Earlier in the week, I was listening to a radio show where someone described himself as "an Agnostic, or depending on how you look at it, a weak Atheist."

That got me wondering.

You see, I thought Atheists are people who didn't believe in God (or gods plural) and are sure about it, whereas Agnostics are people who doubt there is a God, but were still undecided on the issue (truth seekers, you could call them).

Rather than wake up my friends and colleagues in the middle of the night, I turned to trusty Google, but alas, my search made things clear as mud.

I discovered such interesting terms as:

Agnostic Atheism (don't believe in existence of God (or gods) but makes no claim that this is for sure)

and (get this!)

Agnostic theism (believes in the existence of God (or gods) but not sure)

Then there's strong vs weak agnosticism, strong vs weak atheism, the labeling of agnosticism as a cop-out for those too weak to make up their minds, and other esoteric discussions about which is more open minded. And this discussion would not be complete without mentioning the plethora of individuals, each with their own shade of belief or dis-belief in existence of any gods looking for someone to tell them, "what am I?"

It's almost like denominations for the non-churched. And even those without faith want to figure out where they fit.

The church world isn't much different. Many humans, by nature want to belong, be a part o of something- and once part of a group, they like to establish rules to ensure exclusivity. But just like the poor "agnostic, or a weak atheist" on the radio, we can run into problems when our beliefs don't fit in neatly defined categories.

I myself used to agonize (years ago) over what to tell people when they asked, "What denomination are you in?" We're not a "denomination" that people would recognize, such as Baptist, Episcopalian, or Southern Baptist. Saying "Bible-teaching church" conveys the quaintness of the independent country preacher, saying "independent" can suggest the pastor is one of those rogues who doesn't want to answer to an organization, answering "Holiness" implies long sleeves, long skirts, no makeup (and philandering husbands), and "Pentecostal" conjures up images of tarrying, knocking over pews, and foaming at the mouth. I've even had someone tell me (when I mentioned my "church organization") that every time he's heard of a church called an "organization" it was really a cult.


Let me just conclude by saying that we should neither seek to be defined by nor stress about man-made categories and labels. I firmly believe that there is a God (guess that makes me a closed-minded theist), and my interpretation of His scriptures indicate that He looks on the inward (Ps 51:6, 2Co 4:16, ). Of course, our outward actions betray our inner workings, and we are judged according to knowledge and our behavior (1Co 4:5, 2 Co 5:10, 1 Jn 4:17-21, Jn 7:24, Acts 17:24-31)

Oh, and if you can more clearly illustrate for me the difference between agnostic and atheism, I sure would appreciate it. ;-)


Some gratuitous scripture:

Colossians 2:16-23
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.