I really should stop being surprised. But I guess hope springs, and clings, eternal. Every time I see an article in the mainstream media about Christianity, I foolishly hope that perhaps at least one of them might actually represent something of historic Christianity. Thus when I noticed another article in the Melbourne Age, this time claiming to be about Christianity versus atheism, a flicker of hope welled up within me.
But of course it was extinguished in an instant when I opened up the article online. Here was yet another “Christian” article in the MSM, except that it looked nothing like what biblical Christianity is all about. Indeed, neither Jesus, nor the disciples, nor defenders of the faith throughout the ages would have recognised their faith in this piece.
I guess I should have checked out the author by-line first. That usually gives the game away real fast. Sure enough: the author works with the Uniting Church, arguably the most liberal and theologically reckless denomination in Australia.
The author, Cheryl Lawrie, is said to work “with an alternative worship project for the Uniting Church”, whatever that means. Her Sunday article (May 27, 2007) started off with the promising sub-title, “Atheism might be all the rage, but Christianity is about more than fashion,” but it was all downhill from there on.
It was just another article newspapers like the Age love to run: a so-called religious piece that simply reflects the spirit of the age. Sure, there is a puff of faith here, a whiff of Christianity there, and a smattering of religious buzz words. But the article simply reflects the position of one who clearly has little time for the historic understanding of the Christian faith.
She begins by saying that while atheism may seem to be the flavour of the month, faith still has a place. But then she comes out with a whopper like this: “At its essence, Christianity is not about doctrine: it’s about a lifestyle, and a commitment at one’s very core to the notion that all people should have life, rich and full beyond measure.” There are two major problems with this statement: the first half and the second half.
Christianity has nothing to do with doctrine? So all those historic creeds and councils have just been a waste of time? And there is no doctrinal difference between Christianity and say, Rosicrucianism, or shamanism? And when Paul speaks about false teachings as being – in some cases – doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1), or when he says those who preach another gospel should be accursed (Gal. 1:6-9), was he just hyperventilating, or being a bit melodramatic?
And is Christianity really just about “a lifestyle, and … life rich and full beyond measure”? If that is the end, then New Age teaching, get-rich schemes and/or peyote religions would all suffice. In which case, Jesus need not have bothered in coming to planet earth, let alone dying for our sins. Indeed, it seems that in the gospel according to Ms Lawrie, the concept of sin doesn’t even rate a mention. In which case, neither would salvation.
And you know the Christian faith is not going to come off well in an article like this when the author spends a good part of her time arguing that atheist Richard Dawkins is right on so many things. For example, she says, “Dawkins is right, of course — there’s nothing rational about a life of faith”. Nothing?
So what is she suggesting? That Christianity is irrational? That it has nothing to do with evidence and reason? If so, she is acting as a disciple of Richard Dawkins, but not Jesus Christ. Biblical faith may at times go beyond reason, but never against reason. An ‘informed faith’ may best describe the biblical view on the matter.
She also makes this bizarre claim: “Yes, the case for God is pretty flimsy. It’s based on beliefs and experiences that can’t be measured or proven or validated.” But the heart of Christianity is Christ, and the evidence for the reliability of the gospels and the historicity of Jesus is a major component of the Christian apologetic.
She also claims, “These are not things that can be measured empirically but every time we see them happen we have an encounter with God.” Let me see if I have that straight: When I take an LSD trip, the experience is not too readily open to empirical testing, but it is a clear indication that I have met with God. When a Whirling Dervish or hallucinating madman undergoes a “spiritual” experience, they are one with God? Sorry, but this may sound good to the humanist and New Age crowd, but it has nothing at all to do with the truth claims of biblical Christianity.
Consider another wild claim: “Instead of focusing on what or who God is, faith is primarily about reorienting ourselves so that we look at the world through the eyes of God, and respond to it with the heart of God. We continue to do so even when it doesn’t seem rational, sensible, or as though it will make the slightest bit of difference.”
“What or who God is”! She is falling for every trick in the atheist handbook. She is giving people like Dawkins everything they want. Belief in God is just like belief in a floating teapot, says Dawkins. And our Uniting Church friend comes along and agrees wholeheartedly. Just whose side are you on, Ms Lawrie? And how can one see through God’s eyes and respond with his heart, if the who and what of God is unknown and unimportant?
Just in case doubt still remains as to the writer’s Christian orthodoxy, get a load of this: “I have a very uneasy relationship with traditional Christian doctrines. I’m not convinced in the slightest that there will be life after death; the creeds don’t speak of the truths at the heart of my faith.” You can say that again Cheryl. Without question the absolute centrality of the Christian story is the resurrection of Christ, and the hope of resurrection for the believer. But to this enlightened author, it doesn’t even appear on the radar. Just how much of the Christian story can one jettison and still call oneself a Christian?
The whole article continues in this vein. It is one of the more anti-Christian pieces on Christianity one will find. No surprise therefore that the Age was so happy to run with it. Any religious mumbo-jumbo is just fine for the MSM. Just don’t try running with biblical Christianity.