Not all Christians practice blind faith
There are some things in this world that I think are pretty fouled up, and, quite frankly, I don’t understand them.They are social issues, and I don’t like how they grind people down.It’s too easy to say that people’s sin has brought about consequences, and so the cruelty is something they brought on to themselves, or something their ancestors saddled them with because of their sin.Sin, sin, sin.I met a preacher once who considered his mission and ministry in life was to point out where and how others were wrong — his focus was on error, and falling short of the glory of God. More sin.Is there sin? Sure. But, it’s not always about the sin.People brought a blind man in front of Jesus, and they asked him who had sinned, so that the blind person had been born blind. Jesus responded that it was not a matter of who had sinned, but so that others might experience a work of God, and then Jesus healed him.See, in every broken thing there is an opportunity for healing; in every falling short of the glory of God, there is the chance to bring God’s light, God’s truth, God’s love, God’s grace, God’s beauty, and God’s person into the foreground, so that a sin becomes a revelation of God.I don’t have the space in this column to explore all the facets of the gay rights issue, but I know this: human beings don’t change God’s values, commitments, actions, purposes, and outcomes by making up their own laws.So, there is nothing to lose if gay people have equal rights. I’m not even going to get into the debate about whether or not homosexuality is a sin. Some believe it isn’t, and others believe it is, but, to focus at that level is to lose the people in an argument about sin. Sin yet again.God loves the world and gave His Son to redeem. That was His purpose. That is why Jesus is called a propitiation. Jesus did not come into the world to judge the world but to save it.The saving process is what will continue to take place in the lives of individual people regardless of whether human beings pass laws that say they; can kill their babies, homosexuals have equal rights with heterosexuals, women cannot drive cars, go to school, or even take a walk in public without being escorted by a man, black people cannot marry white people, or anything else.God is bigger than our laws. So, Christians don’t need to behead the “infidels” they perceive in our midst.There is a lot of rhetoric that flies around when people get excited about social issues. Sometimes Christians say stupid things. Sometimes stupid things are said about Christians.While there are undoubtedly Christian people who are big time into formulas for success of various kinds, and the formulas seem simplistic, irrational, or reductionistic in the sense that they reduce God to a servant of our desires, there are many Christians who are independent thinkers.They are not blind followers, leaning on pathetic crutches just to get from one day to the next. They are not mythic lemmings rushing off the cliffs.Edith Stein and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were independent thinkers and contemporaries. Stein was Jewish and was raised in a Jewish home in Germany. Bonhoeffer was the son of a prominent German psychiatrist, and his family were Lutherans.Stein studied with Edmund Husserl and read Martin Heidegger; she wrote thick phenomenological philosophy before converting to Christianity and becoming a Carmelite nun — Sister Teresa Benedict of the Cross. After converting, she wrote philosophy from a Christian point of view (Finite and Eternal Being; Knowledge and Faith; Potency and Act), and she was killed by the Nazis. She was sainted by the Catholic Church.Bonhoeffer studied theology and became ordained, but he did not come to know the Lord in a deep and personal way until he visited the black churches of New York City. He helped form the confessing church in Germany and opposed Adolph Hitler. Although he could have remained in America and been safe, he returned to Germany to serve the people. He was executed for participating in a plot to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer wrote challenging pieces of Christian literature (The Cost of Discipleship; Ethics).CS Lewis is regarded to be the foremost apologist for the Christian faith in the 20th century. He was an atheist before he became a Christian. He is most likely best known for his Chronicles of Narnia, but he wrote other books and articles and gave lectures advocating for a Christian worldview (God in the Dock; Mere Christianity; The Problem of Pain; The Abolition of Man; The Screwtape Letters; The Great Divorce). He and his friend J.R.R. Tolkien used to meet at a pub in Oxford on a regular basis to drink beer and talk about their various writing projects (I wish I could have been a bug on that wall).Michel Henry was a French phenomenologist who had been a communist, but became a Christian, and then began a thoroughgoing phenomenological examination of elements of the Christian faith. He wrote Material Phenomenology; I Am the Truth; and Words of Christ.He and his contemporary colleague Jean-Luc Marion, also writing from a theistic perspective, are regarded to be among the most influential philosophers of the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.Charles Colson worked for Richard Nixon, and was in charge of some of the most ruthless political crimes of the Nixon administration. He was an attorney. While in prison for his crimes, he placed his faith in Jesus, and his life turned a corner. After serving his sentence, he formed Prison Fellowship to help inmates survive prison and emerge better citizens, which is currently active in 288 prisons in the USA, with a chapter also here in Bermuda. Colson wrote several books, one of the best of which is, Loving God.Dallas Willard was professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. He wrote The Spirit of the Disciplines; Divine Conspiracy; Hearing God. His specialities were Systematic Metaphysics; Ontology of concepts, language, and thought; Phenomenology: History of Ethics (Plato-Sidgwick, and main figures in 20th Century Ethics); and Philosophy of Religion (rationality of belief in God and basic religious practices).Alister McGrath is a contemporary thinker who holds two doctorates from the University of Oxford: DPhil in Molecular Biophysics and a Doctor of Divinity in Theology. He is a prolific writer. Similarly, James K.A. Smith is a contemporary Christian philosopher whose books (Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy; Speech and Theology: Language and the Logic of Incarnation) explore the relevance of continental philosophy and Christian faith. And finally, although probably not in the same class as McGrath and Smith, Daniel Taylor wrote one of the most significant little books I have ever read — The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and the Risk of Commitment.Please do not tell me there is no such thing as a thinking Christian.