Saturday, 27 December 2008

Quote of the day: The rebirth is real

Atheist Matthew Parris, in The Times:

...travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

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.

... The Christians were always different.

[Read the whole article.]

Honest, even if it comes across as slightly patronising. He seems to be treating Christianity as a helpful metanarrative. That is, he recognises the grace and power in Christianity - contrary to popular propaganda, the true gospel is not a philosophical ideal used to oppress. He recognises something of the transforming power of grace. However, he refuses to recognise that Christianity is not just a healthy, helpful metanarrative, but the true grace-meganarrative in which he lives.

[HT: Stephen & Bish]

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