The Atheists of Their Day - The Warrior's Journey®

The Atheists of Their Day

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6) 

Did you know that Christians of the Roman Empire were considered atheists? It’s true. The Roman world considered Christians to be sacrilegious atheists. Why? Because Christians denied the existence of the Roman and Greek pantheons. Christians insisted that there was only one God and one Mediator between God and man – Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). All of the other gods were imaginary and it was a sin to give to false gods the worship and devotion that the One true God deserved. Christians followed a Savior who claimed to be the only way to God and to heaven (John 14:6). 

In contrast to the exclusivity of Christianity, there was inclusivity of the Empire. They welcomed the worship of many gods. In fact, there was a real concern within the Empire that one of the gods might be overlooked and offended. Therefore, altars were erected “To Gods Unknown,” as a precaution against offending any god and evoking his wrath. One such ancient altar has been uncovered in Athens, perhaps the very same altar to which Paul makes reference (Acts 17:23). 

Naturally, the Christians’ exclusivity of worship and devotion got them into hot water with the Roman world. This was especially the case with the Emperor, who demanded worship from his subjects as a sign of loyalty to the Empire. But Christians refused to worship him or any other false god. Consequently, many of them suffered martyrdom for their single-minded devotion to Jesus. This was the cost of discipleship to Jesus.   


  • Marriage is an exclusive relationship binding one man to one woman. Once a man and a woman marry, they cease to flirt with others or to carry photos of old loves. How does this parallel our relationship to Jesus? Does our relationship with Jesus exclude all other gods? 
  • Does the military impose an institutional pressure on Christians to be more “inclusive” of other faiths and belief systems? 
  • While Scripture commands Christians to submit to the government which God Himself has established (Romans 13:1-7), this does not equate to unqualified obedience. For when government opposes the ordinance of God, “we must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). 

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