Being Christian without believing in God

In Judaism, it’s fairly common to hear, “I’m an atheist, but I’m culturally Jewish.”  So why can’t a person be an atheist but culturally Christian?

It turns out that some people like going to church–singing hymns, performing rituals, being part of a community, getting morally inspired–but they have trouble with the God part.  An op-ed by Alana Massey calls for churches to make a space for unbelievers who nevertheless want to be “cultural Christians.” [Read more...]

How (Not) to be Secular

I was one of the many judges of the  Christianity Today Book Awards, charged with picking the top two books on Christianity & culture.  I was glad to see that my top two were the magazine’s top two.  I thought I would post my reviews.  The winner was James K. A. Smith’s  How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor.  Read what I had to say about it after the jump. [Read more...]

Resenting Christian compassion

Ross Douthat has a rather brilliant essay in which he considers whether the church is facing a new pagan society, as in the first century.  He thinks not, but he notices that some of the hostility against Christianity is very similar to the resentment against the faith expressed by pagan Romans.  He cites a recent rant in Slate complaining that so many of the doctors battling Ebola are Christians and missionaries, and calling for a separation of religion and health care.  Douthat said  this is like Julian the Apostate’s frustration that “all men see that our people lack aid” from pagan sources, even as “the impious Galilaeans support not only their own poor but ours as well.” [Read more...]

Lutherans in exile

Carl Trueman argues that Christianity is going into a kind of cultural exile, and he tries to make the case that the church tradition best equipped to endure what awaits us is Reformed theology.  Rod Dreher counters by making the case for why his own Eastern Orthodoxy is best equipped to carry Christianity through the exile.  Roman Catholics are arguing that Roman Catholicism is.

But Mr. Dreher also called for people of other persuasions to make the case for their theological tradition.  So, naturally, we Lutherans need to step up.

What about Lutheranism makes it best equipped to preserve historic Christianity through a time of cultural exile?  After the jump, Mr. Dreher’s rules for the conversation, and my first stab at it. [Read more...]

Post-Christian vs. non-Christian

“Post-Christian” does not mean the same as “non-Christian,” observes John O’Sullivan.  A “post-Christian” society is one that seeks to maintain the cultural legacy of Christianity–such as human rights, benevolence, the institution of the family–after the religious beliefs that created and supported this legacy have been abandoned.  In their place, post-Christian societies try to substitute laws, regulations, bureaucracies, and secular ideologies, all of which fall short.

The British journalist develops these ideas in an address to the Transatlantic Christian Council in Brussels, excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more...]

Secular prayer

Most legislative bodies in this country begin with a prayer, whether by an official chaplain as in the United States Congress or by visiting clergy, who are allowed to pray according to their traditions.  But in Maryland, the House of Representatives has the politicians themselves saying the prayers, according to strict guidelines that require the prayers to be inclusive and not addressed to any particular deity.  In the word of one representative, they are “secular prayers.” [Read more...]