2003-09-16 - Criminal Prejudice
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.
I was reading a Christian journal from the 1830s this past week and came upon an interesting story that had an argument we all might be able to use and benefit from. We would have to change it around some depending on our situation, but the bare root principals may still be helpful.
It seems that one Athanasius Kircher, who at the time appears to have been a noted astronomer, had a friend who he cared for greatly. Unfortunately his friend was also an atheist and strongly denied the existence of any God. Kircher was determined to rescue his friend from his error. Here is what he did.
He bought a magnificent globe of the world. It was one that was very costly and incredibly beautiful. He then placed it in his apartment where anyone entering the apartment could not help but immediately notice it and fix their gaze upon it. He invited his friend, the atheist, to come over and visit him. His friend came as Kircher had requested. His friend, upon entering the place, immediately inquired where the object had come from and to whom it belonged.
Kircher replied, "Not to me, nor was it ever made by any person, but came here by mere chance."
"That," replied the atheist, "is impossible; you jest."
Kircher continued long in his assertion that the object had simply come into existence by itself. He argued with the atheist that it had happened exactly as he was claiming and the object simply appeared. Then Kircher began to reason with his friend the atheist. "You will not believe that this small body originated in chance, and yet you will contend that those heavenly bodies, of which it is only a faint and diminutive resemblance, came into existence without order and design." His friend was confused at first and then convinced. In the end he acknowledged the glory of God in creating the heavens and the majesty of God as the Creator and Ruler of the universe.
Kircher used a decent argument that fit his area of expertise. We might be able to do something similar in our areas of strength. We are to be witnesses of the truth. Kircher was effectively used by God and part of that was him taking a step forward and seeking to be used in God's eternal plan. Imagine how much their friendship must have deepened and how wonderful their fellowship is now in heaven.
In reading older works it is common to find phrases that are no longer in use or would never be used in such a manner today. In this short article, published October 22, 1836, the atheist is defined by two terms at the beginning. He is called foolish. This was no real surprise, but what was surprising was that being an atheist was defined as "criminal prejudice." It would be unlikely to see that today, but it may help us understand how different our faith, and our views of those who deny the faith, have greatly changed in the last 175 years.
Soli Deo Gloria,