A timely idea

As 2011 unfolds, with a full gamut of Biblefresh activities both locally and nationally and more exposure for the Bible in the national media than ever before, it seems that the time is ripe for all this. I used to regularly visit a local teacher training college for their “Religion in modern Britain” course. On arrival I would be “lined up” in front of the class along with representatives of other key faiths, and we would all be asked the same questions. When asked about the greatest challenges facing my particular faith, I would answer that Christianity in modern Britain faced  two equal and opposite dangers:

Arrogance (born of a kind of we-were-here-first mentality)

Timidity (born of a classic British reticence to push our point of view)

These two things are our Scylla and Charybidis. According to Greek legend, the two hazards plagued travellers through the Straight of Messina. Scylla, on the one hand, was a rock shoal (often depicted as a six-headed monster) and Charybidis was a whirlpool. Any unwary traveller seeking to avoid the one was likely to founder on the other.  Too often as Christians we lurch between arrogance on the one hand and timidity on the other.

Talking about the Bible, which has an indisputable place in the political and linguistic heritage of  the nation, may just be the best way to chart our course. Since the KJV is there for all to see, whether of Christian faith, another faith or no faith – it gives us a common ground to discuss. With no strings attached we can talk about its language, ideas and the influences it has exerted on our heritage.  Maybe this is why I have encountered such positive responses to local Biblefresh initiatives from local businesses, schools and press. It is familiar enough that no-one feels threatened by it, but unfamiliar enough to provide us with something to discuss.

That said, we have to be careful how we discuss it, since simply saying “the Bible says so” won’t do.  President Bartlett demonstrates this below with great panache in Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing: