In an article in today’s Telegraph Baroness Warsi (the Tory Party Chairman) warns of the effect of a rising secularism in our nation ‘where religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere.’
She is also rightly aware that
‘one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.’
What she doesn’t mention is that as a society we must not be allowed to forget that tolerance belongs to Christianity, uniquely, because Christianity alone espouses a view of the world in which tolerance is a God-like virtue. Even as nails were driven into his hands in preparation to kill the maker of the universe Jesus said ‘Father forgive them.’ There is no other worldview that celebrates the values that we enjoy and rejoice over and that secularism, true to its ideology, wants to remove.
Bruce Sheiman in his book An atheist defends religion writes of the extraordinary impact of Christianity when he reminds us that
‘A commitment to human dignity, personal liberty, and individual equality did not previously appear in ANY other culture’
So don’t be surprised by secularism’s intolerance, tolerance belongs to Christianity.
Cristina Odone in the Telegraph puts the case for taking on the National Secular Society
(HT: Westminster 2010)
Dame Joan Bakewell, once a powerful voice in the campaign for the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, has again (see my earlier post) voiced her dismay at the outworking of the sexual ‘liberation’ she advocated for so long. This time the focus of her concern are the televised performances of Lady Gaga.
On it’s impact on today’s youth she comments ‘I perhaps overrated romance rather too much, but I don’t know whether they overrate sex too much these days, I’ve no idea. What harm it will do, I just don’t know.’
It seems, sadly a little too late in the day, she has accepted that the desire for ‘freedom’ from sex within marriage has been a destructive freedom for through it we have begun to destroy ourselves. The truth is that we never find freedom when we run from God we only find that we have unleashed a force in our society that we are unable to control which begins its inevitable effect of corruption and destruction.
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Pray for our children.
Stephen Kelly, in an article entitled Does Dr. Who feature a god for our times assesses how a country that has turned its back on its God(s) resorts to making up new ones.
The article concludes
And that’s just it, isn’t it? In the absence of an interventionist God, people simply make their own. After all, when presented with such an abyss, you fill it with whatever you can. Even if that does happen to mean someone who now thinks bow-ties are cool.
As GK Chesterton once said
For when we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.
Always controversial and an outspoken atheist his ideas have impacted and infuriated many.
His entry in Wikipedia notes that he was included in ‘The Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll’ The poll ‘was conducted in November 2005 and June 2008 by Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (US) on the basis of responding readers’ ballot. The objective was to determine the 100 most important public intellectuals who are still alive and active in public life.’
I remember watching the documentary Collision which followed Christopher Hitchens (author of God is not great) and Doug Wilson as they debated ‘Is God good for the world?‘. It’s not a particularly good documentary in some senses but what you can’t miss as you do watch it is what a friendly relationship they enjoyed.
In an article in Christianity Today on the death of Hitchens Wilson writes ‘During the time we spent together, he never said an unkind thing to me—except on stage, up in front of everybody. After doing this, he didn’t wink at me, but he might as well have.’
As we reflect on the death of a godless man we remember the word of the Lord in Ezekiel:
‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?’
Google’s top 10 search lists for 2011 has just been released and for all those who feel the need to keep up to speed with what everybody is thinking they are an invaluable source.
There are top 10 fastest rising searches for 2011, fastest rising people (at least 5 of whom I’d never heard), a top 10 ‘how to’ list which includes at number 2 ‘how to snog’ and at number 7 ‘how to flirt’ and top 10 celebrities.
So if you’re desperate to look up-to-date on all things cool or you’re looking to understand the priorities and concerns of a nation you now know where to look.
So Richard Dawkins is guest editing the Christmas edition of the New Statesman – a smart move on their part which is guaranteed to boost the sales.
Like all fundamentalists Richard Dawkins can be infuriating. His resistance to reason and his refusal to engage with the world of ideas has driven many an atheist mad let alone the Christian. Again like many fundamentalists his rhetoric is often full of vitriol and demonstrates a sometimes scary intolerance for any who disagree with him – no matter how reasonable. But I for one am still glad he’s in the world. Why?
1. Is there anyone who does more to keep religion in the public eye than Dawkins? The secularist agenda is to marginalise people of faith by keeping God-talk out of the public sphere. Dawkins functions as a secret agent subverting the secularist agenda by insisting on discussing matters of faith. When others go on and on about X-factor he just can’t stop talking about God! He’s done more for the church, in the public sphere, than any religious figure since the time of CS Lewis.
