Monday, December 8, 2008

rookmaaker had it right

A week ago the Freedom From Religion Foundation put up the above sign in the state Capitol building in Olympia, WA.

Here's what has happened in the week since the sign was put up:

*The sign was stolen.
*The sign was found and put back up.
*Bill O'Reilly got all upset.
*9,000 people did what O'Reilly asked and called to complain.
*Several hundred people rallied outside the Capitol to protest the sign.

Ok, people I get it. The sign is judgmental, divisive, rude, and against the stated policies of the Capitol building administration (A Capitol administration rep stated that organizations may put up a display as long as it isn't considered disruptive or seen as promoting one religion over another.).

But c'mon folks, are you really helping the cause of Christ by stealing the sign, calling to complain, or jumping around with bullhorns outside the building? Here's what bugs me: The general attitude of Christians that we need to fight like heck until the whole world looks like the inside of a Christian bookstore. Ugh, I got a bad taste in my mouth just writing that.

During the election people kept throwing around the phrase "culture war." I didn't really know what they were talking about, but now I think I'm starting to get it. I think it starts with fear. Fear that your side won't win without the right propaganda. Fear that people are too dumb to choose for themselves and need to be told exactly what to believe, or even what to watch, listen to, and wear. Fear that if people hear what the other side is saying, it will sound smart and attractive so it must be drowned out or shut up.

When Atheists do this, I understand. If there is no God, then its all just propaganda. If there is no Truth, then whoever talks the loudest is the one who matters.

When Christians do this, it makes me ill. Our mission is not to make the world palatable to our own weak stomachs. Our mission is to be, live, and do the gospel: Christ crucified, resurrected, and coming again. When I see all this ruckus over a sign, it elicits the same response as when I heard that some guy organized over 4000 people to do the Michael Jackson "Thriller" dance all at the same time: Congratulations. Now please go use those great organizational skills to do something useful.

Hans Rookmaaker (yep, I love me some smart Dutch guys) had a lot to say about Christians and culture. Here's a quote from his essay, Art Needs No Justification:

Christ did not come to make us Christians or to save our souls only...he came to redeem us that we might be human in the full sense of that word. To be new people means that we can begin to act in our full, free, human capacity in all facets of our lives.

Jesus didn't come so that we could go out and make people part of our little club, where we all read the same books, watch the same movies, and listen to the same three chords on the guitar. Jesus came to make us like Him, fully human and fully free. May God forgive me when I act or think otherwise.


Brian Moss said...

Good post. I'm all about "Art Needs No Justification" and am glad for your comments regarding all of this. The only thing I would add comes from Eugene Peterson who said that "we are never more human than when we pray". I like how EP's words bounce off of HRR's. Peace.

Travis Thompson said...

Word Hay.

I hear you that we should definitely be less concerned with how the world looks and more concerned with being like Jesus.

I do think though that, as it was worth noting in your post, it's worth noting (however politely and in conjunction with the law etc) to the powers that be that this sign does violate the policies of the capitol building. Nothing wrong with writing a letter about it. Having a protest is ridiculous though.

Haley Ballast said...

Thanks for the comment Trav. I agree that writing a letter to the Capitol administration or even calling them to point out that the sign violates their policy is not a bad idea. The thing is, the people who called and protested were probably less concerned about the sign being against policy and more about the sign being disagreeable to their personal views... at least that's my assumption. In fact, the pastor from Antioch Bible church even posted his own sign at the Capitol, which said "Atheism is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." Every bit as rude and divisive as the first sign... and also against the state's policy.

Travis Thompson said...

Word (again).

Motives are obviously in question (not really for the crazy pastor... but for everyone else obviously).

Bret said...

I love the part about listening to the same three chords. I agree with your post as a whole but that part made me laugh.

Deborah said...

Hey! No linking to Joel Osteen books! People might take that as an endorsement! *eyes bleed*