Christianity has been in the headlines this week with the proposed Koran burning by Dove International Centre to mark the anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. As I write, the Rev Terry Jones and his small congregation in Gainesville, Florida, are deliberating whether or not to go ahead with the proposed demonstration that has caused worldwide outcry. With the building pressure from other Christian groups, other faiths and politicians, it is looking likely that when you read this, they will have backed down.
As a Christian, I believe that they are misguided in their actions. I don’t believe that the 9-11 bombers are anymore representative of the Muslim faith than IRA bombers or the extreme Christian cults we hear of from time to time. We protest vigorously when they’re held up as an argument against our faith, and so surely we should treat Islam with the same attitude – didn’t Jesus say we should do treat others as we would wish them to treat us? I have been impressed by reports of one Christian group in America who have make a counter-protest offering two copies of the Koran for every one that is burnt should the protest go ahead.
Whilst I disagree with what the Dove International Centre are trying to say, what is clear from their deeds is the power of such acts of drama – no wonder the Old Testament prophets accompanied their messages with all sorts of attention grabbing theatre. Perhaps as a church its worth our thinking how we can harness different types of media to get across God’s message of reconciliation in a positive way.
Mind the Gap
Stephen Hawking has stirred up debate about the origins of the universe and the existence of God in his latest book The Grand Design published recently. In it Professor Hawking contends: “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touchpaper and set the universe going.”
Over the years, Christians have found the advance of science challenging – you only have to think of the likes of Galileo, who was condemned by the church for his promotion of the theory that the earth went around the sun, rather than the sun going around the earth as the Bible had been interpreted as saying, as an illustration of this.
Historically, Christians have often pointed to the mysteries of life, the things that science can’t explain as proof of God. The catch is, as science expands its know-how, these gaps are increasingly shrinking, and following the logic of the previous Christian argument, this has been used as ‘proof’ to argue that God in fact does not exist.
Such an understanding of God, however, is not the understanding portrayed in the Bible. The Bible talks about how God created the world and is responsible for sustaining it on a constant basis. In other words, the laws that science discovers and describes, completely without reference to God, are simply a description of how God usually works. Of course, when, for whatever reason he departs from this, that is a miracle, not at all inconsistent with this understanding of natural law.
Church Newsletter article for Sunday 12th September 2010