Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

Dealing with skepticism

As demonstrated in our own newspaper, religious dialogue between “Christians” and secularists is not often amiable and not necessarily rational. Basic disagreement can quickly digress into “school yard name calling”. An unfortunate aspect of popular culture is this tendency to approach those with whom we disagree religiously or politically as if they are basically stupid, evil, and unworthy of being heard.

 

In my religious past I was exposed to the history of what is known, at least in some circles, as the Restoration Movement. This so-called “return to primitive Christianity” was an outgrowth of a series of outdoor revival meetings in the early 19th Century. Preachers like Barton W. Stone, Alexander Campbell, and John Smith were recognized leaders during this period; so as I studied this “restoration”, I decided to read the Memoirs of Alexander Campbell. One aspect of Campbell’s life story stood out very strongly in my mind. As a prominent preacher of his day, Campbell drew the attention of the most prominent skeptics of that time. In dealing with these “unbelievers”, Campbell always displayed a great respect for them, despite his strong disagreement with their religious conclusions. That sort of attitude among religious people is all too lacking today. Campbell apparently understood that, in presenting the story about God, belittling the audience was the last thing he wanted to do.

 

I suspect that believers could actually learn a few things from the skeptics if we bothered to listen. Much of what bothers and alienates the unbelievers are the very aspects of Christian orthodoxy which trouble many believers, if only subconsciously. Frankly facing these questionable issues could help resolve them for the benefit of believer and unbeliever alike.

 

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