularism? That’s so…well, 1990.

Fact is, if you look around the world, people are not rushing to atheism and secularism. Sure, in some places they’re buying the books, but not in the majority of the world. With the exception of small pockets of atheism and secularism in Western nations, the actual trend is toward a more progressive spirituality, a spirituality that may not—at least from undiscerning human eyes—appear to enthrone self, as does secularism. In fact, some people might even call it a new fundamentalism, a return to what are ultimately superstitious or flawed religious beliefs. Ask an African what is sweeping Africa, and he’ll not reply atheism, but Islam.

Though atheists and dim-bulb “brights” claim antisupernaturalism is on the rise, that is anything but the case. Witness the mass euphoria over the so-called Lakeland revival. The supposed supernatural displays on center stage had people transfixed. Rational people who never would have entertained supernaturalism otherwise flocked to Florida, hoping for a miracle. Many spent thousands of dollars to fly in from around the globe to bask in the overhyped glow of the Bentley miracle show. People who believe in nothing outside the material world don’t do that.

Remember this:

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
—Matthew 24:21-26

Does Jesus Himself predict that secularism will reign at the end? Hardly. If anything, it will be a time of people desperately seeking spiritual nourishment, seekers who latch onto one magician after another.

Jesus’ warning should shake us all because the genuine lie isn’t going to be as obvious as secularism or atheism. That’s bush-league deception. That will only fool the completely gullible.

What should sober us is that the coming lie will look so much like truth that even the elect will be perplexed by it. Brother doesn’t hand over brother because of secularism, but because of fundamentalistic religious beliefs that sound exhilirating yet are at odds with genuine Christianity. It’s the form of godliness we shoud be alarmed by, not the form of godlessness.

Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma magazine, claims a pastor he knows insists that many charismatics will follow the antichrist because of their devotion to supernatural signs. I think that pastor nails it. The deception that is coming is less obvious. It’s subtle. It’s sorta-Christianity, with a veneer of powerful wonders. It will have many of the trappings of what Western Christians have come to accept as Christianity but will actually be a complete lie. In some ways, we Western Christians have been test subjects. We’re just too drowsy to see it.

To the man buried in an avalanche, the entire world is snow. But the man standing at the top of the mountain knows better. With the world moving in a more religious direction, not a lesser one, the ultimate snowjob may be just around the corner.