November 10, 2016

Evangelism, Apologetics And Avoiding the Echo Chamber

When it comes to avoiding life in an echo chamber Christians who are keen to share the gospel with their friends, or at least have an apologetic framework to defend their faith, are streets ahead of the general populace when it comes to understanding people not like them.

It’s true.  And the opposite is also the case.  The increasingly secular progressive set is completely hopeless at understanding the so called “other”, something yesterday proved all too readily.

So in the midst of all the handwringing by the progressive side of politics over how they managed to get the Trump thing so wrong, I came across these words from Conal Hanna in The Age newspaper, a progressive pundit who admits he too had gotten it wrong.

Here’s a paragraph from the whole article.

Here I was thinking I was part of a sensible majority when it turns out I am in fact part of an elitist minority. Discombobulating, isn’t it? (Let’s face it, if you’re reading this you probably are too)

Apart from loving the word “Discombobulating”, this gets to the nub of the matter.  His assumption is clear: you would only ever read The Age if you agreed with it on most matters.  People read only that which confirms their biases. don’t they?

So he assumes that if I am reading The Age I am part of an elitist minority, who, up until yesterday considered myself part of the sensible majority.  And by that he intimates a progressive/liberal majority.

But coming as I do from an evangelical minority I have a much clearer perspective on things than a cultural analyst such as Hanna could have. And it’s something that I’ve trained myself to do.

As a political conservative  I deliberately read progressive publications such as The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian and The Independent.  In fact I pay for some of them. The only conservative publication I pay for is The Australian.

Why?  Partly because I am a news junkie.  But partly as a Christian leader I need a clear understanding of what people totally unlike me think about things, especially modern, city-dwelling secularists.

And this is not simply to know what they think in order to attack them, but to understand people enough so that I may interact with them on some sort of common ground.  To understand them not in order to win an argument, but to find a place of rapprochement and even reconciliation.  Perhaps even to woo them with the gospel.

In short, it’s born out of love for people and their salvation.  Well it tries to be, but in my sinful state I don’t always feel that loving when I read articles scorning traditional Christianity or traditional views on marriage.

Traditional Christians who have a heart for evangelism have been well versed over the past two decades in both evangelism and apologetics.  They already know that there is hostility to their perspectives, so like David Attenborough they study the lifestyles, the habits, the proclivities of “the beasts” around them.

In short, unlike the echo chamber of the progressives, many traditional Christians have a good handle on what those unlike them are like, what pushes their buttons, and why they think the way the do.

But, if you’re a progressive who view conservative evangelicals or non-tertiary educated working class religious people, as on the wrong side of history, then what’s the point of studying them, they’re going to die out soon enough anyway.

Which is why there is so much shock and anger today.  So many protests across the USA.  It’s one thing to know what your enemy thinks.  It’s another thing to care enough about your enemy that you would wish for them to be your friend.

 And that’s a Jesus thing right there.

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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