Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I'm a person of faith. . .

In one of the quieter moments of Holy Week, the TV was on in the background and I heard one of the NBC Today anchors say I am a person of faith.  I did not think about it all that much but it started a discussion in our household.  Maybe I am an old has-been but I found it confusing, to say the least.  What faith?  What faith are you a person of?  If it is so important to suggest that you are a person of faith, why don't you just admit you belong to this church or that?  At the minimum, she could have said she was a Christian.  But instead all we got was the vagaries of modernity that mean something without saying anything -- except that they don't mean anything at all and by saying nothing, they are saying everything.

I am pretty confident that Christianity will not be and cannot be outlawed.  But that is hardly the point.  You do not need to outlaw a faith that can no longer be claimed openly in public.  The real danger is not that Christianity will be outlawed or that churches will be regulated (or, help us God, taxed), but that Christianity will become the religion that cannot be named in public and that Christians are protected in their faith only behind the closed doors of home or worship space (sounds better than church).  In other words, you do not need to directly challenge Christianity if you have made it unfriendly or offensive to speak its name in public or to identify a specific church by name.

Consider this.  After the terrible killings of Christians in Sri Lanka, former President Obama and wannabe President Hillary Clinton both condemned not the targeting of Christians but the attacks on Easter worshipers (and travelers).  It would be as if Muslims were not called Muslims or members of Islam but described as Ramadan worshipers.  It is a curious way to say it and even more curious in that both prominent people chose to phrase their tweets in exactly the same way.  When the 2016 attacks on GLBTQ folks were mentioned, the attacker was not condemned as targeting night club patrons but gays, lesbians, and transgenders.  Yet when Christians were clearly the targets in Sri Lanka, the prominent folk did a credible duck and save to avoid saying those who massacred them were aiming for Christians.

Any of this individually might be a mere curiosity but together it suggests that the time will come sooner rather than later when the very name Christian will be offensive enough to be banned from the public square.  Christians will be allowed to practice behind closed doors in home and worship spaces but they will not be accorded the privilege of being identified or owning their faith by name in public.  That is what I see.  And it is all revealed by the seemingly innocuous skipping of the name Christian or the identity of their church by folks casually conversing about the various things of Holy Week.  I am a person of faith.  Whatever that means.

Terry Mattingly of Get Religion pointed out that it took the journalists at USA Today 15 paragraphs before mentioning the word “Christian.”  Tell me that this was accidental.  If it is an offense to misgender (whatever that means), why is it okay to ignore the word Christian and to do everything in your power to avoid it (except when you can speak it in a negative light)?  Yes, I am being sarcastic and small but if we are to keep our integrity as Christians in the public square, we will have to point out what the media is doing to us (with the permission and cooperation of those who make the news).


John Joseph Flanagan said...

The Gospel may lose followers in the West, because days of relative prosperity often bring about spiritual apathy. Certainly, many people in our land prefer that Christianity be relegated to the dust bin of history, to the home, to a church building, and not in the public arena. After all, Jesus calls the world to repentance and it is a message too strident for most to bear. Living with sin and enjoying the blessings of God at the same time is the desire of many lost souls today, in this narcissistic era of selfies and self sufficiency. But the good news is Our Lord is still today, always was, and always will charge. As we speak, the church is growing by thousands of new converts each and every day, in unexpected places, in places with oppressive governments and poverty, in places of violence and unrest as well. Christians are being raised up in communist lands, Muslim countries, backward and isolated hemispheres. The church of Our Lord is on the move, neither stagnant nor silent or still. As the faith declines in the West, it expands elsewhere. We should all, regardless of denominational affiliation, support the work of the Bible societies which send the word of God in hundreds of languages to the far reaches of Asia and Africa, and everywhere, to natives and indigenous populations in South America. We have a commission. It goes everywhere, within our own borders, and outside of it. There is no place for pessimism or fear. We are called to serve God and spread the Gospel to a fallen world. Soli Deo Gloria.

Carl Vehse said...

Well, there's the problem!

You had the TV on with a Nothing But Crap program in the background. That's like tuning into Al Jezeera, Chicom State TV, a Planned Parenthood promotional show, or C-SPAN coverage of a speech by Nancy Pelousy.

And during Holy Week, too!

Anonymous said...

1 John 3:13, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” So why are we surprised?
Luke 6:22, “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23“Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.” Are we ready to leap for joy?
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Daniel G. said...


I will admit that I would not post again on this venue but after reading what Pastor said and your comment, I agree with you a million times over. For those of us who are acquainted or know the Gospels, all of what is happening should not come as a surprise. We knew this would be coming. I guess from my perspective, even though I'm not surprised I am dismayed with the rapidness with which this is happening and it gets to me. This morning I was listening to some co-workers making fun of a man who has much religious art adorning his house both inside and out(yes a Catholic). The man in question is not ashamed of his faith or his being a Christian. Yet to them, he is "weird" and "freaky." Yet no one bats an eye at all at the demonic laden symbols that we are bombarded with both on TV,video games, and in music and they are not aware of the undertones. We can see it but they can't. To them it's "cool" or "amazing."

But through the midst of all of this, we have hope and know who the ultimate victor is. That can never be taken away from us.