Poor Excuse by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Poor Excuse

Frederica Mathewes-Green on Remembering That Even the Poor Can Go to Hell

What happens when Christians are attacked by the contemptuous secular world? Often we start talking about how much good Christians have done. I just encountered this response in a book aimed at non-believers, which builds to a chapter that presents a whole parade of do-gooders to vindicate the Christian faith. Everybody got their paragraph in the sun, from Mother Teresa to Basil the Great to the Liberation Theologians.

It’s a difficult problem in apologetics, I admit, how to win a hearing for Christianity today. The alternatives that worked for earlier generations (describing miracles, explaining how Christ takes away sin) don’t work as well for ours. But I always feel funny when fellow-believers pull out our earthly good works as the trump card. The real purpose of Christianity, after all, is the reconciliation of God and humankind.

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Frederica Mathewes-Green is a columnist for Beliefnet.com and a contributor to the Christian Millennial History Project multi-volume series. Her books include At the Corner of East and Now (Putnam), The Illumined Heart (Paraclete Press), and The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer (Paraclete Press). She lives in Linthicum, Maryland, with her husband Fr. Gregory, pastor of Holy Cross Orthodox Church. They have three children and three grandchildren.

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