Wednesday, March 16, 2011
It Takes A Foundation
At the same time, one of the difficulties of Hauerwas’s framing of the issue is what appears to be his lack of appreciation for lay Christianity and what some sociologists now define as “lived religion.” While I find Stanley Hauerwas to be unfailingly provocative as a thinker, I go away from the experience of reading his books with the firm impression that the Christian in the pew is just not to be trusted as really believing much of anything. I share his concern to reject civil religion as true Christianity, but I cannot share his dismissive approach to the faith of millions in the pews, who may not be theologians, but who are faithful believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.In the second her looks at the consequences when Christians play by the world's rules:
This is a disastrous strategy. Are Christians so insecure that we fear a weakly-worded advertisement on a public bus? These bus ads represent just how weak the atheists arguments really are, but the response from agitated Christians represents a far more dangerous weakness. Instead of responding to the ads with a firm and gracious defense of the Gospel, these activists just surrendered the space altogether, rather than to bear the offense of the cross.These are both valid conclusions, well stated - the issues tend to be how we act upon them. For example - there are two ways to look at the "vague" faith Hauerwas notes, one is to excoriate it as weak, the other is to see it as a foundation upon which genuine faith can be guilt. So many deride "civil religion" and yet it has served as a foundation that has allowed America to flourish religiously.
Christianity has enemies, and the greatest victory of these enemies is to prevent the proclamation of the Gospel. The strategy so celebrated in Fort Worth is a route to evangelistic disaster. Religious liberty is the friend of the Gospel, and constraints on religious speech serve the cause of the secularists.
Being a Christian does not mean never having to be offended. Like the Apostle Paul, we are called to bear the offense of the cross gladly. If Paul had followed the Fort Worth strategy, Acts 17 would never have happened.
Frankly, I think you take these posts together and you see that the real problem is we have yet to focus on the genuine competition. You worry about civil religion if you think it the competition, but the second post shows where the real competition lies - secularism.
In a nation with a "vague faith" the Hp;y Spirit can work boldly. In a nation without mention of faith, the Holy Spirit must squeeze into seams. We need to be working to maintain a nation where the Holy Spirit is moving boldly.