29 December 2008

Some things are hard to deny

posted by Phil Johnson

t TimesOnline, avowed atheist Matthew Parris writes an article admitting that "Africa needs God." Here's a portion of the article:

Travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.
HT: Joel Griffith


Johnny T. Helms said...

Ahhhh, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Thank our Father for faithful missionaries.

Dizma said...

Thank God. And thank you Philip for sharing this article with us.

FX Turk said...

Dang. Now I have to come up with a new topic for Wednesday ...

ErnestoPerdonado said...

this post and Penn Jillete's video you posted last week are great encouragements!

thanks for posting!

Frank, you have two days and 66 books from which to choose, it's not that hard!

Tom Austin said...

Another encouraging message:
Christ is the Lord

December 22, 2008 | 412 Comments

Three years ago, I promoted and appeared in the atheist documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There,” dedicated to the proposition that Jesus never existed.


FX Turk said...

Ernesto --

Between this blog and my home blog, I have posted more than 2000 articles for internet consumption.

Some days that seems like more than others. :-)

David Rudd said...

isn't it great to see the missional acts of Christ-followers be acknowledged by the world!

1 Peter 2:11-12.

Becky Schell said...

Hmmm...we should pray for Matthew Parris. What an encouraging post, Phil, thank you.

Anonymous said...

And yet he still refuses to submit to the Gospel even when the evidence of the things unseen is screaming in his face. He will have no excuse when he stands before the Lord. In essence this is his own damning piece of evidence.

But praise the Lord our God for those He calls and sends out into these types of mission fields who plant the seeds and proclaim the Gospel directly to those whom they've come to serve, and indirectly to those who watch from the outside looking in.



Unknown said...

Sometimes, the Lord does not see it fit for the missionary to witness tangible evidence of his work bearing fruit. It is in these times that he must plough on.

We are called to faithfulness. Fruitfulness is in God's hands.


Ellery said...

I meet many intellectuals who feel it unfortunate that the Christian's only real reason for helping others is their primitive faith. They will give a nod to the faith because it has made the person a "better citizen." However, they consider themselves above that & charitable for man's sake & not God's.

It is evident this gentlemen is struggling a bit with his belief system. I pray that this man will one day submit to Christ.

Jon said...

It's very encouraging for someone who is a self-admitted atheist to see that true Christians really do become new creations. He actually sees that their hearts change for the better.

It is definitely a testament to how Christians, in some sense, are more faithful stewards of Christ in oversees missions than we are in the USA. Too many distractions in our daily lives to even care about what happens in countries where the next meal isn't guaranteed. Sobering thought.

We must pray for this man to see the full light of God's revelation. He seems so close.

Moon said...

"And yet he still refuses to submit to the Gospel even when the evidence of the things unseen is screaming in his face. He will have no excuse when he stands before the Lord. In essence this is his own damning piece of evidence."

That's exactly what I thought, we so need to pray for this man!

Chris said...

"I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith."

Arggh...Dewey's pragmatism rears it's ugly head again! It is certainly hard for this atheist to deny what "works", but he fails to see what/who truly "worketh salvation". What a tragic article.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
W. Ian Hall said...

Another atheist. Another powerful witness.
If this is what atheists can do , imagine what Christians could do if they took evangelism seriously.

Chris said...

Was "tragic" too strong a word for me to use? Or was it a completely inaccurate read on the whole story? Please correct me if I am wrong, but I cannot see this any other way but tragic...at least for the author of the article.

I certainly do not wish to take anything away from the wonderful witness of faithful missionaries in my criticism of the article--those who essentially forced this recognition out of the stubborn atheist who has determined that his place will be in hell--but I see their faithful work as a given and expect it as normal. What is so strange in this article is the tragic honesty of this man's unregenerate heart: his one-foot-in and one-foot-out position. Actually, in reading this, I couldn't help but notice how simular this atheist's views are with so many postmodern emer****'s who likewise try to dethrone the majesty of Christ, weaken the gospel, elevate man, and disregard our Lord's glorious atonement because, as good pragmatists, they need to take care of what "really" matters down here on earth before any sort of hubabaloo about the great bye-an-bye.

Unknown said...

This is the latest of several interesting Christianity posts from Parris over the past decade or so.

Previously he's observed that if our gospel is as good as we say it is we should evangelise... that Anglicans should let revelation rather than culture guide them and many similar notes...

Yet it's always observations from a distance, seemingly fascinated like Herod but unwilling to repent.

Solameanie said...

I have to think of C.S. Lewis' story (and not to start an argument over Lewis' theology -- I know some of it is problematic). He described how he was dragged to belief kicking and screaming, and when he finally knelt to pray, he was the most "dejected convert" in all of England.

Perhaps this fellow is in the same, or nearly the same, condition. I pray for his salvation.