“Religion is pointless.”
“I’m spiritual but not religious.”
“All religions lead to God.”
“All Christian denominations are equal.”
All of these phrases reflect, from different angles, religious indifferentism: The failure to acknowledge the relevance or validity of one, absolutely true religious faith.
But the minds of The Indifferent are sleeping—not dead. Those who “couldn’t care less” about religion are in a dormant state—a lazy state of hibernation from thinking about religion (and by extension, talking about it). They have not been engaged sufficiently to believe Christianity is good and necessary. But they can be awakened.
This leads to step #1 in evangelizing the indifferent: Seek to re-awaken their curiousity.
All children are interested in great stories: Heroism, adventures, miracles and monsters. And I would contend we never lose this childhood appreciation for the great and inconceivable. We just allow it to go dormant…
But the story of Christianity is the greatest story ever; it contains heroism, adventures, miracles and monsters AND—it is true.
The New Evangelization might be understood, therefore, as a New Telling of the greatest story ever conceived.
When we encounter someone who “doesn’t care” about religion, such an attitude is probably rooted in the belief that religion is irrelevant to their life. Some see religion as boring and superfluous. Others see it as unnecessary hard work. While others see it as dangerous.
We must compel the bored to make a choice; we can do this by telling the story of Christianity—and especially the story of Christ. Jesus existed—serious historical experts are essentially unanimous on this. He was a wonder worker (as even early non-Christian sources like the Jewish Talmud affirm). He inspired ancient Christian, Jewish and secular writers, who were highly selective about who or what they wrote about, to write about Him and His effect on society. For this reason we have more historical evidence for Jesus’ life than almost any other major ancient figure in antiquity. Many believed Jesus rose from the dead—including some who outright opposed the works of Christ. Some of these opponents—including the violent anti-Christian, Paul—converted and became a force for Christian evangelization because they were convinced of Christ’s resurrection (and in Paul’s case, he believed he saw the risen Christ). Non-evangelizing, cowardly Jewish fisherman were transformed instantaneously into joyful martyrs because of their bold proclamation of the divinity of Christ and the universal salvation of humanity procured by His Resurrection, and many Jews and non-Jews have followed their lead unto today. The prodigious love of the early Christians inspired writers to take note (such as Lucian and other early sources). Early Christianity rose and has been sustained to today despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles—a vindictive Christian miracle in and of itself according to St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas).
And the lives of the saints—no particular genre of biography has catapulted more of The Broken into a life of joy and metanoia. The lives of the saints are powerful because they reflect the power of Christ. Here’s a challenge: Grab Butler’s Lives Of The Saints from your local library. Choose seven saints at random and read their short biographies. You’ll see what I mean by the power of the lives of the saints. In fact, you won’t just see what I mean—you’ll experience what I mean.
But the fruits of Christianity go beyond salvation, evangelization and conversion.
No institution has had a greater effect on Western civilization (or perhaps any civilization) than the Church. From the labour of the monks to preserve key ancient texts through turbulent times, to the foundation of the university system. From the advancement in agricultural technologies to the development of principles in economics and international law. From key contributions in medicine and pharmacology to indispensable leadership in the advancement of the sciences—the Christian Church has lead the way. Yes, Christianity has made a positive mark on history that stands unmatched, and our world would be a very different place if the Christianity were not a thing—and if it were not, after all is said and done, true.
Christianity is not boring. But it needs to be presented in a way that is not boring. It’s all about timing, tact and scratching the Indifferent where and when they itch.
All great stories come to an end; we all know the longing approaching despair that rises in us when a story we have absolutely fallen in love with comes to an end (The Return Of The King is one personal example); or when the writer of that story comes to his end.
But this is where the Christian story emerges as something completely unique from all the others. Indeed the story of Christianity is not like any other story for it really does end happily ever after, the Author cannot die, and we who love Him find ourselves participating right in the heart of the story, destined to be enraptured in bliss without end.