Recent events in Australasia show how confused we are about religion and Christianity. First, the terror attack in Christchurch caused an outpouring of compassion. Rightly, we cried, we prayed, we laid flowers, we reached out. And so we should have. We even put on hijabs and joined in Muslim calls to prayer (although some Christians were uncomfortable with this).
Then, Israel Folau dared to say on social media what Christianity has always believed, even if clumsily and inappropriately in my view: that those who are sinners who refuse to repent will not be included in God’s world to come. This is indeed what Islam believes, through the lens of faith in Allah and Mohamad as his prophet. This is what Christians believe based on our view that Jesus is Savior and Lord. Yet, our society turns from approval to condemnation. We cry foul! Much umbrage is taken. Then, Notre Dame burned down. It is a tragedy, absolutely. We should be grieved. Yet, remember that this is a building built by people who believe what Israel Folau believes.
There are ironies everywhere in this. How is it that we can be so grieved about a shooting and a building (which we should be), and yet hang this young man out to dry for daring to express the views held in those buildings where these tragedies occurred. Can we really have it both ways?
The truth is we tolerate Christianity and religion if it tows the line, shows love and mercy and never expresses its full theology. We love its cathedrals (one can think of the public furore over the Christchurch cathedral). We love its works of service (the Salvation Army and so on). In fact, our societies ideology is to a large degree based on its premises. But we are so selective. We have picked the bones off its carcass and woe-betide the person that dares to tell the world around the full story. If someone dares to speak publicly concerning its belief system, we are up at arms. Irony! We are indeed completely confused about religion and Christianity. On the one hand, we embrace it and reach out with compassion to its people. Yet, we condemn their beliefs when one dares to say it publicly. Our confusion and duplicity is palpable.