Monday, October 29, 2012

Request for advice:

I got an email from a struggling missionary requesting prayer.  The end of the letter had a quote, as many who write emails are prone to do:

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not, remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for. - Epicurus"

The problems with this are numerous, starting with the fact that Epicurus was the founder of New Atheism, never mind that he lived in 300BC.  He argued that atheists were morally superior to theists, which is the core of New Atheist theology.  He also claimed that there were gods, but that the gods were too feeble to actually do anything for mankind, nor did they even care, thus, making him the patron saint of Mainline Christianity.  The last major point that Epicurus argued was that all his opinions were science, thus, anyone who disagreed was a slave to superstition and not fit to debate with him.  This, of course is the core method of evolutionary science, global warming theory, and much else of the intellectual disaster of modern education.  Finally, I would note that the really good things that God gave me were mostly not even imagined, thus, they could not have been hoped for, so I don't even think the quote makes sense.

So how do I respond to a missionary who requests prayer, but then finishes the letter by quoting someone who taught that prayer was utterly worthless and misguided?  Should I correct this poor soul?  Or should I just trust that God in his mercy and grace will make use of this uneducated, but well meaning and passionate child of His?


Delirious said...

That's kind of interesting in light of the scripture passage we read as a family last night.
"7 ¶Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 7:7-11

Rummuser said...

That quote can stand alone by itself and had it not been assigned to Epicurus, it would fit in perfectly with the rest of the letter.

Why should it matter if the author of the quote was an atheist?

Max Coutinho said...

Hey Looney,

I don't believe in atheism - it is an illusion, really.

"I would note that the really good things that God gave me were mostly not even imagined, thus, they could not have been hoped for, so I don't even think the quote makes sense."

I experienced the same; so to me the quote doesn't make sense either.

Well, my humble advice would be to reply the missionary by saying that you will pray for him, of course; but enlighten him by saying how curious you always found that quote to be (then explain why). Be diplomatic.
God sends less enlightened people towards those who are more enlightened so that these can help the others shed one layer of ignorance at a time.


Looney said...

@Rummuser, yes there is a constructive sense in the quote. But still, a Christian missionary's goal is to teach that there is a hope beyond the misery of this life ... especially, whereas Epicurus was a wealthy philosopher who believed that there is nothing more to life.

Looney said...

@Max, I was thinking along that line, but diplomacy is something challenging for me!