Okonkwo is the main character in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The first chapter deals with the dichotomy between Okonkwo and his father. Because his father lived a life of sloth and weakness, Okonkwo was determined not to. “And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion—to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved.”
I have not read but a page beyond this, but here is a tragic flaw if ever I have seen one. I don’t know if this book is a tragedy in the vein of Hamlet, but Achebe has certainly given a thesis statement that I believe will be central to the book. I don’t know if redemption or failure awaits Okonkwo. I do know that if he throws the baby out with the bath water, this will end tragically.
The church has taken this path numerous times: that belief, movement, ideology is wrong, so let’s make sure we don’t look anything like it in any way. For fear of being labeled, we run as fast and as far as we can in the opposite direction.
I realize exceptions to all examples may be found, but let me offer one. For fear of being labeled liberal, evangelicals have wanted nothing to do with environmental causes for years. Thankfully, that is turning around, but I wonder if it has more to do with them running from something else than embracing the God given mandate to care for the earth. I hope the latter is the case. Evangelicals should not be afraid of being labeled a tree-hugger if they are doing what they should be doing. And just because someone does desire to protect the environment does not mean they worship mother earth or that they care more about trees or the spot-footed lizard than they do people.
To be a Christian means to look at situations through a Christological lens. When we do that, each part of a situation must be examined. It may be that all of a movement or belief system or ideology is thrown out, but it also might mean that parts of it are embraced, regardless of the label that may come. Being Christ-followers requires us to use our brains. Let’s check the tub before we dump it.