So I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s book, Center Church. And he talks about how though we live in a post-Christian world, modern people are nevertheless attracted to the values inherited from our Christian past. I thought it was an interesting point and I’d like to quote the passage at length:
In his history classes, C. John Sommerville used to demonstrate to students how thoroughly Christianized they were, even those who were atheistic or antireligious. He would list the values of shame-and-honor cultures (like those of pagan northern Europe before the advent of Christian missionaries) and include values like pride, a strict ethic of revenge, the instilling of fear, the supreme importance of one’s reputation and name, and loyalty to one’s tribe. Then he would list corresponding Christian values, which had been hitherto unknown to the pagans of Europe – things like humility, forgiveness, peaceableness, and service to others, along with an equal respect for the dignity of all people made in God’s image. Many of Sommerville’s most antireligious students were surprised to learn just how deeply they had been influenced by ways of thinking and living that had grown out of biblical ideas and been passed on to them through complex social and cultural processes. His point was that much of what is good and unique about Western civilization is actually "borrowed capital" from a Christian faith, even though the supernatural elements of the faith have been otherwise neglected of late in the public sphere.
This has relevance to how we do evangelism in a post-Christian world. Christianity is widely seen as retrogressive and oppressive. And yet people are still drawn to the Christian ideals of universal human rights, justice, equity, freedom. We must make our appeal that these values have their strongest foundation in the gospel and not in secularism, and simultaneously, we must address the objections our culture has that makes Christianity no longer a viable option.
We’re going to try to do that at Bodi’s Java café on March 15. I will be addressing the question: Isn’t it cruel of God to cast people into hell just because they don’t believe in him? I encourage you to invite your friends.