Thank you so much for your very interesting question. It is so difficult to generalize an entire group of people, but the quick answer to your question is that the Sadducees were not atheists, since they did believe in God, though I believe I have heard that they only accepted and read the first five books of the Bible.  They were rationalists, thinking that this life on the earth was all that man had to look forward to…no resurrection nor afterlife. According to the Morrish Bible Dictionary discussion on the Sadducees: “Next to the Pharisees, the Sadducees were the most prominent sect of the Jews. The Pharisees made proselytes, but the Sadducees were much more exclusive, and therefore remained fewer in number. They did not believe in the resurrection, nor in angels, nor in spirits: they held that the soul perished with the body. Matt. 22: 23; Acts 4: 1, 2; Acts 23: 8. Though strict in regard to the written law of Moses, they repudiated the traditions of the elders, or what is called the oral law. They believed that God punished a man’s sins during his life….”

Now, I do not personally understand why one would say they believe in God, but not believe in angels, or miracles, or in the resurrection of the dead. You do see, I’m sure, that the Sadducees did believe in the God of Israel, but as to resurrection or spirits, they believed only in what they could see and touch. I don’t know that there are actual Sadducees today, per se, but we sure do see a lot of people today who say they believe in some kind of supreme being (God), but do not believe in God’s Word, the Bible. The Sadducees were in fact, sticklers for the law of Moses, so I suppose that this, coupled with their denial of any type of resurrection from the dead, is the reason that the Sadducees were so violently opposed to Christianity. And yet, the Bible clearly tells us that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; John 3:16), and for this, Christ Jesus must lay down His life and shed His precious blood on Calvary’s cross in order to purchase our pardon. The Bible also tells us that Christ Jesus must rise again from the dead on the third day (Matthew 16:21), and all of this that we might be saved from the wrath of God, and also have that sure hope of resurrection to life everlasting, with bodies like unto His glorious body (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Philippians 3:21). The risen Christ and the empty tomb are the central pillars of our faith, and the risen Christ clearly shows God’s satisfaction in the finished work of salvation for our sins (Romans 10:9; 1 John 4:10). Furthermore, the Apostle Paul explains very clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:13-17 that if Christ Jesus did not rise from the dead, that we are without hope of salvation, and that we are yet in our sins. Quoting one of these verses, we read: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain,” (verse 14).  But, He did rise from the dead, and we have the sure authority of the Bible about this fact. It is so sad to hear of people like the Sadducees who have such a narrow understanding of God’s Word, and yet, there are many today who do not believe in the veracity of the Word of God, the Bible, and nor do they believe in a life after death, nor in spirits or miracles. So very sad, because the Bible, taken in its entirety, focuses on God’s beautiful plan of redemption of a lost mankind, through the death and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And how about you, my dear friend? Are you saved? I pray it is so and beg that you write again if you have any doubts about this.  We will do our best to show you God’s plan of salvation and everlasting life for sinners who place their trust and faith in the risen Lord Jesus.  (SF)  (552.4)