Saturday, May 02, 2009

A. N. Wilson's reflections on Palm Sunday

On 11 April, the Mail Online ran a piece by British writer A. N. Wilson that is well worth reading (even well worth linking to three weeks late!). The essay, "A Religion of Hatred: Why We Should No Longer Be Cowed by the Chattering Classes Ruling Britain Who Sneer at Christianity" gives an inside look at not simply atheism or agnosticism but actual anti-Christian vitriol from a former anti-Christian.

Too often Christians are only too eager to find someone to be offended by or something to revile (it's amazing how thin-skinned Christians can be!). Even so, there are actually offensive and revulsive people and things out there. But too often we get so caught up defending God and defending Christianity that we forget God hasn't called us to get defensive in a fallen and ill-loving world. Rather, he's called us to be brave enough to live and love in the midst of death and hatred. We, unfortunately, have not been faithful.

And yet . . . sometimes we do get it right. Sometimes we do forget to insist on the last word and we focus on showing love to the end. And sometimes we do make a difference.

If you don't know, A. N. Wilson rejected his parents faith and, more than simply choosing not to be a Christian, has spoken and written against the Christian faith very publicly. His book, Jesus, is one of those very many that claim to rescue Jesus from the mire of the church's devotion to him and dust him off, revealing a rather hapless man who failed in this life and then was twisted into the Son of God in the next. And though we can easily (readily, even) document the distortion of the historical Jesus—the Jesus who can be known through the processes of historical critical inquiry—from confessional and pietistic perspectives, the answer, I think, is not found in distorting Jesus in the other direction.

It seems that Wilson would agree. Wilson's article is well worth reading in its entirety, but I include these brief paragraphs to whet your appetite.
My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known - not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the Resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die.

The Easter story answers their questions about the spiritual aspects of humanity. It changes people's lives because it helps us understand that we, like Jesus, are born as spiritual beings.

Every inner prompting of conscience, every glimmering sense of beauty, every response we make to music, every experience we have of love - whether of physical love, sexual love, family love or the love of friends - and every experience of bereavement, reminds us of this fact about ourselves.

[HT: Ben Witherington]

Postscript: I glanced briefly at the comments to Ben Witherington's blog post and noticed that the top two comments (at the time, at least) missed the hope and . . . well, miracle of faith and instead took to defending theological views. Granted that the self-styled BW3 had to poke at those of the Reformed tradition in his post, can we knock off the bickering and, with the angels in heaven, rejoice with the one who has [re-]found his faith?!

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