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Can an Atheist Be Saved ? – Dwight Nelson

Can an Atheist Be Saved ? – Dwight Nelson
http://www.adventistsermons.blogspot…. Dr Dwight Nelson, pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University preaching on how to minister to atheists.™
Acts 17:16‐34
™ Seven guiding lessons for a conversation between Christians and atheists:
□ Lesson #1 (Christians)—Be willing to state your case  for God.
o The Epicurean school of philosophy, founded by Epicurus (342‐270 BCE), rejected the popular polytheism , and taught that pleasure is the chief goal of a life free from pain and fear, without any higher moral law—a virtually atheistic system.
o The rival Stoic school of philosophy, founded by Zeno (340‐265 BCE), taught disciplined indifference alike to pain and pleasure, maintaining the primacy of the rational faculty in man—a virtually pantheistic (universe‐pervading divine mind) system.
o But both systems of philosophy were antagonistic to the truth about God
Paul was going to have to defend .
o Remember: both logic and the other person’s conscience are on your side.
o This same Paul penned the stunning declaration in Romans 1:18‐20 that there is enough evidence in nature for the Creator, so that we are without excuse should we reject that evidence.
□ Lesson #2 (Christians)—Be aware of the arguments  of both sides.
o Cosmological argument:
1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.
o Teleological (design) argument:
1. The fine‐tuning of the universe is due either to physical necessity, chance or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.
oMoral argument:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
□ Lesson #3 (Atheists)—Be ready to admit that both worldviews are based upon personal choice .

o Thomas Nagel (atheist): “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well‐informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be
like that.” (The LastWord, 130)
o Thomas D. Williams (theist): “We must get one thing clear from the start: atheism involves a choice just as theism does. The exclusion of God is not the only possible reading of the facts, and reason does not compel a thinking person to deny God’s existence. Just as religious faith involves not only the reason but also the will, so, too, does the decision not to believe. Atheism evidences a refusal to admit the possibility of God’s existence. A simple analysis of the facts cannot compel a person to belief or unbelief. A choice must be made. But it is disingenuous for the atheists to assert that their choice is based simply on fact. . . . Richard Dawkins exhibits a boundless faith in the power of science to heal all ills and answer all questions.” (Greater Than You Think 94, 95)
□ Lesson #4 (Atheists)—Be willing to accept that there are bright theistic scientists,
but there are no bright atheistic theologians.
□ Lesson #5 (Atheists)—Be open to the possibility that God exists and is appealing to both your mind and heart.
o A prayer: If You are out there and You are truly God, then I am willing to make contact with You in order to determine if I should trust You with my life.
□ Lesson #6 (Christians)—Be grateful for those who respond.
□ Lesson #7 (Christians)—Be sure that your love exceeds your logic.
o I Peter 3:15‐‐”Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.

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