Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The wrong way round

A man today was telling me, as one reason why he wasn't a Christian, that some Christians owned slaves even as recently as the 15th century.

Hmmm. (Actually it's more recent than that, though I didn't ask where in the world he was referring to, so he may have meant his own home country).

He wanted to look at Christians as an infallible guide to Jesus Christ. He rejected Christianity because he saw something offensive in one group of Christians in history. That's the wrong way round. We should look at Jesus Christ as the infallible guide to what Christians are becoming. The historical example of Christ is normative; the copies are all imperfect.

Sure, if every Christian in the world owned slaves, or if at least many more of them did than non-Christians, you'd start to think that the two might be linked. There's got to be a reason why whenever you hear on the news of a terrorist outrage you think "Ah, that'll be something to do with Muslims." The two aren't completely independent; ever heard of Quaker terrorists? Cause and effect can be complex, but the Christian claim isn't that no Christian can ever make a moral
mistake. It's that after making a barrel-load of them every day, Jesus Christ who died for us forgives us as we repent, and that by his Spirit he is working holiness in his people so that that repentance is not just a sham.

Some who name the name of Christ may indeed be shams; but if Jesus wasn't gold, he wouldn't be worth counterfeiting as well as faithfully imitating.

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