Thursday, October 29, 2009
That's Not Going To Work
For many Christians, cultural engagement is nothing more than taking whatever the world dishes up, and then trying to find a verse or two to decorate it with. It is like science fair projects in many Christian schools. Do the astronomy project, set up the display board, and then at the last minute try to find a verse with stars in it.I got all giddy becasue that pretty well describes every "Christian bookstore" I have been in lately and I thought I would be treated to a bit of a rant concerning consumerism. Instead, when I clicked through, Wilson was discussing something quite different. His opening paragraphs:
In the previous post on stewardship, one commenter asked a reasonable question. Why is it that I consistently use green as a term of contempt? And when do I, if ever, speak of the genuine demands of biblical stewardship in the environment? Consider this as a first pass in attempting to answer that question.What a fascinating blend of political and religious rhetoric! Now I pretty much agree with his positions here, but that is no surprise, I've written and written about it. Taylor really did hit on the take-away here. As Christians, its not nearly so much about what we do, but about how we do it.
First, why is it that I regard a Christian's baptismal vows, which renounce the devil and all his works, to include a rejection of being green, going green, or thinking green? Is it because I don't like the color? Is it because my motto is "Earth first! We'll pave the other planets later"? Not a bit of it. Scripture begins with a garden, and it ends with (green) garden city. Not only am I okay with this, but I regard it as every Christian's duty to live in a manner consistent with that overarching vision. So why do I gag on "green"?
It is for the same reason that you would not catch me in a Parisian mob, yelling "liberty, equality, and fraternity," even though all three of those things are good things. I am not pro-choice, even though choice is good. I believe that Christ came to liberate the proletariat, even though I would never speak of it that way. Virtually every instance of greenthink you will encounter today is watermelon green -- green on the outside, red on the inside. The thing is a statist sham from top to bottom, a naked, violent and abusive power grab. The issue for me is coercion and violence, and has nothing whatever to do with their promise to change the weather, for Pete's sake.
Christians SHOULD be better at everything. First we should be better people. Consider an unavoidably bureaucratic situation - say security at the airport. Christians, on both sides of the screening should be more patient, tolerant, even long-suffering. In being so, we make the entire experience better for all concerned. In banking, as another example, Christians are not called just to look the other way when loans are paid, but rather to deal with collections in a fashion that uplifts everyone - that does not demean the non-payer but still gets the point across. As Wilson points out, in science we will come much closer to good answers because we under stand the limitations of science.
What's the theme to these examples? It is not that a Christian is smarter than a non-Christians - it is that a Christian is far better equipped to look at the long-term consequences of their decisions and has a proper basis for consider the ethical ramifications of anything he/she does.
Christians must be different and better in everything they do, not in name, but in substance. In a fallen world there is much that we will engage in that is no different than anyone else, and yet God calls us to be very different. So it must not be what we do, and it certainly is not in how we label what we do. It is in who we are and how we do things.
Just calling something Christian is not going to work. Being Christ-like is what does.