From Canon Gerald Osborne
Sir, — You seem to dismiss the report Talking Jesus too lightly in your leader comment (6 November). For instance, you say that “the concept of demonstrating the love of Christ through action and pastoral care might be a more effective form of evangelism than speaking about Christ appears to be.”
The secular press, and Andrew Brown (Press), have made much of the number of non-Christians who seem to be put off. But is that not what the parable of the sower is all about? I would like to draw your attention to some other statistics that emerge.
First, of practising Christians, 44 per cent credit their friends for introducing them to Jesus. Second, while only 21 per cent of those surveyed thought that Jesus was “God in human form who lived among people in the 1st Century,” 60 per cent thought he was a real person and 47 per cent either a normal human being or a prophet or spiritual leader.
As well as this, having spoken to a practising Christian, nearly one in five (19 per cent) of non-Christians wanted to know more about Jesus, and 23 per cent felt more positive about him, while more than half (53 per cent) felt it a comfortable experience (against only 32 per cent who felt uncomfortable). To me, this enforces the imperative for us all to continue to tell people who Jesus really is.
If we just shut up because of the 80 per cent who might not be receptive at the moment, that will be a great disservice to the one in five who want to know more, and an even greater disservice to Christ himself. “Demonstrating the love of Christ through action and pastoral care” is undoubtedly important, as seen in the generally positive way in which practising Christians are regarded by non-Christians, according to the report. Deep faith and relationship come, however, when you know who Jesus really is. Why follow someone who is just human, or merely a spiritual leader?
I hope that the General Synod will take this report seriously and debate how best we can equip our fellow Christians with the tools, courage, and sensitivity to enthuse their friends at appropriate times about Jesus, our living Lord.
Lower Farm House
Pewsey SN9 5LQ