The Christian Atheist – Chapter 1

The Christian Atheist, Part 1

Today, we (my sweet friend, Jason and I—and hopefully you!) are beginning our discussion about Craig Groeschel’s book, The Christian Atheist. If you haven’t read the book, we hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy and reading along. But this discussion is open to EVERYONE, regardless of whether you’ve read the book or not!

Shall we begin?

“The claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for doing anything good.” – Titus 1:16

As startling, blunt, or inflammatory as the title of this book might seem, it’s the subtitle that grabs me:

Believing in God, But Living as if He Doesn’t Exist.

How many years of my life have I wasted this way?

I was a preacher’s kid and a preacher’s grandkid. My Mom’s brother is a preacher. My Dad’s uncle is a preacher. All of my Dad’s best friends are preachers. And now, I work for a denomination where I am surrounded by preachers each and every day. If there were anybody in the world that should know God, it should totally be me, okay?

I don’t remember ever not believing in God. I don’t remember ever not fearing God. But somehow, I never really learned how to have a relationship with Him.

I prayed numerous times over the years for Him to come into my heart and be my Savior. But I didn’t know what that really meant for me. I didn’t know how to open my heart to Him. I didn’t know how to be friends with Him. I didn’t know how to get to know Him. I knew how to talk to Him, but not how to listen to Him—and a relationship just can’t be built that way.

And so, I went to church. I sang in the choir. I led praise and worship. I taught Sunday school. I taught Evangelism. I led prayer teams. I led youth groups. I kept the nursery. And the whole time I was doing this, I had no relationship with God, whatsoever.

I thought I could do enough to make God happy. I thought I could behave enough to please Him.

I was dead WRONG.

It may seem a little blasphemous to some of you—but I think it’s true—that we are the Bride of Christ and when He says He wants to know me and wants me to know Him, it’s that same know that is used when the Bible talks about that Adam knew Eve. They became ONE.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am…” – John 17:20-24a

I thought I was a Christian, long before I was a Christian. I called myself a Christian, long before I was a Christian. And once I became a Christian, it took me a long time to live a Christ-like life. In fact, I’m still working on that one.

The key to that process is becoming more and more intimate with Him.

On page 34, Craig Groeschel says, “When we are thirsty for God, God will satisfy that longing. And as we continue to seek God, we’ll grow to know him more and more intimately. When we hear God’s voice, we’ll recognize it instantly. We’ll talk to God all the time and miss him when circumstances distract us from his presence. We’ll build a history together, storing up story after story of shared experiences. We’ll love God. We’ll trust God. We’ll know God.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s where I want to be.

So, how about you? Have you ever been what Craig Groeschel would describe as a Christian Atheist—believing in God, but living a life that doesn’t reflect it? Does your life reflect an intimacy with Him? Are you moving toward deeper levels of intimacy with Him?

If you have written a response to The Christian Atheist on your blog and would like to share them, please add your link below!

About Sarah Salter


  1. I am still waiting on my copy of the book… maybe it will arrive today. Even before looking at joining this particular book discussion, God has been working in me to not just say I believe, but rather to live out my belief every moment of my life.

    I think the reason many of us never move beyond a statement of belief, is we do not know how to have a relationship with Him. Churches have unintentionally confused Christ living with Church busy-ness. Building a relationship with Him requires spending intimate time in His arms and fellowship. It requires a daily commitment instead of a weekly appearance. It changes us. It changes our outlook. It changes our approach to life. It is constantly with us.

    I am working in my own life to truly build a stronger relationship with Christ. To move beyond just believing into fully knowing, trusting, and loving Him.

  2. I would think that the questions you asked really pertained to me when I was in college. I was pretty much a drunk, but I had 2 Corinthians 5:7 written on the bill of my baseball hat.

    Everyday is like I am getting to know Him more in a deeper manner.

    Look forward to more conversations on this book.

