15 September 2007

How to be a Christian?

The issues raised in this post along with a few other remarks I've seen in the media this week have got me thinking.

In the Anita Roddick interview, she talked about being surprised at a
Greenbelt festival to find out that this Christian festival is'big...organised....joyful...free'. She said I have fallen for the zeitgeist that says anybody who has a religious inclination has no sense of rationale or intellectual understanding and therefore should be dismissed. She talked of her surprise in finding that Christians were involved in trade justice.

Separately, I was struck by a comment on
this post on the New Statesman blog (HT to Methodist Preacher) that: Many people find that a pre-scientific, Biblical world-view is incompatible with an acceptance of a scientific account of human origins and the history of planet Earth.. This suggested to me a wholesale writing-off of Christianity on the basis that it demands the acceptance of an ancient cosmology.

Maybe in this culture, the first Good News we have to proclaim as Christians is that we are passionate supporters of trade and ecnomic justice and that Christian faith is compatible with modern science? Just thinking out loud.


crystal said...

The only people who think this about christianity are those who don't take the time to investigate. The number of moon craters anmed after Jesuit scientists is a testament to the wedding of science and religion that is alive and well and continuing - check out the Vatican Observatory, or read about the priest who first figured out the Big Bang theory, etc. The same thing is true for religion and trade/social justice.

Will said...

Great post, and I agree that we do indeed need to proclaim the good news that Christians fight injustice. Crystal is spot on, too. People do not take the time to find out what Christianity really says and often left with an image of what they think it is (and therefore leave it).

I do struggle with the science/Christian relationship. Not personally, I have no problems with Genesis not being a step by step accurate history, but then again I'm not a scientist - it bored me in High School. We have been given a false dichotomy that the two are somehow incompatible, but there are still many Christians who do not accept that science has anything to offer on issues such as the creation of the world (you may have read the blog post on Witherington's website where he put the funny picture of Jesus riding a dinosaur and the heated debate that it followed). My struggle is, how do we offer Christianity as compatible with modern science as you said, without alienating others, some of whom are my friends and family (admittedly, this is more an issue in the US than the UK - I don't seem to have met as many "biblical literalists" here. I use their term, but realise that they don't take the bible as literally as they think, which circles back to the first point you made and Anita Roddick's surprise at Christians caring about trade justice).

PamBG said...

Will, Roddick's comments made me think that whilst perhaps UK Christians are not creationists, that there is a 'zeitgeist'[1] amongst non-Christians that says Christianity and science are incompatible.

I think that the secular press here raises a 'Christian strawman' a lot. It goes something like: 'You're not a real Christian unless you see the bible as verbally inspired, inerrant and infallible and believe in a Magical God. And the rest of us are smart enough to see through this stupid, superstitious and dangerous worldview.'

[1] Someone asked me what 'zeitgeist' means so I translate: 'Spirit of the times'. Usually used to denote a prevailing and unchallenged belief.