If you are a Christian, you already know this. We are a bunch of rather schizophrenic folk. Yes admit it, we are. The chart at the right only barely glosses over the real tragedy locked within the pretty bands of green and blue.
We can’t agree on what we believe. Never have really, though at times, one faction or another was powerful enough to subdue the others and put them out of business. Not so much today. We add something like three hundred brand spankin’ new “We got the truth” sects per year and no end seems to be in sight.
I’m not sure whether such a state exists in other faith traditions, but I doubt any can meet our level of splintering. I’m not just talking bout the self-styled, “spiritual but not religious” types. I’m not talking about the “I am a spirit driven determiner of what God wants” type, though I have met one of those deluded nuts. Forms churches in her home and sends them out to do as she defines is right. She has no need of church herself, being a true prophet, just sent to explain the bible to the rest of us.
No, I’m talking about our penchant in Christendom to set up strong hierarchies of correctness and then jealously clinging to our dogmas as if only we could possibly get it right. It turns out that Anglicans are trying to pave the way for depressed Roman Catholics to find a home with them. And it turns out that Roman Catholics are now making it easier than ever for depressed Anglican/Episcopalians to find a home with them. Read group inclusion here.
The radicalized bible thumpers point at the Romans and yell, “whore of Babylon,” and five minutes later, inquire whether those same Romans will be at the “anti-abortion” rally tonight. The once properly outraged Catholic, retorts with “crazy Catholic-hater” and then makes a date for the next anti-Obama town meeting with their evangelical counterpart.
Christendom makes, as they say, strange bedfellows. Worse, Christendom and politics make dangerous bedfellows. Finding it odd that ultra conservative evangelicals (biblicists) join ranks with ultra conservative Protestants and Catholics to oppose health care reform, death penalty reform, wars, and climate change? So do we, but then, listen up.
The truth of the matter is that most of these “conservative” social “Christians” are just flat out conservatives who don’t want taxes, and don’t want to personally pay for the eradication of social ills. They prefer to live their “good life” and dabble in personal “charity.” That’s not so bad of course, if you will call it what it is. Jesus, doncha know said the poor would always be with us, and that some don’t deserve our help. They tell me he said that, though I can’t find it anywhere.
Unfortunately, they don’t stop there. They pick and choose the scriptures they sola scriptura their way through to defend their racist, selfish agenda, claiming they in some fit of righteousness, are actually doing God’s work. And worse, they have the temerity to point their finger at the social liberals of the world, many of whom are deeply religious, and call us captured of Satan.
No honesty is being promoted on either side, or among anyone. We are spiraling into the same morass as the country is with increasingly belligerent “sides”. No fairness is being upheld. No reference to the abiding love and compassion of our God and our savior Jesus is being promoted or even acknowledged.
We are poaching each other’s congregations, and at the same time, sniping away at anyone who thinks differently. We have the temerity to “speak for God.” Worse, we have the awful tendency, some of us at least, of demanding that God personally be responsible for that which God deliberately placed in our hands–the stewardship of both planet and each other.
Instead, we are holding shut out pocketbooks, claiming God will take care of it. Perhaps he will, but perhaps not in the way you expect. Perhaps, just perhaps he expects something more on our part than merely pointing a finger, and chastising each other for unfaithfulness to scripture and to God herself.
This is not a game of who has the most signed up on whose side. This is not a game of theological right or wrong, more right, more wrong. This is life, and we are here for a finite time and we have work to do.
Yesterday, as I exchanged pleasantries with dozens of people less fortunate than myself, I was forced to see that if the least among us can find reason to smile and share a laugh, to find common bond in simply being human, that perhaps the rest of us should take note.
Who are we that we pick and choose the verses that support the result we desire? We all do it dont’ we? Who are we to limit a God to a series of pages in a book, a book brilliant in it’s entirety, but convoluted and confusing, doubled back on itself in places, contradictory often and for good reason–it was written by human beings, with faulty information and sometimes faulty memories.
As Dr. McGrath says in his post day, what does it matter if Jesus thought that the “kingdom” would descend in its completeness within the lifetimes of many of his hearers? What is so wrong with Jesus showing us his human limitations? Whose agenda are we pushing here? Jesus or our own?
Have we become so invested in our rightness that we no longer even hear? How can we pollute the land and think that this doesn’t violate our responsibilities as stewards? How can we let any person lack for health care or food because they have violated one of our precepts of entitlement? How dare we? Indeed.