Sunday, October 24, 2010

Christianity

Christianity is like the world. The world is more than 200 nations who all hate each others' guts. They are all lead by more or less corrupt governments who use their people's fear and hatred of outsiders to legitimize their claims to rule. So also Christendom is broken up into hundreds of churches, denominations, congregations, etc. each claiming to be the One True Church founded by Christ Himself, and that all the others are frauds of the devil. Despite all the diplomatic bloviating every few decades about "ecumenism" and "dialogue," these churches aren't really interested in talking to each other at all. They are all interested in exterminating their competition. Each one claims the Key to the Kingdom, and each expects to be sitting at the Right Hand of God laughing at all their competitors going down the gullet of hell in the end times. Like everything else in the world, Christianity is about winning. Maybe that's what folks mean by "muscular Christianity."

Jesus wept.

I've always liked Paul Tillich's thought that the absolute worst thing we could say about Jesus is that He came into the world to found a new religion. He did no such thing. He came into the world to end religion. That burden He promises to lift from our shoulders is not the burden of life, but the burden of religion; no more purity codes, no more tests and initiations, no more sacrificial regulations, no more chosen priesthoods, no more doctrinal purity tests, no more catechism pop quizes, no more law codes, no more celestial jurisprudence, no more moral or spiritual supremacy, no more apotheoses, no more holy heroism. All that is required for salvation has already been done for us. No matter how brilliant or base we are, it doesn't matter. We are all equally beneficiaries.

12 comments:

susan s. said...

Thank you, Doug.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Well said, Doug.

If Jesus wished to found a new religion, why did he die a Jew? And according to many of his Jewish contemporaries, he was not even a good Jew.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I really needed to read this today, Counterlight. Thanks...

Pax,
Doxy

Lapinbizarre said...

Off topic, but I'm sure will be of interest if not already seen.

JCF said...

Despite all the diplomatic bloviating every few decades about "ecumenism" and "dialogue

Hey, I resemble(d) that! (A good 15 years of bloviating---until I couldn't get employed so doing. Then I decided TEC was the One True Church. ;-/)

rick allen said...

The feeling is understandable, but a little overstated, I think.

The teaching of Jesus has indeed, over the millenia, given rise to divergent understandings. These have at times given rise to violent conflicts, but more often because, in the historical circumstances, something more was at stake than theological differences (the Thirty Years War, for instance, from my reading, was much more about the fate of the Hapsburg dynasty than issues from the Protestant Reformation).

These various differences obviously are inconsistent with each other, but I don't see, on the whole, that Christians "on the ground" hate those of other denominations, or that such hatred is promoted by their leadership. That each group considers its teaching closest to that taught by Christ is almost a tautology. Of course it does. Otherwise, what is the reason for its existence? And if, as the Nicene Creed teaches, there is "one holy, catholic and apostolic church," surely it is understandable that a Christian thinks himself a member of it, however variously conceived.

As I have often noted, the experience of Christian life at the parish level is quite different from how "Christianity" is abstractly perceived in the press and, presumably, by the increasing number of those with no personal experience of it. That the Church must have a politics is perhaps an unfortunate fact, arising from the fact that any group of human beings, organized, must have a politics, and it's often not pretty. But happily the Church is more than its politics.

What did Jesus want for us? You yourself articulated well one of the major competing contemporary visions at the conclusion of your post. I would agree with some but not all of it. I hope that doesn't require that we hate each other. After all, we are both part of a shrinking minority who think that what Jesus said particularly matters.

Counterlight said...

What I like about TEC is that it never claims to be the One True Church, and who knows, maybe that little bit of humility is evidence that it really is (but who cares).

Counterlight said...

In a world where my Evangelical students are surprised to hear me describe Catholics as Christian, I stand by this quote in my sidebar:

There has never been a kingdom so given to so many civil wars as that of Christ.
--Montesquieu

Ciss B said...

I like TEC because it also spends its time not judging groups, but focusing on the liturgy and not on judging various groups, too. It focuses on each adherent working on their own walk with God and Christ instead.

Grandmère Mimi said...

What I like about TEC is that it never claims to be the One True Church, and who knows, maybe that little bit of humility is evidence that it really is (but who cares).

Excellent, Doug. (Sounds of applause)

motheramelia said...

A little girl who went to a Church of Christ informed me that Jesus had founded her church and so it was the only "true" one. I cringed. You are right on when you say Jesus didn't found a new religion. Thank you.

motheramelia said...

A little girl who went to a Church of Christ informed me that Jesus had founded her church and so it was the only "true" one. I cringed. You are right on when you say Jesus didn't found a new religion. Thank you.