“There is only one Jesus, and there is only one history. The question is whether the faith that finds its focus in Jesus is the faith with which we seek to understand the whole of history, or whether we limit this faith to a private world of religion and hand over the public history of the world to the other principles of explanation.”
Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks (1986)
I have been captivated by this quote in part due to when it was originally published. When I came across it recently I felt that it was written for this time and place only to see that this question was posed to Church prior to 2000 which told me we have a long way to go before this question is answered in full. This is the question that we must continue to ask today, moving forward to 2020 and beyond.
This question has been answered in so many different ways. Some would say that faith highlighted in the above quote has been oppressed and people have worked hard to remove it completely from the public square. Others will argue that faith in Jesus is still the dominant voice in the public square, but now finally other voices have the ability to be heard as well.
Sometimes Christians have handled the question well, with grace, gentleness and love. Other times Christians have bullied their way to the top of the heap and one could not tell them apart from the others. Sadly, there have been times when everything has been fought for without the presence of love and the voice of faith has sounded like a resounding gong.
How we handle expressing our faith in the public square does matter. We cannot expect people to consider faith if all they know is that we belittle their conclusions and ideas about the total story of humankind. This does not mean that we jettison or core beliefs, and yes there will be times when such beliefs will offend, but we can do our part to express them with kindness and compassion rather than flinging fiery arrows meant to harm the already wounded soul who disagrees with us.
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:14-15