A Visit to the South

by Tim Chaffey

     This particular article will not have much to do with apologetics.  I just wanted to make a few personal comments concerning my trip to Nashville and Atlanta and back. 

     I am writing this article from my hotel room in Lithonia, GA (Atlanta suburb).  Tomorrow evening I will graduate with a Masters' degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Luther Rice Seminary.  I am excited to be finishing this stage of my life and looking forward to all that God has in store for me. 

     Over the past four days I have been encouraged by some of the things I have witnessed.  I made a similar trip last year and was greatly encouraged.  For one thing, it is amazing to see the difference between the people in the South and from my area of the country - and I am not talking about physical differences.  First, I have noticed that most of the people here are extremely polite.  All day long I have heard "thank you sir," "excuse me," "you're welcome," etc.  The Midwest is usually considered to be a down-to-earth place but the politeness meter seems to run much lower there.  In the South, the teenagers working at fast food joints show respect to their managers and to the customers.  At home, I can think of numerous times where the cashier has barely said a word (if at all) and wouldn't dare show a smile. 

     So what is the difference?  While this is not a scientific conclusion by any stretch of the imagination, I believe it has to do with the fact that I am currently in the "Bible Belt."  This does not mean that everyone here is a Christian, that all the Christians here are devout, or that no unbeliever is polite and respectful.  However, Christianity does seem to play a much larger role in people's lives here.  One interesting observation is that many of the street corners host two or three churches whereas I am used to seeing two or three bars on a corner.  Again, I realize I am making generalizations but in many cases, they ring true.

     I am certain that liberalism runs rampant through churches here as it does back home, although maybe not to the same degree.  I recently heard a popular apologist say that churches in the South rarely want anything to do with apologetics.  I'm not sure why that is.  Perhaps many view church as more of a social club that one attends to keep their status.  If this is the case then they don't want to be challenged with a message that stresses the importance of defending one's faith.  Whatever the cause of this may be, I am always encouraged when visiting the South.  Last year, I noticed a muffler shop, a Dairy Queen, and an Arby's posting biblical messages and even (gasp!) the Ten Commandments - on an Arby's countertop!!  I'm sure that Freedom from Religion people would die of a heart attack just reading that.

     Anyway, I realize I'm rambling.  I just wanted to share these insights with you and let you know that there is hope for this nation.  I was extremely encouraged to see hundreds of godly people at tonight's graduation banquet.  It is great to know that God is raising up men and women to take a stand on His Word.  I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this in the years to come and ultimately, in heaven. 

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