We’ve forgotten that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (see Eph. 6:12)
We’ve forgotten that the “atheists” are flesh-and-blood, fellow humans. We aren’t supposed to be fighting against them. Our real enemies, the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world”, aren’t going to be defeated by snarky ad campaigns.
We’ve forgotten that atheists are not the enemy.
Rather than drawing a circle bigger and bigger, inviting others inside, we reinforce out boundaries and declare with certainty that God is on our side. All the while, we’re making enemies out of neighbors.
“Love your enemies”, He said, but we’d rather fight them to the death.
We want to defeat them in Times Square. But you can’t love somebody once you’ve slain them.
So maybe it’s time to put down our swords and reach out with arms of love instead. To our brothers and sisters. To our enemies. To our neighbors.
To all of our atheist friends. (emphasis in original)
Oh, boo-hoo. I haven’t forgotten that “atheists are not the enemy.” They are in the grips of an Evil who would just love for us to tip-toe around him. This silly notion that we should “reach out with arms of love” — sort of like Rachel Held Evans did? — has turned us into namby-pamby do-gooders who have zero backbone to stand up to people who believe they randomly arose of from sludge and tell them they’re full of crap. And don’t get me started about this dumb idea of “inviting [atheists] inside” our “circle. ” And inside our “circle” we do, what? Toast marshmallows, tell atheists they’re bitchin’, and worship Nature? Sorry. If my “atheist friends” want to enjoy a dog and a beer at the ball game with me, fine. But if we’re talking about a spiritual “circle” — you know, the one where “light” and “darkness” are at odds (II Cor. 6:14) — then maintaining some distance might be healthy.
Chuck McKnight is much less pretentious. In Responding to Things Like AiG’s Billboard (AiG is Answers in Genesis, the group promoting the ad), McKnight writes:
First, to those atheists I count as friends, as well as those I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, I unreservedly apologize for the existence of that sign. It does not reflect well on my Savior, on my friends at AiG, or on Christianity as a whole.
I am sorry. Please forgive us.
Second, to my friends at AiG, I know your heart is in the right place. Because I know you, I know that your sincere desire is to proclaim the truth to unbelievers. But I can’t understand what made you think this was a good way to do so.
Hearts are not changed by shouting “YOU’RE WRONG” from the corner of Times Square. And the fact that you dragged God into the same sentence could only possibly serve to harden people against him. True, God works in mysterious ways, and he can redeem even this debacle, but it would be in spite of that sign, not because of it.
Am I the only one who is getting tired of Christians apologizing for other Christians? Please. Maybe you should just stick to apologizing for, um, yourself. Listen, Mr. McKnight seems like a nice guy. But who is he to say that this billboard campaign “does not reflect well on my Savior… or on Christianity as a whole”? Frankly, I like it and wish Christians would be more smart and savvy in the marketplace. Besides, Ken Ham, part of the AiG braintrust, has gone on record saying the campaign has been a huge success.
…the whole package of billboards, web articles, and a video has done what we and JDA [the ad firm that put together this campaign] hoped it would do: get secularists to visit our website, comment about it, and have the nation talking about God’s existence.
McKnight might think the billboard campaign “does not reflect well on my Savior.” Problem is, Ken Ham doesn’t. And they purportedly serve the same Savior. As far as how this represents “Christianity as a whole,” I’m a part of that “whole” and I kind of like this approach.
Does Ken Ham and AiG reflect me and my beliefs? Sort of.* Is this ad a cheap shot at attention-getting? Absolutely! Are there better ways to engage atheists in dialog? Of course! But if part of that “dialog” includes billboards, soundbites, stickers, T-shirts, logos, and pop cultural trivialities, then by all means — engage!
The atheists to whom the AiG ad is addressing make no bones about offending Christians. While I’m not saying we should be intentionally offensive, I see no problem playing this game. In fact, I wish more Christians would launch smart, witty, brash, creative, bombastic, humorous, provocative salvos into the pop cultural marketplace. (And, no, I’m not talking about fish stickers eating Darwin stickers.) But this idea that “reach[ing] out with arms of love” means never chiding, challenging, or confronting — and definitely NOT using billboards to do so — is nonsense.
* I’m not a young earth creationist, which is the central position of AiG.