Monday, March 20, 2006

"Those Christians are at it again..."

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God....Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18,22-24 NIV)
I've been a bit slow in catching up with the news lately, so I missed the fact that several Catholic priests and bishops (including one who broadcasts on the EWTN cable channel) have called to boycott the movie "The DaVinci Code." Still others (Catholic and Protestant) have called to NOT boycott the movie, and still others have said, "It's ok to see this movie,but it needs a disclaimer up front that this is not Biblical."

For me, I've not read the book, so I'm not even qualified to make a comment about either the book or the movie.

But my own experience has been that when Christians condemn something or someone - especially declaring someone or something to be "heresy" - they are just "cruisin' for a bruisin'," because every single one of us is a blip on someone's "heresy" radar...whether you start from Martin Luther and work down, or start with my own poor self and work up.

The saddest part was that in talking with an unchurched friend about all this errant nonsense, he simply said, "Yeah, well, there go those Christians again..."

And, Christ help us, he's right.

So much of what Christianity has become in the world today has been about who "we" are supposedly against. And small groups of vocal Christians tend to tar the entire Church with the same brush. So much of the world assumes that we Christians ALL hate (or, God help us, even want to kill) the same groups of people. Go through the news, and you can tell who "we" are supposed to be against.

And yet we hear so little about those whom we are called to be "for" and to love - the poor, the needy, the broken, and the outsiders. In fact, who we are supposed to be "for" is a lot of the folks that so-called Christians are "against."

The important thing to note from Sunday's lectionary reading in 1st Corinthians is that the boycotting folks (and the hating folks) have missed the point entirely.

"We preach Christ, and him crucified...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

Not against movies, or this cause or that group of supposedly unacceptable people. In fact, it seems we have no place deciding who is unacceptable - that job is already done. "There is no one righteous, not evenone..." It's all there in Romans 3. Check it out...

Nope. There really is only one sermon topic, it seems. Just Christ, and him crucified. God's unending love for us through Christ. It ought to be enough, shouldn't it?

Find me a church that points me to Christ, rather than pointing me away from my sinful fellow humans (which would seem, according to the apostle Paul, to be just about everyone) and I'll attend gladly.

But anyone who is making sermon fodder out of "Da Code" (as us Chicagoans would say), and missing the chance to preach on a more timely topic (for instance, the "when I was hungry, you fed me" passage from Matthew 25:31-46)...well, those preachers ain't gonna win any points on my scoreboard.
Lord God, help us to remember that we are called to preach Christ, and his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Let us leave the world to deal with the rest. Let us, in this holy time, be an arrow pointing to Christ, and how each of us needs him. Amen.

5 comments:

Dale said...

Steve :

Great post! I am with you a 100 percent on this. It sucks when a small group defines who the rest of us are. You wonder if God looks down and crys or laughs? Have a great day!

Poor Mad Peter said...

I am tempted to say that being tarred with the same brush as the ignorant is the cross many of us Christians have to bear, but I won't...

Ray said...

A boycott is a bit extreme. However, you can't deny that there are going to be non-Christians, and even some moderate Christians, who are going to take some of the fictional ideas from the movie and believe they are true. Though the book and movie are presented as fiction, Dan Brown, the author, has said he tends to think like the scholar Leigh Teabing, one of the main characters, who gives more credence to the non-canonical gospels, particularly The Gospel of Mary and The Gospel of Philip which suggest Jesus was married and had a family.

A positive response has been offered by Mark D. Roberts on www.markdroberts.com, who has a series called The Da Vinci Opportunity. In it, he lays out the evidence for the canonical gospels being the true accounts of Jesus' life and against the non-canonical, or Gnostic, gospels.

The Da Vinci Code may be a riveting work of fiction but when those ideas are presented as fact, Christians need to respond with the truth, not necessarily a boycott.

Keith Brenton said...

Amen to your prayer from me, too.

Michael said...

Well, I've read the book and enjoyed it as an excellent example of how to keep people reading. Since I have been trying most unsuccessfully to get a Christian/Catholic mystery novel published, I wish I had Brown's gifts in that regard.

I also had trouble continuing to read, though, because I have taught church history for many years and have read gnostic texts and all the foolishness about the Priory of Sion and so on -- I love to read religious conspiracy theories! [By the way, many people who hate Brown's tampering with or total disregard for historical evidence devour stupid books about Noah's ark and such things. Go figure.] I found this tomfoolery undermined my enjoyment of the book, though. Since I knew it was built on sand -- if that --, it made me unwilling to take anything seriously, except for the story line. But I realize not everyone has had the opportunity or interest or need to be familiar with the things I take for granted because of my background.

[A REAL conspiracy theorist would point out that Brown's book sets up a straw man version of Opus Dei, knowing full well it can be knocked down. This then allows Opus Dei to continue its real sinister activity without fear, because people will think it has been exonerated. The next time a literary accusation is made, people will say, "Oh, that's the old Dan Brown stuff again. Been there, done that, saw it was false and moved on." Brown is intentionally crying "Wolf!" now so that people will not take the real wolf seriously when it does creep into town...]

St. Teresa said that we spend far too much time pointing to the things that are wrong (or maybe could be, to our perception)and yelling, "The devil! The devil!" when we should be pointing to the signs of God's mercy, love and transforming power and shouting, "The Lord! The Lord!" She had some rude things to say about Lutherans (she meant Calvinists, but didn't know the diference), but I know she would happily join in your prayer.