It's been a busy week. I've only just read this from the the Saturday papers and now realise it's all over the blogosphere anyway - nonetheless...
Whenever evangelicals lose their nerve, Matthew Parris (columnist for the Times) can be counted on to set us straight - atheist though he is.
There was this famous piece in 2003, declaring that Evangelical Anglicans were right to oppose gay bishops.
As it happens I do not believe in the mind of God. But Christians do and must strive to know more of it. Nothing they read in the Old and New Testaments gives a scintilla of support to the view that the God of Israel was an inclusive God, or inclined to go with the grain of human nature; much they read suggests a righteous going against the grain...
Revelation, therefore, not logic, must lie at the core of the Church’s message. You cannot pick and choose from revealed truth.
Or there was this brilliant aside here when comparing climate change advocates with Christians:
British ministers talk about climate change in the way many Christians talk about their faith. If they believed only half of what they profess, then the knowledge would surely have galvanised them, shaken them rigid; they would be grabbing us by our lapels and begging us, imploring us, commanding us, to repent.
But his Saturday piece on Christian evangelism as the hope for Africa was just excellent:
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good...
Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.
Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.
And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.
Of course in among all those "M" words there's a glaring omission - but the point is well made no?