Dear Church: stop jumping the gun

Do you see people who speak too quickly? There is more hope for a foolish person than for them. Prov. 29:20 NCV

In what seems to be an effort to show that we can be just as daft as the rest of the world (if not more so) there have been two very good recent examples of Christians not paying attention to the above scripture. The first concerns author and speaker Rob Bell. Apparently he has a new book coming out soon and it may or may not be a bit controversial. What has caused the controversy is quite frankly irrelevant because as yet only a handful of people have read the book (it is yet to be published after all). Now the cynic in me says that the publishers are quite happy with controversy and the associated furore as it will probably lead to more sales but like others it galls me to see so much vitriol directed towards Mr Bell (and even those who share his name) from so many who call themselves Christian and yet have somehow forgotten to think before speaking or acting – let alone actually consider showing any grace at all. This kind of behaviour reminds me of the mess with the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand phone call “scandal” where thousands of people who hadn’t heard a radio show, read that they might have been offended if they had heard it and so duly complained without actually hearing it! I posted a link to a very apt video a while back which might be useful for some of us to see.

Photo of a false start in a race
Image by Tom Page CC:By-SA

Yet again the Christian knee-jerk machine went into action and the “We are offended” placards were picked up

The second example is the much-publicised case of the Johns. This Christian couple were reported as being banned from fostering because of their views on homosexuality. Except as the ever trusty Church Mouse reported (with credit to Peter Ould and Gavin Drake it never happened. The Johns were not banned. No Christian couple is banned from fostering and there wasn’t even a fostering case at the centre of this. The Johns were asking a Judge to rule against the possibility that their Local Authority might try to prevent them fostering on the grounds of their “traditional view of marriage and sexual ethics”. Yet again the Christian knee-jerk machine went into action and the “We are offended” placards were picked up and because we are in a connected world, the “fight” soon crossed to other countries. Again though is this a case of Christians taking an “offended” stance without checking if we actually should be? In fairness the popular media has clambered all over this story and mis-reported it so it really boils down to not believing everything you read in the papers at face value.

There is a worrying trend … where Christians seem all too keen to presume that the world is out to get us and that we are being “persecuted”

There is a worrying trend in the UK (at least) where Christians seem all too keen to presume that the world is out to get us and that we are being “persecuted”. The basis for this seems to be that because some people voice opinions opposing our own (and let’s be honest that happens enough within the Church) we are being persecuted. So we have mass band-wagon jumping whenever cases like these occur. The danger as I see it here is that the rhetoric used to defend Christians is remarkably close to the supporters of extremist political groups and we end up fuelling our own fears with talk of victimisation and persecution.

But to date, in the UK:

  • I have not heard of anyone imprisoned for saying “Jesus is Lord” in a public place
  • I have yet to hear of somebody being physically attacked for being a Christian
  • Nobody has ordered a church to be closed down simply for being a church

Let’s stop jumping the gun here and pay attention to the scripture above. Okay, sure sometimes people might say or act towards Christians in an unkind, unfair and prejudicial manner but as the first of the examples above shows, the perpetrator is just as likely to be a Christian as well.

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