This is such a good article. I really identify with what the author is saying - although I wish I had a strong dialogue with people who believe differently. Often people are aware that I'm a Christian, and kind of shut up about certain things around me. Either that or, unaware, they talk as if I believe the same as they do.
It's weird how there's a kind of unspoken secular orthodoxy in New Zealand (and probably the rest of the Western world) today. It's almost as if there's an anti-apostle's-creed:
- God is an idea, not a person. (Nicely takes out the need for relationship or accountability to that idea, but you still get to be spiritual)
- Anyone can believe what they want, as long as they don't try and impose those beliefs on others (sounds nice in theory, but what about, say, parents and children? Law enforcement? The media? It all depends on shared beliefs)
- Gays should be able to get married, whatever, I don't care. (The conservative argument about how this affects the status of real marriage doesn't hold much sway, except among conservative Christians)
- Fundamentalism of all kinds is dangerous - especially among Americans in the red states. (This makes us liberal kiwis feel very clever, because the obvious answer is that Osama bin Laden is a dangerous fundamentalist; but it's just as trendy to say so is George W Bush)
And the last point takes you back to the first. Specifics divide, let's just believe in the idea of God rather than worry about who His Son is, or who His prophet is...
Trouble is, that kind of belief system only relies on what's already inside us humans - some good, some bad. And that's how some people like it; I can relate to that, I went through a period of wanting to be a secular humanist for a while. It seemed simpler than being a Christian. Maybe it is...
But the truth is, real Christianity is via revelation from a real and living God. SomeOne with a will, someOne different from me, a Person who is separate. That's what holy means.
Anyway, I'm ranting. Back to the article - my favourite quotes:
"Visiting another city a few months ago, I met with three gay men who consider themselves Christians, attend church regularly, and take their faith seriously. They view the political landscape through the same lens as my reading group friends, though with a far more acute sense of alarm. "We feel like we're in the same situation as the Jews in the early days of Hitler's regime," said one. "We're trying to discern whether it's 1933 or 1939. Should we all flee to Canada now? It's obvious the country doesn't want us, and I believe most evangelicals would like to see us exterminated."
I responded with sheer incredulity. "How can you think such a thing! Homosexuals have more rights in this country than ever. And I don't know a single Christian who wants to have you exterminated." The three cited legislative efforts in several states to roll back rights granted homosexuals and gave me several pages of inflammatory rhetoric against homosexuals by prominent evangelical political activists.
I went away from that discussion with my head spinning, just as sometimes happens at the university reading group. How can people who inhabit the same society have such different perceptions? More ominously, what have we evangelicals done to make Good News—the very meaning of the word evangelical—sound like such a threat?"
"Josh asked me to recommend some books by C. S. Lewis or someone else who could explain the faith in a way that he could understand. "My sister sends me Christian books, but they're totally unconvincing," he said. "They seem written for people who already believe them." I happily complied.
Reflecting on our conversation, I remembered a remark by Lewis, who drew a distinction between communicating with a society that hears the gospel for the first time and one that has embraced and then largely rejected it. A person must court a virgin differently than a divorcée, said Lewis. One welcomes the charming words; the other needs a demonstration of love to overcome inbuilt skepticism."
Virgin vs. divorcee. How true that is. I guess most people I've met who subscribe to the unwritten anti-apostle's-creed have had their own personal experience with religion. We usually don't arrive at conclusions for no reason. What's important, though, is that our minds are flexible and able to take on more truth as it comes to us.