Trust in God and keep your powder dry! The battle cry of Puritan champion Oliver Cromwell should be the inspiration which the Christian Churches need to adopt to defeat the growing tide of Christophobia in an increasingly secular Irish society, according to religious commentator, Dr John Coulter, in his latest Fearless Flying Column today.

While the massacre in New Zealand highlighted Islamophobia, and the row over anti-Semitism rages in the British Labour Party, the Christian Church - especially in Ireland - seems remarkably quiet about the growing social cancer of Christophobia.

The foundations for this were laid in TV sitcoms in the Sixties and Seventies when members of the Christian clergy were fair game for ridicule in various shows.

Christendom’s case was not helped by the various clerical abuse scandals which have rocked Ireland, and in the case of the Republic, certainly contributed to the Irish Bishops being heavily defeated in referenda supporting same-sex marriage and more liberal abortion laws.

While secularism and pluralism have won the battles against traditional Christian values in the Republic, Northern Ireland still remains - for the time being - one of the last bastions of Biblical truth, not just in Ireland and the United Kingdom, but right across much of mainland Europe.

As we head towards the Easter celebrations later this month, that sacred festival marking Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has become as commercialised as Christmas.

Even within Christianity, many denominations and even specific churches are split with rows and factions. The biggest challenge facing the Christian faith is not purely about keeping people in the pews, but how to attract them into places of worship in the first place.

To make the Church and attendance at worship more appealing, churches are having to borrow more ideas from the secular world as competition for people’s attention increases.

While many churches may point to a steady elderly membership, those members are slowly but surely dying off quite literally, so what is the Church doing to bring on new members?

Christians should take heart from the words of Christ Himself in St John Chapter 16 and verses 31 to 33. These verses are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

They state:
Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
In this portion of Scripture, Jesus is reminding the Church that it will face trials and challenges. His prediction, especially, that His followers will be scattered can also be interpreted in a modern context that in this third millennium, the influence of the Christian Church as a whole will be diluted immensely.

However, Jesus assures people in verse 33 that in spite of this time of trial, ultimately He will win the day. It is this key message that Christians will have to get across to not only fellow Christians, but to the unsaved and unchurched as a whole.

But Christianity still faces a core challenge - how to make our places of worship more appealing to an increasingly secular world.

Perhaps the answer is to be found in Paul’s epistle to Titus Chapter 2 and verses 9 and 10, again taken from the King James Version:

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again. Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

In this respect, Christians need to get back to basics - how did Jesus appeal to people when He was on earth? How do we, as Christians, ‘adorn’ the Gospel now in the third millennium?

In practical terms, to make Church more appealing we are talking about changing how Christianity is packaged to the modern world, but not the content of the Gospel message.

Is one way of achieving this ‘adorning’ to take the Biblical advice in that we should take the mote out of our own eyes before we take the beam out of other’s eyes? The primary challenge to the modern day Church is how to heal itself before turning its attention to healing others in society.

Perhaps the so-called ‘fashion police’ in many churches have a lot to answer for if they frown on women who come to worship without wearing a hat, or men who have loud coloured ties or even wear casual sporting tops to worship?

If a place of worship got a reputation by word of mouth that women were not welcome unless they wore a hat, or men would be turned away or tut-tutted at if they came casually dressed, then those churches will quickly empty or find it difficult to encourage new members to join them.

Again, some churches have attempted to ‘adorn’ the Gospel by making themselves more appealing to the community by introducing programmes of social events. In this case, they would argue that they are trying to create a spirit of fellowship among would-be worshippers.

The danger is that such churches become so focused on their social activities, that they become little more than glorified social clubs or ‘pubs with no beer’.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that in trying to ‘adorn’ the Gospel, a new can of worms in terms of a battle between traditionalists and modernisers will erupt. Christianity, like Unionism and Republicanism, usually has as its first item on the agenda - the split!


Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter
Listen to religious commentator Dr John Coulter’s slot, Call Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM, as part of the ‘At The Table’ show. 
Listen online at  www.thisissunshine.com 

Combat Christophobia

Trust in God and keep your powder dry! The battle cry of Puritan champion Oliver Cromwell should be the inspiration which the Christian Churches need to adopt to defeat the growing tide of Christophobia in an increasingly secular Irish society, according to religious commentator, Dr John Coulter, in his latest Fearless Flying Column today.

