Thursday, October 6, 2011

Western Civ and Christianity

In a comment to the last post CZF (owner of the excellent blog The Relative Comment) asks in response to DT's post:
Earlier in that post DT says that one of the issues is that Christianity is now a minority position in western world. Would you agree with this statement? I think i understand the sentiment, but can think of nothing that could possibly have replaced Christianity as the majority position in the west, and certainly not in the US? Maybe it is leading in a plurality of options a la Bill Clinton, but I struggle to see it as a minority position.
To which I replied:
I think you are right. It is one of many. And perhaps the biggest of any distinct ideology/point of view/worldview. At the same time the thrust of the western world is strongly anti-christian. I don't mean this in a political sense or moral sense. Rather, the values of the western world--money, power, easy living--are much more in line with Greek and Roman thought than Christian thought. The church, in its weakness, falls prey to the idols of the west. In that sense Christianity is a definite minority...often among Christians.
I do this not to just highlight the excellent comment, but to expand upon my point of an inherent tension in the Western World.

Christianity has a unique place and role in the creation of Western Civilization. Unlike the other great civilizations of the world, Western Civ's primary religion (Christianity) has always stood in tension with it's primary cultural roots (Roman/Greek/and a bit of German). Christianity's ideals and way of life are antithetical to the Greek and Roman understanding of the world. Though Christianity became dominant the Roman and Greek way did not disappear, but became subsumed into the culture. Compare this to India, where Hinduism was part an parcel of the growth Indian civilization. Christianity was (and is) foreign to the Greeks, whereas Hinduism was native to India. (Please note, I understand that this is gross oversimplification.)

This "foreignness" has caused problems for the Church. Too often in an effort to be relevant, the Church has given up its Kingdom building mission and done what it could for power and money and easy living. Even today the Church too often let's itself be and succumbs to easy answers and a narrowing mission. In America this means the church focuses on things it feels confident about, usually some sort of moral issue. But it does not ask the difficult questions that may tip apple cart, such as question our economic system, justice, etc...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feeling Awkward

Ms. Redhead in Rapid and I like different television shows. We can agree on mysteries and some law procedurals and a few comedies. But she enjoys watching shows with a more human interest element. Anything from the "Super Nanny" to tv specials detailing the interesting life of someone. Me, not so much. Instead, I just feel awkward. I get uncomfortable and have trouble being in the same room. I feel bad for the people.

I bring this up in relation to Daniel Taylor's recent post, A Word on Hell. He discusses why HELL has become such a hot topic. I won't give a recap (well worth the read) but I'm struck by the last lines:
Now [people] often worry about saving God’s image. People want God to be all love, mercy, and fairness. The traditional doctrine of hell violates their own sense of love, mercy, and fairness, and so they feel pressured to explain hell in a way that gets God off the hook. I know there’s a lot more to it, but that’s going on too and it is a significant shift. I tend to think God can handle himself. [emphasis mine]
In other words people feel awkward for God. We feel bad that He has been misunderstood. We feel bad that He really didn't know what he wanted when he talked about hell. It's like its 7th grade again and I tell my friend that she didn't REALLY mean that... you're cool... who cares what some stupid girl thinks anyway. If only God could handle social situations better a lot more people would like Him.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Vikings are Dead

It's October 3 and alas, it has already been a tough year for the Vikings and their fans. 0 and 4. Three losses when we were leading at halftime. And then losing to one of the worst teams in football. At least I don't live in Vikings territory, so I'm not tempted to watch. My Sunday afternoons are free from the pain.