Monday, 30 June 2014


Tim Stanley at The Telegraph has some interesting thoughts about cultural shifts, prompted in part by the singer-songwriter Sir Elton John's recent public speculations on Our Lord's attitude to gay marriage. Such comments as those of Sir Elton are easy to dismiss as both theologically uninformed and possibly self-serving, yet are shared by many, certainly in the West, and not only by those who are in thrall to 'celebrity culture' or who would naturally identify with predominant secular attitudes:
"...This confusion is understandable, even if the association of tolerance and Christianity does create the paradox of making Jesus look remarkably unchristian. It’s also not something to be dismissed out of hand by more literate theologians. As society’s understanding of love changes/progresses (depending on one’s point of view), then it’s understandable that the popular impression of what Christianity’s all about will shift with it. People, rightly, always want Jesus to be a symbol of total love – and there is a case for tolerance indeed being an important part of compassion. But this cultural shift towards a liberal understanding of Christianity obviously poses a challenge for conservative Christians determined to uphold what they regard as biblical truths and traditional social mores.Has the popular image of Jesus actually become a problem for the promotion of an orthodox brand of theology? And what can the religious conservatives do to “reclaim” the image of Jesus without seeming to reject “love” as the West now sees it? I’m not providing any answers, just asking questions that might open up a wider debate about Christianity's identity crisis...."
Mankind has always had a tendency to create a deity in its own image - as many of the Old Testament prophets discovered to their physical danger, fallen human nature prefers to be given a message of affirmation - but the very rapidity of this undeniable and revolutionary shift in the values of western society profoundly  challenges the Church. It points Christians back to the ever more urgent task of identifying and adhering to the authentic tradition and to the content of revelation, whilst it makes even more onerous the task of living and proclaiming the Gospel in a culture which now seems to hold as its highest ideal what every previous generation would have regarded as an extreme, intellectually untenable, and counter-intuitive form of non-judgementalism.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments will not be published