The Atlantic recently published a great read called “Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity.” As usual, an article of this calibre is making its way around the social media sphere. There is one sentence that seems to have caught everybody’s attention: “I really can’t consider a Christian a good, moral person if he isn’t trying to convert me.”
Gut wrenching. Soul checking. It makes my insides twinge a little.
Could it really be? Am I immoral if I’m not avidly trying to convert people?
What is challenging about this is how it stands in contrast to other messages that float around in our culture. Think about this widely held notion: it’s immoral to share your faith because such activity is “intolerant” of other belief systems. “If it makes your life better, then good for you,” is often the subtly condescending sentiment.
And in many ways, Christians blindly adhere to this creed. It lets us off the hook! “Believe what you want, but keep it to yourself.” But this sort of sentiment, despite how palatable it may be, is dangerous and misleading.
The message of Christianity is not just about our lives being made better. Christianity at its core is making claims about how things really are. If we are wrong, we are deluded. At least, that’s how Paul feels. He says if the physical resurrection isn’t true, “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:12-19).
Really, of all people? Pitied more than orphans, widows, those suffering from hunger and diseases, the war ravaged? To Paul, there is nothing more pitiable than being utterly deceived and wrong. If the message of Christianity is not true, if it is not historical, if the resurrection is not physical, then it is a religion of deception, misinformation, and at its heart immoral as well.
I would suggest that it is even immoral to encourage people to continue in a delusion. While I adamantly disagree with many friends who are atheists, I respect that they feel a sense of conviction when it comes to truth, and a sense of necessity in helping people come to a better sense of what is true. Despite our differences, there is one thing Christians and atheists agree upon: Morality and truth share a bed together.