Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsGhettos

Cal Thomas on 'Christ' Film

August 23, 1988

Hats off to Cal Thomas for his insightful column ("Cursing Darkness Sells Devil's Product," Aug. 12) over the controversy surrounding "The Last Temptation of Christ." Thomas is clearly right about the "ghetto mentality" that has formed in some Christian circles in the 20th Century. There is also a real danger that this "us/them" attitude may get worse in the near future. But it needs to be understood in context.

Something very similar occurred in the early centuries after the formation of the church while the Roman Empire was crumbling. In order to preserve Christian culture in the midst of barbarian invasions, the monastic movement gained force and finally came to full bloom in medieval Europe. Monasticism, however, was nearly unthinkable at the time of the New Testament. Such steps as monasticism of "Christian ghettos" arise when real threats are perceived to the existence of a culture or faith struggling to survive in a hostile environment. Today we know that the Bible itself survived through the dedication of valiant monks who painstakingly preserved the Scriptures in the midst of cultures that were hostile and threatening to books, scholarship, and learning. It may well be that God will also use "Christian ghettos" as the "salt of the earth," as a preservative for the Christian faith and witness.

Having said this, however, it is still necessary to note that such ghettos have the dark side described by Thomas. Ultimately monasteries became the strongholds of corruption and privilege, damaging if not destroying their Christian witness. The same could easily happen with today's "Christian ghettos" if they become forts behind which we hide from the world, instead of oases to strengthen and encourage us as we go forth in the world. There is a struggle going on now in the Christian community between those who would make Christianity a special interest group (complete with "Christian Pride" movements) and those who would simply use Christian groups, not as forts, or even homes, but as oases on the journey.

WILLIAM M. REICHERT

Rolling Hills Estates

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|