“We don’t normally invite atheists to minister in our church”

Is there such as a thing as a morally neutral position to educate from?

Martin Goldsmith shares the following story from his time as a missionary in Malaysia:

In our neighbouring town a young American Christian came with the Peace Corps to teach in a large secondary school. He attended the local evangelical Methodist church, but they never asked him to have any ministry among them. He became a little frustrated as he longer to serve and had obvious gifts.

One day two young leaders from that church came to my house to invite me to speak at their meeting. I told them sadly I was unable to accept for that date and suggested they invite our American friend. They clearly had no intention of doing so and I enquired why.

‘We don’t normally invite atheists to minister in our church’, they eventually replied.

‘But he’s not an atheist. He is a committed Christian. You know that; he prays fervently in your prayer meetings and is keenly involved in your church.’

They insisted that he was an atheist. They had no doubts and reminded me that he worked in their town and they knew him better than I did.

When I asked them what gave them the impression that he was an atheist, they replied,

‘He has taught physics in our school for a whole year and has never once mentioned God in class. How can you teach physics without talking of God if you are a Christian? The whole of science depends on the reality of order which God has created in the world.’

I had to explain to them that Christians in the west have been pressurised by our secular society so that it had become almost unacceptable to mention God in the classroom. Secular atheism has prevailed in the world of education.

Life’s Tapestry, Martin Goldsmith, pp 89-90

Apr08

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