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polycarp1Do we tell the age what it wants to hear, what is pleasant and easy?  What does it want to hear from Christians? Well, since ‘the age’ is an abstract entity, we shan’t know, but if we examine the substance of some of the things which some Christians say to it, and what it says to us, we can, I think, compile a useful list: but feel free to add to it if you like.

The Age requires:

  • that we go along with its fixed beliefs
  • which includes allowing women to be ministers in the same of equality
  • reinterpreting any Bible passages which say active homosexuality is sinful
  • ignoring passages which say fornication and adultery are sinful
  • avoiding passing moral judgements on others in the name of ;who am I to judge?
  • reinterpreting any Bible passages which require a belief in miracles
  • or indeed anything ‘supernatural’
  • and preferably an interpretation of Jesus which allows Islam and others to ‘feel good’ about Him.
  • to avoid giving the impression that when you die you are likely to go to hell is you are not a Christian, or a bad Christian.
  • preferably to avoid talking about hell at all.
  • to keep our faith to ourselves and regard it as a private matter
  • to accept the faith that secularism is the best way forward for our society
  • and to abandon any claims for the uniqueness of the message of Christ.

The offer, implicitly held out, is that if we were to do all of these things, then we might be fortunate enough to find ourselves left alone to get on with our odd services, until, that is, we all die out under the impact of better education and the enlightenment of secularism.  The exception to this seems to be Islam, because the secularists are frightened of the reaction: they don’t want to be accused of the greatest of all crimes in the modern world, racism; and, if the secularists told the truth, they are probably also a bit frightened of the violent reaction with which Islamists have shown they will respond to insults and perceived threats.

What does Christ require of us?

  • that we repent and confess Him Lord
  • that we walk in His way
  • that we love the sinner and hate the sin
  • that we do our best to bring the world to Him
  • that we render unto Him the things that are His, and to Caesar the things that are his
  • that we each bear our Cross as we follow Him
  • and that we are prepared to suffer the hostility of a world which does not like being told it is sinful, and of sinners who scorn the name
  • that, if necessary, we die rather than renounce Him

Old Polycarp is said to have responded, when told that he could live if he renounced Christ:  “Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt”; well, I can claim no such length of service, but when asked to abide by what the age requires, I say what the old man said – and I stand with him.