Your Q & A

A Private Matter?

How would you respond to the increasing assertions of new atheist groups etc that a faith position in contemporary society is unreasonable and illogical, and should not be permitted in public debate or public education? i.e. faith should be considered a private matter.

1 Response

  1. /February 11, 2017/

    Christianity is more than a personal practice of spirituality. It is at its essence a belief system that must be lived out in society and is fundamentally other-oriented. How does one love God and neighbor (the central commands of Christianity) in a completely private, self-oriented way?

    Furthermore, the history of Christians publicly living out their faith, demonstrating their love of God through their service to fellow humans is a powerful force for alleviating suffering and promoting justice around the globe. Although atheists pick and choose their anecdotes to fit their controlling narrative that religions oppress the weak and serve the powerful, a more objective look reveals a different picture.

    Consider the work of sociologist Robert Woodberry, whose award-winning article “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy” published in the May 2012 issue of American Political Science Review analyzes the positive social, economic, and political impact of Protestant mission work in the majority world.

    Or consider the fact that governmental agencies such as the UN, UNESCO, and, USAID routinely partner closely with faith-based NGOs around the world. These are often the organizations with the most experience, community trust, and vetted best practices for advancing governmental goals of furthering education for girls, improving literacy and child mortality rates, providing sustainable solutions to hunger and environmental destruction, promoting health and preventing disease, ending human trafficking, and dealing with psychological trauma inflicted by famine, natural disaster, epidemics, war, sexual assault and abuse, and ethnic displacement. If the hundreds of thousands of Christians who staff these NGOs, often at great personal sacrifice, were to simply stay home and practice a private faith, there would be extreme personnel shortages at hospitals, refugee camps, rehab clinics, homeless shelters, food distribution centers, orphanages, and schools all around the world.

    Christy Hemphill
    [Christy Hemphill is a moderator with BioLogos, an American organisation founded by Dr Francis Collins who led the team that read the human genome- the instruction book that ‘builds’ human beings in the womb. She is a linguist with a keen interest in the relationship between science and faith, especially in the context of education.]