It is often pointed out by the anti-theist elite and their devoted followers that the moral values that Christian people advocate aren’t very moral at all. Since the Bible is highly rated within Christian circles it is obviously placed at the centre of this debate and not seldom is it criticized for being too old and outdated. There is much that can be said about these critics; from what illusory moral high ground they’re making these claims and so on, but let’s pause for a second and consider if some of their critique doesn’t carry any weight here.
It doesn’t take years of theological training to figure out that the Bible is a fairly old collection of texts and that the various contexts in which these texts were written differs significantly from that of our own. Things were different back then, I think that we can all agree on that, but sometimes I get the feeling that we ignore some of the similarities. For some reason we tend to buy into the modern myth that ‘Western’ history can be described as a story of constant progress, something that results in a worldview that describe the ‘Western’ world as morally superior to both the past and other parts of the contemporary world. This is why, for example, we often tend to talk about other cultures as ‘medieval’ or ‘ancient’ when we want to criticize them for being morally corrupted.
For some people, thoughts like these leads them into a kind of reactionary, hard line postmodern deconstructionism where basically all objective moral judgments are being understood as oppressive to the ‘other.’ Although I don’t want to take that path I still think that it’s important that we reflect on what these people are saying by asking ourselves if our way of viewing the world take the ‘other’ into consideration at all? Unfortunately this seems to me to be the place where the Christian church all to often fail, hence this is where I would claim that the anti-theists have a point when they criticize Christians for having an outdated morality. The reason for them critiquing the church is usually that they themselves make the same mistake as many Christians and argue from the perspective of constant progress, moral and otherwise, so the fact that I consider their critique should not be understood as if I agree with their full conclusion. What I want to get to is rather that we as Christians need to understand what the core of our own faith is, namely the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In my last post I wrote a few words on the uniqueness of Christianity and those thoughts are highly relevant here: ‘The cross is not just a symbol for the love of God and the forgiveness of sins; it is also, and foremost, a symbol of how Christ defeated the powers of this world.’ Christ’s life, death and resurrection is a critique of this world and how it functions. This critique is old, as pope Dawkins and his cardinals rightly points out, but it’s not outdated. If we as Christians want to remain relevant in our contemporary world, and if we want to stay true to the one we confess to be our Lord, then I would claim that it’s paramount that we take Christ’s critique seriously. That is not to say that we should simply aim it at others while feeling good about ourselves, rather we should let it transform our own way of life so that we ourselves ‘become’ the critique.