There has been a lot of discussion between atheists and Christians lately. A lot of this has to do with the highly polemical books written by atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Of course, some Christians have not allowed those books to go unchallenged. American Vision recently published two books (Letter from a Christian Citizen by Douglas Wilson and The Return of the Village Atheist by Joel McDurmon) in response to Sam Harris' book, Letter to a Christian Nation. In addition to the book, Douglas Wilson has been doing some excellent apologetic work as he responds and challanges men like Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Be sure to stop by Wilson's blog or visit the online debate between Wilson and Hitchens.
The Bad and The UglyUnfortunately, not all the interactions between Chrisitans and atheists have been as helpful as Wilson's. Some Christians are more concerned with get warm and fuzzy with atheist, instead of challanging them to turn to Christ.
Honestly, I knew that this article ("Christians and Atheists Start a Calmer Dialogue") was going to be ridiculous before I even began reading it--but it was far worse than I imagined. Take a few minutes to read the whole article, but here are a few of the interesting--or should I say, sad--quotes. My comments will be in italics.
Mr. Henderson set out to learn how "the unchurched" respond to various kinds of worship services – what it is they find appealing and what leaves them cold. He began to pay nonbelievers $25 to go to a church and tell him what they thought.
This points us to a major problem in the evangelical world. Often, pastors and other leaders place more emphasis on learning from "the unchurched" rather than learning from God's Word. Do we really have to stoop to the level of paying people to tell us what they think about our worship services? The apostle Paul reminds us that "the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). I would be willing to bet that the people Mr. Henderson paid told him something like this: "The coffee and donuts appealed to me, but things got a whole lot colder when that preacher started talking about sin and Jesus dying on the cross. Keep the coffee and donuts, but you better 'warm-up' the message!" Maybe we should have just listened to Paul. Granted, I wish that churches would rid themselves of needless, cultural baggage that unnecessarily pushes people away (i.e. expecting people to wear dressy clothes, take out their body piercings, etc.),but that is a far cry from what some church leaders have in mind.
Henderson also conducts interviews with men and women who are nonbelievers as an event at church and pastor conferences. Many Evangelicals "are obsessed with conversion," he says, and always speak of non-Christians as "lost."
How else should we speak about non-Christians? There are only two options: saved or lost. Okay, maybe we should just abandon the whole pesky issue of conversion anyway. I'm sure that it comes across as cold.