Not a day goes by when the Christian faith is not being bashed, pilloried, mocked, attacked and dragged in the mud. It has become a full time occupation, a major sporting event, for many of our secular elite, especially in the mainstream media.
Three thoughts come to mind here. First, consider the monumental hypocrisy and double standards being applied here. In our post-Christian world we are told we should be sensitive to, and respect and tolerate, every worldview, belief and creed. Except one: Christianity.
And those doing the attacking are for the most part far too gutless to pick on other major beliefs, be it Islam or aboriginal dream time spirituality. The attacks are invariably on Christianity.
Second, perhaps a major reason why Christianity is such a favoured object of scorn and ridicule is the attackers know that generally speaking Christians are a wimpish lot. Most believers either do not care that their faith is under constant attack, or they are too fearful to do anything about. Too often we see Muslims showing more courage of conviction. Or we see secular humanists more willing to stand up for their faith.
Of course part of the reason for the lack of a Christian response is found in the faith itself: we are told to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, and so on. That helps to explain why Christians are such easy targets. And it also demonstrates a major difference between Christianity and other more belligerent religions, such as Islam.
Thus we do not see Christian churches issuing fatwas against their attackers. We do not see Christian suicide bombers taking revenge on the godless masses. But still, one would like to see believers start to stand up for their cherished beliefs, and be a bit more bold in proclaiming Christian truth in the public arena, instead of being satisfied with a purely private faith.
Third, the continuous assaults on Christianity are so blatant, so cowardly and so brazen, that even some non-believers are concerned about it all. A great case in point is Herald Sun columnist and agnostic, Andrew Bolt. He has often penned columns defending the Christian faith against its many attackers. He did so again on Good Friday.
In his April 6, 2007 column, “My Easter message,” he catalogues the latest string of attacks, listing various examples of anti-Christian bigotry, including the chocolate nude Jesus statue, complete with anatomically correct penis.
Bolt then also highlights the hypocrisy and cowardice in all this: “I wouldn’t be alone in thinking each time an artist or commentator insults Christians: friend, if you’re so brave, say that about Islam. Show us your chocolate Mohammeds. Show us your Korans dipped in urine. Where is the singer who will rip up a Koran as Marilyn Manson ripped up a Bible? Or will on television tear up a picture of Islam’s most honoured preacher as Sinead O’Connor shredded one of the great Pope John Paul II? It’s not as if Islam doesn’t threaten our artists more than does Christianity.”
Indeed, picking on Islam usually results in quick and strong reactions: “See only the murder of film director Theo van Gogh or the fatwa on writer Salman Rushdie or the stabbing of Rushdie’s translator. Or see those deadly riots against the Mohammed cartoons. So when I see a Western artist mock Christ, I see an artist advertising not his courage but his cowardice – by not daring to mock what would threaten him more.”
Of course Bolt is not calling for equal time here: “I am most certainly not saying that moderate Islam should now be treated with the childish disrespect so often shown to Christianity. Nor am I saying most Muslims endorse violence, or that there aren’t a few Christians who might turn violent, too.”
“But I am saying that more people now know there is a double standard here illustrated perfectly by the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, which banned acts that told jokes against Muslims but promoted ones that lampooned Christians. It’s this blatant double standard that may finally have shamed some of the usual jeerers into showing Christianity a little respect. And perhaps – just perhaps – more of us might be wakening to a truth we too long took for granted. It’s no accident that we feel safer insulting Christians than trashing almost anyone else.”
He continues, “This is a religion that’s always preached tolerance, reason and non-violence, even if too many of its followers have seemed deaf. It’s also urged us to leave the judgment of others to God (a message I ignore for professional reasons). We are the beneficiaries of that preaching, even those of us who aren’t Christians. We live in a society, founded on Christian principles, that guards our right to speak, and even to abuse things we should praise. We can now vilify Jesus and damn priests, and risk nothing but hard looks from a soft bishop, and a job offer from The Age.”
A fantastic column Andrew Bolt. Why is it that a non-believer can do a better job of defending the Christian faith than most believers can? Why is it that some agnostics are more bold and forthright in standing up for Christianity than are many Christians? These questions deserve serious attention.
One final thought, however. As great as this column was, I have just one quibble, and that is with his closing remarks, in which he speaks about “a preacher of astonishing moral clarity and courage”. Bolt, typical of many non-believers, and so many liberal believers, likes the ethics of Jesus while rejecting his teachings.
That is, they are impressed with his calls to love, humility and compassion, and so on, but reject the message Jesus in fact came to deliver. That message, simply stated is this: God exists; he created us; we rejected him and chose sin and selfishness; he sent his son Jesus to die for our sins; on that basis, we can come to him in repentance and faith, and be reconciled to God. That is the heart of the Christian gospel.
And it is on the basis of accepting this message that one can start to live like Jesus. The truth is, if we refuse his teachings, we cannot claim his ethics. They go together: living like Christ is only possible when we believe like Christ.
But having said that, this column is a good example of what believers should be saying, loud and clear, but way too often are not. Jesus once said if people would refuse to believe in him, the very stones would cry out in testimony of him. It seems in the face of widespread Christian apathy, indifference and silence, non-Christians are crying out on their behalf.