Dangerous Waters

In the classic Greek poem, The Odyssey, after which this magazine is named, the hero, Odysseus, is faced with many dangers on an epic sea voyage. At one point he has to navigate his ship between two formidable hazards—Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla was a grotesque sea monster, with six long necks and six heads, each of which had three rows of sharp teeth. Charybdis was a great whirlpool that could suck a ship down into the depths. Both Scylla and Charybdis were a danger to shipping, and you had to keep your wits about you.

As editor of this modern Odyssey, I can identify with Odysseus. Evangelical Christians like to refer to their Christianity as a journey. That journey today is taking us through some dangerous waters, which confront us with difficult choices, unprecedented problems and awkward situations.

I am often asked what this magazine’s “position” is on controversial topics like abortion, the conflict between science and religion, homosexuality, separation of church and state, the role of religion in schools or immigration reform. These, along with many other issues, pose challenges to the Christian way of life. They are complex issues, and they cannot be ignored if Christianity is to remain effective and relevant to the 21st century. So some readers urge us to “come out and declare where we stand.”

The problem is that it has become almost impossible to discuss these topics, or even raise them, without walking into a buzz saw of contention. Passionate exponents on all sides have made accepting their point of view the acid test of faith. Their agenda has become, for them, the work of God. To disagree, or even to agree, is risky—they won’t let you go. Engage in the debate and you soon find yourself in the clutches of a hydra-headed monster. When fanatics attach Jesus to their own agenda, it can lead to some very unchristian behavior.

Others proudly display a bumper sticker that reads something like, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it!” Maybe they think this offers a refuge from having to honestly face real issues and questions. But it is just another path into a Charybdis, and the gospel of grace and forgiveness is sucked down into a vortex of self-righteous legalism.

Christian Odyssey tries to avoid both these extremes. Jesus’ message was the best possible news, showing the way to forgiveness and salvation. But he warned that others would take that message, stir it into the mix of their own agendas, distort it and use it for their own ends.

We firmly believe the Bible is our reliable guide to salvation. We want our readers to understand it for all it is worth, and to be able to find inspiration and instruction within its pages. We are not afraid of the controversial issue, and of course we have opinions. We inform and offer information to consider, but we recognize that these are peripheral to the main message of the gospel. Our goal is to serve you as we “grow together in life and faith,” not to add to the clamor of raised fists and shrill voices. 

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