My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

30 November 2005

Apologetics Assignment

If you listen to NPR at all, you've likely heard the ongoing series, What I Believe, a collection of essays by some regular people and some more famous than regular people. The essays are collected here.

Reading the titles of some of the essays, like "Finding Prosperity by Feeding Monkeys" and "Getting Angry Can be a Good Thing" and "In Praise of the 'Wobbles'", I almost passed by quickly. Then I realized what a great opportunity was here to understand the mind of our culture. So often we talk about engaging culture in order to understand people so that we might better present the gospel to them; and then we use that mission to rationalize engaging the more poisonous parts of culture that appeal to our old man. Here is a better way, a chance to read the heart of people.

For instance, Penn (from Penn & Teller) has an essay titled, "There is No God" wherein he argues that, indeed, there is not a god and this is a good thing. Reading his essay will do a couple things: first, it will make you look up the word solipsistic (finding in its definition a very good reason to believe in a god) and second, it will stretch as you wonder how you might answer such a man.

What a great Sunday School class this would make - reading and discussing the major beliefs of real people. How would Jesus bring the truth to such a person?

Interestingly enough, were we to use these essays for that purpose, we would be subverting the intended purpose of the essays. About the show's creators:
In reviving This I Believe, Allison and Gediman say their goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, they hope to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.
So they don't want Americans to believe the same things; too bad about that whole "every knee bowing, every tongue confessing" thing. Well, in the meantime, this is a great tool for plundering the Egyptians. Read a few essays and see for yourself. Maybe even submit your own essay.


Catherine said...

I know I'm a total dork, but I know what solipsistic means. I used to think it was a problem that primarily affected young people who didn't know better yet, but if you think about it, solipsism is at the root of a lot of philosophies that search for meaning apart from Christ, although it's also a problem among people who don't give a lot of thought to the meaning of life at all...

Good idea about the exercise to use the essays to come up with ways to present the Gospel to these viewpoints. I'd be interested to hear what people would come up with.

Sal_et_lucis said...

Yes, finding out the beliefs of famous world figures does make for a good and interesting Sunday School class. Using these beliefs, it can easily be seen how and why our culture is where it is today.