Re: [asa] Responding to Atheists, Agnostics & Apatheists

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Tue Oct 28 2008 - 19:16:22 EDT

Good questions. I'll be interested to read the several responses.

My sense is that such a conversation, if it is new, and if it indeed has
possibilities, should start not with a prescribed "script", but with a
lot of questions (and empathy) to find out exactly where they are, and
how they got there. That naturally lays the groundwork for responding
with your own "story", keeping the two of you on equal footing.

Without these initial enquiries, one would just be guessing as to how to
proceed with a temperate and respectful exchange such as you describe.
On the other hand, with this initial information in hand, one may have a
chance of identifying a fruitful way to expand the discussion. From
there, ...not too fast, ...not all at once, ...not insistent, ...and
continuing to ask questions (for clarification, not points!). This is
worldview stuff, and that typically changes slowly - even tectonically -
unless there is a crisis of some sort.

Or so it seemeth to me. JimA [Friend of ASA]

Schwarzwald wrote:
> Heya Merv,
> Thanks for the response. A few things.
> * I'm not an AAA. I may be a somewhat passive christian who needs to
> get more active in my faith, but intellectually I am committed to, and
> place my faith in, God and Christianity (Byzantine-rite Catholic
> myself). I wouldn't intrude on ASA elsewise, as there's some value in
> having lists and such where belief is the common ground, rather than
> the focal debate.
> * The sites I lurk on are pretty various, usually ones more
> philosophically or science oriented, on both sides of the spectrum.
> What I generally see there (and what I see in my browsing of online
> christian sites in general) is part of the reason I'm posting this.
> * Time is short for me at the moment, so this response will be briefer
> than I'd like. But what I'm hoping for is that greater thought is
> given to how to spread and communicate Christianity among the AAA set,
> and I'm motivated by a belief that current practices fall far short of
> what's necessary. Mind you, I'm not just talking about personal, one
> on one correspondence (though that's important too.) I'm talking about
> broader scopes - internet ministry, communicating with groups, and so
> on. My belief is that AAAs tend to comprise a certain 'kind' of group,
> one that is alternately written off or misunderstood because of the
> current climate. I don't believe they're all, or even mostly
> experienced and once-committed christians who fell away from the faith
> and now know it inside and out and reject it all. I think many are
> caught up in their cultures and remain so because, frankly, no one is
> bothering to approach them. Not in any serious and thoughtful way.
> On Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 6:01 PM, <
> <>> wrote:
> It occurred to me after sending the last post, that I had taken
> your last point
> in the direction you didn't intend --speaking about the "militant"
> ones rather
> than the "passive" ones. Actually the passive ones, if they come
> from a, say,
> "militantly apathetic" variety, would be the toughest ones to
> witness to in my
> opinion. If they don't see the issue as relevant or meriting
> attention, then
> that is hardly fertile soil for any extended or involved
> conversations. I think
> God has to get hold of them first --the Spirit will convict them
> when the time
> is right and then they are ready to give real attention to an issue.
> If they are passive in the sense of just not wanting to be
> argumentative
> (smiling and nodding while somebody continues saying things they
> totally
> disagree with), then it may be much easier to have genuine
> exchange. Such a
> person needs to be engaged by drawing out where they are.
> Overbearing people
> will shut others down and then leave the exchange smugly thinking
> all were in
> agreement with them, when actually they never took the time to
> actually find out
> what the others thought. Head nodding could be a sign of somebody
> who is just
> too weak or tired to put up an objection at the moment, and may
> not at all agree
> with the person even though they decline to mount an opposing
> position.
> Having said all this already, I would put to you, what is your
> experience in all
> this, and where do you come from in these "blog combats"?
> --Merv
> Quoting Schwarzwald <
> <>>:
> >
> > * Have you seen any effective targetting of AAAs by any
> particular person,
> > ministry, or even faith?
> >
> > Mind you, I'm talking less about emotionally/politically charged
> AAAs - more
> > about passive ones who, for whatever variety of reasons, just
> hold the views
> > they do. I have my own views on these things, but I'm hoping
> others will
> > chime in with their thoughts before I add my own.
> >

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Oct 28 19:16:34 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Oct 28 2008 - 19:16:34 EDT