The standard and utterly uncontroversial response to that question, by many Christians, is “of course”.
Try this one, it’s a little bit more difficult. “Do you agree that it is better to be a dead hero than to live impassively?” The concept of heroism is reckoned to be quite laudable. Medals
are awarded for it. Perhaps we think of Colonel H Jones, killed in action at the Battle of Goose Green, commanding his men as the British Army fought to retake the Falkland Islands, and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. But we probably feel uneasy about seeking out hero status and I don’t suppose Colonel Jones sought it either. We’d certainly be reluctant to be a dead hero, like him. But what about the alternative in the question? Would you rather live impassively? Not react to events? Perhaps not to react to injustices? Just let others get on with life while we do little? Put “impassive” into Wikipedia and it redirects you to “apathy”. My Concise Oxford Dictionary has “incapable of feeling or emotion, incapable of suffering injury”. The dead hero sounds more constructive and might achieve some good for somebody.
By now, you are wondering what I am driving at. The BBC News website reported yesterday that these were among questions asked of primary school children at a North East London school as part of a social-cohesion survey. One parent, Haras Ahmed, was concerned and when he asked about it he found that these questions were part of a de-radicalisation process. Furthermore, the survey identified seven schoolchildren as at risk of radicalisation.
This is a good example of the risks of looking for “radicals”. It is a good example of ideas which are as likely to be held by peace-loving Christians, peace-loving Moslems and constructive citizens of any faith and none, as by embryonic fanatical Islamist terrorists. It also betrays a secular mindset on the part of those designing the survey, who would appear not to have much understanding of commonly and reasonably held religious beliefs. And they are very loaded questions. Now of course there will have been other questions in the survey, and there may have been other indicators in the case of the seven schoolchildren. No doubt there are people who are prone to radicalisation, but it is important to recognise that “radical” is not the same as “violent”, or “misguided”. If we fail in that, we will sweep up all sorts of quite acceptable people (which might just leave the impassives who will suddenly need to discover where they left their mojo, if they can be bothered).
Here is an example of the radical peacefulness of the Gospel. The evangelist John explained why he wrote his Gospel: “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing you may have life in his name”. (Chapter 20, verse 31.)