Towards the Religious North

My friend Tim Chesterton has lived further north than anyone else I know – at Holman on Victoria Island off the north coast of Canada. At 70°43′ N that is further north, and much colder, even than the home of a Norwegian friend, Tromsø, at 69°40′ N. Even Tim’s current home of Edmonton is more than cold enough with its -29°C January temperature, although at 53°30′ N it is only a little further north than my home, Chelmsford, 51°44′ N. At this time of year I would feel more at home with David Ker and a real life friend of mine in South Africa. I don’t know exactly where he is, but she is on holiday in Cape Town, 33°55′ S, +28°C and sunny. Lovely!

Before I get carried away with degrees, let me get on to the real subject of this post …

Considering where he lives, it is not surprising that the “entirely arbitrary” name Tim has chosen to describe an attitude which he shares is “Religious North”:

Under the heading of ‘Religious North’, I’m going to put anyone who puts loyalty to Christ and his Church ahead of all other loyalties, and is willing to demonstrate that by the language they use and the love they demonstrate toward their fellow-Christians with whom they disagree on other issues.

He contrasts this with the “Religious South”:

Under the heading of ‘Religious South’, I’m going to put anyone who puts loyalty to a country, an ideology, or a cause ahead of loyalty to Christ and to fellow-Christians. The evidence for this will be that they reserve their choicest abusive language for fellow-Christians with whom they disagree, and spend more time promoting their favourite ideology than the gospel of Christ and his kingdom.

I’m afraid that I have come across far too many religious southerners in the blogosphere – as well as some in real life, although any who find their way to my church soon walk out in disgust. The southerners I have come across tend also to be conservative, even fundamentalist. But as Tim points out there are also quite a few among so-called “liberals”, people who loudly proclaim their tolerance but are unable to tolerate criticism of their own position.

Tim concludes:

So – no more Religious Left or Religious Right, thank you very much! I repudiate both those labels; they have never been true for me, and they never will be. I’m now a card-carrying member (and if there are, in fact, membership cards, I’ll be the first card-carrying member!) of the Religious North! Anyone care to join me?

Indeed! I have already signed up, along with a few others in Tim’s comment thread. Anyone else care to join? But I did so on condition that it doesn’t commit me to the frozen geographical north!

However, we need to make sure that we don’t spend more time promoting the Religious North ideology than the gospel of Christ and his kingdom. Rather, we must demonstrate our love even towards religious southerners.

0 thoughts on “Towards the Religious North

  1. David, if I thought Tim was trying to be divisive I would not join him. See my last paragraph. But when Jesus said “Love one another”, was he being divisive by excluding those who refused to obey his command? Perhaps, but then see Matthew 10:34: some divisions are necessary for the sake of the gospel.

    Thanks for the map. I wish I was with you in the geographical south.

  2. Thanks for the link, Peter. Actually I could have claimed C.S. Lewis (a really great unifier) as inspiration for my arbitrary choice of North – ‘Narnia and the North’ and all that!

    David, my tongue was slightly in my cheek throughout the post. I’m sorry if that didn’t come through.

  3. Thanks, Tim. And there I was thinking your inspiration was your previous posts about your Arctic ministry. Sorry if I didn’t bring out the tongue-in-cheekness in my post.

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