The average Christian testimony goes something like this: I’d always believed in God and then I came to see that Jesus was this god-I-always-believed-in.
Average Christian evangelism really hopes that people believe in “God”. We are relieved to hear that a person believes in "God." Phew - we think that makes things a bit easier.
If they don’t believe in "God" we draw a deep breath and rummage around for some arguments to convince them of "God":
- There’s order in the world, there must be an Orderer.
- Everything is caused, there must be a Cause at the top of the chain.
- There’s morality – there must be a Moral Lawgiver.
- You have a sense of something more, there must be Something more.
And we argue towards some kind of OmniBeing. You know the omnis – maybe you learnt them in religious studies at school. God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnivorous, ambidextrous, and so on.
And if our arguments are clever enough, maybe they’ll agree to our philosophy. Hallelujah, they believe in the Omnibeing! This is surely a step in the right direction, we imagine.
After all, didn't Elijah use similar tactics on the Baal worshippers. I don't have my bible to hand but I seem to remember some very powerful arguments on Mount Carmel. All that stuff about "Yahweh is a bit like Baal. But bigger. And slightly less despotic." Brilliant stuff.
Well, now that we've used philosophical theism as a stepping stone to Jesus, we come to the business end of proceedings: it's time to unveil Jesus Himself. And so we hand over a Gospel to our unbeliever and try to convince them that Jesus is the Omnibeing made flesh.
The unbeliever goes away and reads the Gospel. And what do they find? A laughing, crying, shouting, serving, healing, loving Human Sacrifice. And the non-Christian says – “Wow, that stuff’s interesting. But it doesn’t sound to me like the Omnibeing.”
Now at this stage we must remain firm. It would be easy to sell out the OmniBeing here, but no we must be faithful to our bedrock theism. Here's how to proceed:
-- “Hmm, tricky" we say, "all that passionate, self-sacrificial blood and suffering - that's just on the surface. That’s not the real God-stuff, that's His human nature. But don’t worry, deep down Jesus is the Omnibeing really."
-- "Really?" says the enquirer, "Cos all that Jesus-stuff is very attract..."
-- ..."No, no, it's a gloss. Nothing to see there. The OmniBeing rules!"
And we pray that the non-Christian agrees. For if they do, then surely we have brought them to see that Jesus is Lord. Right?
Wrong. This is not the conversion of an unbeliever to Christ. This is the conversion of Jesus to the Omnibeing. And we’ve taken people away from the real God – the God who Jesus actually reveals.