I was baptized Church of Christ when I was an early teen but lost faith in the church because I disagreed with key elements of their church covenant. Later on, I was baptized in the Baptist church. I was raised as a child in the Worldwide Church of God. I think I can fairly say I have a broad spectrum of experience with multiple faiths. I have pretty much lapsed from regular attendance until just recently. I have begun to go again for my 2 young sons, but am having some real struggles with the projected church viewpoint.
I was recently on an outing with a family member who asked me to listen to a cd of a sermon given by a guest preacher at the church her husband attended. Just to clarify, she herself is a conservative Baptist but her husband is Church of Christ. They take turns attending each church at evening services, but each attends their own on Sunday mornings. The one thing I think they have in common is extremist, ultraconservative beliefs. Back to the cd………
It was a triumph of oratory. The Checkers Speech of evangelism. Scary as Hell. This quiet, well spoken gentleman was espousing the need for Christians to look towards taking care of the “common grace” they were tasked with by God. Essentially, not only is it necessary to be delivered by grace, and to maintain grace through good works; to be able go to heaven (according to this gentleman) you must also effect change around you and convert everyone around you to Church of Christ beliefs. This has some really nasty implications. Besides basically turning the church into a bunch of BORG who want to assimilate everything and destroy what they have no use for, which is frightening enough, they are teaching that if every member does NOT act in this manner—-they lose salvation. DAMN.
Now that’s how you raise an army of jihadists. According to the authoritative Dictionary of Islam jihad is defined as: “A religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad … enjoined especially for the purpose of advancing Islam and repelling evil from Muslims.” Substitute Muhammed with Jesus Christ. Substitute Islam with Christianity. Substitute Muslims with Christians. There you are, an excellent description of what I was treated to on that cd. Again, DAMN.
I have been a staunch Conservative Republican since I turned 18 until the last couple of major elections. As I saw the Republican party sell their souls to the uber Conservatives and Religious Right, I began to veer towards the Liberal Democrats. I cannot say I agree with everything they stand for, but at least they don’t give me night sweats.
I will always believe that you can be spiritual and yet tolerant. I am personally pro-life but politically pro-choice I believe, with every ounce of my soul, that everyone MUST defend the rights of those they DO NOT agree with. Not to do so will end in each fringe group being picked off and legislated away, one by one. As each new precedent is set, a new lattice work of laws fall into place to chip away, more & more, at our civil liberties until none remain. Never say “There ought to be a law”. Say instead “I don’t agree with that, but it doesn’t hurt me personally & is none of my business”.
I can promise you that no matter what you do in your life, there are scores of people who think it is wrong and likely some who would like it prohibited. We MUST respect each other’s liberties to expect the same courtesy. I do not see, and never will, a single passage in the New Testament (which is the foundation of most of the really vociferous religions being heard in legislative circles right now) that can be taken to literally and without question command believers to live a life of fanaticism, intolerance, hate, and insanity masquerading under a mantle of morality and ethics. That comes from sheep sitting quietly in pews and being spoon fed the spin that is put on the text. The fault lies mostly in the presentation, and in the mindset of those who will not think, or question, and who lack the ability to make up their own minds without being told what the words mean by others who are carrying their own agenda.
Now to try to figure out if I have the ability to reconcile the beauty of the original underlying message with the screed of venom it has been coated in. I believe almost any religion or creed in this world can be reduced to (1) Behave Yourself (2) Be Nice To Other People and (3) Mind Your Own Business. If we could return to the simple message, it would be such a nice world.
What do you think?