"Undercover at Thomas Road: An Interview with Gina Welch" written by Trevis Wax peeks into a crazy situation--a woman fakes being a Christian for two years to get a look into the supposedly crazy world of religious fanatics in America. Oh, and she did all this so she could write a book. I had saved this article from over three years ago and just got around to reading it last week (!). I immediately remembered why I had saved it. There are two things that stood out to me. (All emphasis is mine.)
"It answers our common longings…"
Trevin Wax: What are the aspects of evangelical Christianity at Thomas Road that you found attractive?
Gina Welch: There are plenty of ideas in evangelical Christianity that appeal to me. It would be nice to know that even the most hideous acts of violence and destruction happen for a reason. It would be nice to know that this short life isn’t the end, that there’s something better on the other side, and that when I lose someone it’s only temporary. It would be nice to know what’s expected of me. It would be nice to know when I have dark thoughts or do something I know I shouldn’t it’s because that’s my natural sinful wiring, that I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. I think that’s why evangelical Christianity is such a popular formula–because it answers our common longings.
We must embrace the fact that our faith answers the questions that upper-middle class yuppies in suburbia ask, and those same questions and longings--the same that Ms. Welch intimates--are shared by destitute subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. They are common not as the product of a socio-evolutionary process but because they were put there by a Creator. And He alone gives the answers. In Christ.
Let's stop being on the defensive when dealing with our pervasively secular society. I am not referring to flippancy and abrasiveness, but like Paul, let us be unashamed of the Gospel of Christ. It and it alone makes sense of the world.[^os-quote]
A bridge too far
Trevin Wax: Have you read any substantive defenses of Christianity besides C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity? (I’m thinking specifically of a book like Tim Keller’s The Reason for God).
Gina Welch: I haven’t read Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, and I’m open to it, but investigating Christianity’s truth is sort of not the project of my book. I leave theological argumentation to other writers.
My interest was in understanding the psychological architecture behind evangelical Christianity in a way that might make it easier to relate to, in order to promote mutual understanding. I think evangelical Christians have got to accept that some people are always going to be nonbelievers and vice versa, and we’ve got to figure out how to coexist and be respect each other’s ideas even while we disagree.
Also, my experience with believers tells me that belief in God isn’t a result of reasoning, that most people come to belief because they inherited it or because they had a profound emotional experience that made God seem real. In the evangelism class I took at Thomas Road, we learned that the precondition for talking to someone about the Gospel was the question, “Do you believe in God and the Bible?” The script assumed the answer would be yes. If the answer was no, you simply walked away. We were armed with arguments for Christianity, but not for God.
How heart-wrenching to hear someone confess that they want to believe that the Christian claims are true (see here answer in the first quote), and yet be unwilling to investigate further. For all of her study, she has neglected the basis of the Christian faith. It is rooted in history. If Christ is who He claims to be, if He did what eyewitnesses (the Gospel writers) claimed that He did, then one must make a decision. Ms. Welch has decided to not seek out those that may answer her objections.
We, though, must willingly address any serious question or objection to our faith. Don't entertain scoffers or engage in endless arguments. But if people have legitimate questions, we ought answer. If we can't answer them with reasonable answers from the Bible, we need to find a pastor, or evangelist, or Christian writer, or Bible-believing book that will help us.
Some like Ms. Welch will stick their heads in the sand to avoid hearing more truth that undermines their world, but some will hear the truth. That truth will break through their blindness, and they will believe. May we always be sowing!
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2 Corinthians 4:3–4
- Written by Trevin Wax • (Permalink)
- See Udo Middleman's description of the Schaeffer's ministry.