Jesus–An Atheist? Jesus has been called many things, but an atheist? According to Richard Dawkins, an advocate for the religion of atheism and author of the popular book The God Delusion, Jesus would have been. According to a post on The Blaze, Dawkins suggests, “Somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.” Of course, Dawkins, along with many modern skeptics and atheists, have a distorted view of truth and Jesus Christ. Let us examine why there is no possible way for Jesus to be an atheist.
The Deity of Christ
Jesus never could be an atheist. He is Deity! John, from the beginning of this Gospel, explains the nature of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn. 1:1). In very plain language John shares the foundational truth that the “Word was God.” John 1:14 provides the insight to identify who the “Word” is: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Jesus is the Word, therefore, He is God! The entire gospel account penned by John is a defense of the true nature of Jesus and His Deity. Near the conclusion of the Gospel, John states, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (20:31). John’s argument for truth, including the “I am” statements found in his Gospel, is all based upon the opening verse of his gospel account.
In his commentary on John, Daniel King wrote, “It is the unique contribution of the prologue of the Gospel of John, that it reveals the Word of God not merely as an attribute of God, but as a distinct Person within the Godhead, dwelling with the Creator before creation began, and acting as the divine agent in creation. John does not say merely that the Word possessed certain divine qualities but that he was partaker of the divine essence. He was himself divine.” Paul Butler adds, “When we understand that Jesus existed eternally in such a state of oneness with the Father, we begin to understand that God was and is always like Jesus Christ (minus His earthly body, of course).”
The Apostle Paul defends the claim in Romans: “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” (9:5) In two other passages that are arguably some of the most impressive works of literature, Paul argues for the Deity of Christ—Philippians 2:5-11 and Colossians 1:15-20.
Isaiah, one of the greatest prophets of old, predicted the birth of Jesus, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). The fulfillment of this prophecy is revealed in Matthew’s account: “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (1:22-23). Notice carefully the name chosen for the child—Immanuel. Matthew explains it means “God with us.” “Immanuel” is not the personal name of Christ but is descriptive of the character He possesses; His real being. Paul provides more insight in the Colossian epistle. Colossians 2:9 reads, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Clearly, the authors of both Old and New Testaments are united in their teaching regarding the Deity of Jesus.
Jesus–Son of God
Jesus was not merely called the Son of God, He is the Son of God. It is one thing for people to place a title on someone; quite another to embody that title. This is precisely how Mark begins his narrative, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). It is no accident such a title is given. It was one demands respect and reverence, captivates the reader’s attention, and builds expectation.
Perhaps we have overlooked the significance of this statement. To the original audience of Gentiles in Rome this served to introduce Jesus. Perhaps others, only vaguely familiar with the story of the Man, were able to see the true nature of who He is. The story of Jesus builds in this narrative and reaches the climax with the centurion’s confession. The scene pictured at the cross is described in these words: “And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mk. 15:39). The centurion was Rome’s representative on the scene of the events on this monumental day. It has, and will continue to be debated, was this a genuine confession or just a respectful utterance? Lane makes some interesting observations, “By ‘Son of God’ the centurion presumably meant that Jesus was a divine man or deified hero who accepted humiliation and death as an act of obedience to a higher mandate. It can be expected that his words reflect a religious point of view shaped by popular Hellenism. Mark, however, clearly intended his readers to recognize in the exclamation a genuine Christian confession, in the consciousness that these words are true in a higher sense than the centurion understood. In this light the centurion’s words constitute an appropriate complement to the affirmation of Peter that Jesus is the Messiah in Ch. 8:29 and the triumphant climax to the Gospel in terms of the programmatic confession of Jesus in Ch. 1:1.” Lane further states, “The fact that the truth of Jesus’ person was publicly declared, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by a Roman, was undoubtedly important to the Christians in Rome. In contemporary practice the designation ‘Son of God’ had been arrogated for the Roman ruler, who was worshiped in the state cult. Most effectively, therefore, Mark reports that the centurion proclaimed that the crucified Jesus (and not the emperor) is the Son of God”
Many times Jesus was referred to as the Son of God.
- Demons/Unclean spirits–Mt. 8:29; Mk. 3:11; 5:7; Lk. 4:41
- Those in the boat on the storm tossed water–Mt. 14:33
- Peter’s famous confession–Mt. 16:16
- The Holy Ghost–Lk. 1:35
- John the Baptist–Jn. 1:34
- Nathanael–Jn. 1:49
- Philip–Acts 8:37
- The Devil, in his temptation–Mt. 4:3, 6; Lk. 4:3
In conclusion, for Jesus to be an atheist, it would mean He never existed. That, according to the evidence, would be an irresponsible and impossible claim. There is coming a day in which Dawkins, atheists, and all humanity will realize the nature of Jesus. Paul writes a fitting end to the matter: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).
Article by: Brad Shockley