I know there are those who think that anything written by someone who doesn’t quite see eye to eye on each minute detail of scriptural interpretation isn’t worth reading, and that’s too bad considering they probably don’t have all of those details right either. But I tend to think of it this way. The most visible Christians are the ones who set the standards by which we are all judged, because they are the ones who are seen, and they provide the substance by which Christianity in America is interpreted. So who is to blame if it seems that society at large doesn’t have the right perspective?
If you can get beyond your own biases in terms of what you think is “fair and balanced” (if I can use that expression) and realize that just because something doesn’t slant your way, doesn’t mean that it is biased against you, you’ll get a lot out of this piece by John Shore from the Huffington Post. Don’t read too much into it, or try to microanalyze it by applying the detailed, intricate, finite quirks of your own interpretation of the Bible and the practice of your faith to your analysis because you will only brush by the point Shore is trying to make. Take it at face value, it’s not a theological piece, and learn something about your own faith from it.
Shore says, “But the bottom line is it’s absolutely impossible to talk someone who isn’t a Christian into becoming one; in fact, more than anything else it’s likely to push the non-Christian further from God.” And that statement is pretty theologically and biblically estute, don’t you think? Somehow, in the culture of modern American “evangelicalism”, we have the idea that a systematic verbal “presentation of the gospel” will somehow lead to a sinner praying a prescribed prayer that opens up the gates of eternity to him like a magic key. If we can get them to say those magic words, then we can count that in our record of personal accomplishments, and it can be included in the number of “conversions” that are reported by our church. The Bible, however, makes it clear that conversion is a matter that requires the very spiritual power of God himself, and that it is not something that is within the power of any human to bring about. The role that an individual Christian may play in the process, therefore, is going to be a passive one, not an aggressive one, and a good “witness training” program should probably teach Christians how to shut up, sit down, and get out of the way. Could it be that the thousands of inactive, non-resident “members” most churches carry on their rolls represent people who were converted by the soundness of a good witness training “program,” but never actually experienced spiritual transformation?
I would suggest that you follow up by reading some passages from the early parts of the Sermon on the Mount. Don’t get into John or Paul or Peter in your devotional reading of scripture after reading this. Go to the very words and teachings of Jesus which are, after all, the core essence of the Christian faith, and let his words sink in after you read this. It might be a little bit of a stretch to ask you to think about having an open mind, because it seems like that’s a stretch for many Christians these days, even when it comes to the very words of Jesus himself. But give it a try.