Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Those we would change, we must first love

Another excellent column by Colson:
We're inviting people to consider a worldview that's livable, that makes sense, in which people can discover shalom and human flourishing.

This means, first, loving those we contend against in the political process. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Whom you would change, you must first love." Some Christian leaders do get this. Jerry Falwell, whatever else he has done, has gone out of his way to engage the gay community protesting against him. James Dobson set a similar example when protestors surrounded the Focus headquarters.

Second, we offer our strongest witness when we demonstrate that we do love others by fighting AIDS in Africa or the worldwide sex-trafficking trade, or by reforming prisons and prisoners, loving the most unlovable. One New York Times columnist who vehemently opposes our political efforts has nonetheless praised Christians for the work he's seen us perform around the world. When the world sees us working for human rights, we earn moral authority that blunts the "imposing your morality" attacks in the public square.

Our cultural mandate requires us to work for justice and righteousness so that God's creation reflects his majesty and goodness. That includes engaging in politics. But we must remember as we do this that we are proposing a more excellent way to a needy society, and that we do so in love, no matter how much abuse is heaped upon us.


At 1:45 PM, Blogger Tommy Alderman said...

Chuck Colson is an ardent defender of the "Christian Worldview," and his positive influence upon our culture as a whole and upon an untold numbers of individuals - especially prisoners and their families - is hard to calculate.

I respect him tremendously, and there is much in his piece with which I strongly agree:

I agree that Christians should engage in cultural discussions, and even in politics.

I agree that power-brokering is not Christlike, and is thoroughly unhelpful.

And I also agree that "when a Christian leader predicts God's wrath on the people of Dover, Pennsylvania, for rejecting alternatives to evolution in their school curriculum," that leader is in error. The truth of the matter, according to 2 Chronicles Chapters 6 & 7, is that God is far more likely to judge His people for their sins than He is to judge the ungodly. Of course, that will change one day (I'll get back to that in a minute).

There were those who proclaimed that it was God's judgment upon the sins of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast that brought Hurricane Katrina crashing ashore in late August 2005.

Really? If God is the One Who sent that storm as judgment against sin - then He is incompetent because in New Orleans He missed Bourbon Street, and in Mississippi (thanks to our spineless politicians), the casinos will be better off than they were before the storm. No, had God sent the storm, the results would have been complete and irreversible devastation.

There are, however, a couple of Mr. Colson's points with which I must disagree:

He says, "In fact as well as in appearance, we are not seeking to impose, but rather to propose. We're not demanding something for ourselves; we are inviting a hungry and needy world to come to Christ and find goodness and fullness of life."

Certainly I agree with the first sentence in that section - Christians propose Truth, not impose ideologies and compel behavior. And he's right that as Christians we are "not demanding something for ourselves." However, though in practice many Christians do engage in "inviting a hungry and needy world to come to Christ and find goodness and fullness of life," that is not what we are called to do.

Colson continues, "The Christian church makes a Great Proposal, inviting everyone to the table—regardless of ethnic origin, background, or economic status. We're inviting people to consider a worldview that's livable, that makes sense, in which people can discover shalom and human flourishing."

Yes, the Church offers a Great Proposal from Almighty God - but it is not an inviation for "people to consider a worldview that's livable, that makes sense, in which people can discover shalom and human flourishing."

While we are not called to pronounce judgment upon the Dover School Board because of a policy decision, we are called to warn the individuals on that board, and every other "creature," that judgment is coming. God has appointed a Day on which He will judge the world in righteousness - and it's our job to warn them. We must warn them that unless they repent, they'll perish.

And yes, we offer a Great Proposal - but rather than an invitation to a fuller life, it's the incredible proposition that although my sins deserve everlasting punishment, the God of Heaven took that punishment on my behalf and offers me pardon because Eternal Justice has been satisfied. That is a Great Proposal indeed.

I agree with Colson that "Our cultural mandate requires us to work for justice and righteousness so that God's creation reflects his majesty and goodness," but we must have a proper understanding of God's "goodness," which can be described, among other descriptions, as "moral perfection." Because of God's goodness, He must punish murderers, rapists, and theives. But His goodness is so complete that He must also punish adulterers, liars, and the covetous.

And please understand, I do not advocate so-called "hell-fire preaching," which paints God's judgment as unreasonable. No, I agree with Colson that love should motivate us, and love should be heard in our speech.

But if a blind man were walking toward a thousand-foot cliff, what more loving thing could we do than to tell him to turn around?

At 8:24 AM, Anonymous JBryan said...

I have just finished reading Leviticus and Numbers in your Bible. I find your god to be an immoral monster. That's the real reason that I don't accept the "Great Proposal".

As for Colson's idea of showing "Christian love", I find it to be an interesting twist. Fundamentalist Christianity is based on hate and intolerance. What's love got to do with it?

I am an atheist. Outside of my internet discussions I don't mention this fact about myself. My conversations with most people go just fine until they bring up the question "Where do you go to church?" After they find out I don't go to church and that I, as one person put it, "worship the devil" I'm treated to some good old Christian "love".

I know that it seems that I have an ax to grind against you people. I don't. It's just that I don't force my beliefs on you. I don't care if there is prayer in schools, I don't care if the 10 Commandments are posted in every public place. I don't care if nativity scenes are placed on every courthouse lawn in America.

Please! Don't make my country some Christian version of Iran!

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Tommy Alderman said...

JBryan -

By what standard of morality have you judged God to be immoral?

At 8:21 AM, Anonymous JBryan said...


I consider slavery and genocide to be immoral because humanity has socially evolved to the point where we are able to put the needs of human beings above the dogma of religion.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Tommy Alderman said...

JBryan -

So the standard by which you judge God is "societal evolution?"

If we assume societal evolution to be a valid standard (for the sake of argument), then wouldn't it be more fair to judge God's actions by the standards of society at the time they occured or were recorded?

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous JBryan said...

If your god operates outside of the realm of space and time (as I have heard many Christians claim), if he is "the same yesterday, today and tommorrow"how should his actions be judged?

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Tommy Alderman said...

JBryan -

God's actions should be judged according to the standard of absolute moral perfection.

If a judge in criminal court sentences a man to prison, what is it that determines whether the judge is "justified" in doing so?

PS - I replied to your email.

At 9:33 AM, Anonymous JBryan said...


Thanks. I'll reply via e-mail to you.


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