I’ve lately been blogging often on Richard Dawkins. Now as far as he is a human being, I think he is good. When he is arguing against the faith though, he is not doing good. I do believe though he honestly thinks that he’s doing good. I honestly think I’m doing good. We’d both hopefully tell the other that they’re not. Why? Because there’s no need to be quiet about beliefs in that regard.
Yet as he is the topic of a research paper I’m doing, I’ve come to realize something else. This is something we can forget too often in ministry. There is a person there. Now there are some people that I am willing to offend if I have to. Why? Because I don’t think they’ll respond to anything else and if I have to step on your toes to move you to Christ, then so be it.
I have seen though how the Devil’s Chaplain is dedicated to his daughter Juliet on her eighteenth birthday. (That’s a book of his for those who don’t know.) As far as I know, this is his only child and there is something touching in that. I can imagine having an only child I love and dedicating a book to them.
And so when I read his books, I try to not only understand his arguments but to understand him. If I see something that could be seen as a psychological step to where he got today, I take notice of it. I actually do the same with most all of my opponents. I try to look for little things and even if I don’t mention them, keep them in the back of my mind.
This is a reason also I pray for Mr. Dawkins every night. I really think if I was with him, I’d enjoy discussing these topics, but we’d probably get along great. I think of the case of William Provine and Phillip Johnson. Provine is an atheistic thinker and Johnson a strong creationist who argue evolution. Afterwards, they go out together to a local restaurant as they’re great friends in real life.
I’ll also state at this point that such friendships do exist. My roommate and I have a good friend who is an atheist who comes over here a number of times. (Okay. Sometimes I wonder about God’s existence when he beats us at Ratchet: Deadlocked.) It’s a great friendship where we’ll go out for pizza on Sunday afternoons and get together and have discussion in the evening as well.
But getting back to Dawkins, I think of what Alister McGrath asked him at the end of the interview for Dawkins’s TV program that I commented on a few days ago. Listening to that debate, I didn’t see the angry side I saw in the God Delusion. I saw the rational side that seemed to just be seeking to understand and McGrath was quite cordial also.
For the record, this doesn’t apply to just non-Christians.
If there is a message I could give to my own seminary and every other, it is this. You are not just teaching whatever it is you teach. You are teaching students. We need to keep in mind the personality types that we are dealing with and realize how vastly different a lot of people are.
I have to watch myself as well. Some psychology goes into my thinking of course, so I have to make sure it’s not controlling me. Am I stepping back and really looking at the evidence? When I do, I always do come back to the same place, but even as a Christian, I could hold some errant beliefs that are due in part to psychological conditions. (I am sure I hold some errant beliefs. There’s a lot to believe out there and I doubt I’m the only one who’s got it all right.)
Know your opponent. Know everyone you meet. Also, be sure to pray for them. You never know who God might send someone’s way to lead them to the kingdom. Remember that he took the most hardened opponent in the first century and made him the greatest evangelist of all. Who else might be on the list?