Plato’s Third Form of Atheism – Creating God in Our Image (the gospel of lawlessness revisited)

(adapted from FB post August 21, 2014 – in response to this article on Plato’s Third Form of Atheism )

I recently read an article about a Christian music artist who made headlines for “coming out of the closet” and using her platform and influence to try to change Christians’ views about God’s acceptance of all, regardless of any sin. The author of the article rightly assessed that this musician’s version of theology is nothing new, pointing back to Plato’s 3 forms of atheism (citing “The Laws.” at II: 885b4-9).

“The third form of “atheism” accepts that there is a God and that God is concerned with human beings. But this “God” is soft-spirited and easily placated or appeased. He makes no stringent moral demands of human beings. He wants us to like ourselves and like him. So it’s fine with him if we do pretty much as we please, whatever we please. He is an “I’m O.K., you’re O.K.” divinity—the perfect deity for an Age of Feeling.

The mortal threat to Christianity today…does not come from Plato’s first and second forms of atheism, but from the third. Few believers are likely to be led astray by the arguments or personal example of Richard Dawkins, for example. Dawkins, after all, presents arguments; he doesn’t simply appeal to emotion. And the defects of those arguments aren’t difficult to see. Many believers, however, are being led…into Plato’s third form of atheism—belief in an imaginary God made in the image and likeness of man, as man is conceived in the pseudo-religion of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism. It is a most convenient “God” who is always willing to say, “do whatever you feel like doing, darling; I love you just the way you are.”” (from article on Plato’s Third Form of Atheism by Robert P. George)

Those who have followed previous posts should recognize Plato’s 3rd form of atheism as sounding strikingly similar to the first law of satanism (do as thou wilt, you’re free to live however you want). Here this complete inversion of truth has been married with counterfeit views of God/Jesus and grace to produce a version of the gospel of lawlessness. Tragically, as Scripture foretold, many are falling prey to, and falling away as a result of, this same old error that has plagued the church since its early days.

The Christian artist is right in her claim that God still loves her, but God’s love should not be confused with His acceptance of her sin (which she may not even see as sin any more?). God’s love is not synonymous with His salvation. God loves everyone; Jesus died for everyone, but tragically not everyone is saved – even though this is God’s will (Matthew 7:13-29, John 3:14-21, II Corinthians 5:9-21, II Peter 3, etc). Salvation is the result of us believing and receiving God’s love for us that was demonstrated through His nearly unfathomable substitutionary sacrifice for our sins IN THE WAY HE ASKED US TO, not on our own terms. We must respond to and receive what He has done by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:1-13). But many fail to understand that true Biblical faith in Jesus involves believing and receiving Jesus as our Lord, not just as our Savior. And receiving Jesus as our Lord involves repenting of our sins (turning away from them) and surrendering our lives to live for and follow Him – which He will help us, transform us, and empower us to be able to do by His nature and Spirit in us when we’re born again and remain/abide in Him. (Matthew 16:24-27; 28:18-20, Mark 8:34-38Luke 13:1-9 ; 24:45-47, John 15 , Acts 17:24-31 ; 24:24-25; 26:15-20 , II Corinthians 7:8-10 ; 12:21 , Galatians 5:16-26 , Philippians 2:12-16 , I Thessalonians 4:1-8Titus 2:11-15, II Peter 1:1-13 , Revelation 2-3 , etc). 

But the gospel of lawlessness says we can have Jesus as our Savior – without true repentance (turning from sin), regeneration (receiving a new nature, His nature), and surrender to His Lordship. It teaches that since Jesus already paid for our sins, sin is no longer an issue to God – that if we just believe in Jesus as our Savior, God will only see us through Jesus’ righteousness and be pleased with us, in spite of ongoing sin in our lives. It presents a counterfeit God, a counterfeit Christ, a counterfeit Spirit, a counterfeit faith, a counterfeit grace, a counterfeit love, and a counterfeit gospel that cannot save. The Holy Spirit pleads with us repeatedly through Scripture not to be deceived about this issue.

“Let no one delude and deceive you with empty excuses and groundless arguments [for these sins], for through these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of rebellion and disobedience.” Ephesians 5:6 (Ephesians 5:3-17 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/… )

The word translated “comes” is present indicative Greek verb form. This means it is a present continuous fact that God’s wrath is even now coming on the sons of rebellion and disobedience – though we understand this in light of God’s astounding long-suffering and mercy that compels Him to passionately pursue us when we stray and to give us time to repent. But His long-suffering must never be misinterpreted as acceptance of sin.

This exact same concept is also seen in Colossians 3 – where the Greek is accurately captured by the Amplified version as “ever coming”.

“So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God). It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is EVER COMING upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will)” Colossians 3:5-6

Know the Truth! Love the Truth! Please do not depart from it no matter the cost! Do not be deceived!

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