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.


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.

Tony Campolo on the Colbert Report

1 02 2007

Here is a working link for Tony and Steve on the Comedy Central’s Colbert Report:

Haggard and Dawkins

31 01 2007

Very disturbing video. I don’t want to beat up on anyone, but I was not surprised by Haggard’s fall. There is something wrong with the kind of Christianity that tries to force everyone to believe the way you do, and makes Christianity look like one big show that you put on every week. When you amass that much power and influence, I bet that it is tough to admit your weaknesses to someone else. I think that this video proves that the megachurch model simply is not the healthiest one, especially for the ones who are in charge. Mind you, I have not decided that all megachurches are bad, there are some I like, with pastors I really look up to, but it is not for me.

Rick Warren on Hannity & Colmes

31 01 2007

The video is of rather poor quality, but I like how Warren represents both himself and the faith.

Andrew Sullivan

24 10 2006

Andrew Sullivan, author of, The Conservative Soul and senior editor of The New Republic is speaking at Oberlin College tonight at 8 pm. I have been reading Andrew’s editorials in TNR and elsewhere since the early ’90s. I like him, but I have been pretty upset with him and the other neocons out there for creating the apologetic that swept us into the war on Iraq. He is now back into my good graces since I heard him give a very sincere mea culpa during an interview with Brian Lamb on CSpan’s Booknotes for supporting the war at its onset and clearly admitting that he was wrong.

What is interesting about Andrew is that he holds within himself opposing principles, ideals, and values. He is a practicing homosexual, but he is also a very devout pro-life Catholic who takes the teachings of Jesus seriously. And he is a diehard supply-side conservative, but he supported Kerry in the last presidential election (he could not vote because he is not a citizen of the U.S.).

I have always saw Andrew as a sort of best friend that I never met because in many ways I hold the similar opposing views within myself too. I am a Bible thumping, Jesus-is-the-only-way Christian, but I strongly believe in pluralism and I am against prayer in public schools. Along with Andrew, I am against abortion after the first trimester, and I agree with him that we have to allow it during the first trimester. I feel this way because only people of faith like me and Andrew see a zygote and a blastula as being fully human.

Ultimately, what I like about Andrew is the humility in which he holds his beliefs. He does not feel comfortable pushing his beliefs on others. This is why I like the guy. He is a great conversationalist because he has a lot of ideas, but more importantly he is willing to listen to ideas of others, even those ideas that he do not agree with his own.

Risky Conversation Starters on Coffee Cups

3 10 2006

Check this blog entry out at Reformissionary:

It   looks like some conservative groups are getting all itchy now that Starbucks has started their “The Way I See It” cup quotes.  Baptist Press has run a story today on it.

What’s the issue?  Well, it seems that Starbucks is pushing the homosexual agenda because cup #43 gives a racy quote on homosexuality.  As I read this BP article, I noticed my grande skim 3 pump mocha was being carefully and providentially cradled in cup #43 which reads…

My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long.  I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone.  Don’t make that mistake yourself.  Life’s too damn short.

– Armistead Maupin, author

Of course BP inserts the word [expletive] for “damn” and blacks it out on their pic of the cup, but their larger concern is what the cup teaches.  But, is the cup and quote meant to teach?  Or simply open doors of conversation?  From the Starbucks website on this campaign…

Starbucks has long been dedicated to creating a unique “third place” between home and work. We also draw on the centuries-old tradition of the coffeehouse as a place to gather, share ideas, and enjoy delicious beverages. We see this program as an extension of the coffeehouse culture – a way to promote open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals.

And they mean wide variety.  Sure this quote is racy from one perspective, but they also entertain quotes from staunch conservatives like Michael Medved and Jonah Goldberg.  So if Starbucks “blatantly pushes the homosexual agenda” on cup #43, what are they pushing on the cups with flame-throwing right wingers?  A conservative agenda?

Given: We will all read from cups that we disagree with.  That’s a sure thing.  That’s the point, really, to start conversations not push agendas.  And conversations are best started by racy ideas, not bland ones.  By the way, on the cups and on the Starbucks website it even says the quotes don’t necessarily reflect the view of Starbucks.

Christians are too good at missing the point, and I’m afraid that’s what’s happening here.

Don’t we look fearful?  We look like we are afraid of the open discussion of ideas.  These quotes are meant to be conversational, and coffee shops are perfect places to list racy quotes worthy of discussion.  We believe that in the world of ideas the redemption Story stands supreme as the best and most beautiful explanation of reality and truth.  We shouldn’t fear other ideas out there.

One person quoted in the BP article says,

It’s not enough not to go to Starbucks anymore.  You really need to visit your neighborhood Starbucks and ask to see the manager and just say, ‘You know, I’ve gone here a lot and I would love to go here but I have to tell you your company’s promotion of something that is against my values prevents me from having coffee here anymore, and I’ve found alternatives … You make a great product, but you deserve to know why people aren’t buying your product anymore.’

How about instead we enter the conversations of our culture knowing that our Story makes sense of the world like no one else’s story or quote.  I think Starbucks has a great idea, and Christians should be thankful for the opportunity to join more discussions on huge and even ultimate issues.