by Ed Harrell
In the pages that follow you will read of some of the blessings that we have in Christ-blessings of bringing our minds into harmony with God in worship and meditation, of reinforcing one another in common Worship, of living lives that are pure and rewarding, or expressing ourselves selflessly in hospitality to others. To be for something is, quite obviously, to be against something else. So it is with the New Testament and the Christianity which is described there. God calls us to be a Christian—it is a glorious, positive, rewarding way of life. While it is true that there is much a Christian is against, in a sense, all of that lies dimly lurking in the shadows beyond the roadside ditches when one focuses on the bright path that revelation has set before us.
Of course, some have used the idea of a positive Christianity to disguise doctrinal error, claiming that one should only speak of what is right and never define what is wrong. But the Scriptures have too much to say about standing against evil to tolerate such nonsense. I am against countless evils—including sweet-scented preachers who have become too genteel to denounce sin. But there are limitations in understanding Christianity negatively. I am against too many things, I am against institutional religion, hypocrisy, indecent movies, instrumental music in worship, most rock music anywhere, gay rights and left-handed lesbians. But that doesn’t exhaust the subject. Nor can I exhaust it. So, it is easier for me to tell you what I am for — though I am always ready to react to any particular evil that comes to my attention and to take my stand against it.
The eleven articles that follow explore some of the positive ways in which we understand the Christian revelation. It is true that “God is a Good God” and that “Christ is the Answer” While such slogans have been appropriated by popular religion to teach concepts which are not true, I shall not renounce the positive truths they proclaim. God’s grace, Christ’s sacrifice, the Holy Spirit’s revelation—these are our hope. They can save the derelict and raise us above our own humanity and give us peace.
The Christian religion which the God-head, each in His own role, has revealed to us is complete, perfect, equipping us for every good work. In the pages that follow you will read of some of the blessings we have in Christ —blessings of bringing our minds into harmony with God in worship and meditation, of reinforcing one another in common worship, of living lives that are pure and rewarding, or expressing ourselves selflessly in hospitality to others.
If you read these pages and you are not a Christian, we say to you there is a better way. All humans make choices about what to do with their lives. One cannot be all things to all men. It is true that Christians miss some of the glittering pleasures that sell for high prices in our society. But the cost of those pleasures in terms of human suffering is also high. We appeal to you to consider what you are missing. Read on, and try to imagine the ecstasies of true benevolence, of brotherly love, of comradeship in a just cause, of spiritual communion with the Creator of the universe, of the peace that passeth understanding. You can start over.
If you read these pages and you are a Christian, we say to you that you should walk proudly in a world which has never been worthy of those who would live righteously. Do not let the world define joy and happiness for you. Reach out for the peace that God has provided for us. Not only do I know what is wrong, I also know what is right. I know who I am- I am a Christian.
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE JANUARY, 1984