Blessed or privileged?
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." Luke 6.20
Mixed up in the post-Christendom angst of believers who are "de-constructing" their faith is a discomfort with their having belonged to a white, middle-class elite. They considered themselves blessed by God but now suspect that they were confusing their "blessing" with "privilege". Recognising their "mistake" has undermined everything that went along with it, including their faith. Are they correct?
Ever since the refusal of Christians to fight against the Romans in the Jewish Rebellion of AD 70 and their subsequent rejection by their fellow Jews, the Church became estranged from our Jewish roots and increasingly drawn towards our Gentile identity. While cultural openness brought many advantages, it also rendered the Church vulnerable to endless re-invention.
Humans being what we are, there is a tendency to seize upon whatever we can to secure our interests, including - perhaps especially - religion. Today we call out terrorists for doing this, whether they are IS invoking the name of Allah in the Middle East or sectarian militants marching under Protestant/ Catholic banners in Northern Ireland. Yet society has been at it for years!
The Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) was established in the 18th century to replace the heathen language of Gaelic with the civilising influence of English - in the name of Evangelical Protestant Christianity. Many of us are the products of its success. Does that justify the deception?
Can the confusion of Gospel outreach with cultural imperialism, repeated countless times in so many countries over such an extended period of time ever be redeemed? One cannot turn the clock back. Yet, where harm has been done, healing must be allowed and that can take time - which is challenging, when so many current emergencies are clamouring for our time, attention and energy. The question is whether we can make a better future without addressing the problems of the past...