It is refreshing to see someone praise a group they normally disagree with. Even more so when that critic is educated, articulate, has pertinent knowledge of a situation, and takes an unpopular stand.
For that reason, a special kudos is due to the columnist Matthew Parris. He is unashamedly atheistic and indicates no interest in having that change. And yet he sees something important, and of value in the work of Christians in Africa (where he was born). More than the work they do, he sees some very distinctive and important consequences of faith in Christ (specifically, not religion generally) that have improved both neighborhoods, and the people who live there.
The reason this is so refreshing is he is far better at articulating the benefits of the gospel on people and communities than most Christians seem to be. (Let that be a lesson to us all.) I will include a few excerpts, but I encourage you to read the full article. (Parenthetically, the irony this article appearing on a Richard Dawkins webpage was too good to pass up.) Here are 3 quotations from the article:
“But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.”
“Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.”
“Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.”
Read the rest here: old.richarddawkins.net