Sunday, August 15, 2010

Anne Rice, "The Church" and Jesus

It's been all over the media this week that American writer Anne Rice has "...quit Christianity and being Christian...". She said “I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or being a part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.".

Jesus is the whole point of Christianity, not denominations or buildings, not financial contributions, not whether your family have been part of a particular congregation for many years. In fact, it's not even about what are sometimes called His "teachings" as if He were just a wise man. Jesus is not simply an example who shows us how to live a moral life - in fact, the reason the He came, died, and rose again was because people could never live truly holy lives. He demands far more than to be a template. He is Creator (John ch 1), He is the expression of the love of God (Romans 5v8), He is Redeemer (1 Corinthians 15v3), He is Advocate (Romans 8 v 34), He is returning King (John 14). He is not one of a number of options, He is absolutely unique (Acts 4v12).

The consistent message of the 66 separate books which form the Bible is to call people, not to believe in God, but to trust in Christ - in who He is, in what He did, in what He is presently doing and in what He will do upon His return. This old hymn, the music for which was arranged by Co Tyrone-born William James Kirkpatrick, puts it in a nutshell:

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

So maybe Anne Rice is heading in a better direction. I know plenty of people in Northern Ireland who, when the chips were down, discovered to their horror that their energies and faith had been in a denomination rather than in the Person and finished work of Jesus. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith".Hebrews 12 v 2