Outside weddings and funerals I haven’t attended church for a long time. Suffice it to say I am an atheist and many years of church attendance converted me to that state.
So last weekend I attended a church service only to have my convictions reaffirmed.
The relatively new chaplain in this particular house of god was telling a story about death and why one should welcome Jesus into your heart / embrace God / etc, etc.
It started off innocuously enough suggesting that there are a lot of good reasons not to believe. Reasons like not having to go to church, saving time, preserving income….the audience could buy into this.
Then there was an assertion about death. That people die and life can seem all a bit pointless, especially if there is no afterlife.
The chaplain proceeded to compare his acquaintance Katrina Dawson to his mother. Katrina was the young barrister killed in the Lindt cafe incident. He alluded to her achievements and then said that at the funeral he couldn’t help but think “was that it?” Then he referred to the also premature death of his mother whom he described as less accomplished than Katrina but as she had embraced Jesus into her life she was welcomed into heaven for eternal life. The question of what happended to Katrina Dawson wasn’t referred to again after this but the implication was there……The young members of the audience didn’t catch on but for the older members it was clear that the preacher had condemned Katrina Dawson to hell. For forgiveness, no salvation, no regret, no sadness, no empathy…that was that and so there you go – embrace Jesus.
The message, the sentiment, was appalling enough but the mode of delivery waas duplicitous. Knowing that there was an audience of children and adults and using veiled personal anecdotes to convey an exhortary message that would be understood by some and not others, and that was intended to offend by not offending was to my mind not a compelling way to engage the audience with the re-join the fold message.
Well the sheep are now bleating in protest and not following the shepherd.
Katrina Dawson lost her life because of Islamic fundamentalism. Let’s not diminish it further with Christian Evangalism.