Let’s be clear. The well-being of Western nations has much to do with Christianity in general and the reception of the reformation in particular.
Life comes from Jesus Christ. This is the promise of the new testament and the essence of the new creation: Christ is all and in all. It is the manifestation of Jesus in people that becomes the Kingdom of God on earth. By 200 AD the personal Spirit/Presence of Christ has been swallowed by institutionalism. It is because Christ is the life of the world that I do not wrote posts on issues – like feminism, sexual abuse, poverty and politics. This is not because they need not be addressed. It is because they are subordinate issues that would be solved if the Kingdom of God were a growing reality. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is not the kingdom of the church or of religion. Neither is it the kingdom of issues addressed. It is the Kingdom that grows when Christ is our life, we live in the Spirit of Sonship as sons and the new creation flows from our spiritual loins.
The most advanced civilisations have always been associated with the un-encumbered influence of Jesus Christ. The less advanced with non-Christian culture or pre-reformation christianity. One need not be a rocket scientist to perceive the religious culture than imbues many of the failed states. Let’s be clear. The well-being of Western nations has much to do with Christianity in general and the reception of the reformation in particular. Yet sad to say the gospel of the Kingdom, with Christ as our life has yet to be seen on a large scale. The least we could do as the world church of Believers is to ask ourselves whether the rise of Islam is in some way connected to the muffling of Christ and the emasculating of His new creation life through institutionalism.
Yet it is not Christianity that is the hope of the world. The hope is Jesus of Nazareth, son of God, Son of Man and the agent of the new creation. The pressing issues of the world, poverty, greed, family violence, slavery, war and climate change all have their solution in the Person of Jesus Christ.
There is a lot of nonsense talked in the secular press about the nature of terrorism. Certainly one need not be Muslim to be a terrorist. But it helps to have a justification for it in sacred texts, a severe deity and a violent prophet. To assert that Islam is a religion of peace is to deny history, the Koran and the prophet. Jihad is not a function of Hinduism or Buddhism. It is part of Islamic culture. The peaceful nature of so many Muslims has more to do with the influence of Christian civilisation than it has with Islam itself. This is why Muslims as pleasant and peaceful as most are, can be regarded with trepidation by religious and non-religious people. We need not hate or condemn Muslims. But we need not go about with our eyes closed.
Western civilisation owes a lot to Christianity – more to the person of Jesus and apostles like Paul than to the culture of Christianity and the institutional church that often retarded Christ’s influence for the sake of power and political considerations. A key dynamic that advantages Christian culture is the penchant for self-criticism, which itself is sourced in the notion of grace and repentance. They facilitate reform because they allow for redemption while offering the possibility of a new and better way. Sure humanists and secular persons have been great reformers but they did not gain these qualities from humanism. They are seeded into people through the cultural influence of the gospel of the Kingdom.
The weakness and abuses of Christianity have come from man and his vested interests – not from the Christ of God who was meant to be manifest and multiplied in His people. The same cannot be said for Islam. The attitudes of militant Islam are the fruit of the root. Violent things happened in the old testament, to be sure but this is not normative in the new. Christianity is not actually a religion as Rev Dr Gordon Moyes noted. It is the Person of Jesus manifest in people. Thus Christians are not meant to be people of the book. They are collectively called to the the expression of the Christ – Christ come in their flesh, by the incarnation and the Holy Spirit. The weakness of Christianity as a culture is that it is too often a continuation of the knowledge of good and evil with Christ as an also ran. This kind of religion is less different to Islam than many would like to think. It promotes, legalism, judgment and condemnation in the name of Christ. But it is none of Him.
Christianity cannot be more than are religion and a slightly moderating and benumbing culture if it never rises above a matrix of good and evil actions and beliefs. Here there is no power to transform, nothing that will regenerate and plenty that will stagnate and vitiate our ability to display to Islam and the non-Believer the love and the authority of Jesus and the total acceptance of the world by Our Father. How can the world believe they have this great salvation and a home for their being at the heart of the universe if so many Believers are believing in the old covenant, stuck in an old and dead way and outside the promises and resurrecting authority that is actually their possession and inheritance?
To live a life accommodated to an old covenant mentality is to denude Christ of His power and castrate our being. To live from religious institutionalism is to suffocate our life and witness. To live in anything less than Christ, or live in a diminished Christ or a disempowered Christ is to delete ourselves as representatives of the new-creation human race. It is to deny the cross, the resurrection and the person of Jesus multiplied by Pentecost. The essence of the Kingdom is not so many songs about the cross. It’s not morality, charity or good works. It’s Christ our life. Every good branch comes from this tree. The Kingdom of Heaven emerges and expands in the world when Christ Himself is our life and we disengage ourselves from our dummies that are substitutes for His real presence in our lives.