Monday, August 11, 2008

Trouble In Paradise

[See the article here.]

The Weekend's TV: There's going to be trouble in paradise

Make Me A Christian, Sun Channel 4; Britain From Above, Sun BBC1

By Gerard Gilbert
Monday, 11 August 2008

The Church of England has enough on its plate without worrying about a new television programme, but if the denizens of Lambeth Palace were watching Make Me a Christian yesterday evening, they should have been depressed by what they saw. The Channel 4 series invited a diverse group of sinners from the Leeds area to sample a Christian life for three weeks under the mentorship of a quartet of dog-collar wearers, and potential viewers would presumably be, if not exactly ripe for conversion, then at least intrigued by what modern Christianity had to offer. Ten minutes into last night's opener and most of them would have fled from this particular path to righteousness. The programme dived head-first into the sort of prescriptive, preachy and judgemental Christianity that puts people off in the first place.

Kent Comments:

I would like to complain, briefly, about these few complaints.

I can imagine the “quartet of dog-collar wearers” as typical “clergy” types who can sometimes be truly off-putting. But apart from that, several things here are worth a second look.

First, is it not typical of people today to think that anything meaningful about Christianity could be “sampled” in a three-week television show? Why take up so much of people’s valuable time? Just offer a few fifteen-second commercial-style spots. That should be enough to “sample” Christianity, shouldn’t it?

Also, is it not typical of recent attitudes to approach the whole matter as a way to see “what modern Christianity had to offer”? You might think we were shopping for socks or something of equal importance. While Christians do receive all sorts of amazing things from God through Jesus Christ, if you approach Christianity on the basis of what it has to offer YOU, you clearly are not yet ready for the Christian faith. Instead, you might want to visit your local discount department store.

Finally, take another look at that last sentence from the article excerpt above. There the writer complains that Christianity is “prescriptive, preachy and judgemental.” Those last two terms are carefully selected for negative connotation. But when you get at the substance of these three things, you find that they are an important part of what Christianity is.

Christianity is prescriptive. God does tells us what to do. If you don’t want to be told what to do, you don’t want to hang around with God. (Hint: that’s why we call Him Lord!)

Christianity does involve preaching. While it is a message of good news, it is not negotiable or customizable in any way. You can take it or leave it. But it is an “all or none” arrangement. If you don’t like that, you won’t like Christianity. (Hint: that is why we talk about repentance which is a very basic change of mind and attitude!)

Christianity does involve judgment. While everyone has heard of John 3:16, just after that comes that horrible declaration that whoever does not believe is condemned already. Which is followed up with “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19 ESV) If you don’t like judgment, you should stay away from the Christian faith.

There really is trouble in paradise. Sin got in when people refused to follow God’s prescriptions. Now we need to repent or face judgment. If all that bothers you terribly, you probably don’t want to be a Christian. Try the local country club instead.

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