Practical Atheism (from B.B. Warfield)

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1. Background

READING: Matthew 6:19-34 January 11

How many who would not even think of saying to their hearts, 'There is no God', deny him practically by ordering their lives as if he were not? And even among those who yield in their lives a practical as well as formal acknowledgement of God, many yet manage practically to deny in their lives that this God, acknowledged and served is the Lord of all the earth.  How prone we are to limit and circumscribe the sphere in which we practically allow for God! We feel his presence and activity in some things but not in others; we look for his guidance in some matters but not in others; we can trust him in some crises and with some of our hopes but not in or with others.  This too is a practical atheism.  And it is against all such practical atheism that our passage enters its protest.

How are we to order our lives?  Is it true we can trust the eternal welfare of our souls to God and cannot trust him with the temporal welfare of our bodies?  Is it true that he has provided salvation for us at the tremendous cost of the death of his Son, and will not provide food for us to eat and clothes for us to wear? Is it true that we can stand by the bedside of our dying friend and send him forth into eternity in good confidence to God, and cannot send that same friend forth into the world with any confidence that God will keep him there?

O the practical atheism of many of our earthly cares! Can we not read the lesson of the birds of heaven and the lilies of the field which our father feeds and clothes?  What a rebuke these lessons are to our practical atheism! How many of us who can 'risk' ourselves, do not think we can 'risk' our families in God's keeping? How subtle the temptation! But here our Lord brushes them all away in the calm words “Seek first the kingdom of God and his  righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

Faith and Life  B.B. Warfield

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