• Service times

    Services times are:

    Saturday night 7:30 pm for our Chinese/English service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

    Sunday 10 am for our English language service (Senior Pastor Jeff Whittaker).

    Sunday 11:30 am for our Chinese (Mandarin) language service. (Pastor Daniel Choi.)

  • Contact details…

    Physical and postal address:
    4 Inverary Avenue,
    Epsom,
    Auckland 1023,
    NEW ZEALAND.

    Email:
    epsombaptist@gmail.com

    Telephone:
    (0064 9) 6306010

    Contacts:
    Rev. Jeff Whittaker
    Pastor Daniel Choi

  • Church Officers…

    Church Treasurer: Ann Guan

    Church Secretary: Margaret Whittaker

    Church Deacons: Anne Bartley, Ian de Stigter, Kristy Choi, Willa Hui, Donglan Zhang and Alfred Zhou.

Atheist billboards…

Last year, I was visiting family in Christchurch. Reading ‘The Press’ one day, I was intrigued to read about a billboard campaign being undertaken by a group of atheists. The billboards were located on the side of the city where I was staying, and finding them was easy.

Atheist billboard no. 1

Atheist billboard no. 2

As may be expected, the billboards were met with an angry reaction from Christians. But I thought that there were some interesting issues raised by them. First, in reflecting on the billboard that claimed we are all atheists about most gods, I agree. In fact, the first Christians scattered about the Roman Empire were sometimes accused of atheism because they refused to worship the Roman gods (including the Emperor). And there’s no doubting that the Christian Church, as it has spread around the globe, has encouraged a profound demythologizing of things like nature spirits. Perhaps the billboard takes up the spirit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he argued for a ‘religionless Christianity’ before being executed by the Nazis in the final days of WWII. In keeping with the theme of dead German theologians/philosophers, the second billboard states in a very simple way what Ludwig Feuerbach wrote when he asserted that belief in God is simply human wish projected onto the blank canvas of heaven. In other words, the ideas presented on the billboards are not new.

But there is another issue at stake here. Baptists have argued from the start that people should be free to choose their own faith, free from coercion. The freedom we enjoy in our democratic country to practice our Christian faith must be there for others who wish to practice other faiths, or none, as the case may be. I think Christians are shown up as incredibly graceless when shouting at others for advertising their faith positions when we expect, and exercise,the right to do the same. In fact, I thought the statement ‘there’s probably no god’ was, in its own way, a gracious nod to those who will disagree.

I do have a concern in blogging about these billboards. The earthquakes that have plagued Christchurch since the visit in which I observed the billboards have given some Christians opportunity to vent toxic theology. I’m talking about all those who think that the quakes are some sort of expression of divine displeasure, displeasure generated by such things as atheistic billboards and other expressions of secular life. To such bottom-dwellers, why not get a life? The billboards presented an opportunity for dialogue that may even have been leavened with some good humour.

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