It’s been difficult to “do Holy Week” on this blog because of events, and Ruth Gledhill’s blog entry only makes it harder.
First, we have this, a part of the running fiasco of the Roman Catholic paedophile scandal:
Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee has published a post with horrific details of a case surfacing in Brazil. If even the fertile fields of Latin America are being laid waste by this paedophile pestilence, then the Church really is in trouble. ‘In Brazil, where more Roman Catholics live than in any other country, a television network aired a video that purported to show a priest in the northeast state of Alagoas having sex with an altar boy. That priest and two others have been suspended by the church and are under investigation by police,’ writes Eugene Robinson.
Latin America has been a “fertile field” for years, but not necessarily for Roman Catholicism. Latin American Pentecostal churches have had explosive growth, and things like this will only accelerate that. It’s yet another opportunity for my Hispanic and Brazilian brethren (and I have many) to add to their numbers. And with God’s power, they will do it. And in doing so, they will change not only Latin America but Evangelical Christianity itself.
And there’s this from Richard Dawkins:
It comes to something when even Richard Dawkins is defending Christianity. He told me yesterday why he had mixed feelings about a putative end to Christianity: ‘There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.’
Dawkins and other New Atheists should have thought about this before launching their fanatical campaign to drive Christianity out of existence. But they didn’t. The US’ Founding Fathers agreed on the benefits of religion (and in their time that meant primarily Christianity) without necessarily embracing its doctrines (the level of that varied with the individual.) That’s a concept that goes back to Cicero, which means it pre-dates Christianity. But the New Atheists thought they were smarter than Cicero and the Founding Fathers because they are “scientific.”
Personally I think they are neither.
When you’re confronted by a religion like Islam which fuses religion and politics (and public and private morality) the way it does, you have a game changer, for the West at least. But New Atheists have been spoiled by Christianity, whose view of the role of itself in the state is so nuanced that most of its followers are better at following it than understanding it.
If this reality starts to sink in both to Christianity’s adherents and opponents, then it will be a very Good Friday indeed.