Living the Christian life in a hostile world

Hanging in There - John Dickson

Having written some books on why one should be a Christian and who Jesus really is I guess Dickson saw the need to actually write a book not simply on living as a Christian, but surviving what may be quite a tough walk. I have recently read some reports on a website called cultwatch about certain speakers who live a wealthy lifestyle by writing a endless numbers of books and charging exorbitant fees on a speaking circuit and I sort of wonder if Dickson falls into this category. Personally, while of late I have not been impressed with some of his debates (namely those against Atheism) I would hardly say that he would be one of those speakers. The reason I say that is because these particular speakers tend to promote the (incorrect) prosperity doctrine, being that if you love God and give your money to his church then he will bless you with worldly wealth. Out of all of the books that I have read of Dickson I have never seen him mention this doctrine, and further, I have never seen him act in an ostensibly wealthy manor. However I do issue a challenge to John Dickson and ask him to openly declare is income and the value of his assets.



Look, I am not having a go at John Dickson per se, but having been a member of the Anglican Church in Australia for such a long time it is very hard not to come across John Dickson, and I have numerous times heard him being promoted as a great evangelist and one that you must go and hear because of his gift at speaking and being able to open up the Bible. To be honest with you I have heard him speak a number of times, and have read a number of his books, and he is not that bad. At least his books are not written like the Rick Warren book A Purpose Driven Life wherein he tries to 'covenant' (which is a Christian word which pretty much means to commit, but has much stronger overtones because it invokes a divine connection) with him and his church, but prevents you from actually criticising any of the actions of him or his church (because the Bible says that it is not your job to criticise another of Jesus' followers, despite the fact that Paul and Jesus would do that quite often).



Look, I have probably drifted off tangent, but as mentioned it is about how the Christian life is tough, and I must admit that it is, but not as much here as it is in post-invasion Iraq. Here in the Western World we are mocked and ridiculed by a small minority for our apparent out-dated and medieval beliefs, but at least we are not threatened and killed or our churches fire bombed. However, that does not mean that living a Christian life in suburban Australia is easy, and one of the reasons that I would suggest is not so much to do with that small minority who laugh at people who profess a faith, but rather from over-zealous members of the church that seek to emotionally blackmail you through the doctrine of sin and hell.



The truth is that when you are being attacked from the outside by hostile forces then that tends to create a much stronger community that relies upon God for protection, however take away that hostility and what you end up with is complacency. I have seen churches that actually go out of their way to create a perceived hostility in our society where none exists. Okay, it may be true that you may suffer some form of persecution, but to be honest Christians are not the only ones who are passed over for jobs, nor are they they only ones that will make an ethical stand against their employer. I have seen and known people who have been persecuted outside of the church, and the church does nothing to actually support them (other than the pathetic 'I will pray for you', which I suspect never actually happens).


I feel that the greatest danger the Western church faces today is not liberalism or persecution, but rather the sin of the Pharisees: self-righteousness. With established churches in the Western World we have literally a pyramidal structure where members try to climb up that structure, not for money (because there isn't any) but for status and power and to be seen and admired by those below them. One of the biggest freedoms that we have (thankyou Martin Luther) is that here in the Western World we are not tied to a single church: we have the freedom to walk out of the door, down the road, and into the next church, and if we don't like that one, we can do it again. Beware, however, because the churches themselves do not like that, and will argue about liberalism in an attempt to prevent you from escaping their grasp.