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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, September 22, 2002

"The carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7).

I have been reading a book called Orthodoxy, by the English author G. K. Chesterton. Although he became a Catholic late in life, Chesterton wrote some helpful books against atheism and agnosticism. Here is his basic method in dealing with doubters.

In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, it is not the right method to tell him to stop doubting. It is rather the right method to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Wheaton, Illinois: Harold Shaw, 1994, pp. xii-xiii).

With this tool, Chesterton took on atheists like George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Aldous Huxley. Battling materialism and secularism, this famous writer has been called "a man at war with his times." He challenged atheists to doubt their own minds.

Unless a person begins to doubt himself, he will never experience a true Bible conversion, for

"The carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God"
    (Romans 8:7).

The mind of a lost person is hostile to God. His mind is actually at war with God. Every person is born that way, according to the Bible. The unconverted human mind is naturally in rebellion against God (cf. Jeremiah 17:9; I Corinthians 2:14).

Atheism and agnosticism are two forms of mental rebellion against God. These forms of mental rebellion lie behind the humanism taught in our secular high schools and colleges. Nearly every subject is taught from the standpoint of secular humanism, which is, at heart, rebellion against God. It is important for young people to know that your secular school is against Bible Christianity. In subtle and sometimes open ways, Christianity will be attacked in your secular classroom. You must understand the reason for this:

"The carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God"
    (Romans 8:7).

G. K. Chesterton's method was to show the inconsistencies of secular humanists, to show the prejudices and mental gymnastics that atheists and agnostics use to keep from being honest with themselves - and with God. In his book, Orthodoxy, Chesterton has a chapter titled "The Paradoxes of Christianity," in which he gives his own reasons for turning away from unbelief. He tells us:

I was a pagan at the age of twelve, and a complete agnostic by the age of sixteen (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1994, p. 88).

But as he read the writings of atheists like Huxley and Ingersoll, he began to feel deeper doubts. He began to doubt himself:

As I laid down the last of Colonel Ingersoll's atheistic lectures the dreadful thought broke across my mind, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." I was in a desperate way (ibid., p. 89).

The writings of the agnostics and atheists actually began to make him doubt that they were right. One of the things that made him doubt them was that they attacked Christianity "on all sides and for contradictory reasons" (ibid.). In case you don't understand what he means, he gives several illustrations.

I. Atheists accuse Christianity of solemn pessimism and silly optimism -
at the same time!

Haven't you heard college teachers and other atheists and agnostics say both of these contradictory things? First, they say that Christianity is inhumanly gloomy. "One accusation against Christianity was that it perverted men, by morbid tears and terrors, from seeking joy and liberty…" (ibid., p. 90). They will tell you at college that the Puritans had no happiness, and that the early Christians walked about in terror and morbid fear.

And yet, the next moment, they will tell you that Christianity gives false comfort to people! "Why, these Christians are fools to happily think that God answers prayers and that they are going to Heaven," the atheist says. Chesterton tells us, "One rationalist had hardly [finished] calling Christianity a nightmare before another began calling it a fool's paradise." Then he says:

The charges seemed inconsistent. Christianity could not [at the same time] be the black mask on a white world, and also the white mask on a black world. The state of a Christian could not be [at the same time] so comfortable that he was a coward to cling to it, and so uncomfortable that he was a fool to stand it (ibid., p. 90).

The real reason that unbelievers attack Christianity as too frightening and too comforting - at the same time - is because

"The carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God"
    (Romans 8:7).

II. Atheists accuse Christianity of making people too weak and
too war-like - at the same time!

The unbelievers like to say that Christianity makes people weak. Chesterton points out that on one page the unbelievers say that Christianity makes people like weak, submissive sheep. But on the very next page, they say exactly the opposite - that it makes people fight too much!

I turned the next page in my agnostic manual, and my brain turned up-side down. Now I found that I was [supposed] to hate Christianity not for fighting too little, but for fighting too much. Christianity, it seemed, was the mother of wars. Christianity had deluged the world with blood…The very people who reproached Christianity with the meekness and non-resistance…were the very people who reproached it also with the violence and valour…What could be the nature of the thing which one could abuse first because it would not fight, and second because it was always fighting? (ibid., pp. 91-92).

Of course, we as Baptists have never caused a war. Tell your college professor I said that!

Why do unbelievers accuse Christians of being too weak and too strong - at the same time? The answer is simple:

"The carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God"
    (Romans 8:7).

They are against God, and so they use any argument they can think of to keep from believing in Him. They attack Christianity on all sides, and for contradictory reasons.

III. Atheists accuse Christianity of oppressing women -
and at the same time say that only women go to church.

Chesterton points out that skeptics

said that the great crime of Christianity was forcing the family and marriage upon us; that it doomed women to the drudgery of their homes and children…But I found that the anti-Christians themselves had a contempt for women's intellect; for it was their great sneer at the church…that "only women" went to it (ibid., p. 94).

Between the covers of the same atheistic pamphlet I have found [Christianity] rebuked for its disunion, "One thinks one thing, and one another," and rebuked for its union, "It is difference of opinion that prevents the world from going to the dogs." In the same conversation [an unbeliever] blamed Christianity for despising Jews, and then despised it himself for being Jewish (ibid.).

And so, those who reject the Bible go on and on - finding fault with God on all sides, for all reasons, even though their reasons are often logically contradictory. Why do they do this? The answer is in our text:

"The carnal [unconverted] mind is enmity [hostile] against God" (Romans 8:7).

For a person to have a true conversion, he must first doubt himself. He must doubt that he sees things clearly. He must doubt that he is right about God and the Bible.

But it must go deeper than that to be a true Protestant and truly Biblical conversion. You must also see that you are sinful. It is a true inner awareness of your sin that will drive you to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. God is angry with you for your rebellion against Him. Only the Son of God can save you from His wrath:

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).

Believe fully on Jesus. He alone can forgive your rebellion against God and reconcile you to Him!


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Romans 8:5-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"In Times Like These" (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"The carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7).

I.    Atheists accuse Christianity of solemn pessimism and
silly optimism - at the same time! Romans 8:7.

II.  Atheists accuse Christianity of making people too weak and
too war-like - at the same time! Romans 8:7.

III. Atheists accuse Christianity of oppressing women - and at the
same time say that only women go to church, Romans 8:7;
I Timothy 2:5.

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