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Alister McGrath on Orpheus’ Approach

If the world seems attractive, the Christian must ensure that God, as its creator, is seen to be even more attractive. The world reflects the attractiveness of its creator, as the moon reflects the light of the sun. ¶ Two incidents from classical Greek mythology suggest themselves here. Homer introduces us to the Sirens, a group of women whose singing was so seductive that they caused sailors to crash their vessels through inattention to their duties. When Ulysses was attempting to sail his ship past the Sirens, he prevented the Sirens from causing any difficulties by the simple expedient of blocking his sailors’ ears so that they could not hear the captivating Siren song. Orpheus, on the other hand, was a skilled lyre player. His method of dealing with this kind of threat was rather indifferent. He played his lyre, the music of which proved so enchanting and fascinating that its beauty totally outweighed anything else.

The Christian apologist should be able to present God in his full attractiveness so that his rivals in the world are eclipsed. What are the attractions of God? The following would be important elements of this presentation, which the apologist could modify or supplement as seems appropriate.

a. The ability of God to satisfy the deepest human longings.
b. The overwhelming love of God, as seen in the death of Christ.
c. Relativism settles nowhwere and nothing; faith in God anchors people, giving them stability and purpose.

To this should be added our analysis of the relevance of Christianity to life, including the arguments that Christianity meets three central needs.

a. The need to have a basis for morality. Christianity offers a worldview that leads to the generation of moral values and ideals that are able to give moral meaning and dignity to our existence.
b. The need to have a framework for making sense of experience, which correlates with the inbuilt human need to make sense of things.
c. The need for a vision to guide and inspire people. Life without a vision, or a reason for keeping going, is dreary, dull, and pointless.

Having thus established the attractiveness and relevance of God, the question of truth may be addressed. Once an attractive belief has been presented and its attractiveness is conceded, the key question becomes: Is it right?


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