Atheists for Christ

Well, at least one atheist...

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. 
I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith. 
But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.
RTWT.  He is not just talking about some nebulous faith, either.  You know what I mean - the kind of objectless "faith" that people often have these days.  They will use terms like "a man of faith" or "strong faith" without telling you what they have faith in.  That is because they do not really have faith in anything - they just have faith.

No, here Mr. Parris is specifically talking about a particular kind of faith, with a particular and well-known object.  The faith is the Christian faith, and the God he is talking about is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses:
Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being... offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.
Honest, open and fascinating.  I can only hope that I am as honest with myself and my observations as Mr. Parris has been.

No comments: