Piety & Popularity by Thomas S. Buchanan

Piety & Popularity

And Peter said, “I do not know the man!”
—Matthew 26:74

Peter’s denial of Christ was his Bathsheba—the fall from grace of a great saint that took many tears to bring about complete restoration. His denial, like most things the big fisherman did, was bold, brash, and emphatic. Most people, however, aren’t quite so ardent, either for good or for evil.

While many of us would be loathe to completely disown our Redeemer, we may be, shall we say, less inclined to let others know our position on abortion or special rights for homosexuals or any other politically incorrect stance that we might hold based on our understanding as Christians. In this sense, the outward denial of our faith is a much more subtle thing for us than it was for Peter.

While it could be argued that this is a reflection of the political climate, the real problem is much more basic. In short, it is this: most of us are afraid of being thought of as pious. We don’t want to be seen by our non-Christian friends and colleagues as people who would spend hours praying. We do not want to be thought of as someone who would take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. We don’t want to be labeled “religious” or, even worse, “fundamentalist.” We do not want to be thought of first and foremost as virginal or devout.

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Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.

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