Monday, May 22, 2006

Recovering the Christian Mind III

The Christian Gospel is addressed to men and women whose lives present them with emergencies---with dangers, temptations, demands, threats, and risks. That is only another way of saying that we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world. You can test the validity of any sermon, any theological book, by asking: How far is it addressed to men and women in a state of emergency? If it is not so addressed, then 10 to 1 it is a poor sermon, defective theology. It is no use preaching today to those imaginary people who inhabit the advertisement pages of glossy magazines, whose lives are spent between spick-and-span kitchens and gleaming new motor cars. It is no use preaching to that imaginary family group, father, mother, brother, sister, arm in arm, bright and beautiful, fresh and carefree, who gaze at your from your Access booklet in the hope of persuading you to buy the latest thing in designer shirts. It is no good gearing your theological dicta to that shapely young blonde sipping her coffee in a silk dressing-gown in her Moben kitchen, or to that smart-suited young mancaught by the camer midway between the door and the Ford Granada, briefcase in hand. It is no good because plainly none of these people has an aged parent upstairs with Alzheimer's disease or a child in a cot behind the bedroom window with Down's syndrome. None of them just had cancer diagnosed, or even a hole in the heart. We may overlook the fact that the sky suggests California rather than an English suburb. Look at the garden, how trim and colourful it is. Somehow we can swear that there is not even a coal-mine---let alone a nuclear power station---for miles...

The picture of life which overlooks or underplays calamity and tragedy would not be worth taking seriously were it not that there is a theology in the air which addresses imaginary inhabitants instead of addressing real people in a real world. There is a theology which does not speak to human beings in the thick of emergencies, but to human beings moving steadily between birth and death through an equable spring, summer and autumn of life. It is a theology of speculation and exploration which turns us all into seekers after truth with plenty of time to savour this experience and that, weigh this doctrine and that, until we finally conclude that we may as well make do with the Christian faith...True Christianity does not offer us a theology of speculation and exploration. It offers us a theology of revelation and salvation. And a theology of revelation and salvation is needed because we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world." (Harry Blamires, Recovering the Christian Mind, pp. 14-16.)

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