Saturday, 27 December 2008

Matthew Parris on Christian Missionaries in Africa



Matthew Parris, who describes himself as a 'confirmed atheist', today writes a Times article on how his impression of Africa's need for Christianity has been changed by witnessing the work of Christian missionaries. Fr Ray preached at Midnight Mass about how much of the aid relief organisations were started by Christians because God was made man and dwelt among us. I wrote a sarcastic comment on the article online suggesting that you didn't have to go to Africa to see Christian love in action, but just pop down to the local SVP soup run and that the 'rich' West also needs God!

Anyway, click here for the full article.

'I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.'

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

As he says, this is a change from his previous view, which can be seen in his 2003 article on Blessed Charles de Foucauld: Brother Charles, the story of a good man out of Africa. Well done, Matthew Parris, even if I disagree with his preference for Christianity in its post-Reformation form.

Anonymous said...

I read this a few days ago. Wow! Such refreshing honestly.
I've added you to my blogroll.
Thank you for your blog.

Anonymous said...

'What counted was the help, not the faith ...'
Those are the saddest words I have read in ages.
They make me think of a Nigerian doctor resident in Scotland.
She told me: 'In Nigeria we weep for Britain.'
This lady is out on the streets giving out Bible tracts, praying for our broken and faithless communities.
Near where I live there's a church with a beautiful slender spire.
It's now a licensed bar. On Sunday evening the place thumps out rock music.
The owners have placed a lopsided neon halo round the spire.
That neon halo is like a bad joke.
For me it symbolises godless Glasgow.
The Glasgow that was converted through the preaching of Saint Mungo.

What would Saint Mungo say?
What would the great Celtic saints say?
Mungo converted Glasgow to the true faith, but now the people take the Matthew Parris line.
Hilaire Bellow said: 'The faith is Europe, Europe is the faith.'
But not now.
Europe is pagan.
No wonder the EC is falling apart.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the above comment.
May I just quote the motto of Glasgow?
LORD, MAY GLASGOW FLOURISH THROUGH THE PREACHING OF THY WORD AND THE PRAISING OF THEY NAME.
Our cowardly city fathers have slashed this down to, 'Let Glasgow flourish'.
Truly we need to see Celtic Christianity revived in Britain.
We need the street preaching of John Wesley.
We need a new Oxford Movement.
We need men and women who are not ashamed of the Gospel.
Jack Haggerty

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