From Mr Alan Bartley
Sir, - You report (
News, 21 September) that 50 atheists have taken up the
challenge to pray for God to reveal himself to them.
Would not Pascal's wager have been a
better challenge - that it is more rational to live as a Christian
and live a better life and find there is no God, than to live as an
atheist and find that there really was a God, that this life was a
probation, and that there really are two alternatives?
Is God under any obligation to answer
their prayers, given that he has already given sufficient answer in
revealing himself to them in both the Bible and in the wonders of
Creation, howsoever created?
As Christians, we have assurance that
when we who believe in Christ pray in his name, according to his
will, he will hear us, while the unbeliever, and certainly not one
not invoking the name of Christ, has no such promises. Can such
atheists expect any uncovenanted mercies unless they first comply
with the conditions of the gospel offer, that they first repent,
with the implication that they accept that they are sinners?
Nevertheless, given that God has
promised to answer our prayers when made according to his will,
then would it not have made more sense for groups of Christians to
pray for these receptive atheists? We have general promises that
their salvation is according to his will.
More interestingly, we could perhaps
invoke Luther's logic, which may have inspired our Prayer Book
service of infant baptism. As godly parents are promised the
inclusion of their descendants to many generations, some of these
atheists may well be so included. If so, a prayer for their
salvation is according to God's will, and, if made in Christ's name
by Christ's people, we may hope for their salvation.
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