While the massacre in New Zealand highlighted Islamophobia, and the row over anti-Semitism rages in the British Labour Party, the Christian Church - especially in Ireland - seems remarkably quiet about the growing social cancer of Christophobia.

The foundations for this were laid in TV sitcoms in the Sixties and Seventies when members of the Christian clergy were fair game for ridicule in various shows.

Christendom’s case was not helped by the various clerical abuse scandals which have rocked Ireland, and in the case of the Republic, certainly contributed to the Irish Bishops being heavily defeated in referenda supporting same-sex marriage and more liberal abortion laws.

While secularism and pluralism have won the battles against traditional Christian values in the Republic, Northern Ireland still remains - for the time being - one of the last bastions of Biblical truth, not just in Ireland and the United Kingdom, but right across much of mainland Europe.

As we head towards the Easter celebrations later this month, that sacred festival marking Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has become as commercialised as Christmas.

Even within Christianity, many denominations and even specific churches are split with rows and factions. The biggest challenge facing the Christian faith is not purely about keeping people in the pews, but how to attract them into places of worship in the first place.

To make the Church and attendance at worship more appealing, churches are having to borrow more ideas from the secular world as competition for people’s attention increases.

While many churches may point to a steady elderly membership, those members are slowly but surely dying off quite literally, so what is the Church doing to bring on new members?

Christians should take heart from the words of Christ Himself in St John Chapter 16 and verses 31 to 33. These verses are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

They state:
Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
In this portion of Scripture, Jesus is reminding the Church that it will face trials and challenges. His prediction, especially, that His followers will be scattered can also be interpreted in a modern context that in this third millennium, the influence of the Christian Church as a whole will be diluted immensely.

However, Jesus assures people in verse 33 that in spite of this time of trial, ultimately He will win the day. It is this key message that Christians will have to get across to not only fellow Christians, but to the unsaved and unchurched as a whole.

But Christianity still faces a core challenge - how to make our places of worship more appealing to an increasingly secular world.

Perhaps the answer is to be found in Paul’s epistle to Titus Chapter 2 and verses 9 and 10, again taken from the King James Version:

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again. Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

In this respect, Christians need to get back to basics - how did Jesus appeal to people when He was on earth? How do we, as Christians, ‘adorn’ the Gospel now in the third millennium?

In practical terms, to make Church more appealing we are talking about changing how Christianity is packaged to the modern world, but not the content of the Gospel message.

Is one way of achieving this ‘adorning’ to take the Biblical advice in that we should take the mote out of our own eyes before we take the beam out of other’s eyes? The primary challenge to the modern day Church is how to heal itself before turning its attention to healing others in society.

Perhaps the so-called ‘fashion police’ in many churches have a lot to answer for if they frown on women who come to worship without wearing a hat, or men who have loud coloured ties or even wear casual sporting tops to worship?

If a place of worship got a reputation by word of mouth that women were not welcome unless they wore a hat, or men would be turned away or tut-tutted at if they came casually dressed, then those churches will quickly empty or find it difficult to encourage new members to join them.

Again, some churches have attempted to ‘adorn’ the Gospel by making themselves more appealing to the community by introducing programmes of social events. In this case, they would argue that they are trying to create a spirit of fellowship among would-be worshippers.

The danger is that such churches become so focused on their social activities, that they become little more than glorified social clubs or ‘pubs with no beer’.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that in trying to ‘adorn’ the Gospel, a new can of worms in terms of a battle between traditionalists and modernisers will erupt. Christianity, like Unionism and Republicanism, usually has as its first item on the agenda - the split!


Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter
Listen to religious commentator Dr John Coulter’s slot, Call Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM, as part of the ‘At The Table’ show. 
Listen online at  www.thisissunshine.com 

2 comments:

  1. This is getting a bit crazy, don't you think? "Christophobia" isn't a thing, it's a paranoid fantasy of lunatic god-botherers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeff - I take the view of Brendan O'Neill that any word with a phobia on the end of it is the pathologising of dissent

      Delete