Seeing IS Believing

I read this morning an sobering quote that I think many of my Christian friends need to read. It is from Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire (by Canadians Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat) This part of the book is written as a dialogue between two people. I hope it has the same impact on you, being out of context, as it did on me.

“Of the friends of mine who have abandoned Christian faith, very few of them stopped believing in Christ because of intellectual problems with the Bible or because they were seduced by some other worldview or belief system. Rather, they tend to abandon Christian faith because of the the irrelevance, judgmentalism, internal dissension and lack of compassion they experience within the Christian community. Rather than finding the church to be the community that most deeply encouraged them in their struggles, they lost heart in their discouragement and lost their faith in the process. Rather than experiencing the church as the site of the most profound hospitality, love and acceptance, they felt excluded because of their doubts and struggles.”

“This is our point. What makes an argument that is alternative to the gospel plausible? Is it the internal consistency of the argument? Is it its scientific verifiability? Its political and economic power? No, what makes an argument that is alternative to the gospel plausible is the implausibility of the Christian community itself.”

“When the church fails to be a listening community, attentive to the cries of the poor, then the gospel is implausible and alternative social philosophies take on an air of plausibility. When the church becomes a site of bitter enmity while the world is spinning ever more quickly into war and violence, then the gospel is not only implausible, it is an embarrassment. In the face of such failures to be a community that embodies the truth that came to save the world, it is no wonder that alternative visions become more plausible to us.”

“So the church needs to put up or shut up.”

“That pretty well sums up a biblical epistemology. We need to struggle to discern Christian paths in politics, the arts, ecology, economics and all the rest of our life because the very plausibility of the gospel hangs on it.”