Friday, March 04, 2005

Fewer Monuments, More Acts of Graciousness

As one of those weird people, all eight of us, who is both leftist and Christian, I suppose I should say something about the latest installment in the Leave No Ten Commandments Monument Behind series, this one concerning a monument in Texas whose constitutional presence is being debated in front of the Supremes this week.

For all of my heathen readers, I will offer my two reasons as to why some Christians get particularly charged about this issue:

1) Some Christians, particularly of the more extreme variety, feel threatened by secular society; Being able to see the Commandments stationed publicly somewhere makes them feel better.

2) Some Christians, particularly of the more extreme variety, are unhappy with the fact that in America, individuals are pretty much free to engage in whatever behavior they like as long as it doesn't directly harm someone else (one person's sexual licentiousness is another person's freedom and liberty). These Christians see the posting of the Ten Commandments as a means of trying to reverse the direction of social norms in this area first through symbolism, and later, if needed, through the political process. If the Ten Commandments can be seen as a basis for society's laws, than behavior Christians don't like can be outlawed and punished.

View #1 is basically self-focused in that it's concern is with the individual Christian's security and self-identity. It lacks any true evangelical focus and is concerned only with the Christian's own feelings of self worth.

View #2 is basically self-focused as well in that it seeks to use religion as a tool for making other people conform to the Christian's stated ideals. Again, its intention is not evangelical in the truest sense of the term, but in this sense is punitive in emphasis.

In his book, What's So Amazing About Grace, Christian author Philip Yancey wonders why prostitutes, tax collectors (ancient Israel's equivalent of traitors and swindlers), and other so-called "sinners" of the day were attracted to Jesus, but today, most of society's outcasts are not attracted by us Christians (and to Jesus through us). Instead, the church has become middle class and exclusive, jealous of its image and protective of its institutions. Yancey concludes that the Christian church of today lacks the same grace that Jesus displaced towards others, and therefore, has not been the Light of the world that Jesus intended.

In their book, How To Talk About Jesus Without Freaking Out, authors Karen and Jim Covell and Victorya Rogers add that today, "there is entirely too much God talk and not nearly enough God activity" in the work of Christian evangelism.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructed his disciples that it was not those who said "Lord, Lord" that would enter the kingdom, but those who Did the will of His Father in Heaven.

Let there be more grace and Godly activity among us Christians, and fewer demands for monuments and symbols.


mizerock said...

Jesus was a liberal.

alt hippo said...

There's a split among the various Christian sects over whether good acts or good beliefs are at the core of Christianity. In a congregational church you'll see this vary from one congregation to another. The "good works" congregations tend to be liberals, while the "good beliefs" tend to be conservative.

In theory "good beliefs" take you towards "good works", but it doesn't always work out that way.

mizerock said...

I don't mean this to sound snide, I'm genuinely curious: are "good beliefs" the same as "good intentions", as in the paving stones to hell?

I used to date a woman who worked for the RNC. She was a "thousand points of light" republican and volunteered regularly. Her co-workers laughed and shook their heads, they were only interested in the smaller government part of that philosophy.

sideshow bob said...

Come know deep down inside that all of you liberals want someone to lock away criminals forever, lower your taxes, and rule you with an iron fist!
-sideshow bob
All kidding aside, it is always refreshing to come across a person of faith with the open-mindedness to actually read the Bible and reflect upon what it really means. This good work/good beliefs schism is present in most (if not all) of the worlds religions, and, in general, it seems like the "good works" people are saying "do as I do", while the "good beliefs" people are saying "do as I say".
Please continue to do what Jesus actually preached, and God bless you!