In his essay “God in the Dock,” Lewis talks through several difficulties, or surprises, in “trying to present the Christian Faith to modern unbelievers.” At the start of a new school year, I’m also reminded of such challenges. Granted, as Lewis admits, the subject is entirely too large. Instead, Lewis provides his anecdotal reasons and acknowledges his limitations in the same breath.
1. Materialism is not the only adversary to the Christian message. Lewis finds that a pantheistic outlook that absorbs no particular religious narrative is common.
2. People are skeptical about history. In the Christian story, it’s less that one needs to believe in miracles, namely the resurrection, but more about the simple fact of it being an old, old story. They treat other old stories with the same eye of distrust.
3. The use of language is a barrier. In some ways, Christianity needs to be discovered and decoded by the current generation. That makes presentation and authenticity key.
4. The absence of sin. Not that sin is absent, but the thought, “I’m a sinner,” is not present. There is no guilt so the idea that the Christian message is “good news.”
5. Instead of God being the judge, the modern person judges God (God is in the dock).
6. The simple emotional appeal to come and follow Jesus often works much more than intellectualism, something Lewis admits is where most of his work is found.
I’m certain that these challenges still exist. Being aware of them might serve us to not counter difference with arrogance–or tolerance–but with love. Remember what Jesus says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”