What can people of faith learn from the recent Brit Hume incident? Unless you have been living under a rock or in a monastery for the last week, you have likely heard much about Brit Hume's comments made on Fox News Sunday, Jan 3rd. The internet, television, and radio have all been abuzz discussing the incident and there have been many either condemning or commending Hume for his remarks- which were clearly an indication of his own faith seen in his public personal witness. For an excellent post on Hume as an example of Christian witness, read Jonathan Falwell's blog.
That said, there is no reason to argue for or against Hume's comments. What is important to and worth asking is this: How are people of the Christian faith to live in a world of diverse beliefs? The answer is simple, but yet it can not be said enough: people of faith are to live as people of faith. Faith, for the Christian is not a private matter, which was one of the problems with monasticism. While many people often remark that their spiritual life and faith are private matters, there is no biblical argument (which is where the Christian must take their understanding of faith from) for a completely private faith. You know what's funny about that- even atheists often understand this, sometimes better than those that call themselves Christians.
A Christian believes that all of mankind are born sinful and therefore stand condemned already, guilty of sin before a holy God, and deserve eternal punishment at the wrath of God (Romans 3:23, John 3:18). The good news of the Gospel is that not only forgiveness (which is what Hume's suggestion was pointing towards), but atonement has already been made for those who have put their faith in Jesus as the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for their sins (Romans 8:1). So the Christian believes they have the assurance of salvation and pardon, what a great peace and comfort. But wait, here is where the lesson is to be learned in this situation-
The comfort and assurance that the Christian has been given has been given for specific purposes, and one of the most significant purposes necessarily implies an obligation for that Christian to be a witness (Acts1:8). There is nothing private about being witness.
Not having first hand knowledge or having watched Hume consistently over the years, it would be difficult to argue whether or not he has been a consistent public witness. It would also be a poor argument, because arguing for or against his history of public witness or lack of witness would also require complete knowledge of his Christian faith, which while not private- could certainly only be confirmed completely only by God.
Why was this so newsworthy then? If Hume had been a public witness on air for years (which is not necessarily suggesting that he has not been nor that he has been neglecting the Gospel message),but if he had been, is it likely that this incident would have become such a hot topic? Probably not- but it is possible. He did after all not just make a statement of his faith by implication, but also implored on-air that one of the world's most known professional athletes forsake everything to seek forgiveness in Jesus.
For the Christian, there is no question that according to the bible, they are to live out their faith in a consistent, public manner in spite of living in a world of conflicting faiths. The best thing a people of faith can do for the world, is to live as people of faith.
Even prominent atheists agree, Christians must live as people of public faith, if not, not only do they neglect the gift of comfort and assurance, but they loose respect. Penn Gillette speaks of an occasion where he was witnessed to and given a Bible after a show and tells viewers that he has always maintained a complete lack of respect for anyone who honestly believes in the biblical teaching of condemnation and Hell for unbelieving sinners and yet does not witness their faith.
While most people want their fifteen seconds of fame, perhaps a goal for Christians today could be for their witnessing to be so public and consistent that it is completely un-newsworthy. It is significant to note, not only was Hume's suggestion newsworthy, but apparently Penn found his experience so as well. What if people of faith were to live out their faith in this public and consistent way? Sure, perhaps some would be hated, but a Christian should be happy to be hated for their faith (Matthew 5:10-12). Maybe if Christian's witnessed more Penn would have been telling this story years ago, and maybe Hume's comments would have been less newsworthy, although not necessarily less controversial. But maybe, just maybe- Christian witnesses would be less newsworthy and more worthy as a witness, after all- if you are a Christian, isn't that why you're still here?