A Christian Worldview of Religion

I’m seeing a trend. Yesterday, Mike Duran over at Decompose discussed a program airing on CNN:

This week CNN will air God’s Warriors, an exposé on religious extremism among Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Then this from an AP article about the event:

This particular event, I think, is a great opportunity to really refocus and energize the Christian organizations and Christian movement and people who hold Christian faith and values says [Liberty Counsel founder Mat] Staver.

While some people look at this air time as a positive, others aren’t so sure, simply because the culture is painting Christians with the same brush as Jews and Muslims.

At the same time, Karen Hancock in Writing from the Edge blogged about the changes our culture is making in recording time:

BC and AD are no longer the terms of choice for historical reckoning. Instead we have… CE. That stands for Common Era or Current Era or (if you really must) Christian Era. Years previous to that time are said to be BCE — Before Common Era.

This is something I learned about just last week on my visit to the San Diego Natural History Museum to view the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit, where there was care to tie in the writing with Judaism, Christianity, and … yep, Islam.

Add to this, a news item I gleaned from Jeffrey Overstreet’s (Auralia’s Colors, Water Brook, September 2007) Looking Closer blog about The Glen, a writing workshop.

We are delighted to inform you that Image [a Journal of the Arts and Religion] and the Glen Workshop will be featured this weekend on a broadcast of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, a national public television program produced by WNET Television in New York. The segment was recorded at our recent Glen Workshop, which was centered on the theme—“God of the Desert: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam through the Prism of Art.

So not only were a bunch of writers discussing “the God of the Desert,” but now a nation-wide television show will do so as well.

Of course I could be jumping the gun to suppose this discussion led toward more tolerance and acceptance of those practicing a false religion. The Image announcement continued:

Featuring speakers from all three traditions, this year’s Glen evoked intense discussion and, for many, new horizons. Its purpose was to challenge Christian artists to discover how beauty and art might enable us to better understand the other religious traditions that trace their lineage back to Abraham.

“Understanding” doesn’t technically mean “tolerate,” but unfortunately it has come to imply as much.

I think I understand people practicing Judaism perfectly fine, without the need for a great deal of discussion. Someone worshipping God in accordance to the Law rejects Jesus as Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.

I, on the other hand believe Jesus when He said He is the way, truth, life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

Consequently, I understand that practicing Jews and I have a major, unbridgeable difference. And this unbridgeable difference certainly applies to practicing Muslims as well.

Jesus is a difference maker. He is the cornerstone or the stumbling block. Where is there middle ground?

I reject the idea, however, that being extreme in my faith in Jesus means I am or should be extreme in my support of my Christian lifestyle.

Jesus made it very clear He did not intend to establish an earthly kingdom. He was not about the overthrow of Rome, though He could have done a lot of picketing and petitions and recall campaigns because surely the morality of the governing class was about as debase as it comes.

In the same vein, Paul didn’t rail against persecution of Christians or demand the same treatment as the pagan worshippers in Ephesus.

In other words, Jesus, and the leaders of the early church after Him, were not concerned that their lives would not be “normal” or even comfortable.

Interestingly, a band of Jews did everything they could to get Rome out of Jerusalem. As a result, the city was destroyed and the nation of Israel ceased to be for nearly 2000 years.

As I recall, there were, what, four failed attempts much later in history to make “the Holy Lands” Christian.

Have we learned nothing?

As I see it, two issues confront us in this movement toward tolerance: on one side the temptation to lose our distinctives, and on the other the temptation to fight for the periphery.

Published in: on August 23, 2007 at 12:50 pm  Comments (4)  

4 Comments

  1. The clever, intelligent, insidious enemy equating tolerance with grace. No way. People sucking it in, drinking the Kool-Aid.

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  2. Becky, I’m so glad you made the connection with The Glen writing workshop. I also could be jumping the gun, being that I didn’t see a syllabus or talk to anyone who attended, but I had the same reservations about the grouping of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Frankly, I’m unsure how understanding art from an Islamic perspective enriches mine. I do believe God moves within other religions — He loves people! — but with the state of the world as it is and radical Islam being so intrinsically hostile to Christianity, I’m wondering if this isn’t part of the “tolerance movement.” Once again, I could be way wrong about Glen. Nevertheless, it triggers a greater fear of mine: that in our desire to cultivate the arts in the Church, we broaden the tent pegs way too far.

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  3. I heard similar language (concerning the recording of time) in an anthropology class I took several years back in college. I don’t remember CE or BCE, it was something more like Before Recorded History. I was definitely shocked, to say the least.

    As to the rest of your post, I’ll just say “Amen.”

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  4. Nicole, I never thought of it like that—tolerance for grace. Wonderful insight. He is known for substituting the tarnished for the true gold, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

    Mike, I guess the title “God of the Desert” caught my attention, because of old, pagans thought of God as the god of the mountains. Using that title seems like reverting to that limited view. Then, of course, there is the suggestion that the three religions are worshipping the same God, so why can’t they just get along! But maybe my assumptions are short sighted and come from as much from the CNN series as from the PBS program.

    Kameron, when we were standing in line at the San Diego museum, a woman behind us told a friend her son had taught her about CE and BCE because he’d learned about the designation in school.

    How amazing that what western culture has accepted for 2000 years can be wiped away by … who? Who decided this? Who agreed to it?

    I remember when the US tried to switch over to the metric system. There was public debate about the matter. People voiced their opinions.

    But this time designation thing is evidently a fait accompli.

    Becky

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