Tuesday, August 27, 2019

"Are you a Christian?"

To those who asked him [Peter Hare] if he was a Christian, his standard response was, "I don't know. I'll tell you what I believe, and then you tell me whether you count me a Christian or not. A. Kenny, Brief Encounters (SPCK 2018), 85. 

Although he's ducking the question, it does raise a practical issue. Because so many people have different preconceptions of what Christianity represents, and because, due to the prevalence of theological illiteracy, so many people have highly distorted preconceptions of Christianity, it may be that giving a direct answer isn't always the best strategy, since they will simply translate your affirmation into their preconception. A direct answer wouldn't tell them what I believe, but what they think it means to be a Christian. 

So it might be more instructive to say something like, "That's a good question! I assume you wouldn't ask that unless you had questions about Christianity. So why don't you ask me those questions."

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