As I start to write this, my weekly blog, I sense that I am at one of those crossroads we come across on our journey through life. I started writing my blog in March, last year and have so far written 70 articles on a wide range of subjects.
According to the statistics provided by WordPress, there have been over 10,000 ‘hits’ on the blog. Some are regular followers, some would be from my email list, some come from Facebook and Twitter, but about half came from internet searches, mostly Google. About 40% of my ‘readers’ are from my home country, the United Kingdom, but I have attracted hits from over 130 different countries. What I cannot tell is how many people have actually read my articles!
I make no apologies for writing from a christian perspective, though many articles do not mention God, or the Bible, explicitly. But I wish to be inclusive in what I write and do not wish to be sectarian or to be seen as sticking up for what is still a minority of the human race. If I am to really follow Jesus, then I must believe that God is for us all whether we are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, have no beliefs at all, or even if we are Atheists. In speaking to a religious intellectual, Jesus said, “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son …”.
Compassion and Justice
If there are two things I feel passionate about, they are compassion and justice. Compassion is not a feeling of sympathy, it involves loving other people actively. Showing compassion for those oppressed by poverty means doing something about it, whether by involvement in improving their situation or by giving money or resources.
Justice too is important. I do not mean sticking up for our own rights, but seeking justice for those who cannot easily stand up for themselves. It means being a voice for the voiceless, a champion for the oppressed.
The battle between conservatives and liberals
I am thoroughly fed up with the battles between christian liberals and christian conservatives or fundamentalists. There is increasing polarisation between the left-wing and the right-wing of christian beliefs, thinking and attitudes.
Being a fundamentalist can mean:
- Having strong beliefs and views.
- Exclusive. ‘Those not with us are against us’ (often based on fear).
- Treating the Bible as a handbook for everything.
- Concentration on sexual ‘sins’, homosexuality, abortion etc.
- Failure to pursue Social Justice often with an attitude: “The poor deserve to be poor”.
- Intolerant and judgemental.
Being a liberal can mean:
- A watering down of our own beliefs so as not to offend others.
- Being inclusive of others with varying beliefs.
- Recognising that truths are contained in the Bible, but not taking it literally.
- Having a more permissive attitude to sexual ‘sins’.
- Strong on Social Justice and sticking up for the poor and oppressed.
- Tolerant and non-judgemental.
Trying to maintain a balance.
When I was younger I was firmly in the conservative ‘camp’. I have been gradually moving to the left and now believe that the liberal wing has much to offer. On the matter of Social Justice, I am definitely ‘left wing’, considering that care for the poor is a part of the gospel. I no longer consider that abortion, although not ideal, is equivalent to murder. My personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I would not campaign to impose my views upon a majority who think otherwise.
On a scale of 1-9, where 1 is extreme liberal and 9 is extreme fundamentalist I am probably on about 3. But sitting on the fence is rather uncomfortable and I would like to propose a third way.
A Third Way
When I started to write this blog I wondered whether I should turn to the left, or to the right in my blog articles. But as I wrote the numbered “Ethos” points below, I saw another way open up. In the picture above there are only two alternatives, but imagine a third alternative.
Is it possible to have a strong faith and still be tolerant of other religions and beliefs? Can I stand up for the rights of the oppressed without compromising my own personal beliefs? Can I accept people exactly as they are and still remain true to what God has revealed? The answer to these questions is “YES”, because Jesus Christ did exactly that. As I seek to follow Jesus, I want to live my life as he lived his.
My Personal Ethos
I reject the labels, “Left-wing”, “Right-wing”, “Liberal” and “Fundamentalist”. As I seek to follow Jesus, I will, with his help, try to live by these principles:
- I will maintain a strong faith and personal beliefs.
- I will not be fearful of people holding different views.
- I will be inclusive of all other groups.
- I will not consider myself superior to any other human being.
- I will recognise that the Bible is God’s Word to mankind, but not treat it as a rule book. Believing that God is still speaking to us, I will seek to listen to His voice.
- I will not impose my personal standards and values on others.
- I will seek to love others in practical ways as I have been loved by God.
- I will speak up for the poor and oppressed and I will expose exploitation and injustice.
- I will be tolerant of the views of others.
- I will not judge the actions of others – so long as other people are not being abused by those actions.
I need your help
I would really appreciate some feedback on what I have said, whether you agree or disagree with me. I would also like some ideas for things to write about on my blog. Please leave your comments below.
- What does it mean to ‘Live Social Justice’? (livingsocialjustice.com)