The Witness of a Panicked Pagan
- Friday, October 19, 2007
We need to hold out the glory of God’s salvation to people, in all its polychromatic grandeur. The Gospel is not just about being forgiven and feeling peaceful and hopeful about heaven. It’s about that, to be sure, but there is more. The Gospel of the Kingdom is about a glorious rule of righteousness, peace, and joy that is advancing over all the earth, the Light of God driving the darkness of ignorance, despair, and destitution back over the horizon, as it increases over all the earth (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 2:44,45; 1 John 2:8). All things are being made new, and joy and rejoicing are the order of the new order, as men and women enter into the grace and truth of God, where they discover fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
The power of persuasion. Finally, Demetrius was especially concerned because he realized Paul had managed to accomplish this by the power of persuasion. He could not have understood about the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to new life. But he understood there were no gimmicks, trickery, theatricality, or other tomfoolery deceiving all those who were coming to Christ. They were being persuaded to believe, pure and simple, and, thus, persuaded not to believe in Artemis any longer.
We need to learn the art of persuasion better. Persuasion involves conversation, listening with understanding, developing relationships of mutual enjoyment and trust, and earning the right to ask hard questions and discuss personal views and concerns. Paul didn’t just preach, and neither should we. He shared testimonies with people. He asked questions and was questioned. He dialogued and discussed matters at length. He urged people to consider their own worldview and just how coherent and reasonable it was in the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what we need to do as well.
The concerned pagans of our day have been given a bit of a respite lately, what with the heroic efforts of Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens assuring them there’s nothing to worry about and nothing to fear from these purveyors of religion. But, as Michael Novak argued so eloquently recently in First Things, these screeds are the cries of desperate men. The Demetriuses of our day are gathering the troops together to warn about the spread of the Gospel into all of life. Rather than be cowed by their bravado, let us turn up the heat and devote ourselves to advancing the Good News of Jesus broadly, precisely, with a clear and compelling vision, and by all the powers of persuasion available to us.
Whom are you seeking to persuade concerning the Gospel? How can the people around you see that there really is transforming power in this Good News?
T. M. Moore is dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of 20 books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet), and Culture Matters (Brazos). He and his wife and editor, Susie, make their home in Concord, Tenn.
This article originally appeared on BreakPoint. Used with permission.
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