Saturday, 22 July 2017

What Can We Do Next

What can we do next

Crying out to God is the essential first second and third steps!

However there are things we may also be required to do. If my initial thesis is correct namely that a revival of (real) Christianity is what is needed and if indeed this is part of God's answer to our prayers; then part of what we can do; or under God what we will be expected to do; is tell and persuade people of the truth about God.

Here I recall that Jesus both sent disciples to do this and also told them to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest field.” So the telling activity may not be for everyone, but it may be for you!

So next I want to look at and think about how we may effectively tell our generation about who God is, and what He has done for them in Jesus and what He invites them to become. I think the present decline in religion in the West is strong evidence that what we have been doing in recent years is not the answer. I expect that what was done in past generations may not be applicable directly to our generation. Of course the content is unchanging, but language, social mores and perhaps more importantly the mental world view of our people today is different from past generations.

So just how do we engage with people today for a start, and then how do we present these timeless truths in a form they can digest?

There is an old Anglican prayer “For all sorts and conditions of men”. OK in today’s language “mankind” or even “people” for a start! But people did come in many “sorts and conditions” even more so today, so I guess there will need to be a wide variety of basic forms and even these tweaked for different audiences.

For a start I will try an approach for what I think may be the easiest group to reach: the outspoken atheists.

You might think these are the most hardened but Wesley (I think it was) talked of “those who came to scoff but stayed to pray”. Those who were ardently against his message were at least engaging with it, and when they saw the truth in his message they changed sides! I think many of the very vocal atheists are engaging with the topic of God. Otherwise, if they simply had an absence of any belief or interest they would not bother to be vocal!

Also I sometimes feel their anger is of the right sort.
In one sense what a soldier would call “probing fire” - an attack to elicit a response if there is anyone there! Almost as though they are saying “there aught to be some truth in Christianity, but I can't see anyone who acts like there really is: come out and fight if you are there! Or perhaps “come out and tell me!”

In another sense I sometimes think their vitriol against Christian institutions may have an element of insight. True some of them do attack Christians for accurately reflecting some aspect of God's character that conflicts with the spirit of the age. That we cannot compromise on. But at other times their anger has been directed at genuine failures or evils in these institutions that even sincere Christians have failed to adequately address.

So for all these reasons I think atheists may be reachable and persuadable with the truth about God if it can be presented in a way they can come to grips with.

So next post I will try to formulate one way of engaging with angry atheists.

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