  3. Papa Bear says:

    It has always been easier to “talk the talk,” than “walk the walk.” Yes, all of us fall into this category at some point. For most it is very early in their experience of coming to Christianity. I say it that way, because for many, they see Christianity instead of really seeing Christ. Sarah, your post yesterday led me to read Glenn Clarks work on Starr Daily. Glenn Clark was the “father” of the Charismatic revival before it was ever even understood as such. He was also best known for a spiritual retreat movement which still exists to this day called, CFO (Camps Farthest Out). Our late friend, Tommy Tyson, was one of the most sought after speakers at CFO’s around the country. John Hobbs has also been a speaker at many of these. When I realized Glenn Clark wrote the biography, I sat down and began reading. Starr Daily found the answer to being a real Christian, not a counterfeit. The reason, I believe, Christian atheism exists is because many have had an experience of some aspect of the Church, even with Christ, but have not established a relationship with Jesus. As Starr Daily points out in his life and writings, for Christ to be real in his life, it required absolute, complete and total surrender to the Source of that life. I am afraid too many people are caught up in movements of religion, without being caught up in a relationship with the living Son of God. I have only read the introduction and Chapter one of this book, so I need to continue to read on before commenting further. I applaude you and Jason for challenging us to look more deeply at our spiritual journey.

  4. I spent the first 28 years of my life living as a Christian Atheist. I was raised in church and taught about God and His Son from minute one. And I thought knowing of Him was sufficient. I didn’t realize I could actually know and be known by Him until much later.

    Even though I now have a soul, heart and mind sold out to the King and His Kingdom work, God is using this book to speak to me though. I cringe at how many times in my daily walk with God I still live as if Jesus doesn’t exist. I’m so grateful God is using Groeschel’s book to change that for me.

    I can’t wait to keep going with this book! It’s taken some serious self control not to read ahead 🙂

  5. This is why I love doing this! I see things then see what you wrote and get blessed in a totally different way. That’s a little beside the point, but I still think it’s cool. 🙂

    I believe you are absolutely correct about knowing and being known. I’ve heard it preached that in Matthew 7 when Jesus says people will say “Lord, look what we’ve done for you” but He responds with “depart from me I never knew you” –that “know” is the same as Adam knowing Eve. It’s intimacy and depth of relationship.

    Yes, I want that intimacy! Honestly, I’ve faced the greatest barriers to deeper relationship since becoming the lead pastor of our church. It’s hard to press through many times, but I’m thankful for grace that pulls even when I can’t push.

    Thanks Sarah- excellent thoughts here.

  6. Like Dusty, I do not have the book yet…..I think I’m just going to get the Kindle version. So just in response to your questions:

    I have experienced some deep intimacy with God lately, and by no coincidence it was during times when I was not alone. My relationship with God has so much more meaning when I am in deep, intentional, relationships with other people, especially my wife. I see alot of what Craig says on pg 34 about “storing up story after story” being about experiencing community and experiencing “oneness” with the body. That’s what Jesus was praying for in John 17. I have found intimacy with God by standing alongside my friend at his wedding last Saturday. I have found intimacy with God through spending intentional time with my wife and kids this week. And I am looking forward to deep intimacy with God this weekend on our men’s retreat. Moving towards deeper levels of intimacy with God, might start with moving towards deeper levels of intimacy with other peoeple. What do you think? Does Craig have a whole chapter about this in the book?

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Guys (and gals!) Thanks for responding and sharing your comments on this topic, even though most of you don’t have the books yet! The good news is that Chapter 1 isn’t terribly long and I don’t believe you’ll have too much trouble catching up!

    I have loved seeing what you each had to say about relationships with God! I think that our relationship with God does grow when we’re in healthy, Godly relationships with others, as well. God never intended for us to “do life” alone and I think that’s clear throughout the Bible. Some examples that leap to mind are when God said it isn’t good for man to be alone (Genesis) and creates Eve for Adam. And also, in the New Testament when Jesus sends the disciples out two by two. And even again in Acts, when the believers come together so intimately following the death and resurrection of Christ. The Bible says that they even had all things in common–their food and other belongings–and they get to each other as anyone had need. BUT!! I also know that our relationships with each other can’t substitute for our relationship with God. Just like my relationship with my children can’t substitute for my relationship with my husband. (I’m single and childless, but you understand my point, yes?)

    Thank you all for coming alongside me and Jason for this discussion! It’s already SO, SO rich and so much of a blessing!

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