7/27/2015 21:23

Terror is for Children

Walking the dog I pass a banner by a church. It is advertising their Vacation Bible School which will be using a commercially produced VBS curriculum. The sign has a slogan preprinted on it. The slogan reads:

Conquering challenges with God's mighty power.

The churches, and their commercial backers, set themselves against the pure message of Christianity. It is the world turned turvy topsy, the world of religiousness which Jesus Christ turned right side up, the turned-over world pitched back again like an untippable doll.

The terror is hidden in the implications of conventional phrases.

Children are to be taught to see life as consisting of challenges, the conventional western cultural view of "us" against all comers, against every "it" and "them": Life is division; life is conflict; life is challenge and response. Christianity teaches instead that the universe is coming together, with all humanity, with all of creation, coming to live in a harmony of peace and rightness.

Children will learn to conquer: Because life is challenge, to live is to overcome. Christianity teaches that God alone conquers. Jesus Christ has overcome the world -- that worldly misunderstanding which is subsumed under the message on the banner.

Children will be taught to invoke the name of God and to claim God's power in their battles. This is magic, to invoke the power and cause it to act as you direct. A Christian instead sets aside cause and self to become a servant to the power of God.

Christians do face challenges, not least the challenge to avoid conformity to the attitudes of the world. Christians do conquer, but vicariously through participation in the triumph of Jesus Christ. God's power is mighty -- and not for lease to transient human causes. Taking half of these truths and throwing them together, this slogan builds a terror.

But it must be as Sir Thomas More said (or at least his character in Robert Bolt's "A Man For All Seasons"): Terror is for children.