As I go around speaking to people there are some who say to me that belief in God in dangerous. “Look at all the bad things religion has done in the world”, they say, “wars and bigotry and division. If that is what God is like, I prefer to have nothing to do with him.” And I have to say that I agree entirely, if that is what God is like. There is no doubt that some religious movements have done terrible things. This is certainly true of some kinds of Islam today, and indeed at times misguided Christianity. For example, Christians hang their heads in shame when recalling the Crusades. However, I do not believe it is that simple. In the last hundred years or so it has not been belief in God but non-religious movements that have caused the most trouble. Secular movements like Imperialism (think World War One), Fascism (World War Two), Communism (Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot) and tribalism (the Rwandan genocide) have led to the murder of millions and millions of people.
Well, someone might say, that is not my type of secularism. To which I can only say, the Crusades are not my type of Christianity, my type of religion. As a Christian I follow Jesus the Christ. His way to worship God was to sacrifice for others, to love and to die for them. He denounced injustice but also told us to turn the other cheek and to forgive others. He literally died for each one of us, to give us an example but also to win the spiritual war. The way of Christ is to resist evil through self-giving and love.
Belief in God as we see God in Jesus is not dangerous, except in one respect. If you begin to follow him with all your heart you will be completely changed. In that sense there is nothing more dangerous than believing in God, if by dangerous we mean having our lives turned upside-down. But that kind of danger is for our good and for the good of everyone around us. That kind of danger I can advocate whole heartedly!
John Chitham, Rector