Will we speak about religion?

Does Christianity offer forgiveness and healing to Tiger Woods in a way that Buddhism does not? The question is highly relevant as I am at a Christian mission (CMS) conference. I came across the aforementioned question and an excellent article sparked by that question which argues for serious and peaceful theological debate.

Let’s talk about faith by Ross Douthat Published: January 10, 2010. The New York Times.

But these believers are colluding in their own marginalization. If you treat your faith like a hothouse flower, too vulnerable to survive in the crass world of public disputation, then you ensure that nobody will take it seriously.

Liberal democracy offers religious believers a bargain. Accept, as a price of citizenship, that you may never impose your convictions on your neighbor, or use state power to compel belief. In return, you will be free to practice your own faith as you see fit — and free, as well, to compete with other believers (and nonbelievers) in the marketplace of ideas.

A week ago, Brit Hume broke all three rules at once. On a Fox News panel, Hume suggested that the embattled Tiger Woods consider converting to Christianity. “He’s said to be a Buddhist,” Hume noted. “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith.”

That’s the theory. In practice, the admirable principle that nobody should be persecuted for their beliefs often blurs into the more illiberal idea that nobody should ever publicly criticize another religion. Or champion one’s own faith as an alternative. Or say anything whatsoever about religion, outside the privacy of church, synagogue or home.   .   .   .

When liberal democracy was forged, in the wake of Western Europe’s religious wars, this sort of peaceful theological debate is exactly what it promised to deliver. And the differences between religions are worth debating. Theology has consequences: It shapes lives, families, nations, cultures, wars; it can change people, save them from themselves, and sometimes warp or even destroy them.

If we tiptoe politely around this reality, then we betray every teacher, guru and philosopher — including Jesus of Nazareth and the Buddha both — who ever sought to resolve the most human of all problems: How then should we live?

Article also argues that blasphemy laws weaken rather than strengthen believers. 

There are European Christians who side with Muslims in support of blasphemy laws, lest Jesus or the Prophet Muhammad have his reputation sullied. There are American Catholics who cry “bigotry” every time a newspaper columnist criticizes the church’s teaching on sexuality. Many Christians have decided that the best way to compete in an era of political correctness is to play the victim card.

But these believers are colluding in their own marginalization. If you treat your faith like a hothouse flower, too vulnerable to survive in the crass world of public disputation, then you ensure that nobody will take it seriously.

Excellent!

See also The West’s fear of free speech  and  The first ‘Blasphemy Day’?


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