Re: Why I am not an Atheist

Scott A. Oakman (
Mon, 8 Apr 96 15:58:35 -0500

Fred Phelps writes:
> Why not just dump the faith and become an atheist or deist or something
> else?
> But another reason, one that many of you may not like, is in all
> honesty, keeping me alive and even flourishing in the faith. That is
> the pentacostal/charismatic/third wave movement.
> What is the evidence that supernatural things are going on today in
> response to prayers in Jesus' name? I can only say that lots of loud
> voices are claiming constant miracles all over the earth. Many are
> exaggerated; I believe a core of them is true. Understand, I am not
> promoting this movement - i'm just saying that if there are ANY
> miralces happening in Jesus' name, then Jesus must be a powerful
> Spirit. So we will probably conclude that Christianity is true and
> must conclude at the very least that materialism is false.

This is a subject quite close to my heart as a medical student. I hear of
healings, but they are often distant (a friend of a friend of my pastor's wife
in Africa...) or very subjective (relief of vague symptoms, release from
fears/bondage, etc.) [Let me hasten to interject that I believe such
testimonies are *valid* for the one testifying, and I take them at their word
that God has touched their life--but I like more objective measurable evidence.]
Nevertheless--I am seeing more of this. For example, a woman completely healed
and pain free after a *documented* 7 year history of ankylosing spondylitis (an
autoimmune arthritic condition) going back and testifying to her doctor in word
*and* objective measurable signs (range of motion, etc.) of that healing.

> If this line of thinking keeps some of you from despairing, I will
> rejoice. Some books on my shelves on this topic are:

Our sermon yesterday morning (at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Inver Grove
Heights, just to get myself placed in the proper "box" in everyone's theological
filing system!) was on "Hope". I know one of the questions on this thread
approached the issue of whether the questions *we* ask about apologetics are the
same questions that the unchurched around us are asking. The question of Hope
and Despair seems to be a universal one, and one only addressed satisfactorily
in the "Easter Event" and its continuation in the lives of believers.

I'm not sure that all the apologetics in the world will convince hearts starved
for Hope, until they feel the palpable presence of God, and His physical care
for their needs...

> Long live the growing group of "signs and wonders evolutionists". How
> many of you out there belong to this camp? Who ever
> heard of a liberal pentacostal, charismatic or third waver? Knowing
> the power of God in your life is a good bulwark against the doubts
> caused by western scientism. I Cor 14:1.

I will confess to membership in this rather small society.
My bookshelf looks quite similar to yours. Sometimes I feel as though I'm a
rational scientific materialist by day, something else by night (just what,
would be hard to label right now...) One thing I will say, however, when I ask
for prayer at my church these days, I'm never asked about my views on the Age of
the Earth and Human Origins--only what it is I need God's help with.

Blessings to all of you.


Scott Oakman Graduate Program in Neuroscience
University of Minnesota MD/PhD Program