One of the key failures of the currently trendy Christian cultural engagement movement is that it takes the questions which the culture is asking too seriously. We often assume that it is the answers which the world gives which are its means of avoiding the truth. In actual fact, there is no reason to assume that the very questions it asks are not also part of the cover-up. ‘Answer my question about women’s rights or saving the whale’ might simply be another way of saying, ‘I don’t want you to tell me that my neglect of my wife and children is an offence to God.’
Christianity is doomed to be a sect because not only do we refuse to give the answers to life’s questions in terms the world finds comfortable; we also refuse to allow the world to set the terms of the questions. The sooner we grasp that, the better it will be for all of us. Our ministers might then spend more time on theology (perhaps even do a bit of reading ‘within the tradition’ before finding it helpful to ‘read outside the tradition’), more time being different to the leaders in the surrounding culture, and much less time worrying about how the world sees us. Trust me on this: it sees us as a cranky sect.