In the Comment is Free section of The Guardian‘s website, Theo Hobson has a few things to say about Francis Spofford’ new book Unapologetic. He writes of Christian faith:
[W]hat motivates one to take this deeply dubious, rationally unjustifiable, tradition seriously? And it is a deeply problematic question for the defender of Christianity. For the honest answer is that people tend to come to faith through feeling unhappy, dramatically, traumatically unhappy, with themselves, with the world. Does this mean that a key part of Christian proclamation should be: first discover your true inner misery? Doesn’t that sound a bit … grim?
Christians are logically committed to saying that atheists and agnostics are too contented. They ought to be more traumatised by life. They ought to be traumatised by the universal human capacity for evil, and they certainly ought to be traumatised by the sheer nihilism of secular modernity. They ought to suffer deep psychological crises, in which they learn of their need for God. It doesn’t sound like very good news, does it?
Francis Spufford’s book has helped me to see that Christian apologetics needs to be more honest, and also more confrontational. It should be honest that faith arises through a traumatic sense of moral inadequacy, and of despair. And it should be confrontational: you ought to feel this. If you are happy pursuing your pleasure, and chatting about celebrities or novels, and how moral your opinions are, then you are sitting in the sty of contentment, meaning death.
So, to appreciate the Good News, do you have to understand that the world is bad news?