March 29, 2008

Wisdom from a fictional source

Anne Perry,
Buckingham Palace Gardens
“It is the last great mystery left in the world—the one place too big for us to crush and occupy with our smallness. Trying to impress our image on its people and convince them it is the likeness of God.”

My wife has been devouring her new Anne Perry book (Buckingham Palace Gardens). This morning she read some quotes from the book that struck her as addressing some of the recent conversations we have had. My wife and I believe that we Christians hurt the name of Christ when we present what I call "gospel-plus." It's a presentation of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ; that Christ came to earth, took on human flesh, died on the cross and rose from the grave three days later in order to pay the penalty that we could not pay for our sins and to secure a place in heaven for all the believing ones.

Anne Perry,
Buckingham Palace Gardens
“Play your string quartets, by all means, Mr. Narraway, but don’t silence the drums simply because you don’t understand them."

The plus is all the added requirements that we think make us more acceptable to God. These are such things as demanding total abstinence from aclohol when the scriptures demand moderation, demanding the use of a particular Bible version when there is nothing indicating that this should be done in scripture, demanding a particular standard of dress when these things are not presented in scripture, and demanding that Christians listen to a particular style of music when this is not addressed in scripture. Apparently, Christians think that God did a pretty good job overall, but had they been god—they would have done better. So they present the world with their list of addenda to the 10 Commandments—typically numbering in the hundreds of new commandments to follow to gain God's approval.

The greatest problem I see when we do this is that we misrepresent Christ to the world. This gives rise to a skewed view of who and what Christ is and stands for. The vision of Christ we present to the world is that of stereotypical Fundamentalist Bible-Thumpers. This turns people off so quickly that it inhibits our attempts at evangelism. The old saying is "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." We Christians seem to love to walk up to people, throw a bucket full of vinegar in their face and then say, "God loves you," and walk away.

Here's that stereotype as presented by one of the characters in Anne Perry's new book:

“I don’t want to see the last true passion tamed by railways and men with Bibles telling everyone to cover their bodies.”
—Anne Perry, Buckingham Palace Gardens, p. 196


  1. Anne's books deal the Victorian era and the hypocrisy between what they did in private and what they wanted others to believe of them.

  2. Wow - It sure is a good thing that those things were ended along with the end of the Victorian period.

    Oops, I guess they weren't. Well, maybe we can try to end them now. Who's in favor?

  3. Now this sounds lilke an interesting book! It is very easy to become caught up in those "extra" things you mention in your post, Richard. That is one reason why I continue to visit and read here. You have a knack for boiling things down to important essentials. I really appreciate that. Peggy


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