I never thought my first blog on CADRE Comments would quote a rap artist, but here it goes. Kanye West's hip hop song, Jesus Walks, caught my attention for many reasons, but in particular for the lines --

They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, videotapes
But if I talk about God my record won't get played

Fortunately, Kanye West's record is being played, so his prediction was a little too pessimistic. However, his words got me thinking about how Christian contributions are so often excluded from the public arena.

I'm not talking about Christianity being excluded from discussions of public policy and the political process (although that is a perfectly valid topic). I'm talking more about the insidious way in which Christianity has been privatised out of general, day-to-day discussion. Religion is commonly thought to be a personal matter which is not to be discussed out in the open, and any Christian statement in public is thought to be offensive and intrusive. But why?

Western society, having adopted liberal democracy and having focused on individual rights, has taken many steps too far, to the point where we have adopted a disturbing level of selfishness and individualism. We are often told to "make our own destiny" and to "be yourself" and to "not listen to anyone who gets in the way of your dreams" - anything to make us regard ourselves as atomistic, disconnected individuals.

So religion has been sidelined as well. "You believe what you want and I'll believe what I want," we are told. Aside from the problems with relativism, of which there are many, it is disturbing that the general public has so uncritically accepted the pushing of religion into our private homes and churches rather than allowing it to be discussed out in the open.

We Christians must take some responsibility for this. It is no random coincidence that so many people feel that Christianity doesn't connect with their pains, struggles, and intellectual doubts. It is also no random coincidence that so many people feel that Christianity is bigoted, unloving and unrealistic.

But we must challenge the notion that the solution to this problem is to push Christianity to the sidelines and make it entirely an issue of private opinion rather than an issue to be discussed in public. It is, as Kanye West points out, ridiculous that songs can talk about any number of depravities and get spectacularly high airplay, but people snicker and get offended when someone testifies of their Christian faith.

This is not a time to become belligerent. Rather, it is a time to be:

a) loving: showing people that Christianity can connect with them - their bad experiences of religion do not represent the norm; and

b) persistent: pointing out the hypocrisy in a society that silences Christian voices under the guise that they are "offensive" but gives the loudest voice to people who offend the most.


biblemike said…
You are right on with your description of what is happening to Christianity in the public/social arena. Christianity was vigrously removed from the media and the social philosophy of every man for himself humanism took its place. There is an obvious dichotomy in how that philosophy plays out. There is a lot of knee jerk references to the needy, the poor, the disenfranchised; but the end product is that it is all about me. It is only after the media's work began that the politics of humanism became more forceful and geared more toward Christianity than any other religion. Singling out Christianity as oppossed to all religion may be the biggest mistake of all. One that will bite them back in the future.

Why Christianity? It was Muslims that blew up the twin towers. It is Muslims who are daily killing innocent women and children. Why not Muslims as well? Why not Scientolgy with all its accusations of money laundering, brain washing and tax evasion? Because most of the religions in America are all about me and Muslims are off limits because too many Muslim controlled governments are our allies. Can't offend our allies, but we can make as many jokes as we want about Christian and Christianity as long as we make clear we're only talking about the "weird" ones. Christianity, or at least traditional Christianity, threatens the all about me philosophy. Jesus tells us to make it all about the other guy not ourselves and that just won't fit in this society.

Your proposed solution is also well put, but I would like to see it go a bit further or into more detail. The place we need to start that is in the pulpits and among the gossipers in every conservative church in America. I am a conservative Evangelical myself, so I'm not attacking anyone else here. We conservatives have two main problems that have helped lead to this situation. Too many of us have been unforgiving in our language and behavior of those who make mistakes, unless the mistakes they make are the same ones we do and then they're ok. If that wasn't bad enough we have a terrible habit of talking about others behind their backs "for their own good." Let's call it what it is - gossip. This behavior has chased to many people away from the Body of Christ.

Don't worry, I have something for the liberal side of the aisle as well. I should use the personal pronoun here as well because that is where I was at the time. In their genuine good intent to make up for the wrongs of the past, beginning in the civil rights movement of fifties and sixties, liberal Christians, would've just called them Christians then, opened the doors to political action inside the churches. This was not a bad thing at the time, but it evolved into a difficult thing to control. But then with the Vietnam war, political ideas that didn't really fit with church doctrine came in with those who weren't Christians, but were working with those Christians on the anti-war movement. This also began to turn some people away.

Now we have all these peopel out there with misperceptions of what Chistianity is and no way to correct those misprerceptions using the public forums. So you rightly suggest we go back to the practice of the earliest Christians. We love people. We don't dislike them, but we do not approve or condone their sin. We let them know we love them and leave argument until after need. Let them see what Christ looks like before we tell them what He desires in the way of change. We persistently present the reality of Chrsitianity and point out the unfairness and falseness with which it is portrayed. Most importantly, we also work inside the churches to repair the errors that helped lead to this condition in the first place.

I am not saying that all the liberals will become more conservative or that all the conservatives would become more liberal. There was as much variety among the house churches in the first and second centuries as there is among denominations today. Thus we have the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. They were a way of saying,yes there will be diversity, but there must be certain things which are constant among us all. Diversity Yes, but Unity as well. Using that concept, perhaps we will stop fighting among ourselves and in the process teach the world to do the same.

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