Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Politically Incorrect Jesus, by Joe Battaglia

Joe Battaglia, a veteran of media and culture, has a few things to say about culture and the culture wars.  As he writes in The Politically Incorrect Jesus: Living Boldly in a Culture of Unbelief, he doesn't have a lot of patience with political correctness, which he defines as "the 'chic' moral ideology of the day advocated and fleshed out in the public square by self-appointed gatekeepers of public opinion to the point where that definition becomes 'fashionable.'"  In 24 short chapters, Battaglia challenges Christians to be salt and light (and fertilizer) in a culture that demands conformity, a version of tolerance, and a rejection of biblical Christian standards.

Lest you lump Battaglia in with "culture warriors" as maligned and caricatured in the media, he makes it clear that he does not "believe the government could actually become the savior of the American society."  He never wants to "raise the flag higher than the cross."  Culture warriors need to "leave Jesus out of it," so that their political agenda doesn't distract from Jesus' mission.

Nevertheless, cultural and theologically conservative Christians will find common ground with Battaglia.  He bemoans the coarseness of the media, which celebrates voyeurism and has removed a sense of shame.  He questions "tolerance" that refuses to acknowledge the obvious.  For example, after 9-11, law enforcement been criticized for paying more attention to the American Islamic community.  But he asks, based on what we know about who has committed acts of terrorism, "Where else are you going to look first?"

Huge problems arise when PC culture would "have everyone believe that moral absolutes do not exist . . . which is absurd. . . . Not only does it promulgate intellectual dishonesty, it asks us to disregard the internal moral compass built into each of us by the Creator."  In spite of our efforts, "we cannot answer the great questions of life by looking inside ourselves.  We cannot find within us that which can only be found outside of us."  The result is violence, societal unrest, broken families, social isolation, and on and on.

Battaglia wants Christians to be known for what they stand for, not what they stand against.  He offers plenty of food for though in The Politically Incorrect Jesus.  Although not heavy on prescriptive norms, he instead leaves the reader with a framework for thinking about engaging culture.  "Living boldly" as a believer begins with recognizing the ways in which culture today tends unnecessarily to silence voices of faith.  As Christ-followers, "Jesus expects [Christians] to actually believe everything He said and be His representative here on earth."  Yes, that is often a non-PC way to live.  But Jesus set the standard for bucking the PC culture of his day.  In following him, Christians should do the same.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

No comments:

Post a Comment