Why are so many people, including many Christians, drawn to this story of people who fight against the church?
People are drawn to stories about brave souls who stand up against oppressors.
And, for a lot of people, whether we like it or not, the church represents fear, power, and condemnation.
The best way to make Phillip Pullman’s stories look like gospel truth is to respond by acting like the villainous Christians in his stories.
The best way to expose Pullman’s lie is to respond like Christ himself: With grace and truth, not hysteria and condemnation.
If we respond with wrath, condemnation, and protest, we play right into Pullman’s naive caricature of Christianity. I’m not saying we shouldn’t point out where he is wrong. His story is deeply flawed, and his religious bigotry is shameful. We should not ignore that. But we also should not ignore the excellence of his artistry. And should speak the truth in love, as Christ commands us. We should respond with truth and grace.
We should encourage people to compare the church of Pullman’s universe with the church in the real world, and how it is growing and ministering to so many needs — here, in Europe, in Africa, and around the world. We should remind people of the church that serves, and that Christ would not have wanted an oppressive church.
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17