Over the past few months this blog has been watching Steve Baughman pursue the Ravi Zacharias situation and offer criticism. He is not alone as other atheists have also been fierce critics who raise questions and point out the problems that exist inside evangelicalism. This post wants to raise the question are atheists essential to point out the flaws, corruption and abuse within Evangelical Christianity?
“People always come up to me now and say, ‘Watchmen’ is the best superhero movie ever made.’ I’m always saying ‘That’s super cool. That’s nice of you to say.’ But it happens now, more and more and more than it did when it first came out.”
“Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.“
Over the past few months this blog has watched and observed atheist Steve Baughman from the San Francisco Bay Area write about and pursue the issues with Ravi Zacharias. Baughman has been following up on the issues for a long time. He investigated the academic issues, sexual issues, Zacharias inflated ego and his outright dishonesty in how he marketed himself. In the process Steve Baughman also discussed the issues of the evangelical industrial complex and how they ignored or continued to prop up Ravi Zacharias even when the ethical problems came to light. This blog holds Steve in high regard and wants to point out that none of this with Ravi Zacharias would have come forward and it not been for his efforts and his determination to see the truth come to the light of day.
Atheists Are Essential and Needed Critics to Evangelicalism
Its not just atheists like Steve Baughman its also individuals like Hemant Mehta who writes The Friendly Atheist. Each and every day The Friendly Atheist writes about sex abuse, financial fraud, abusive churches and pastors, and much more. Atheist blogs like The Friendly Atheist are a part of my daily reading material as I seek to see what is happening inside evangelicalism before sitting down to write post about evangelicalism and more. As I see the work of people like Steve Baughman and Hemant Mehta I have come to see how essential and necessary they are to religion.
I mean consider the following. At the national EFCA blog you will not see posts about sex abuse, financial fraud or the limitations of congregational church government. All you will see is many posts extolling the EFCA and outreach efforts or response to other situations. And yes I give them credit for talking about racial issues like the George Floyd situation. But there are many other situations that are not spoken of and that is to the determined of the EFCA. Many denominations and evangelical ministries are like that in that they just want to speak of the positive and ignore the negative. Unless is involves a person being gay or something along those lines many ministries and denominations ignore these problems. Its the Hemant Mehtas and Steve Baughman’s who raise the issues that evangelicals will stay silent about. Their diligence, hard work, and commitment to honesty and truth has helped keep people safe and protect people. Especially when the evangelical culture and church has so clearly failed.
At the risk of this sounding Calvinistic it leads me to to this question. Is their atheism or lack of faith or even my dying faith a part of an effort by God to ordain critics who will hold evangelicalism accountable. Is this especially true when evangelicals will not hold their own pastors, ministries, churches or denominations accountable? Many parts of evangelicalism are slowly getting better in some ways because of the work of atheists like Baughman and Mehta and other like minded individuals. Its this blog’s hope that more like minded individuals will step up to the plate and address these issues in evangelicalism and give the church needed and important criticism.
The Evangelical Church Needs to Listen to What Atheists Have to Say About Evangelicalism and Scandal
The sad thing is that many evangelicals dismiss the work of Steve Baughman and people like Hemant Mehta. They view them as being divisive and as people who just attack and criticize. That they have an axe to grind. That is sad because the reality is that they should be embraced. People should be grateful that waste, fraud and abuse is being identified and pointed out, That is the how they should be regarded. If your faith is so sensitive that you can not handle criticism that problem does not lie with the atheist; but with the evangelical. Its time for some people to wake up and to listen with a fresh ear as to what is being said about evangelicalism. Those outside the culture and bubble can offer a perspective that is much needed. Let’s respect and honor them and listen with humility as to what they need to say.