The St. Paul Saints will become “Mr. Paul Aints” on August 10. Why? Because their game that night is being sponsored by a group called Minnesota Atheists.
The letter “S” in all Saints signs and logos around the stadium will be covered. There are planned references to Big Foot, UFOs and other targets of the skeptical community. “We want to show that atheists can have fun,” the group’s president explains. Since they expect to have only around 70 atheists at the game, I suspect their purposes are more centered in publicity than baseball. If so, they should feel good about their strategy.
Since the Saints have hosted Christian concerts and a Jewish Heritage Night in the past, the team’s general manager says it would be “hypocritical” to tell atheists they couldn’t have a special night at the game as well. He states that the team has “no intention of mocking or making fun of anyone’s faith” and adds, “This is about presenting the beliefs of this group of folks in a way that can be fun and entertaining.”
Let’s consider some of the “beliefs of this group of folks.” Minnesota Atheists’ website is promoting Inventing Jesus, a book which argues that “Jesus was an entirely fictional character, with no historical basis.” They marched in the Twin Cities Gay Parade on June 24 and handed out “Saved By An Atheist” cards; one man carried a placard that encouraged us to “Smile, there is no Hell.”
Denying the existence of the only Savior of the human race, the need for salvation, and the existence of hell—these are not “fun and entertaining” beliefs, but truth claims with eternal consequences. They are not difficult to refute: for evidence of Jesus’ existence, reasons why we need his saving grace, and arguments for the reality of hell, I invite you to visit our website. I’m more interested today in this question: how does Scripture teach us to respond to those who are antagonistic to our faith?
First, we are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Our critics expect us to react to antagonism in the same spirit, which may be one reason Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors (Matthew 5:44). What we say is important; the way we say it will likely be remembered when our words are forgotten.
Second, we are told to trust the Spirit. When Christians face adversity, “at that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20). He knows the reasons motivating a skeptic’s rejection of biblical truth and will guide us to those words and actions he can use most effectively in drawing this person to Jesus.
So let’s speak the truth in love today by the leading of the Spirit. You don’t need to be in Minnesota to meet someone who needs to find God’s grace in yours.