“The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.
~Sheldon Vanuaken, A Severe Mercy
Wikipedia entry on Sheldon Vanuaken.
One might think that this quotes comes from a Bible belieiving man eh? But it doesn’t. It’s from an agnostic man! Have a quick skim of the wikipedia article on him, if you’ve not heard of him before. It’s quite interesting.
He and his wife were both agnostics, deciding not to have children as motherhood was an experience that could not be shared equally between them! This couple were intellectuals who had no interest in any “ridiculous” organised religion. They seemed very happy.
Then they befriended some Christians. They wondered why the Christian were so joyful. They began to read C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and other Christian apologists and met with Lewis on several occasions. Whilst still an agnostic, Vanuaken wrote the above quote in his journal.
I’m struck afresh by this quote, as I continue to learn about evangelism. What do I portray to others? Is my life living for or against Christ? I’m also struck that Vanuaken (an intellectual) sees the life of a believer as the best argument/defence for our faith. He, as a non believer, does not mention correct doctrine, logical reasoning, arguments of Intelligent Design, living a conservative, lawful life, etc. (having all my wrt theology) Instead he talks of joy – the joy that can come only as a gift from God. The joy that comes through a deep, profound faith in that other gift, God’s grace.
What message am I sending?
Have you read the book, A Severe Mercy? What were your thoughts?