Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ben Witherington on stuff.

In particular, the last paragraph of this post matched up with some of the questions I've discussed with friends recently. I fear that when Christians become political they too often become self-interested. Much of the current lobbying by Christian think tanks is aimed at defending Christian values and Christian rights to this, that and the next thing.

Freedom of speech in preaching, for example. Or freedom from the meddling legislation about who you can or can't employ as a (Christian) organisation. Can you lobby on particular issues without a statement of general political principles? Would many Christians defend the current constitution of the UK? For example, does Christian Voice believe in democracy? Or, can the Christian Institute really argue for democracy as a basic biblical teaching, while defending the current British Coronation Oath?

Witherington must be able to speed read and write. I was fascinated by his overall positive review of Updike's latest novel, Terrorist. By Updike's standards it took something of a pounding on Newsnight Review. He's probably not too bothered - it's already his best-selling novel in years. Maybe I'll read it on the plane to Newark... Wait a minute, the terrorist threat means...


Simon Varwell said...

On a perhaps more simple level (sorry to dumb down your blog, David!), we're often torn as Christians between rendering unto Caesar what is in his salad, and standing up for biblical principles when we feel they are being eroded.

The idea of whether or not we should endorse and support an inherently anti-Catholic monarchical system is a very good example, as you mention. Freedom of religious expression and social justice are others.

I would tend to say we must take a stand where necessary, especially in this unpredictable age. Indeed, by criticising the government and even our very constitution when/if we feel we need to, we exercise our right to democratic debate, and therefore uphold that fundamental pillar of our political system.

Loyally rebelling, you could call it.

Or am I missing the point of your post?

David Shedden said...

I think you've just exploded my simplicity. I'll crawl back into my padded cell. You should go into politics...I'd vote for you.

I'd certainly want to defend some form of social liberal democracy - I'm just wary of confusing that with a supposed Christian utopia.

And, Christian Voice in particular is an organisation that gives me the shivers - I don't think I'd be safe in a theocratic, Christian Voice, state. Unless, of course, I was President... sinister thoughts, indeed.

Simon Varwell said...

I see what you mean. No, Christian Voice terrify me too, not only through their fundamentalism (forgive me father for I am a raving liberal) but also their intolerance of others' right to be "wrong".

Sure, social democracy isn't the same as a Christian utopia, but the Christian utopia we should be trying to recreate down here does have various elements (love of all, equality in the eyes of the Lord, the ability to question, criticise and be "wrong" etc) that social democrats would recognise.

So we shouldn't confuse them... but Christians mustn't (in my view) go so far to avoid confusing them that you end up not having political views at all.

And no David, please don't vote for me. It would be a disaster...