Is it time to use new language — outside the Christian vocabulary — to explain Christianity?
Dutch Catholics have re-branded the Lent fast as the “Christian Ramadan” in an attempt to appeal to young people who are more likely to know about Islam than Christianity.
The Catholic charity Vastenaktie, which collects for the Third World across the Netherlands during the Lent period, is concerned that the Christian festival has become less important for the Dutch over the last generation.
“The image of the Catholic Lent must be polished. The fact that we use a Muslim term is related to the fact that Ramadan is a better-known concept among young people than Lent,” said Vastenaktie Director, Martin Van der Kuil.
I’m sure this won’t go over well in much of the American Bible Belt, but I for one have no problem with this. Lent itself is not a word that goes back to Jesus Christ. It is, after all, a middle English word. So we shouldn’t get too uppity to think of “branding” Lent in ways that will reach people who are not familiar with the Christian story.
We Christians have to get on with things, and that especially means realizing that we no longer live in a Christian world. We are once again a missionary church. The sooner we start behaving that way, the sooner we’ll have a chance of survival for another 2,000 years. So if “Christian Ramadan” helps someone understand what we’re doing during Lent, I’m happy to use the phrase.