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Rising to the challenge

"For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17.28

There is surely no doubt that the technological advances of the last century challenge the created order through the way in which they reduce life to atomised units of production or consumption or, indeed, destruction. Responding in a way that is distinctively and authentically Christian requires thoughtfulness. Outright rejection will not help; that simply renders us irrelevant. Yet the unquestioning embracing of such de-humanising influences also seems morally unjustifiable. For guidance, Canadian professor Craig Gay points us towards the 20th century French intellectual Jacques Ellul.

Ellul's life and career span the middle years of the 20th century and they ooze with integrity. A personal convert to Protestant Christianity, he served in the Resistance during the Second World War. Frustrated by the constraints of politics, he accepted a post at the University of Bordeaux, where he taught law and authored numerous works, specialising in the interface between humanity and what he referred to as La Technique. Rather than shun La Technique, Ellul insists that Christians must understand it, not order to oppose or destroy it but to transcend it. Ellul drew his inspiration from an eccentric mixture of sources including Karl Marx and the Bible - but in particular Jesus' high-priestly prayer in the Gospel of John, chapter 17, verses 15-17, that Christians should be in the world but not of the world.

This would seem to lay an appropriate context for baptism... Those of us who raised our children in the nineties and noughties and chose to dedicate rather than baptise them, so that they would have the choice when old enough to understand, may have been more influenced by the post-modern spirit of individual autocracy than we realised. Infant baptism reminds us that everything good, including our very existence and personality, come from God as gifts; we are not self-made! Baptism is the sign of dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ and baptising those who are too young to understand affirms the scriptural revelation: "We love because God first loved us."

Latha math dhut!



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