This last term has involved some profoundly challenging and exciting events, including speaking in Washington D.C. and at the US Naval Academy in Anapolis, where we saw leaders and future leaders deeply stirred by the person of Christ. I was personally challenged by the urgency of the gospel message when I received a message a couple of weeks after a meeting to let me know that a twenty-three year old young man, who had responded to Christ with tears and genuine repentance, had died less than two weeks later.
It has caused me to reflect and remember that the message of salvation through Christ and our entrustment to make Him known must be at the forefront of our minds – in every conversation, meeting, talk and event. It is so easy to be distracted into focusing on other things and to forget the simple and beautiful truth that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
But how can we credibly hold out the gospel in a way that will connect with people? Aren’t we just another “faith community” peddling our superstitions on the outskirts of society? This language surrounds us in public life, suggesting that we are somehow different from everybody else. This is of course complete nonsense – everyone has faith or worldview, either secular or religious. Whether we like it or not, we all adopt a framework of presuppositions.
The confusion brought by the language of faith communities is further complicated by two elements: philosophical materialism and religious relativism. For the materialist, the language of faith communities confirms the idea that Christians are not capable of rigorous thought, since their reasoning is unable to conform to Hume’s analytical and empirical tests and is thus “sophistry and illusion” – in other words they operate in the sphere of faith and not the real world.
For the religious relativist, the language of faith communities confirms the idea that all the religious faiths are equally true or untrue. There is no space for one truth or one orthodoxy, because faith is merely faith, you believe whatever you want to believe and this has no impact on the beliefs or claims of others.
Whether confirming the misconceptions of the materialist or the religious relativist the language of faith communities is increasingly unhelpful, as Christians seek to speak up for Christ in the public sphere. Biblical faith cannot be written off so easily – since the evidence for Christ whether historical or contemporary is deeply compelling. It cuts through all the preconceptions and competing worldviews out there, to challenge every human heart, whatever our culture, skin colour, prejudices or status.