How I nearly had lunch with the Pope
Well of course I didn’t but he was just round the corner from me. A hundred yards or so down the road from my flat, he had a lunch that started with haggis, neeps and tatties, then progressed to roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding. If I’d known that was on the table I would have been pretty keen to get an invite, although apple pie for pudding would have made for a disappointing ending.
In the same way, there are some things I agree with him on, and some very important things on which we'd disagree strongly. If that sounds like classic Christian bickering, it kind of is – because it matters more when it’s about Jesus.
What I thought was most interesting was the opportunity he took to define faith in Britain, and particularly what is known as ‘new’ atheism (Dawkins, Hitchens, et. al.). He used the phrase “aggressive forms of secularism” and variations on that theme. This seems to have helped people realise what is happening in the UK at the moment, as articles like this in The Independent testify:
In their perceived role as guardians of European secular liberalism against the growth of Muslim communities across Europe, it seems that many New Atheists are now compromising the very principles of religious tolerance fundamental this tradition. Secularism should be about allowing individuals and communities to live by their own values without official interference. However what we are now seeing is the bizarre rise of illiberal liberals.---
In other ‘what’s going on’ news, Tim Keller has written another helpful article about ‘late’ modernism and Christianity:
The root idea of modernity (even more fundamental than confidence in rationality, etc.) is the overturning of all authority outside of the self. In the 18th century, European Enlightenment thinkers insisted that the modern person must question all tradition, revelation, and external authority by subjecting them to the supreme court of his or her own reason and intuition. We are our own moral authority…
I conclude that an over-emphasis on the post-ness of our situation can lead us to celebrate the greater tolerance, the end of "Christendom," the fall of Reason-capital-R, and the openness to the spiritual, without seeing that it is based on a kind of hyper-modernity that is perhaps more antithetical to Christianity than ever.Will ‘late modern’ replace ‘post-modern’ as the most overused shorthand description of The World in evangelicalism? Time will tell.