An Advent call to act on the debate about money

Contending Modernities l

Contextual Theology Centre Director Angus Ritchie has written in the latest Church Times on the ‘striking echoes’ of the liturgies in St Paul’s Cathedral and the Occupy LSX encampment outside.  The article was timed to coincide with the Centre’s new resource pack – endorsed by both Cathedral and Camp.

The Occupy camp has appeared at a time of huge economic uncertainty and fear.  There is an increasing disquiet with the financial system – a sense that it shapes and controls us rather than being held accountable to any notion of the common good.

In the messages pinned to their fabric and in their sheer impermanence the tents speak of a people on the move.  The readings, prayers and feasts we celebrate in November remind us that Christians are also a pilgrim people; citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem… These themes of eternal hope and earthly transformation grow in intensity as we enter Advent.

Ritchie concludes by arguing that engagement with other worldviews – including other faiths – can enable a more, not less, faithful Christian witness.  (This is a key theme in the Contextual Theology Centre’s research – and in particularly its new Contending Modernities project with the University of Notre Dame.)

Engagement with those outside the church need not lead on to a watering down of the Christian message.  Such encounters can force us to attend to Biblical texts we have ignored or neutered.

This has certainly been the experience of Christians involved in Citizens UK.  This community organising alliance brings churches together with mosques and synagogues, schools and tenants’ associations to act on issues of common concern. Since 2009, Citizens UK has been developing a grassroots response to the financial crisis.  It has been salutary to work on this with Muslims and Jews; people of faith for whom scriptural admonitions against usury have very practical implications.  Far from diluting our faithfulness to Christian orthodoxy this engagement with other faiths has forced us to ask how to be faithful to the Bible today.  It has highlighted the disparity between the attention we pay to Biblical texts on sex and the rather larger number on money and possessions.

The full article is here

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