Monday, January 10, 2011

‘Being offended’ comes with the territory

Albert Mohler, author, speaker and president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently wrote a piece for Christianity.com titled “How Not to Fight Atheism.”

He refers to a group in Texas that began running advertisements on public buses that read, “Millions of Americans are Good Without God.” Christians expressed outrage and called for a boycott of public transportation. The transportation authority then voted to ban ALL religious ads on buses. Supposedly, both sides cheered the decision.

Perhaps the Christians should not have been clapping.

In Mohler’s words:
Christians are sometimes our own worst enemy, especially when we claim to be offended. Those pastors and concerned Christians who demanded that the transportation authority ban the atheist ads actually gave the secularists the Grand Prize. By precipitating (and, of all things, celebrating) a ban on all religious messages from this public space, these Christians surrendered Gospel opportunities simply because they were offended by an atheist advertisement. No wonder the atheists clapped.

This is a disastrous strategy. Are Christians so insecure that we fear a weakly-worded advertisement on a public bus? These bus ads represent just how weak the atheists' arguments really are, but the response from agitated Christians represents a far more dangerous weakness. Instead of responding to the ads with a firm and gracious defence of the Gospel, these activists just surrendered the space altogether, rather than to bear the offense of the cross.

Christianity has enemies, and the greatest victory of these enemies is to prevent the proclamation of the Gospel. The strategy so celebrated in Fort Worth is a route to evangelistic disaster. Religious liberty is a friend of the Gospel, and constraints on religious speech serve the cause of the secularists.

Being a Christian does not mean never having to be offended. Like the Apostle Paul, we are called to bear the offence of the cross gladly. If Paul had followed the Fort Worth strategy, Acts 17 would never have happened.
As Christians, "being offended" comes with the territory. Take a moment to read Acts 17. I'll leave you with the last three verses: "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, 'We will hear you again on this matter.' So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them."

Some believed! That makes everything else Paul experiences worth the offence.

You can read Mohler’s full story here.

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