Culture & (Christianity) religion

  • Sumo

I was reading Mark Durie’s thoughts on the turmoil in Egypt, and the Islamic world more widely, and came across this insight:

Another reason for the folly is deep denial among western analysts concerning the role of religion in shaping the actual agenda of Islamic radical groups. This goes hand in hand with a world view presupposition that all religions are in essence the same, and in any case irrelevant as causes for political actions. According to this view, religion is at best a pretext, but never a true cause. Men may fight over land, money, water or women, but never about religion. The Marxist’s claim that religion is an ‘opiate’ for the masses has been influential: in essence it presupposes that religion is a means of political manipulation, not its cause.

(Emphasis in original.)

I know nothing about the Islamic world. But this comment is all about the western world, where I live (and I don’t mean my physical address). Durie’s words are incisive – the prevalance of this idea that theological commitment is never fundamental because theology is always peripheral frippery.

How far from what Christians are committed to!

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore …”
(Matthew 28:16-20)

Fundamental and basic is theological truth – Jesus’ authority. Activity in the world is secondary, contingent and always in consequence.

I do not think we must therefore aim to change our culture. Rather, I think Christians must knowingly choose the right view of Christ over all, even if our culture does not agree, or even have capacity to comprehend.