No-one is helped by being under-informed or covering up differences

May 23, 2019 by

by Gavin Ashenden:

I’ve had a rather exciting media week. As one of my friends said, “it’s nice to see Gavin in the Sun fully clothed and without a whiff of scandal.”

At the weekend the Sunday Times interviewed me for a comment on an unusual situation. A woman vicar was preparing to hide all the Christian symbols in her parish church to make it more comfortable for local Muslim women. I gave a comment and the story appeared throughout the press with a number of colourful radio interviews that followed.

The vicar (and the local mayor)intended to invite some members of the Muslim community to come into the parish Church to mark the end of Ramadan. The idea was to strengthen community relations.

A condition of their coming was that the room they were to use should have the crosses covered up. There was also a rather beautiful and famous pre-Raphaelite painting of Jesus by Holman Hunt. In it, Jesus is standing at the door of the human heart with a lantern, asking to be invited in. That was also to be covered up. In the meantime the local Muslim men were to offer Islamic prayers in the body of the Church.

This raised some exciting questions. For example, should the offer of hospitality be made at the price of denying one’s own beliefs or hiding their symbols?

If twitter and the internet are an indication, a large number of Christians were both outraged and deeply upset that a vicar could even contemplate hiding a painting of Jesus and covering crosses to hide them.

It was Mohammed of course who raised the stakes on this one. “Inspired by the Archangel Gabriel” he declared in the Koran that Jesus did not die on the cross; that he did not bear the sins of the whole world; and since he didn’t die on the cross, didn’t rise from the dead either.

The problem here is obvious. Either Jesus was authentic or he was bogus (according to Mohammed) and misleading people.  Jesus said he would die as a sacrifice for our sins, and that he would rise from the dead as proof he had the power to forgive sins and bring us clean to heaven.

Read here (scroll down)


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