I wrote a blog for Christianity magazine on the tenth anniversary of the ‘atheist bus’ campaign. This milestone made me think about how much has changed since then. While ‘new atheism’ seemed to be a threat to many Christians at the time, it’s since died down. But ‘woke’ atheism, or identity politics, that I’ve written about a few times recently, has surged in that time – and I think this is a trend that the church really needs to address.
I’m a Christian, and so naturally, Richard Dawkins sometimes gets right up my nose. However, there is a lot that I really like and respect about him, even though I consider his arguments against Christianity to be false.
I also think that in many ways, he has been good for the church. So I wrote for Christianity magazine, on “10 reasons for Christians to thank Richard Dawkins”. Hope you enjoy it!
When I heard of the Charleston shooting story broke, I was asked to write a background piece on the State Senator who was killed, Clementa Pinckney. I was touched by the photos of this man, which suggested a loving and humble character. I was touched by the tributes, that he was kind, without cynicism and served others. I was touched by his words about service to the community.
Why would God allow such an outrage in a church? My answer to this is not about whether God ‘allowed’ it, but more what the people of that church are demonstrating – the real face of Jesus Christ.
Clementa was clearly a man of faith. When I saw the faces of the other victims, all I could see was that radiant joy that you see when people are really close to Christ. They are beautiful:
All the more in contrast with the angry, confused and hateful expression on the killer’s face. He is reported to have said that he nearly didn’t kill them because they were so nice to him.
The legacy and fruit of that Bible study group is next displayed in one of the most extraordinary expressions of Christ I’ve ever seen. One by one, the family members of the victims spoke at the killer’s bond hearing, and told the killer, whose impassive face is seen in this video, some extraordinary words:
I forgive you. You took something really precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. God have mercy on your soul. You’ve hurt me, you’ve hurt a lot of people. But God forgive you, and I forgive you.
I would like you to know that… I forgive you and my family forgive you. we would like to take this opportunity to repent. And give your life to the One who matters the most, Christ, so he can change you. He can change your ways no matter what happen to you. And you’ll be OK. Do that. You’ll be better off than you are right now.
We welcome you Wednesday night in our Bible study, with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know. Every fibre in my body hurts. I’ll never be the same. [My son] was my hero. We enjoyed you [in the Bible study]. May God have mercy on you.
Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate. But everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love, and their legacies live in love. And, hate won’t win.
I’m a work in progress, and I acknowledge that I am very angry… we are the family that love built. We have no room for hate… may God bless you.
If you don’t think that Christianity is true, and Jesus is real – I don’t know how you can deny the reality of Christ living in these people. The ability to forgive while in such pain and grief is the power of God, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. What an amazing community.
I loved researching this story for Christian Today before the weekend and the big fight, do take a look!
Boxer Manny Pacquiao used to go to church – but he also cheated on his wife, drank and gambled. Then he had an amazing encounter with God and his life changed. Now he tells people of the importance of obeying God, and being born again. He said:
When you have Jesus in your life, when you have God in your life, the things in this world are not important to your heart. The most important is God in your heart
I read around the guy and his conversion seems to be very sincere. Great that he can see that God is so much greater than all the money and trappings of fame.