Saturday, 10 July 2010

Dinner With An Atheist Prime Minister

Christians down through the centuries have long had to learn to exist in the midst of often hostile regimes. During these times the Church has not only survived, but frequently thrived. Recently, our newly appointed Prime Minister made media headlines by stating emphatically that she was an Atheist. Them thar were fightin' words to the ears of many Christians. 

To them, the cultural battle lines were drawn. But is this the best outlook for the Church to take? I wondered what I would say to the PM about Christianity if I was invited to a private dinner with her?  
The Statesman Psalmist wrote, "I will speak to kings about Your decrees, I will not be ashamed." (Psalm 119:46) But what would you say to your President, Governor, or Prime Minister, if you were invited to a private dinner with them? Jesus told His disciples that they would be called to appear before kings and governors for His sake to "bear witness before them" (Matthew 10:18) The apostle Paul was also told (by the prophet Ananias) that he would stand before kings and Gentile rulers (Acts 9:15). And he did. I'll conclude by noting how he handled one of these encounters.

If I was invited to a private dinner with the Prime Minister to share with her about Christianity, there would be a few things that I would like to ensure. Firstly, like any of my meetings with any other politician, I would want this meeting to be discreet. No Twitter tweets. No Facebook Status Updates. Discretion.
Secondly, my discussion goal would be simple and would involve creating my best chance for having another dinner meeting with her. To this end I would inform that I pray daily for her to have God's wisdom and direction, and that I pastor a church that does the same.

My first dinner meeting with her would be to clear away her misapprehensions, and perhaps even misconceptions, about Christianity. This would involve pointing out that -

  1. The Separation of Church and State is about interference, not holding each other accountable. The State has a right to hold the Church accountable, but vice versa is also true. 
  2. People Are Equal, Ideas Are Not. Truth is testable, verifiable, and falsifiable. Christianity's truth claims are able to pass these criteria like no other religion. The teachings of Christ are unique among the religious founders of history and form the best framework for a civil, fair, just, equitable, and prosperous society.
  3. Faith Is Not The Opposite of Reason. Faith is grounded in reasonable evidence. Christianity is the most reasonable of all the world's religions. It's Sacred Book, the Bible, invites investigation like no other Holy Book. But faith in God and His Word proceeds investigation and results in reasonable confirmation of its content.

I would then invite questions from her and, provided these were within my scope of expertise, attempt to answer them accurately. I would then ask for the opportunity to be consulted on matters of moral, ethical, or religious contention. I wouldn't assume to be the only voice on these matters, but would at least value the opportunity to have my opinion considered.

When the Apostle Paul was before Governor Felix, he spoke right into the ruler's soul.
After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.  And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” (Acts 24:24-25)

I hope that I could do the same. I would want the moral authority and the opportunity to speak from my heart about faith in Christ, the radical difference this makes for the better in a person's life, and why it is eternally imperative to accept it. I would reason about these things, just like Paul did. Righteousness, Self-Control and coming Judgment. None of us are righteous before God without the merit of Christ. None of us always chooses the good and denies our sinful flesh its cravings. The result for the one who rejects Christ's forgiveness and offer to be reconciled with God is: coming Judgment. Not even Prime Ministers are exempt from having to repent and seek God's grace and forgiveness. And in my limited experience with politicians they of all people are often racked by loneliness, emptiness, and heart-ache. And like many people who seek answers in all the wrong places, they have become proud and unreasonably resistant to the very Answer their soul longs for.

If you were to be invited to speak about Christianity with your Prime Minister or President, what would you want to say to them?

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks, Andrew. Well written and thought provocative. My own thoughts go to the soon-to-be-announced election and whether I, as a believer, should cast a vote in favour of a woman who does not submit God nor to a partner in marriage. In casting such a vote, would I be endorsing such behaviour? Thanks again, Vince Misdom