On January 9 Rupert Murdoch tweeted this: “Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible”
To this author JK Rowling responded: “I was born Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I’ll auto-excommunicate.”
Whatever you think of Rupert Murdoch, and whatever you think of JK Rowling, this does make an interesting exchange. My concern, however, is not with Murdoch’s view of Muslims, nor Rowling’s. I am far more interested in her statement about Christianity.
Now, I am not an expert on Rupert Murdoch and I will not comment on his faith, but I will take JK Rowling at her word and assume that she is indeed a Christian. And that makes her tweet problematic.
First, Christians are not born, they are made. Most Christians hold to the doctrine of Original Sin which confesses that human beings are conceived in a state of unrighteousness. You must enter the Christian Church through the sacrament of Baptism where you are reborn as righteous in the sight of God. You are made a Christian.
Even the Christian denominations that do not hold to Original Sin still generally believe that one must confess faith in Jesus Christ before becoming a Christian. So Rowling’s statement simply does not make any sense.
Perhaps she was referring to her natural birth placing her as a citizen of the United Kingdom, which automatically makes her a member of the Church of England. This is also wrong. The Anglican Church, although it “services” anyone within the boarders of its jurisdiction, only counts as members those who are baptized. So JK Rowling was not born a Christian.
Second, Christians are responsible for one another. This hearkens all the way back to Cain being called out by God for murdering his brother able. Cain’s infamous response to God asking where his brother was has become idiomatic: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The implied response is, “YES!”
The Apostles’ Creed calls it “the communion of saints”. One needs only to think of the numerous times Jesus refers his disciples as “brothers”. Their brother is not a fellow human, although that may be true in a certain sense, but is a brother in Christ, a brother by faith in Jesus.
No Christian is an island. We are all connected to Jesus Christ and that means we are all connected to one another through Him. To call yourself a Christian is to necessitate that you are indeed responsible for other Christians. So if Murdoch is a Christian then Rowling is responsible for him, a fact that she implicitly acknowledges by responding to his tweets in the first place.
This certainly does not mean that one Christian should be punished for the crimes of another. I do not think Murdoch was suggesting such a thing about Muslims wither. I think, however, that if a man blew up a building in the name of Jesus it would be necessary for all Christians to condemn the action. In fact, I believe Christians would be tripping over themselves to speak out against violence.
Rowling later tweeted that by Rupert’s logic she is responsible for the Spanish Inquisition and “all Christian fundamentalist violence.”
This puzzles me a bit because I am at a loss for what type of fundamentalist violence she might be referring to. I cannot remember the last time I saw a headline about Christian fundamentalists massacring innocents. I am certain that Christians do commit atrocities from time to time, but the scale of Muslim violence has taken things to a new level.
The Inquisition is an interesting case. Am I, as a Christian, responsible for acts of violence that happened hundreds of years ago? Again, if you are asking if I deserve to be punished for the actions of the king and queen of Spain, then no.
I would, however, be remiss if I did not condemn their actions. Not only that, but I should live in such a way as to show that all human life is precious. Pastors should teach their congregations that non-Christians should not, indeed cannot, be converted at the point of a sword. To remain quiet on such matters is to condone the violent behavior.
This is where Muslims seem to be lagging behind. If Islam is really a religion of peace, then peaceful Muslims need to prove it, not just by living peacefully, but by openly and vigorously condemning violence.
Christians are responsible for the care of those around them. One follower of Christ cannot see another in need and ignore them. To do so would be to deny the Christian faith. This includes those who are in need of correction in their doctrine. If I encounter a Christian who seems to be confused and is making a false confession of their faith, then I have a responsibility to correct them, or at least point them to someone who can.
I was not born a Christian, but I am responsible for and to those who also have been baptized into Christ Jesus. That makes, in some small way, JK Rowling’s tweet my responsibility.