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prayer & the problem of religious secularism

Posted by Anthony Adams on

Posted by Anthony Adams

Macedonian town 2This afternoon at my friend's apartment we were drinking coffee and discussing the problem of 'religious secularism'. It is a tricky problem.

What we meant by this was the situation where a people see themselves as culturally associated with a particular religion, often quite strongly, and yet their commitment to it as a faith is very nominal.  

So they see their religion and their ethnicity as so closely intertwined as to be almost inseparable - to be of nationality 'X' is to be of religion 'Y' - but since there is little real engagement with that faith in terms of devotion, or even true belief, discussion about it has severe limits.

They do not read their holy books, attend places of worship, or spend any time praying or even seeking to understand the religion in question - they just are of that religion. This is a cunning way of blinding people is it not? They are locked into a worldview they have never even seriously engaged with, so you cannot discuss it since they don't actually believe it in any meaningful way...! It is a real stronghold. And it is a real reminder that spiritual change is not brought about by our clever arguments and ability to deconstruct someone else's beliefs. It is brought about by the power of God.

Of course sometimes God will work through good apologetics, but situations where our 'normal' approach will not work, remind us that it is not down to us. God is the one who opens eyes and changes hearts. That's why we need to pray because that is calling on God to work on people from the inside out. He is the only one who can do that. He will often use us in that process, but we need him to act and so must call on him to do that. Then, of course, he gets the glory.

It is humbling to be in a situation where we feel helpless, and it is good for us. Remember, to spend some quality time praying for the power of God in a situation is never wasted, especially for those of us who are activists who would rather be 'out and about'. Time in prayer is never wasted and sometimes it is the most important thing we can be doing because God will act in response to prayer and do things that we can never bring about by our own clever arguments. By his power and grace he can change even the most traditional religious secularist.

This entry first appeared on Anthony Adams' blog here.

Tags: cross-cultural mission, mission, balkans


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