Virginia Heffernan is a former New York Times technology and culture writer who now writes for Yahoo! News. Last Thursday she “came out of the closet”—she admitted that she believes that God created the world. Her position is not uninformed: she’s read Darwin’s Origin of Species along with “probably a dozen books about evolution and atheism, from Stephen Jay Gould to Sam Harris.” And yet, she testifies, “I have never found a more compelling story of our origins than the ones that involve God.”
Criticism has been swift. For instance, Hamilton Nolan is convinced that “Virginia Heffernan should no longer be taken seriously.” According to him, “Well-educated people who are still creationists have lost the plot somewhere along the line.” I guess that counts for Raymond Bohlin (Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Texas), Cornelius Hunter (Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Illinois) and Jonathan Wells (Ph.D. in religion from Yale, Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from the University of California), among others.
Meanwhile, an American was recently arrested in London, England for preaching against sexual sins, including homosexuality. Tony Miano made it clear that he was discussing all forms of sexual immorality. He also said that he “loves homosexuals enough to bring them the truth of the Gospel.” Nonetheless, he was booked at the local police station, photographed, and fingerprinted. He spent seven hours in jail, where he read from Acts 1-5 and sang hymns from his jail cell. Just after midnight, he was released. (As a side note, the police station welcomed his offer to donate more Bibles to their jail.)
We’re used to reading about persecution against Christians in places like Iran and North Korea. We’re less familiar with the crescendo of opposition to the gospel in the West, but its rise is no less real. We can steel our resolve and take our stand, and we should. But we can also learn from our critics and find ways to engage them in love.
I’ve been reading Bob Goff’s bestseller, Love Does. An attorney and law professor, he also leads a ministry that fights for children in Uganda and India. His book reads like Acts 29, with remarkable stories of God’s work through the circumstances of our days. Here’s some of what he’s learned over the years: “I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” Which worries you more?
“I used to think I could shape the circumstances around me, but now I know Jesus uses circumstances to shape me.” How is he using opposition to shape and strengthen you? “I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down.” Where is he asking you to be bold?
“I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.” When last did you say “yes” to him? “I used to think knowing God was like going on a business trip with Him, but now I know He’s inviting me on an adventure instead.” Wouldn’t the apostles agree?
Jesus makes three promises to those who follow him fully: You’ll never be bored, you’ll often be in trouble, and you’ll always have his joy.