BENYOLA: At the GTC banquet, you mentioned that many people’s attitudes are that it’s fine and admirable to have faith as long as you don’t bother anyone else with it. So keeping in mind the context of biblical teaching, how should Christians balance the call of evangelism with the instruction to “make it your ambition to live a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands.” [I Thessalonians 4:11] I think this question is especially relevant in a culture that’s increasingly hostile to Christianity. Of course the apostle was speaking in a certain context. How can lay Christians be evangelistic when we have that cultural motif of “don’t let the faith bother us”?
PRATT: That’s a great question, but it’s difficult to answer. And the reason it’s so difficult to answer is because it is wrapped up in the circumstances in Thessalonica. In the case of the Thessalonians, some of the church was so powerless that they became preoccupied by the idea that Jesus’ return was imminent, that they didn’t need to concern themselves with ordinary things. And so Paul told them, “You need to concern yourselves with ordinary things. You have to eat, you have to live a quiet life, you have to have a job, you have to do those kinds of things. Jesus may come back tomorrow, but you can’t be sure.”
In many ways, the challenge that Christians face today in Western cultures, is just the opposite. By our representative forms of government, we have been empowered for political change that suits our Christian agenda. And we’ve had that kind of empowerment for hundreds of years now. This is certainly true during the monarchical period of Europe. Even after the French and Puritan revolutions when things were much more democratic, large numbers of people followed some form of Christianity. They could have influence in the culture rather readily by normal, as it were, conventional political means.