Remember the good old days of going into the Christian bookshop, making a bee-line for the music section and going through the cassettes? Never mind remembering the good old days, remember cassettes!
Anyway you’d flick through the albums and there would be stickers on the back of them that said things like this:
“Sounds like REM/U2/The Eagles”
In other words, this is the Christian version of the aforementioned bands. If you want to be like those “worldly” bands and have the same sound as those bad boy trail blazers, then this is the stuff to go for.
Me, In my cynical stage as I was/am/will continue to be, often wanted to add to those sticker the following words:
“Yeah, sounds like those bands, only more crap.”
Mainstream Christianity was as always, when it came to culture, a day late and a dollar short. The Christian bands were not setting the cultural pace, they were following it, reacting to it. The Christian bands were inevitably not doing what the world did when the world did it, and when they did catch up they were not doing it as well as the world did it.
Kinda cute, but not all that dangerous.
Now? Well we’ve got a new sticker that mainstream Christianity has started attaching to its versions of the culture, and it’s not cute and it’s definitely dangerous.
And it’s not about aping the world’s music scene either, we’ve gone way past that. It’s about the mainstream Christian world’s inexorable caving in to the demand for conformity to the culture’s sexual ethics, especially in regards to same sex marriage and LGBT matters.
Here’s what hasn’t changed however, we’re still a day late and a dollar short.
Here we were thinking that the neo-pagan illiberal secularists would be shutting down meaningful debate and dialogue. Here we were thinking that the world would be banning our books. But hey, why should they bother, we’re doing the job for them ourselves.
In a classic case of lost nerve the Society of Biblical Literature has proposed that IVP – one of the largest evangelical book publishing companies – be banned from having a bookstall at the annual SBL meeting next year. You can read about it here. Intervarsity’s full statement (in response to a TIME article) can be found here.
Why did SBL make this decision? Because Inter Varsity (a separate entity to IVP) has recently upheld the biblical view of marriage and has asked its employees to do the same. Perhaps the Society of Biblical Literature should change its name to the Society of Biblical Literature that We Agree With.
The secular literature scene has been no-platforming those who don’t tow the progressive line for years. Suddenly Christian organisations are slapping stickers on themselves that say “Sounds like The Sydney Writers’ Festival, Only More Crap.” Day late, dollar short, as always.
Christian organisations are fast losing their nerve in the face of a hostile culture. Desperate for their continued presence in the spotlight/funding/likes on Facebook they have fallen for a craven “me-tooism” that looks suspiciously like loving the praise of people rather than the praise of God. No one seems to want to get thrown out of the cultural synagogue these days, even if for the sake of Jesus.
And the real pity? There are hard atheist (sometimes gay) freedom loving intellectuals who will go to the wall for the right for orthodox Christians to dissent publicly in this area. Meanwhile many Christians won’t raise a voice in support for their brothers and sisters, either because they’ve lost their nerve, or because they’re on the way to losing the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
Brendan O’Neill from Spiked; Tim Wilson, the former Human Rights Commissioner, Matthew Parris, gay Conservative politician who writes for the Spectactor. These are the people lining up to voice what too many Christians are refusing to voice. These are the brave souls who will stand up against the intolerance of tolerance.
And if you fundamentally disagree with everything I’ve just written, check your back. Who knows there might be a sticker on it that reads “Sounds like Christianity, only more hollowed out.”