Fearing Christianity?

It seems that in the western world there is one category of people not particularly allowed to voice an opinion; one category of people that should be denied office at all costs.

Would that be people with a track record of lying to the public? No. People with a track record of breaking their promises? Nope. People with a history of political violence? Nope again.

What about people who come from a tradition which established schools for all children, brought an end to slavery, built hospitals and hospices, elevated women’s rights, fought racism, put an end to widow burning and cannibalism, alleviated poverty, and much more?

Absolutely—they shouldn’t be let within a beagle’s gowl* of anything political—who knows what sort of damage they might do! Former American Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders typified this attitude last week. He was part of a panel interviewing nominees for the role of deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The problem for Sanders was that nominee Russell Vought had once written that Muslims stand condemned before God because they don’t acknowledge Jesus as the way to God. Sanders pressed him and pressed him on this issue of condemnation, despite the fact that it’s been standard Christian belief for the last 2000 years, and not to mention that Islam teaches the same only in reverse.

Importantly, Vought spoke of how Christians view those of different beliefs, saying, “As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe that as a Christian that’s how I should treat all individuals…”

Sanders couldn’t accept it. Apart from losing the head and shouting at Vought; apart from forgetting that the Constitution of the United States precludes the discrimination Sanders was making, Sanders concluded that Vought was unsuitable for office, and that “this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

This nominee—who holds a view that 41% of Americans hold—isn’t what this country is about. Or at least, he doesn’t fit with the direction folks like Sanders want to go. So, without seeming to grasp the irony, Sanders condemns him and all like him. As far as he is concerned they really have no place in America. A whole swathe condemned—I thought that’s what he was objecting to! Is it hypocrisy, irony, or intolerance?

I originally wrote this piece at the start of the week, but as I come to publish it on Gentle Reformation news has moved on, and this week has seen the resignation in the UK of Tim Farron from his role as leader of the Liberal Democrat party. He was hounded and pressured to change his views on abortion and sexuality. At one stage in the election campaign he buckled, but now it seems as if his nerve has steadied, and his perspective been regained.

He said, “To be a political leader… and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

He went on to say, “I want to say one more thing: I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party. Imagine how proud I am to lead this party. And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour. In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something ‘so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all’.”

He is a man who would rather follow Christ than lead his country. Yet nonetheless he was hounded out of his role.

But why all this hostility? There is an intolerance, a subconscious fear, of biblical Christianity. Why is that? It’s because it confronts people with what they know to be true and try to suppress: that there is a God. Christians who live like there is a real God to whom they will one day give an answer have brought the greatest benefit to this world, but they bring the greatest threat to our hopeless dreams of self-sufficiency, and so they will not be tolerated. You can believe what you want, but just don’t believe Christian stuff. And if you do, certainly don’t live it out publicly.

Yet that’s just what the world needs, for God is real whether we want to admit it or not.

 

*  [Ulster Scot’s phrase denoting the distance at which a hunting dog may be heard–ie. not very close!]

PS. I was amused at an editor’s note in one newspaper following Tim Farron’s statement. Sadly bemused because so religiously illiterate are people that the allusion had to be explained. And amused that the gospel gets to be set out for all to read—it is a great commentary on why Christians take the stands they do.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The final quote is a reference to the 1707 hymn, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross. For the uninitiated, here are the words…

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

12 Comments

  1. Gordon June 18, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    This is a great article Mark! Thank you so much for sharing it.

    • Mark Loughridge June 18, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

      Thanks Gordon for the encouragement

  2. Adolfo Edgar June 19, 2017 at 7:16 am #

    In order to reply to questioning like the one Senator Sanders brought on Russell Vought, Christians should keep in mind that ALL human beings stand condemned before God (Romans 3) regardless of sex, race, cultural background, religious heritage, etc. It is ONLY by acknowledging we are sinners, repenting before God and believing in Christ Jesus that we can escape that condemnation.

  3. John Challies June 19, 2017 at 7:52 am #

    I am intrigued by the idiom ‘a beagle’s gowl. Coming from Quebec, the French Canadians have derogatory expression’ “Ferme ta gueule”. It is slang for “Shut your mouth”, or literally, “Shut your snout”.
    J Challies

  4. Rick June 19, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    Excellent artice, Mark, and the question that I have asked for a long time: why are people afraid of Christians?

    • Mark Loughridge June 19, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

      Thanks Rick – To expand on what I said in the article–“it’s because [Christianity] confronts people with what they know to be true and try to suppress: that there is a God”–as someone else said once, there is that awful sneaking suspicion that it might be true, and because God has made us, his fingerprints are all over us. To change the metaphor, we have an internal GPS–but we don’t like the direction it takes us. And every Christian is like a satellite providing a stronger signal, and hence clearer awareness of the direction we should be travelling in…

      So getting Christians to keep silent reduces the chatter from the internal GPS…

      Proverbs 29:27 “one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.”

  5. Kathleen McNeal June 19, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    Maybe people are a little dubious of the Christian claim that essentially says ‘My Almighty and Perfect God condemns you to eternal torture ..but don’t worry, I promise to treat you fairly.”

    • Adolfo Edgar June 19, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

      Kathleen,

      We all stand condemned before the Almighty and Perfect God (Romans 3) because we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. A perfect God demands perfection. This is bad news for ALL humans beings because NO ONE can meet the perfection of a Holy, Holy, Holy God. By our fallen nature we are sinners.

      If God were to treat us fairly, we would all be condemned to the eternal torture that you mention. But, the Good News (the Gospel) is that by God’s amazing grace His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, came into this world to live the perfect life that we couldn’t live and die our my stead. True love (not the sentimental love of our culture) is when a person gives his life for another. This is what Jesus did for sinners. God only asks us to acknowledge that we are sinners, repent, and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.

      How can a true Christian treat anyone unfairly when he/she has received such unmerited favour of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ? How can telling someone about the Truth be unfair?
      All the best!

    • Mark Loughridge June 19, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

      Hi Kathleen,

      I appreciate your point–yet here are a couple of factors to take into consideration:

      – In this moment God offers grace not judgement to everyone who comes to him, therefore Christians must do the same. Your comparision conflates what God will do in the future with what he is doing now.

      – Because Christians believe judgment is God’s prerogative they can leave that up to him, and get on treating people graciously because they are made in God’s image. Every person I meet is a divine work of art–I should treat them that way because I will have to answer to God for it! I came across a good line recently that sums this up “A good rule of thumb is: for starters, concentrate on your own sinfulness, and on the other person’s humanness.”

      I do grant that Christians do not always act in a way that displays this grace, but they should.

      blessings on you

      Mark

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Selected News Stories from Around the World* — Monday, June 19 | The BibleMesh Blog - June 19, 2017

    […] Fearing Christianity? (Gentle Reformation) […]

  2. Fearing Christianity? - The Aquila Report - June 21, 2017

    […] Read More […]

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.