While taking note of the trial of Anders Breivik, one of the issues that has come up is the fact that many people in Europe and America identify themselves as Christians in a cultural sense, without meaning that they are claiming a personal relationship with God.
As a friend of the blog clarified, many believe it is possible to be an atheistic Christian in the sense that their family and national roots link them to the moral and cultural aspects of Christianity regardless of whether they believe there is a God or not.
The point raises a number of questions that deserve a response:
1. Can we understand why many believe it sounds arrogant for a mortal to claim a personal relationship with God?
2. Do we see how it could sound like the ultimate form of name-dropping– i.e. like getting a sense of exaggerated or imagined self-importance because a famous actor or actress is a cousin of ours?
3. Can we see why cultural Christians question how the Bible can be read as God’s personal mail to us even though it was addressed to people living in different times and circumstances a long time ago?
4. Does talking to God without hearing an audible response from him amount to the kind of conversation that would qualify us for a personal relationship?
5. How can interacting with general information about who God is and what he is like qualify as a personal relationship?
I was going to take these one at a time, but am guessing that it might help to raise the importance of the issue by listing several questions together. Am hoping that you might think of additional questions that might be in people’s minds when they hear us talk about God as if he were a family member or friend.
If we could together come up with answers to these questions, am guessing that it would not only help us clarify the nature of our own faith, but offer something for others to consider– if they only think of themselves as cultural Christians.