Read the entire article HERE.
The irony of the Christian Christmas is that the Christ child comes not because of any need of his own or any desire to fulfill a selfish or inwardly directed want; this child, the child in the manger, considers it not robbery to be equal with God and yet humbles himself by taking the form of a servant in order to be obedient even to death on the cross. All of this is done for those who not only did not deserve it but who despise the very thought of grace. For the strong and the self-sufficient to be shown their need and to be delivered therefrom by a nobody who begins life in a manger and ends it on a cross is a profound insult to everything we hold dear. The world looks on - now as then - and see this all as so much childishness; the tragedy, of course, is that it is the unsuspecting world which is truly childish.
I wonder if it is coincidence that at the very moment when childhood - or, perhaps better, childishness - seems to be permeating society, atheism and the militant rejection of Christianity are becoming so trendy. There is nothing more childish than the repudiation of parental authority by those who are still dependent upon their parents for everything from food to shelter to clothing. As the fourteen year old kid with the body-piercing and mohawk is still utterly dependent on his parents' money to buy him the torn jeans and the tee-shirt with the anti-authoritarian slogan spray painted on it, so those dependent upon God for their lives take a perverse and childish pleasure in denying his claims over their lives. And as the fourteen year old punk looks like a serious adult role model to the twelve year old wannabe, so the angry atheism that sells so many books today looks like true maturity to the world at large. Yet it does not change the fact that, as Romans 1 tells us, such is really a move not towards maturity but towards a fundamental denial of our humanity.
This should put our need to engage with atheists in perspective. Atheists do appear scary to the church, as the foul-mouthed kid with the leather jacket and the tatttoo might well be an intimidating and alien presence in my neighbourhood late at night; but all the expletives in the world do not change the fact that he is just a kid with attitude, not a serious challenge to my safety or well-being. Yes, we sometimes need to refute atheists in the same way we need to check unruly teenagers; but we should not waste too much time on such matters. The church also has adult work to be doing and dealing with kids should not distract us from that. Atheists come and atheists go; as far as I can tell, Mt. 16:18 continues to prove to be true.
The message of Christmas is the message of the cross: all our human conceptions are turned upside down; greatness is found in a manger and on a cross; the most powerful autonomous aspirations of men and women are in comparison to the baby Jesus but childish acts of meaningless defiance; atheism pretends to maturity; but from the perspective of the Bethlehem stable, it is but so much juvenile posturing.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Good stuff from Carl: