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Flirting with Christianity

October 23rd, 2006 | 13 min read

By Keith E. Buhler

Faith, it drives me away
But it turns me on
Like a strangers love

-Muse Who wouldn't want this man for a son?

With regard to a Jewish agnostic friend of ours, Matt Anderson once remarked that he is “flirting with Christianity.”

This friend of ours is a university professor, scholar, and gifted teacher who habitually spends long hours of his valuable time reading and trying to understand great Christian writers. He spends a greater amount of time, true, trying to understand the writings of Plato, but his passionate attention to Thomas Aquinas, Charles Williams, GK Chesterton, and, even, recently, the New Testament, is seemingly dissonant with his long-held distrust of and disbelief in the necessity of following the risen Jesus for living well.

In his conversations with us, he will often play the “devil’s advocate” with regard to our orthodox Christian beliefs, but he will just as convincingly and respectably play “God’s advocate” when the situation calls for it. He might solidly defend a high view of God, (his creative power, for instance, in Genesis) from our oftentimes dim, understated evangelical viewpoint, or he might repetitively force us to take Paul seriously when he says, in II Corinthians, that “knowledge will pass away.” (It is a strange occurance to be have an agnostic Jew defend Christian dogma to me, a lifelong evangelical, when it is being ignored or misunderstood.)

I think that this phrase, “flirting with Christianity,” is a clever and accurate description of our friend, and not only him, but of many people in the world, and of, perhaps, an archetypical attitude that humanity may  assume. It is an attitude of feigned indifference, of playful rejection followed immediately by playful solicitation, followed again by playful rejection. It is an attentive and examining attitude, while remaining a stand-offish one. It’s ceaseless demand is for “more time, more time.” More time to consider, more time to reflect, more time to research, all the while dabbling in the benefits to be enjoyed. With regard to people, flirtatious attitudes seek favors and company, but hope to avoid commitment and responsibility. With regard to worldviews, they seek to the interesting or insightful elements of a worldview, without the less-than-interesting implications or nasty behavioral modifications that must follow. But perhaps Christianity is less a worldview than a person, after all… regardless…
I’d like to do some exposition of the lyrics of my favorite rock band, Muse, to demonstrate that they, too, are flirting with Christianity. This exposition is entirely an eccentric interest of mine rooted in my love for the band’s music, but it should also serve as an instantiation of a more universal (and more useful) analysis of the mysterious movement of the soul towards grace, that is, the movement of the unregenerate, wayward son or daughter back to the loving and forgiving arms of the Father, whom Jesus revealed to us, and who eagerly desires that all men and women be reconciled to Him, now, and forever.

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