Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Safe Spaces. . .
The rash of colleges and universities offering everything from aroma therapy to counseling to hot chocolate to calm the troubled souls of students so upset by the election of Trump that they are held captive to their fears. It is a joke. The safe spaces these protesting students cry out for are not safe at all. They are simply spaces that do not tolerate disagreement. They do not countenance facts. They refuse to allow a diverging view except the politically correct prevailing view of the moment.
Ben Shapiro found protesters at the University of Wisconsin when he spoke on “Dismantling Safe Spaces: Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings.” It is no wonder. The modern perspective on truth refuses to allow facts to intrude upon the sacred domain of feelings, preferences, desires, and ideas. He is not the first and will not be the last of those who are castigated by the audacity of inconvenient truth and unpleasant facts. How strange it is that scientific guesses that are not universally shared are called truth and the witness of history, the ages, and religion is considered offensive.
Why does this matter? It matters because orthodox Christian doctrine and teaching IS offensive and shocking -- especially to those who have been raised to believe that their feelings are the most sure and certain voices to be believed and followed. What is more offensive to the modern mind than original sin? What do you mean I am by nature sinful and cannot repair this defect? What do you mean that sin has marked me for death and no amount of science and technology will save me? What do you mean that I am captive and bound by this sin so that the good that I should I do not and the evil that I should not I do?
It matters because the Gospel is offensive. The mere idea that God had to take flesh and blood in order to redeem His lost creation is offensive to our self-centered image of goodness. The idea of a God who would kill His Son for the sins of His enemies who chose to rebel against Him is hardly the kind of love that our world appreciates. The idea that our redemption could not be paid for with good works, wealth, noble intentions, or spirituality but required the shedding of blood and the Innocent to die for the guilty shames us. The idea that this Son of God died our death and rose from the grave to give to us His life (new and eternal) is shocking.
One pundit suggested that there are already safe places on campuses -- they are called chapels! But that is exactly the point. There is nothing safe about a Christian chapel -- at least to the mind of those who believe safety comes in being insulated from the things you find objectionable! For it is in the chapel that we confront what we would rather ignore and run from -- that we are sinners who cannot free ourselves, that death has passed to all through sin, that our good works avail us nothing to save us or pay the price of our sin, and that God planned before the foundation of the world to send us His one and only Son to be the Savior and Redeemer not of the good or worthy but of the whole world.
Christianity is anything but safe. It is radical. Perhaps the protesters recognize this more than some of us who have shaved off the rough edges of the faith to produce a more palatable but bland version of Christianity!
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While I don't advocate confrontation for confrontation's sake, I would be concerned if there was always 100% untroubled agreement between my church and the community around it. I saw this happen in the ELCA, where the leadership was frantically trying to bend the church to conform to the world (they called it "social justice").
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