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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The latest post-ism?

Apparently, things do not bode well for atheism these days. Since the celebrated turnabout of Anthony Flew's disbelief, some observers are claiming that atheism is in so much of a decline that we will soon see the rise of yet another "post-ism":
The time is fast approaching when many people who are living in ignorance with no knowledge of their Creator will be graced by faith in the impending post-atheist world.
That quote comes from Turkish philosopher Harun Yahya, but I doubt this means we will soon witness a new era of belief and mass-conversions.

True, atheism continues to lose its stranglehold among scholars and masses alike. More people are beginning to regard it with "repulsion" and relegate it to "irrationality and ignorance." Yet, they aren't hurrying to become theists, (let alone Christians) either.

Rather there is now an...
emergence of a diffuse belief system... but not the revitalization of traditional Christian religious faith.
Gerald McDermott, an episcopal priest and professor of religion and philosophy at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. notes that in the US, the
rise of all sorts of paganism is creating a false spirituality that proves to be a more dangerous rival to the Christian faith than atheism.
Rev. Paul M. Zulehner, dean of Vienna University's divinity school and one of the world's most distinguished sociologists of religion, notes that in Europe,
re-Christianization is by no means occurring. "What we are observing instead is a re-paganization,"
Now, I don't think we want to see a re-Christianization happening at all. If by that is meant something akin to what happened when in the Holy Roman Empire in the ancient times, then it had better not be a re-Christianization! Nor, do I think it necessarily that the decline of atheism will result in an easier means to preach the gospel.

Unless Christians understand that preaching the gospel is not so much about speech, rhetoric and argument, and embrace what Jesus taught in John 13 when he said
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
In fact, I think that the goal of our apologetics would be more effectively achieved if Christians are more passionate about making this Scripture our mission statement instead of 1 Peter 3:15 ("always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you").

Unless we demonstrate the love of God in our lives, we will not be able to draw people to God. It won't matter if atheism might have lost its currency, if we forget that "preaching the gospel" is more about the gospel than about the preaching, we would still face an uphill battle in fulling our Lord's commision to make disciples of all nations.