A handful of years ago I was invited to fly to Hollywood to be part of panel to critique the premiere of the film, “Lord Save Us From Your Followers.” Other panelists included Michael Levine, founder and president of Levine Communications, William Lobdell, former Los Angeles Times religion reporter and author of “Losing My Religion,” and the film’s producer, Emmy-award-winner Dan Merchant. I was the odd-man-out on the panel: a token conservative from Oklahoma to sit in juxtaposition to the smarter and more enlightened secularists of Tinseltown.
The nature of Merchant’s movie was simple. It was a “man-on-the-street” expose’ portraying orthodox Christianity as ill-informed and intolerant; an unsophisticated belief system that is a threat to pluralism and civil discourse: a public opprobrium, if you will, comprised of followers who should be saying nothing in the public square other than, they are sorry for the judgmental spirit they impose on a libertine culture and free society.
After the several hundred guests who were invited to this premier and I viewed the movie, the panelists took the stage. The moderator immediately turned and asked me the first question: “Dr. Piper, what did you think of the movie?” My response caught him and the rest of the panel off guard a bit. While, I said I had to admit I was saddened by the thoughtless, angry people featured in the movie, I also found myself strangely amused by the obvious: The indignation that this documentary sought to kindle had no meaning if there was no objective measuring rod of righteousness to contextualize the offense. In other words, while Merchant mocked Christian moralists he had to rely on the objective standard of Christian morality to do so.
Think about it. Because Christianity is grounded in an immutable standard of rightness and wrongness—an absolute moral compass, if you will—it has the unique ability to be self-critical and self-correcting and to ”repent,” ”reform,” ”revive,” and “return” to the right standard that Merchant, and others, are bemoaning has been compromised. Another way to say it is, that without orthodoxy (right ideas) there is no way to criticize others for lacking orthopraxy (right behavior).
Without a Savior bigger than ourselves, all righteous indignation is meaningless and all that is left for society are the pedantic power plays of politicians, preachers, and pedagogues.
Thus, with a bit of a backhanded compliment, those who criticize Christians for “sins” such as intolerance (and other contrived, inflated and worn out and ill-informed claims such as sexism, racism, the Crusades and whatnot) affirm the very thing they apparently seek to refute. Christianity is real. It is permanent and it is true. Christianity stands alone as a worldview capable of selfless repentance, self-effacing reformation, and self-correcting revival. Without the self-evident truth found in the Logos, i.e. without Christianity, we have nothing left but subjective opinions to serve as a basis for being offended by Christians (or anyone else for that matter).
Without a Savior bigger than ourselves, all righteous indignation is meaningless and all that is left for society are the pedantic power plays of politicians, preachers, and pedagogues. Maybe we all should just be saying and praying, “Lord save us!” and just stop worrying about His followers.