Richard Dawkins, Lady Gaga, and the Bible - page4




Richard Dawkins, Lady Gaga, and the Bible: Why understanding these rival stories is important for our present time
by Trevin Wax, Managing editor of “The Gospel Project”, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages.

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There are, sadly, some Christians who have embraced the Enlightenment’s eschatology of progress, who treat the past as something to evolve from, not something from which they could learn. Protestant liberalism’s emphasis on reason and the human ability to progress beyond certain moral standards has led to schism in multiple denominations. “Traditionalists” are embattled with “progressives” over the significance of the Christian tradition and the consensus of the church on teachings that challenge the Enlightenment eschatology (belief in miracles, for example, or traditional sexual ethics). The good news, however, is that while the media paints the picture that the church needs to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the twenty-first century (in the words of Piers Morgan), the on-the-ground reality is that the churches least likely to be married to twenty-first-century ideas and values are the ones most likely to be growing! The churches that accommodate themselves to the spirit of the age—by downplaying the miracles of Christianity or the morality of traditional sexual ethics—are the ones that make themselves irrelevant. Many in our society are longing for something other than the echo of our times.

Other Christians, feeling the pressure of increasing alienation from the modern age, adopt a narrative of decline and then pine for the “good old days” when belief in God was assumed, not challenged, when the burden of proof was on the shoulders of the irreligious, not the devout. When cultural shifts take us by surprise, Christians may be tempted to replace hope with something else: either fear of the future or nostalgia for the past. But the Christian must ask, “What time is it?”—firmly rejecting the Enlightenment’s false eschatology on the one hand, while holding fast to biblical eschatology on the other.

Being a faithful people of hope is far more difficult than taking the easy path of the Nietzschean concept of ressentiment. James Davison Hunter warned that ressentiment is “grounded in a narrative of injury or, at least, perceived injury; a strong belief that one has been or is being wronged. The root of this is the sense of entitlement a group holds.” Hunter continues, “Over time, the perceived injustice becomes central to the person’s and the group’s identity.”

Christian hope is a sword that cuts through the marrow of ressentiment. Hope challenges Christians’ fear that injustice will go unnoticed by reminding us of the future when God will right all wrongs. Hope does not lead to a quiet endurance of abuse, without speaking for the truth; it does, however, keep before us the truth that any loss experienced is only temporary. Further, hope challenges ressentiment with cheerful courage. Christians betray our faith when we are united more by bitterness and grievances than by cheerful confidence in God’s good purposes for the world and our love for the people who injure us.

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