Friday, May 13, 2005

Have we uncritically signed up to Western Christianity? And is that wrong?

During cell group last night, Tom shared with me something that was galling him at the moment and which I confess has galled me too in the past. He put it like this: he felt that when he became a Christian he had ‘signed up for the western Christianity package’ (or in words very similar), without realising what he was doing. It took me some time to understand what he was saying, but basically it was a frustration that all the questions there may be with how to apply Christianity to life here in twenty-first century Britain had already been answered and there is no debate to be had. For example he mentioned contraception; something different strands of Christianity especially outside the West may take a different view on, but which is not even seen as an issue to be discussed anymore in Western evangelicalism. Another example I though of was usury, or lending money, something considered a sin in the middle ages by Christians on the basis of some OT texts but now a non-issue, it seems obvious to everyone it is fine. The problem is we in the West are all children of the enlightenment who cannot trust anything handed down to us unless we are shown the rational argument supporting it. So we are left in this uncomfortable state where we have neither the time, nor the ability to solve some of these questions, so we just accept what everyone around us accepts. I know that is what I do, but I am left uneasy. The questions is, is the enlightenment mindset the problem (in which case we should stop worrying and just live), OR should we critically examine everything that has been handed down to us in an attempt to live faithfully for God? Or, seeing as there seems to be legions of problems with both options, maybe, just maybe, we should look for a third/middle way? These sorts of problems often lead me to cry ‘come Lord Jesus!’ which is probably the right response. Having said that, one of my many sins is that it is only really these existential issues which cause me to do that, not the sin and injustice in the world. Lord give me your spirit!


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