In this Easter season, here is a thoughtful piece from W. Travis McMaken on atheism and its close relationship to the Christian community. He quotes Karl Barth, the great Swiss theologian, who commented on three types of atheism. Barth asked of each type if it was evil or bad and concluded that only the third was the real enemy of Christianity.
The atheism that is the real enemy is the ‘Christianity’ that professes faith in God very much as a matter of course, perhaps with great emphasis, and perhaps with righteous indignation at atheism wild or mild, while in its practical thinking and behavior it carries on exactly as if there were no God. It professes its belief in him, lauds and praises him, while in practice he is the last of the things it thinks about, takes seriously, fears or loves….
At Easter the Christian community celebrates the reality of the resurrected Christ, but too often Christians forget that this reality demands a thorough transformation of who they are and what they do. Christ’s victory over sin and death is meant to be demonstrated in the daily life of the community. Christians are meant to live out Christ’s victory in their new Spirit-transformed lives.
Karl Barth reminds us that a profession of faith without an accompanying practice is tantamount to a virulent form of atheism.