Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Marmite Moment of Faith

I've come across these three observations lately on Christianity and Secularism. Food for thought.
  • Christianity and the University experience notes that evangelicalism, in Universities, seems to equally produce activism and drive people away in equal measure.
  "Evangelicalism... is a destabilising influence... triggering enthusiastic activism and disillusioned withdrawal in apparently equal measure."
  • Charles Taylor in A Secular Age says the desire to move from monastic seriousness and popular nominalism about faith to a reforming call for everyone to be serious and consistent and zealous about their faith has led to more secularism... this includes a shift from meaningful cosmos to silent universe, and the shifting of meaning from 'out there' to within me. Is nominal faith so bad? How much do I really understand of my faith? How consistent is my walk really?
  • Steve Bruce suggests that the charismatic renewal ought to be interpreted as sucess for secularism rather than a push back against it - intensifying some faith but furthering its withdrawal from society. [The charismatic renewal] "can be seen to facilitate rather than interrupt the secularisation process." (Steve Bruce/Michael Horton)
My conviction - the gospel is both utterly inclusive invitation and utterly offensive - so any growth and decline can be considered to be a fruit of that. For no reason in me I'm drawn to Christ, for countless reason in myself I would be turned away from him... in every generation and culture... Christ is the cornerstone and the stumbling block.

However, might there also be something in people being turned off from faith by our (my) approach, zeal, language, posture, piety, inwardness, emphases, adding an unnecessary offense and barrier? Have our changed (from 500 years ago) assumptions about the world, ourselves, religious expression, and society produced a distorted gospel? Is this a better day for the gospel or a worse one, or just a different one?

The only hope - to be thoroughly about The Christ - he who offends the self-righteous, and humbles them... he who welcomes the outsider and the failure and seems too good to be true for some... the scale of the church and the state of society must be given some attention and then we get to our business, holding up Christ for all.

Spread the Marmite, as it were, and let the taste tell. And, put it on good fresh buttered toast, not spread too thickly.. etc.

Image: Creative Commons - Celeste Hodges

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