Let’s define what is meant. Practical atheism is “holding an intellectual belief in God but thinking, feeling, and behaving as if there were no God” (Rubel Shelly, Atheists on the Church Rolls, quoted by Dick Sztanyo in Practical Atheism and Practical Theism, warrenapologetics.org). “Practical atheism is found in the lives of many people who believe in God but who live as if He does not exist” (Dick Sztanyo, ibid).
The Bible mentions such people. Jesus spoke of those who receive the word, but live unfruitful lives (Luke 8:14). Paul wrote of those who “profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abomination, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16).
Here is an example of modern day practical atheism. One professes to believe in God, and professes to believe that the Bible is God’s word, yet he does not study the Bible, and it is certainly not the standard by which he looks to conduct his life.
Burt Jones has written an article entitled, “What’s The Difference? He asks –
- “I am bewildered by the atheist who would not dream of financially supporting the church, and by the Christian who will not financially support the Lord’s church, and I ask – what’s the difference?”
- “I am perplexed at the skeptic who does not believe in the Bible, and the negligent Christian who never reads it, and I ask – what’s the difference?”
- “I am confused by those who do not believe in Bible classes, and the Christian (who does – B.H.) who chooses never to attend a class, and I ask – what’s the difference?”
- “I am troubled by the man of the world, and the Christian who lives like a man of the world, and I ask – what’s the difference?”
- “I am astonished at the atheist who does nothing to build up the Lord’s church, and the Christian who finds fault with others, but does nothing himself, and I ask – what’s the difference?” (Brad Harrub and Burt Jones, Diamonds in the Rough, pp. 15-16).
May we not live as practical atheists. Let us strive hard to live consistently with what we believe. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Remember what Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).