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We've received a number of emails and letters recently from people who are concerned that Christianity Today may have committed blasphemy. But the real question is whether Christians can ever avoid the charge of blasphemy: "the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary; first definition).

In his The Heretical Imperative, sociologist Peter Berger noted that the word heresy is based on the Greek root meaning "to choose for one's self." To commit heresy is to choose one's belief, rather than submitting to the teaching of the tradition one is born into. Today few are born into an unquestioned tradition. In a pluralistic world, each of us must choose our beliefs. Even those who choose traditional, orthodox faith are still choosing, and thus are practicing "heresy." Today, argues Berger, we have no choice but to choose our beliefs, that is, to commit "heresy."

Given the nature of Christian claims about who God is and what he has done in Christ, I wonder whether we also have something like a "Blaspheming Imperative." Or more precisely: Can we ever escape scandalizing people from time to time?

* * *

First, let's note the concerns of readers regarding our September cover story on "hipster Christianity." On the cover, we showed Jesus in one of those classic "Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock" paintings, and then put Wayfarer sunglasses on him. This image offended a few readers. Three examples:

The Christian school where I work subscribes to Christianity Today and I feel it is an important magazine to have displayed in our library. The cover of the September 2010 issue will undoubtedly offend many within this school community and for that reason it will not go on the shelf.
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SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
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