‘You get up every morning 'fore the sun comes up. Toss a lunchbox into a pickup truck.’
- Aaron Tippen, Workin’ Man’s PhD
‘I'm not big on social graces
Think I'll slip on down to the oasis
Oh, I've got friends in low places’
- Garth Brooks, Friends in Low Places
‘For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.’
- 1 Cor. 1:26
This past week I was reading through C.S. Lewis’ lecture ‘God in the Dock’ and something caught my eye. Perhaps unintentional, but I usually read Lewis with an attention to detail. Here Lewis mentioned something important in passing. The lecture is about the inclination of our putting God on trial, but at the outset he prefaces the lecture by talking about his audience. He is talking about addressing members of the Royal Air Force and the particular challenges of making an apologetic appeal to ordinary folks. Lewis calls them the ‘Intelligentsia of the Proletariat,’ in other words, ’…mechanics, electricians, and wireless operators’…those we encounter every day that have their worldviews framed by an admixture of psychology, pop-culture, and religious half-truths. Lewis gives a fair amount of consideration as to how to make a gospel appeal to those involved in the everyday work world. He painstakingly analyzes their influences with an eye on to how to make a gospel appeal.
Most of us are ordinary folks with ordinary callings. And yet what we have as Christians is an extraordinary message…if we could only articulate it. It would do us well to consider those we come in contact with in everyday life. There is no doubt that those who consider themselves Christ’s disciples must live with an eye toward gospel proclamation. What this means for evangelism is that we must also be students of our audience. In the amazing providence of God, He has placed us in relationships with others, and these with a plethora of opportunities for gospel proclamation. The question is…what will we say? How will we answer the questions raised by the Bill Mahers and Penn Gillettes of the world? These are the modern prophets of this generation. Can our apologetic withstand the assault of the neo-atheist? Do we know enough to be able to offer a thoughtful defense of Christianity? We’re in a war of worldviews and I’m afraid most of us are unprepared for the battlefield.
This is an appeal to enter the fray. As believers God has called us to engage and not to retreat. Christianity is a legitimate voice in the arena of ideas. How can we engage the intelligentsia of the proletariat if we don’t even know the questions they are asking? It makes sense to take a lesson from Lewis and to consider how the Christian faith can be a reasonable answer to the myriad of alternative voices. In fact...we have a responsibility to do so. By default we’re already acting according to our worldview. The question is, will we love our neighbors, family members, and co-workers enough to study them, understand their worldview, answer their questions, and give them an opportunity to hear our extraordinary message?