This is the second post in a series of three, aimed at making evangelicals in the field more successful in their ministry to atheists. The first post was How to Convert an Atheist. Go and read that one first if you have not already done so.
What exactly is the “Good News”? Evangelising Christianity is about sharing the “Good News”. As such, it is important that the news is actually good. What might seem like good news to you, might not seem like good news from another perspective. It is important to understand this. As mentioned last time, it is important to look at it from an atheist’s perspective. This exercise may also help you understand the good news better yourself.
Below is a video titled “Kissing Hank’s Ass”. Be warned, this video tries to offend. Do not let it offend you, otherwise you will be unable to learn anything. Learn to turn the other cheek. Furthermore, I suspect if you are offended, it might be as a result of viewing it with an egocentric perspective. Instead, look at the video with compassion or empathy. Place yourself in the atheist’s shoes, try your best to understand how the atheist thinks. Also avoid the trap of feeling “pity”, that would also suppress a good understanding. Only when you understand how they think, will you have any chance to actually converse with them in a meaningful manner.
The clip is just over seven and a half minutes long. If your bandwidth is limited, you may read the script that inspired the video clip instead. There is also a sanitised version available, which replaces the words “ass” and “shit” with “butt” and “snot”. (The video clip also includes profanities. If such things bother you, read the sanitised version instead.)
It is now assumed that you have read the script or watched the video clip. If you have not yet done so, go do it! Also, think it over. Maybe come back to this post later, even.
What I think you should have learned from this (please share what you learned, let’s have a discussion!): “you are going to hell” is not Good News. All too often, however, this is the core of the news that evangelicals give to atheists. “You are going to hell (but I can show you how to avoid it).” There is no way you will get them interested with such news. Amongst other things, they do not fear a literal hell. So, what to do?
If this is a problem you are facing, it may be that you do not fully comprehend what aspects of the gospel would be considered good news by non-believers. I would suggest you read The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren (amazon, kalahari). That should get you started. I believe a lot of it is based on the work of NT Wright, a Bible scholar. I have yet to read NT Wright’s stuff itself, however, to the scholarly minded (or even the atheist), I could recommend reading Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg (amazon, kalahari), another Bible scholar. If you are in the Stellenbosch area, you are welcome to borrow my books.
If either of these books do not increase your respect for Jesus or your excitement about or your understanding of his message, let me buy you a meal at a decent restaurant if I know you personally, otherwise a cup of coffee or something similar, or maybe a beer: I’d like to hear your feedback.
Please be friendly in the comments. That doesn’t mean you can’t disagree, I love friendly disagreements. This blog is my home in cyberspace, and you are my guests – ideally, my friends even. (If we have not yet met, maybe we should…) Be sure to give a valid email address.