Monday Night Dinner

How do Christians deal with contentious issues? Sometimes every bit as badly as anyone else. If it’s on the Internet, Christians engage in ‘flame wars’ and even ‘troll’, just like other people do.

Here is one Christian leader who has opted for a different approach. Lysa TerKeurst sees this style as vital for the integrity of Christian witness. What do you think?

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What Affects An Atheist’s Beliefs?

Drug addict

Drogacicto – Drug Addict by Bill Anderson on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Chris Arnade held a PhD in physics and worked in science for twenty years. For him, atheism was easy, right from his teens.

Then he left behind scientific research and became a photographer. He documented drug addicts and prostitutes. He documents in a Guardian article how this affected his approach to religion and atheism, coming to see atheism as an intellectual luxury for the wealthy. It isn’t presented as a conversion story, but this is how the piece ends:

Soon I saw my atheism for what it is: an intellectual belief most accessible to those who have done well.

I want to go back to that 16-year-old self and tell him to shut up with the “see how clever I am attitude”. I want to tell him to appreciate how easy he had it, with a path out. A path to riches.

I also see Richard Dawkins differently. I see him as a grown up version of that 16-year-old kid, proud of being smart, unable to understand why anyone would believe or think differently from himself. I see a person so removed from humanity and so removed from the ambiguity of life that he finds himself judging those who think differently.

I see someone doing what he claims to hate in others. Preaching from a selfish vantage point.

Perhaps when you see where he started out from, you can see how weak his atheism was. He told one addict,

I am an atheist. I don’t believe in a God. I don’t think the world is only 5,000 years old, I don’t think Cain and Abel married their sisters!

Of course, plenty of Christians see good reason to interpret the early chapters of Genesis non-literally, and it doesn’t make them atheists. Rather, they recognise a different genre of literature.

However, read the article with interest to note what affects him.

Apologetics Are Not Enough

Alister McGrath

Alister McGrath by Matthias Asgeirsson on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Apologetics is the reasoned defence of our faith. There are many gifted apologists who can argue for the veracity of Christianity and the weakness and falsehood of competing claims. Scholars such as Alister McGrath and William Lane Craig are prominent among them these days.

But we are fooled if we think that simply presenting a rational argument will convince people into faith. Reasoning is important, but it is not the whole story. If you read this 2011 Australian article, you will find evidence that people of all persuasions become more hardened in their attachment to those things which have been falsified.

So what else do we need? Does this not point to the fact that our outreach is a spiritual struggle and requires spiritual resources? We therefore need prayer. Is it not also true that people may be convinced by the signs of a life dedicated to the teaching of Jesus Christ? In that case, we need holiness, too.

Is reason enough for you? What other things are required in our witness?

Representing A Weird Faith

Comedian and Christian Milton Jones asks some provocative questions in the video below. There is something genuinely weird in the counter-cultural values of the Gospel, but sometimes we Christians drift into unacceptable weirdness. What are the boundaries between the weird and the normal in the way we relate to a world that generally doesn’t understand us?

Is Faith Opposed To Science And History?

Faith

Faith by Lance Ulrich on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Many people would answer that question with the word ‘yes’. Someone once said that faith is believing in something you know not to be true.

But this is terribly wrong. Faith is not proof, but it is believing because there is enough evidence on which to base a relationship of trust. The Christian apologist and theologian Alister McGrath (himself a former atheist scientist) has said that neither religion nor atheism can be proved, but the issue is which provides the best explanation of life.

The God: New Evidence project has put together various video series about the consistency of scientific evidence with belief in God, and the evidence in history for Jesus and the Resurrection. Have a look at their website here and see what you think.