The National Secular Society offers certificates to atheists who want to revoke their baptism. It estimates that 100,000 people have downloaded such documents from their website over the past five years.
Unbaptism.org offers a similar service. Their certificate reads: “[Name] having at one time willingly submitted to the Rite of Christian Baptism and subsequently having realized my beliefs were in error, hereby publicly revoke any and all implications of that Rite and renounce the Church that carried it out. In the name of human reason, I reject all that Church’s Creeds and all other such Superstitions. I wish to be excluded henceforth from claims of church membership numbers based on past baptismal statistics.”
Last month, an atheist group calling itself Sunday Assembly launched new services in 35 cities across the world. Started in 2013 by two British comedians, it already holds meetings in 11 U.S. cities and is launching new services in 16 others. The leader of one such service outside Cleveland, Ohio told an interviewer that he had recently been “debaptized” and has the certificate to prove it.
Two questions follow. One: can a person genuinely become a Christian and then choose to become an atheist? The man in Cleveland said he had been “saved twice” but that it “obviously didn’t take.” What would Scripture say to him?
John told his readers, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Note the present tense: you “have” eternal life. If you have genuinely asked Jesus to forgive your sins and become your Lord, in that moment you became the child of God. Paul adds: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Note the tense: a Christian “is” a new creation.
My sons cannot “unbecome” my sons. They cannot reverse their birth and biology. In the same way, those who are “born again” as God’s children will always be his children (John 3:3). Those who claim they were Christians but now reject Christ and claim atheism were never genuinely converted. They have been deceived twice.
Two: why is atheism becoming more prominent? In many ways, this phenomenon is part of a larger trend away from all authorities and institutions. Only 34 percent of Americans trust the medical system; 30 percent trust the Supreme Court; 29 percent trust the presidency; 18 percent trust television news; seven percent trust Congress. We live in a day when our opinion is our authority. A person can state “I don’t believe in God” as though his rejection affects God’s reality. Imagine saying “I don’t believe in England” and assuming that settles the question, despite all who claim to have been there.
How should Christians respond? One way is to be “rebaptized” every day—not physically, but spiritually. Every person I baptized as a pastor made the public statement, “Jesus is my Lord.” Have you made him your Lord today? Will a skeptical culture see the difference he makes in your life?