2. It follows from the first point that Dawkins is responsible, both directly and indirectly, for opening up many a conversation as matters of God, faith & science continue to be discussed in the media. Just this last week Brian Cox distanced himself from Dawkins views on Radio 5 Live.
3. Dawkins does a great deal to reassure Christians that their faith is reasonable and credible. His refusal to debate Christian apologist William Lane Craig in Oxford a couple of months ago, even at a time that he was promoting his own new book through a show at the Royal Albert Hall, was a massive own goal. His unwillingness to defend his own ideas has been exposed by a number of atheist Philosophers.
4. Dawkins provides some great quotes to highlight the bankruptcy of atheism. His own (albeit qualified) support for infanticide, his admission that he has no idea how life began on the planet, his own recognition that for the atheist there is no good and evil all demonstrate how unliveable atheism is and how dark its conclusion are.
5.Dawkins compels Christians to think and to think deeply about their faith. As we take seriously the call to provide a reasoned defence for what we believe gets us back to our Bible and to good books.
6. Dawkins reminds us of the danger of fundamentalism in all of its forms. He is a warning to us all of how ugly it can be and how by contrast Christians need to think, speak and behave differently.
Francis Schaeffer was right when he said ‘the greatest apologetic of all is love’.
So happy Christmas Richard Dawkins and keep up the good work!
There is a sense in which WWJD is the wrong question to ask. A better question, when it comes to grasping the message of Christianity is what DID Jesus do? It is his life of perfect obedience and his death as a sin-bearing sacrifice that alone brings us into relationship with Christ. As the Apostle Paul says ‘God justifies the wicked’ Romans 4:5. So when it comes to answering the question what gets us right with God WDJD is a better question.
But in another sense once restored to a relationship with God through Christ WWJD is a good question.
Philippians 2:5 (NIV) says ‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.’
1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) says ‘Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.’
Ultimately we are called in the strength of God’s spirit to follow the example of Christ. Luke 9:23 ‘Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”
Tim Keller speaks to Google staff on the essence of marriage from a Christian perspective. A very helpful and stimulating look at defending marriage before a sceptical audience.
Every suicide is a tragedy but some suicides defy comprehension.
The overwhelming sentiment of those who knew the Wales football manager Gary Speed has been shock and disbelief alongside sadness and tears. That someone at the top of their profession, surrounded by a loving family and carrying an outstanding reputation could decide that his life (for what reason we don’t know) was not worth living is beyond comprehension.
It is a blessing that few people make a decision to end their lives in such heartbreaking ways. But Speed’s death highlights a number of painful, but important truths.
1. No one is immune from suicidal thoughts
One friend of Speed’s commented:
That this should happen is just unthinkable because everyone you knew, in any walk of life, in any situation, you would have to say he would have been the last one you might have thought could have done something like this.
2. Not even everything you could want in life, a loving family, material security, success or fame protects you from inner turmoil with is much more about who you are than what you have.
3. It is possible to keep dark feelings completely hidden.
Behind the disbelief is the frightening thought that someone can battle with suicidal thoughts deep within their souls and yet present no suggestion of it in the way they relate to those around them.
Some people prefer to battle these things entirely on their own. They learn to cope with these feelings whilst unable or unwilling to communicate their despair to the world.
James Lawton writing in the Independent noted:
In all his time as a notably undemonstrative, but deeply respected member of his celebrated trade, Gary Speed seldom, if ever, gave a hint of vulnerability.
4. Friends blame themselves that they didn’t see it coming.
The testimony of those close to suicide victims is that it is inevitable that they should look back over previous meetings and conversations and think should I have spotted that something was wrong. Friends and family think they should and could have done more, maybe made themselves more available or offered better support. The sad reality is that so often in such situations there is little that anyone can do to predict the unpredictable.
Alan Shearer said it all when he said of Speed’s death ‘this just doesn’t happen to your best mate’.
5. It is extremely difficult to accept that such a thing can happen.
Howard Wilkinson, his manager when he won the Football League with Leeds United said:
For him – at 42 – to leave us is such a tragic loss. I’ve rarely come across a better balanced, lovely, genuine person. He was a terrific player – not as gifted as some but he made the most of everything he had. Worst of all for me I knew his parents, in particular his dad, his lovely wife and family – I just find it very, very difficult to come to terms with.
Speed’s death came just a day before the announcement yesterday afternoon of the winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for 2011. It was awarded to Ronald Reng for his biography ‘A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke‘ the German national goalkeeper who committed suicide in 2009.
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