David G. from Australia emailed us, concerned that our ministry seemed to be taking the focus away from much more important issues of charity. However, the whole approach commits the fallacy of false alternatives, aka the “either-or” fallacy. His letter appears first in full:
Dear CMI Christian ministers,
I have read your mission statement as it is presented on your website and have these concerns. The purpose of the Christian ministry is to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations … (you take that to mean “Christians,” as “disciples” as they were “called” in Acts: 11(it does not specify by whom)). I do not understand how you justify spending your valuable time and money “defending” against the “attacks” of “atheists.” There is “faith, hope, and love … ,” but you seem to add your own brand of “jihad” against the atheists to the list.
How do you defend “faith” with reason? This is absurd. These two notions are apples and oranges; they are distinct in function and form. The miracle of salvation is never presented as an act of reason, but of relationship to God; something that is impossible to prove outside of the mind of a believer, especially in your extreme brand of Christian faith. Defending God and faith is unnecessary and a distraction to the believer’s call by Christ and the mission of the church.
Would you defend God? Does God need your defense? Of course not! Then neither is it necessary to defend your faith, but instead only to live it through good deeds and the sincerity of your worship – in that order. After all, who would listen to sound preaching if there were no cause to do so, that is love (as defined in – well, you know where).
I hope you will stop your incessant and futile “warring” with “atheists,” and set about the only true work of the church which is foremost, to feed the poor, heal the sick, and take care of the children of the world. Teaching people to do these things is “discipleship,” not argument and intellectual “jihad” against an insignificant fraction of the peoples of the earth who are “atheists.”
Let go of this incessant distraction, this imaginary war that is based in the fear of “doubt” (which all reasonable people of faith have in some measure), and focus on the true Christian tasks as they are assigned to you – that is “faith, hope, and love, the foremost being love.
Far more would be won through acts of love and relationship than with a rare conversion through arguments of “reason.” The war of Christ’s church is against hunger, sickness, and wars between nations; not war between faiths or against the questions of faith which are merely doubt.
In addition, it is my experience that non-theists are not so concerned with winning this debate as they are with protecting their rights according to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. They have a much different agenda for the most part, and care far less about the argument than you. Believe it or not, their main concern is their freedom from religious tyranny, something history has proven to be a righteous cause, indeed. You must care about the rights of others more than your own. Defend their civil and moral rights to deny God, not to believe, and not to have creationism forced upon their children in the public schools, and they someday just might allow you to share with them the word of God in love.
You must come to the realization that you are not about the business of the Great Commission at all, but instead you are consumed in winning legal battles over curriculum in the public schools. This does nothing in the way of loving your enemy, healing the sick, or feeding the children, not to mention leading many to salvation or discipling anyone at all. You are fighting a battle that was exhausted twenty years ago and abandoned by most Christians because they have found far more fruitful and relevant battles to fight. I ask you, do you spend more time demonstrating Christian love and tolerance toward your enemy or arguing with them? It seems you would rather argue with a hungry atheist than feed him—or do you even care if he is hungry. I assure you, dear friend, the wars that end human existence will not be over ideas, but over food. If you want to save the world through Christ you must first see to it that the hungry are fed. For the starving, belief will always lean in the direction of food, or would you believe a good debate would turn their mind to God? I suggest that you save your creationism debate you have so passionately embraced to be put aside until the day when the great audience of the world is no longer hungry.
I challenge you to give up the theater of debate, to cease your futile efforts to deconstruct evolutionary theory, and end your battle over curriculum in the public schools in order to pick up the distasteful and glamourless chores of feeding, clothing, and healing the hungry hoards of the world. If you feed and clothe a thousand starving naked children, 999 of them will crumble in gratitude at the feet of Christ who sent you in His name; or would you prefer defending your irrelevant faith against what is largely an imaginary onslaught of atheism? In reality the defensive nature of this ministry demonstrates that atheism is actually a threat to your own beliefs and is a terror to you in the shadow of your own doubts, such is the passion of your anger and the severity of your defensiveness.
I wish you well in your pursuit of God. But I assure you that God spends little time in the arena of this debate. If you truly wish to know Christ, at least now you know where he waits for you.
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