My Atheist Friend...

Not everyone's beligerent - not everyone wears their faith or their opinion like trendy rubber cause bracelets.

I was talking to an old friend today. We're not especially close right now, but work in the same community and talk from time to time. He mentioned that he's been reading my blog.

"Uh oh," I said.

He said it was one of the only blogs he really reads, and is really enjoying it.

"Thanks," I said. "I'm honored you're reading it!"

"I'm enjoying it, even though I don't agree with most of what you say," he clarified.

"Oh," I paused. "So... are you a pretty conservative Christian?" I asked. It occured to me that we had not talked much about faith. But I wouldn't have pegged him for an evangelical.

"No, I'm an atheist," he said.

"Oh!" I had no idea. The two of us talked a little - briefly - about growing up in a Christian household and finding frustration with absolutism. He mentioned a few of the things I've written about. He liked that I picked George Fox because of its open approach to Scripture (no inerrancy required) and that I don't feel the need to affirm Jesus through the condemnation of other worldviews and spiritual approaches.

Blogging is a funny thing - especially when you're shamelessly self-promoting like me(see: Facebook). You never know who's actually reading. One of these days it just might bite me. I do have a somewhat "respectable" day job. Gotta fight to compartmentalize...

Still, I always jump at the chance to talk about evolving faith in an evolving world.


Al said...

It's so easy to respond to someone who doesn't share your faith with fear, defense or bombast.
Amazingly, they don't like that response any better than we would!
Having someone reveal their atheism to a known Christian means they already trust you not to crawl down their throat in response. Peter, your gentle and thoughtful reputation precedes you.

Anonymous said...

WHats really noteworthy is that you couldnt identify your old friend as a Christian or an atheist. Of course, since your "not beligerent" and dont wear your fatih like a rubber bracelet, it makes perfect sense. Maybe you should try opening your mind up a little bit. To belittle and accuse someone, especially brothers and sisters in Christ, of being beligerent shows what form of edification??

Peter said...

I didn't know where he stood, because I knew he had grown up in the church, and that he had experienced frustrations/wounding. In this time and culture, people aren't always eager or comfortable wearing their faith on their sleeve. Because I believe in the power of relationships, I don't push people to talk about things until they're actually ready. This friend and I got together for lunch a few days later because I told him I was interested in his story. At lunch, he said, "I wouldn't normally feel good about getting together just to talk about faith. That's a pretty sensitive subject..." but somehow, he went out on a limb and chose to trust that I wouldn't feed him a sales pitch.

Believe it or not, even in my open/affirming/sensitive worldview, I still think there are times where rebuke or open disapproval is necessary. Calling attention to something I struggle with myself (i.e. I have a direct and personal context for the sin of spiritual belligerence) is - I believe - functioning within the context of the Body of Christ's biological processes. And it's a valuable opportunity to teach and/or invite dialogue.

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