Sunday, February 10, 2008

'Ought to' evangelism

There's a certain attitude that I have noticed both within Unitarianism and within British culture in general. I'm calling it 'ought to' evangelism. Within British culture there are some Christians who have this attitude. The attitude is - this is a Christian country - you ought to be Christian. You get it a lot at Christmas, 'ah,' they say, 'you're spending time with your family and giving presents on the 25 December, so you really ought to go to church, because that's really what it's all about you know.' It's a Christendom attitude that comes from a perceives position of dominance and privelege. It assumes people are already basically Christian, and just need to be guilt-tripped to returning to church.

The similar attitude comes from some Christians within Unitarianism. They say, 'Unitarianism is a Christian religious community, so you ought to be Christian if you're a Unitarian.' It too comes from a position of presumed dominance.

But here's the problem: not everyone in Britain is Christian, not everyone within Unitarianism is Christian. Now whatever you may think about that, it remains a fact. If you accept that fact, how effective do you think it will be to say, 'well, you ought to be Christian'?

No one is going to change their mind because they come across that attitude, in fact, it's likely to do the opposite. What I would like Christians within Unitarianism to do is simply live and witness to the power of Christ in their lives. Don't say 'you ought to be Christian' don't uphold or defend a tradition, don't seek to convert by the power of your theological or historical arguments. Rather, from a position of marginality, let your life preach louder than your lips. If people see that those who call themselves Christian are spiritually alive, socially engaged, joyful and gossipy about their diverse Jesus-centred faiths, then people might think there is something to this Christianity thing.

I preach to myself as much as to anyone else.


Blogger Robin Edgar said...

Interestingly enough, Padiham Unitarians thought that Padiham Christian churches ought to accept their invitation to their apparent misappropriation of Women's World Day of Prayer and got publicly snooty about it when Padiham Anglicans and Baptists politely declined their invitation.

8:56 pm  

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