Are you comfortably numb?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Free speech and being brave

In church on Easter Sunday, it struck me just how bold you have to be to be a biblical preacher today. I often find myself flinching when I hear phrases and concepts that a non-Christian would find shocking coming from the pulpit, worrying that they will find it too offensive. In some cases I think this is fair enough as I've heard a few sermons where any ideal of "meeting people where they are" is lost in a dogmatic diatribe that is not seasoned with grace but with anger.

But if we're Christians, we have to realise that what we believe in is the most offensive thing anyone could hear. It was never meant to be watered down or made easier to swallow. The Gospel is offensive in its very nature: it tells us that we are deserving of hell, eternal damnation, because of what WE have done. Of course, its offensiveness (to those who do not believe it and still trust in themselves) is accompanied by what Christians can see as beautiful - the knowledge that despite our hopeless sinfulness we can be saved by the most complete and deepest love ever known, by God sending his son to be cruelly killed so that we may go free.

Listening to this message on Easter morning, I pondered all this within the framework of freedom of speech, society and tolerance, and how people's perceptions of those things are changing. Surely Christian preachers deserve more credit than they get? Those who have fought for greater civil liberties over the centuries have generally been standing up, courageously, against the status quo - fighting for the greater good in the face of institutionalised discrimination or persecution.

The status quo we now face is one that demands we all embrace a twisted tolerance - not tolerance as it used to be known, but endorsement for anything and everything as it all has equal value. Our society has now institutionalised inoffensiveness - we can believe what we want to believe as long as we don't try and say that anyone else is wrong. Christian preachers are now the ones going against the grain by teaching a message as 'the truth', and this out of love for those who hear it.

At a time when it is quite possible that our leaders, and indeed us as individuals, could face imprisonment in the near future for preaching Christ crucified for our sins, our pastors should have our sincere and prayerful encouragement. And to those who vehemently oppose what they preach, as everyone has a right to do - at least respect their bravery in taking a real stand and declaring what they believe to be true in the face of much adversity.

2 Comments:

  • Your post is the world's greatest proof of reincarnation; no one could get that dumb in just one lifetime. You should offer your posting style to hospital operating theatres as a highly-effective alternative to unconsciousness-inducing medications.

    I used to think that you were a gibbering idiot. Now, after reading your latest post, I have a much lower opinion of you. I understand what you are trying to say, even though you obviously don't. A long period of non-posting would be most welcome on your part. How true is Stanislaw J. Lec's famous remark: "Every now and then you meet someone whose ignorance is encyclopedic."

    You light up a room when you leave it. No doubt your life is so dull, that you can actually write your diary one week in advance. I'd get more pleasure from running my nostrils down a cactus, than reading another contribution from you. Maybe you wouldn't be such a moron if your brain cells weren't on the Endangered Species list; if your weren't so fat that your cereal bowl has its own lifeguard, or if you didn't have a face like a bulldog chewing a stinging nettle while taking a constipated dump in a heat wave. Who am I kidding? You would.

    To sum up: I'd rather pass the world's largest kidney stone than read another post from you.

    By Anonymous Dean @ Polsis @ Bham, at 5:36 pm  

  • Ach will you look at that - I think you have a fan!

    By Blogger étrangère, at 12:50 am  

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