Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"...but this is a Christian nation!"

"...but this is a Christian nation!" So ends another whining diatribe against the latest secular or islamic or humanistic or homo-erotic or politically correct initiative / incident / news story.
Two things collided this week to remind me again just how misguided these passionately held sentiments are. Firstly, I've been reading the Old Testament books of Jeremiah and Daniel, alongside Brueggemann's 'The Prophetic Imagination'. Then, midweek, Channel 4 showed 'Kingdom of Heaven' and whilst the film as a whole was largely a disappointment to me it was still thought provoking on a number of levels. At one point in the film Jeremy Irons delivers a line about Jerusalem (and I wish I could remember it) that evokes the contradiction at the heart of that much used phrase "Christian nation." The blood that has been shed over that dusty bit of land is utterly heinous. Jesus himself made it absolutely clear that his intention was not to establish a Kingdom with geographic borders but a Kingdom defined by a Way of life, exemplified by people of every ethnos living in relationship with him and harmony with one another.
And where do Jeremiah and Daniel fit into that? Well they are just two of the characters we meet in the grand timeline of biblical history who are doing exactly what we (Christians in 21st Century Britain) ought to be doing - working out by our daily choices and actions exactly what it means to honour God and live for him in the midst of a society that revolves around a very different centre of gravity. The quirk of global history known as Christendom is over and we find ourselves living out the same question as our biblical forebears - those who sweated in Egypt, wept in Babylon and faced down Caesar's lions... "How can we prove the value of our convictions over-against the current socio-political backdrop?"

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1 comment:

Glen Marshall said...

Preach it brother! And keep on reading Brueggemann