Saturday, January 9, 2010

Brit Hume, Tiger Woods, and the hope of the Christian faith

Brit Hume, one of the newscasters for the Fox News network, commented on his sense about how Tiger Woods should seek a "spiritual recovery" in the wake of the recent events and scandals. Mr. Hume's comments have been making their way around the internet tubes, mostly through YouTube video clips:

I'm pleasantly surprised to see someone so openly appeal to Christianity as a source of hope and transformation, over and against other religions (Buddhism is specifically named). Even on the overtly-conservative Fox News Network, this is an uncommon find, and I applaud Mr. Hume for his bravery and his candor.

I'm not, in any way, attacking Mr. Hume nor am I claiming that his beliefs are in any way questionable or unorthodox. I understand that Mr. Hume has come under a lot of fire for his comments, which is both lamentable and unsurprising (as he himself has said). And I'll say this, outright: Mr. Hume has offered further clarification on this topic (check my friend James Grant's blog post for more on this), and on his comments, that to a certain degree mitigate my concerns (which are something of an aside from the topic at hand).

Furthermore, I agree with Mr. Hume completely in this way: the hope of the Gospel is the only hope that Tiger Woods, Brit Hume, Ed Eubanks, or anyone else may look to for true, lasting, and eternal hope.

That said, there are two concerns I have with the way Mr. Hume presented Christianity in the video clip above, and I feel they deserve to be addressed (especially given their common acceptance in our world, even among Christians). I'll take one of them up in this post, and follow up with the second in a later post.

First, Mr. Hume said that Tiger Woods should "turn to the Christian faith" to find the redemption and forgiveness that he needs (and, one might assume, that he seeks). We must be very careful to understand what we appeal to when we urge someone to "turn to Christianity".

Christianity is a religion, a religious belief system. Included within that system is the idea of salvation through faith alone-- something that no other religion promotes or claims. Contrary to common assumption, Christianity is NOT just like all the other religions-- it is unique in that point, among others.

But here's the rub: even Christianity cannot save you. We cannot turn to ANY religion-- even Christianity-- for salvation. There is no forgiveness to be gained through religious observance, nor any redemption to be found in a religion itself.

It is only Christ Who saves. For Tiger Woods, Ed Eubanks, or anyone else to find the forgiveness and redemption that we desperately need, we must seek it in Christ-- and through His grace alone. We cannot find it anywhere else, even in the trappings of "Christianity."

There is a sense that I'm splitting hairs here, because the essence of Christianity itself is this very truth. But when our culture and world speak of Christianity, they often overlook that; indeed, when many Christians speak of Christianity, they often overlook it. And I dare say, when Mr. Hume spoke of Christianity in the above video, his representation of it overlooked it.

This is the very reason why most people assume that Christianity is just another religion. It was the mistake of the formalistic worshipers of the Old Testament, and the error of the Pharisees in the New Testament. It was the end-game of the devolution of the faith in the middle ages, which was the seed-bed for the Reformation-- reclaiming this very distinction. And it must be OUR distinction today, or we surely perish.

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