Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Lord's Day November 17 2013

My assistant Andrew Lolley was preaching in Childs Hill yesterday. I was in Hope Baptist Church, East Ham/Forest Gate for their 124th anniversary. I preached on the Saturday evening as well as twice on Sunday, looking at 1 Thessalonians 1, Jonah 1 and Onesiphorus from 2 Timothy 1. I know the congregation a little bit and it was good to catch up with the Lindsays and the new pastor Derick Meade and his family from Hackney. I drove back and for each time and had hassle free journeys of around fifty minutes along the north circular. Very easy with the satnav, which decided not to cut out as it often does. I twice passed when the Kingdom Hall along that route was either emptying or filling. It is a strange sight to see JWs en masse. They are diverse enough in some ways but there is something essentially fifties about the look, which is both attractive and unattractive, depending on your point of view. I had two JWs here last week. I don't think they listened to a word I said.


C Woods said...

It was interesting to read your testimonial because it was nearly the exact opposite of my own experience.

I grew up in a highly religious home, but at about age 11 or 12, I stopped believing. It was actually a gradual process. At first I had some doubt, but it kept growing. By the time I left home for college (50 years ago) I was an atheist, although, at the time, I'm not sure I even knew what that was. I thought I was alone in my disbelief because everyone I knew was a Christian except for the one lone Jewish student in my high school. Of course, thre were probably others who were not as vehemently religious as my parents and some who were skeptics, too, but no one dared express their doubts.

Since then I learned that, like me, many non-believers attribute the beginnings of their doubts to reading the Bible. Most Christians I know have little knowledge about the entire Bible, only the few stories they are told ---about the birth and death of Jesus the creation, Noah, David and Goliath, and a few favorite Psalms. But when I was about 8, my parents started to read a chapter of the Bible every night before dinner. They started at the beinning of Genesis and ended with Revelation and then started over. I read along until I left home. I soon began to see irreconcilable differences in the stories in the four Gospels (such as those about Jesus's birth and death.) I was horrifed by some of the Old Testement. And even though this was long before the women's movement, as a young girl, I was especially upset at how women werre treated. For example, I learned that women should be silent in church and, well, I'm not now and wasn't then, someone who has been silent about much of anything.

However, I am still interested in religion. I read about it frequently. However, in all this time, nothing has convinced me that any religion is any truer than any other.

I have no problem with those who choose to believe in one religion or another ---as long as they aren't trying to force their views on others. But I am facinated by the various paths our beliefs take. I know atheists who have converted to one religion or other and I've known born-again Christians who are now agnostics or atheists.

Gary Brady said...

Dear C Woods
Thanks for writing. You seem to take a rather armchair approach to things. Surely you realise that certain religious views have all sorts of unpleasant consequences, many of which cannot be ignored. To say you "have no problem with those who choose to believe in one religion or another" is rather naïve even with your caveat about them forcing it on others. The truth is that you're coasting on the back of what America's founding fathers and their successors achieved and borrowing their capital for your own use. If you know the Bible as well as you say you do then you will know that it is the fool who says he is an atheist and that the truth is we all know there is a God but we seek to suppress that truth by nature. But then I'm not sure you have read the Bible so well if you have not noticed how subtly pro-women it is. Surely you've read about Esther and Ruth and Manoah's wife and Abigail and Job's daughters and Huldah and the women of the New Testament. WHo were the first to see the risen Lord? Not men but women. The Bible is patriarchal but to dismiss its views on women on that basis is to show great prejudice. I think you are missing things because of your dismissive attitude. Okay there are apparent contradictions in the Bible. Most of these can easily be resolved (there are plenty of books out there that will do that for you if you really want resolutions). To be biased against a book just because you think there are a few odd things in it is bias of the crassest and most inexcusable kind. There's a good deal more that could be said, of course, but my main point is that though you consider yourself a freethinker you are nothing of the sort. You are trammelled by your assumptions about God, about how men and women are to relate and the meaning of life. You need to start thinking outside your box. Paradoxically that will only happen when you come to grips with the Bible and stop dismissing like you started doing all those years ago. Don't forget Bob Dylan's lyric "Ah but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now".