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Atheists who pray to be converted

28 September 2012


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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