Missional Christianity, Atheists, and Fundamentalist Christianity

3 03 2007

You may be familiar with The Blasphemy Challenge on YouTube, where mostly teens and twenty somethings make videos of themselves denying the existence of the Holy Spirit, thus committing the Unpardonable Sin. Of course, they don’t even think they are sinning because they totally lack any belief in any god, much less the God of the Bible. They are really doing this to build the community of atheists so that they can better combat Christianity and theism because they think that God-belief is harmful to the world.

So of course, there have been many Christians who have stepped into the breach in order to defend Christianity and respond to these young Atheists. They are all over YouTube trying to engage atheists on many different issues and topics, from abortion to evolution.

The most notable Christian to enter the fray is Ergun Caner, the current president of Liberty Theological Seminary. This is the school that was started by the fundamentalist tele-evangelist, Jerry Falwell. Caner wants to engage the Rational Response Squad, who are the creators of the The Blasphemy Challenge. In fact, he is supposed be a part of a live internet show via the the Rational Response Squad’s website.

I personally do not think that any minds will be changed in their “dialogue”. What I do get a sense of is the fact that fundamentalists see atheists as a threat because of their ability to deconstruct the Bibe, and because they are usually strong advocates for Evolution. Atheists see fundamentalists as a threat because they are anti-science and put biblical revelation before scientific fact. I just don’t see a way for these two communities to connect without a lot of shouting and name calling happening. Even if the communities can manage to be civil to one another, there will not be any friendships forming.

This is another reason why I am a missional Christian. Missional Christians do form long lasting relationships with non-believers from all kinds of backgrounds, including atheists. We are not afraid of modern science, and I suspect that most of us are theistic evolutionists. Being a missional Christian means that you don’t pretend that you have all the answers, you just trust that He who is the Answer will reveal Himself to your non-believing friends in the course of your friendship.

For us, it is not so much about winning the argument, but rather, sharing our stories and just hanging out. Plus, could you imagine theists and atheists building Habitat for Humanity homes together? Or maybe just having a regular weekly meal with one another? Now fundamentalists don’t want any part of this because the danger is that they cannot control the conversation and there will be questions asked that they do not have answer for. Whereas missional Chrisitans are comfortable not being able to have a answer for every question.

Further, I bet my last dollar that if atheists saw Christians focusing on caring for the marginalized, being involved in racial reconciliation and social justice, and accepted the fact of evolution and global warming, they would actually begin to take us at least a little bit seriously, and perhaps would even want to engage us in a real way.

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Sam Harris

1 02 2007

Here is a working link for the video.

Sam is one of my favorite public atheists. He makes some really salient points amongt Steve’s brilliant humor (which supports Sam’s thesis btw). I like Sam, and he definitely is not the enemy. We Christians who do not live up to our creed our the problem. I think that if the Christianity that Tony is talking about below was the one most clearly followed and demonstrated, that Sam would not have a problem with us.