Make me a Christian? Make me a whitewashed tomb...

Tonight on Channel 4 George Hargreaves introduces some people to 'Christian life'. The programme blurb suggests that those involved are "not obvious candidates for such an experiment". But it sounds to me exactly like the kind of people Jesus would be revealing himself to, exactly the kind of people he lived for and died for, exactly the kind of people who should be welcome in our church:

  • a biker who's a tattooist and a militant atheist,
  • a young man who was brought up Christian until he was 12, and now has a girlfriend who is 10 weeks' pregnant,
  • a lap-dancing manager who can't live without continually acquiring expensive designer shoes, middle-class parents who are so professionally busy that they have hardly any time to spend with their children
  • a man in his 20s who, unbeknown to his girlfriend, goes out every week drinking and womanising
  • a man who found Christianity unfulfilling and has converted to Islam
  • a lesbian who sometimes sleeps with men.
Christian Party leader George Hargreaves invites them to read the Bible and take it seriously. The problem is that Revd George leads with lifestyle rather than leading people to Jesus first. I fear that this lifestyle first approach obscures the truth and seems to lack compassion. Nice one for trying it, but this Christianity comes across as an anti-sex moralism makeover show. The approach seems to be to break people by taking out the sin - it's sad to observe what happens to the lapdancer - George removes doing that and she runs to her boyfriend as an alternative help for her self-image struggles. Kevin tries to resist drunkeness and flirting and more - self-reformation fails quickly. This smells of a law-first approach. This smells pharisaic and looks about as effective.

Could we just start with Jesus? Let his light shine and expose things that need to change, starting with 'you're not a Christian' and then getting on to life transformation, by the Holy Spirit, one step at a time.

Like the atheist Martin says - persuade me, explain why the Bible is true. Reading the Bible for three weeks has the potential to help, but with all these mentors around someone might want to do some apologetics and Bible teaching that could engage his questions and direct him to Jesus rather than imposing 'make me moral and religious'.

Charlie Brooker from The Guardian notes: "the broadcast will doubtless be accompanied by the percussive sound of thousands of Christians enthusiastically smashing their foreheads against the wall with delight at the way they're represented."

More at - Make me a Christian. Also on C4 at the moment Tom Price highlights The Genius of Dawkins. Articles & mp3s arguing for the truth and reality of Christianity can be found at