“To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.”
This the the latest salvo in the ongoing “billboard battle” raging on signs all around the country. These prominent ads have launched much debate about the premise of such a statement, the persuasiveness of the argument, and the reception by the “atheist friends”.
In a press release distributed yesterday, Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham explained the goal of their new ad campaign: “In a friendly way, we want to reach out to people in secularized parts of the country and share the hope we have in Christ.”
But his latest blog posts — one of them titled “The Billboard Battle” — reveal a different goal. Here, the first reason mentioned for the AiG billboards is because “many atheists have become much more aggressive in promoting their religion” through billboards of their own that “directly attack Christianity.” Ham goes on to say:
“Yes, it is a billboard battle of sorts, but in reality it’s a spiritual battle. The battle has been going on for 6,000 years—since the event of Genesis chapter 3 when Adam rebelled against God and sin and death entered the world… Please pray for the “battle of billboards,” that God will use AiG’s latest public campaign to give many Christians the opportunity to challenge those who don’t believe and present the gospel to them.”
This is the problem. You can “reach out and share hope”, or you can “battle”. You can’t do both.
But we love to draw our lines in the sand, us vs. them. We love to go to battle against those we’ve labeled “the enemies of Christianity.”
We’ve forgotten that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (see Eph. 6:12)
We’ve forgotten that the “atheists” are flesh-and-blood, fellow humans. We aren’t supposed to be fighting against them. Our real enemies, the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world”, aren’t going to be defeated by snarky ad campaigns.
We’ve forgotten that atheists are not the enemy.
Rather than drawing a circle bigger and bigger, inviting others inside, we reinforce out boundaries and declare with certainty that God is on our side. All the while, we’re making enemies out of neighbors.
“Love your enemies”, He said, but we’d rather fight them to the death.
We want to defeat them in Times Square. But you can’t love somebody once you’ve slain them.
So maybe it’s time to put down our swords and reach out with arms of love instead. To our brothers and sisters. To our enemies. To our neighbors.
To all of our atheist friends.
published October 9, 2013
subscribe to updates:
(it's pretty much the only way to stay in touch with me these days)