Needed: Saints With Edges On Them!
As I said in an earlier column, it’s easier to produce Pharisees than Christians. In other words, it’s easier to get people to do things Christians do than to get them to think Christianly about what they do.
The political and cultural mess we are in today is partly about theology, as the president recently reminded us when he referred to Christians and Muslims praying to the same God. In all probability, the president didn’t intend to make a theological pronouncement with his remarks. Yet that’s precisely what he did. The contrast between what Bush said about Islam (and apparently believes to be true) and what former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore said about acknowledging the one true God is gigantic, for each statement reveals fundamental beliefs about God and man.
Christianity, it seems to me, has lost its cutting edge, its theological acumen. Someone once described modern Christianity as “a fleshly and fat religious neutrality.” He was referring to the subtle and secular influences in our society that can dull even the sharpest Christian testimony. The result, all too often, is a culture of compromise.
One man from whom we can all draw encouragement is the apostle Paul. Paul didn’t dull his sword by striking it on the walls of his Roman prison. He didn’t challenge the paganism of his day by working out an “agreement” with Caesar. He kept his message theologically distinctive to the very end, refusing to “tone it down” to the level of his contemporaries. Instead of telling Timothy to play it safe, he stiffened his moral backbone and bade him endure hardship as a soldier, not negotiate as a diplomat.
The question is not, Are we axes? The question is: How do we respond to the grindstone? It all depends on how we hold the axe. Many Christians will be dulled until they are no longer able to cut anything for God. Others will be made all the sharper. I don’t know about you, but I prefer saints with an edge on them to saints whose axes couldn’t cut a pound of butter if their life depended on it.
I sometimes wonder: Are we Christians salting the world, or is the world stealing our savor so that we are good for nothing except to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men?
December 1, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. He is currently finishing his latest book, Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.