Theologians spend a great deal of time considering what they have to say. How should we give account of particular doctrines, their distinctive content and relationships to each other? A separate issue, one that receives far less attention, concerns not what theologians should say, but rather, how they ought to say it. The particular tone of voice used by the theologian in speaking theologically is an area quite distinct from the positive content of theology itself.
Our politicians know it full well, yet few discuss it in public. Fewer still take the initiative in condemning it. Our celebrities, normally quick to descend on human tragedy and genocide, are conspicuous by their sudden lack of public advocacy. And yet, it has entered our consciousness: entire and ancient communities of Iraqi Christians have been driven from their homes, coerced, raped, enslaved, murdered. That is to say nothing of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan and Nigeria. We know about it, though our leaders say little and do even less in response. Ronald Lauder, in the New York Times, asks, ‘Who will stand up for the Christians?’ Nicholas Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, has written publicly to David Cameron with the same question. None of this sits at ease with Cameron’s claim that the UK should be ‘more confident of its status as a Christian country’.