Skip to main content

'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.

Comments

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.

Popular posts from this blog

From liberalism to radicalism

I've been reflecting recently on the journey I've been making from liberalism to radicalism, and how I'm beginning to see it as a necessary evolution if you're not going to get stuck in a kind of immature liberalism that fails to serve both you and the world. By liberalism I mean ideas and movements that emphasise personal freedom and not being restricted by the patterns of the past. By radicalism I mean ideas and movements that emphasise justice, solidarity, and liberation from oppression. Yes, I'm using broad categories here. Let me give an example. Let's talk about sexual liberation in a Western context for example. We can talk about women getting more agency over their bodies; gay and bi people being able to have sex with one another and marry one another; we can talk about the work of overcoming shame around sexuality. All of that is liberalism. It's good stuff. It's still ongoing. So we might ask the question "where next for sexu

Am I an activist?

  I remember being at some protest outside the Senedd once, and someone introduced me to someone else, and said, "Stephen is an activist." I remember thinking - am I? I don't know. What does it mean to be an activist? Who gets to use that title? Am I an activist because I turn up at a few protests? Or do I have to be one them organising the protest to be an activist? Do I have to lead? Do I have to do the organisational work to be an activist? Because the truth is that since I moved to Cardiff I have kept myself at the periphery of a lot of activist groups. I go to meetings, I hear about things, I turn up at protests, but I have rarely got really fully involved. Why is that? It's not for the reason that I don't have time. I do, in fact. But often I sit in these meetings and protests and think "Is this effective? Is it worthwhile? Is it going to produce something at the end of it all that is worth the effort?" I suppose, coming from the world of church I

LOST and theology: who are the good guys?

***Spoiler alert*** I'm continuing some theological/philosophical reflections while re-watching the series LOST. One of the recurring themes in LOST is the idea of the "good guys" and the "bad guys." We start the series assuming the survivors (who are the main characters) are the "good guys" and the mysterious "Others" are definitely bad guys. But at the end of series 2 one of the main characters asks the Others, "Who are  you people?" and they answer, in an extremely disturbing way, "We're the good guys." The series develops with a number of different factions appearing, "the people from the freighter" "the DHARMA initiative" as well as divisions among the original survivors. The question remains among all these complicated happenings "who really are the good guys?" I think one of the most significant lines in the series is an episode when Hurley is having a conversation with