I’m a day behind Masterchef. Life has been fairly busy of late and it’s been hard trying to keep up, especially when so much of the show annoyingly runs way overtime and my HDD recorder doesn’t get the full episode which then requires trawling through the Masterchef website to catch final moments of each episode. Ahem.
I’m a day behind, so it came as interesting reading tonight that I learned Kate, one of the final seven contestants in the competition (and, admittedly, one I haven’t been rooting for) had a bit of a run-in with the Dalai Lama. Apparently protocol dictates that his official title be used when addressing him, that is: His/Your Holiness. Kate, revealing for the first time that she is a Christian, refused the title on the grounds that she believes God is the only one we can call ‘Holy’ and instead opted to simply refer to him as ‘Dalai’.
Many of the comments on the various news sites which have run stories on this issue reveal how deeply misunderstood Kate’s actions were. So while I haven’t actually seen the show, nor read enough of her specific comments on her actions, let me offer up some observations.
First, in direct answer to a comment which seems to keep coming up: biblical Christians will not be offended if others do not refer to our leaders by their title. Nor would biblical Christians use the titles often given to the Pope – such as ‘Great High Priest’ or ‘His Holiness’. So it’s not just a matter of saying, ‘Well if the shoe was on the other foot things would be different.’
Secondly, this issue isn’t new. In fact, this issue of Christians clashing with men who use these sorts of titles stems back to the first century church. The Caesars of Rome, since Augustus, consistently used terms that Christians reading the New Testament would be familiar with. For instance the titles ‘Son of God’, ‘Saviour’, ‘Great High Priest’, and ‘[bringer/giver of] Peace’ were often used by the Caesars and can be found in many inscriptions (I did a lengthy essay on this issue in first year bible college for those interested in reading). The pressure to conform, and the temptation of escaping persecution, pushed most to either join the Imperial cultic worship or, at least, pay lip service. But Christians, choosing to honour the One worthy of these titles, chose not to participate under the pressure of persecution.
Third, no matter what everyone says, we are living in an increasingly intolerant world. I’m amazed at some of the comments and the questions being asked in polls on this matter – particularly whether or not Kate should have simply followed protocol no matter what she believed. This clear betrayal of the fundamental right to express what one believes is staggering. Beware of the Thought Police.