The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one’s eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing: ”But I didn’t mean this!”
It was only two years ago that the great mass of swing voters, so called independents and moderates, scurried over like lemmings to vote for Obama and the Democrats. That any of them might have been surprised at what Obama and the Democrat congress actually did hints at a serious problem. No doubt many of these people voted against Obama this year- but did they do it because they have more carefully deliberated on their principles and the lessons of history?
I think it is clear that many of them did. Nonetheless, I am certain that a lot didn’t, and the fact that millions and millions still happily cast their lot with Obama and his socialist-by-another-name agenda shows that many people didn’t really move at all.
Last week I began hosting what I hope will be bi-weekly open discussions via chat/voice. Another one is coming up. Tuesday, October 26th, at 9:30 p.m. CST. The opening topic will be “Peter Singer and James J Lee are/were right about exterminating the human race!” Click on the links for more background. James Lee, if …
A couple of nights ago I hosted the first of what I hope will be regular, bi-weekly discussion events using real time video conferencing software. The recording of that event is available here. Note, it is unedited and is a very informal setting. You can fast forward, and I suggest you do. Length is about …
A pastor in Nevada chastises me, “The little old ladies in our congregation are extraordinary in their faithfulness. They do everything in the church. They run the committees, their generosity pays the bills, they tend to the facilities. My congregation is 95% filled with these little old ladies who are lions in the faith.”
No doubt, they are the lions in the faith. Yet in under 10 years they will all be dead from simple old age. 10 years from now, when they have all passed to be with Jesus in his glory, and there are just 10 people left in the congregation, might we stop to wonder if the reason for this is not because the church is being faithful to its principles, but because it is not?
How can we call it faithful if the youngest person in the congregation is 40 years old? Does that really sound consistent with the Scriptural vision for believers? Seriously?
If our gatherings are not marked by love- that is, attending to the genuine needs, desires, and wants of those around us, rather than seeking our own fulfillments- they are ‘nothing.’ As far as I am concerned, I would be happy to endure just about any kind of ‘worship’ form if I saw a community that was geared to look out for each other, even to the point of laying down their lives for each other (1 John 3:16).
Now, of course there is some attending to needs in the way gatherings are structured. It isn’t an entirely loveless endeavor, and of course the whole work of the Church does not occur one hour on one day a week. You wouldn’t know this from listening to those engaged in the ‘Worship’ Wars, though. I honestly can’t remember the last time I read something by either side where ‘love’ was mentioned at all.
The title of this post does not do the matter justice. The word ‘abuse’ is too mild, and it might be even more accurate to say that in actual fact the sweeping trend within Christendom is that there is outright plain ignorance on what these terms mean. The charge only matters at all to those …
In fashioning this response, I am in the difficult position of trying to respond to Anne’s position with only facebook status updates and past history to rely on. Readers (especially if that reader is Anne herself) will forgive any wrong inferences. With that important caveat out of the way…
The difficulty in dispensing with the Church and keeping Christ is that it is impossible and can’t be done. I’m not going to go Cyprian on you (“He who does not have the Church as his mother…”) because I think he was making a different point. Christians are not united by creed but by Christ, a person. You can step away from denominations and congregations but if you really stepped outside of the Church, you’d step out of Christ, because the Church is his body. (Eph. 5, 1 Cor 12:12-27, esp. 27).
The 1 Cor passage mentioned above is relevant in its own way because Paul points out that just because the foot says to the hand, “I am not the body because I am not a hand” the foot does not, in fact, cease to be part of the family. So long as Anne is in Christ, her declarations about not being part of the Church are no more than that- declarations. And what of those she would disassociate herself from? Is it her conviction that they are not in Christ? I doubt she would go that far. But if she thinks some Christians have been, well, asses, not even in this case can the hand say to the ass, “You are not part of the body,” for every body still has an ass!
The platitude is dangerous. On the one hand, when we transmit it, we transmit something we know is not actually true. That’s bad policy right there. On the other hand, it shuts down an important area of human experience that requires extensive critical thinking. In a world filled with evil and malignant men, every good person must be prepared in their mind for what they should do given certain eventualities… because we know from the newspaper and history book that these things do happen. Another danger to the platitude is that it sets people up for guilt after they perform a violent- but righteous- act. Finally, if someone has never actually thought about the matter before and all they’ve been fed is the platitude, they might freeze up and do nothing, or flee when they should fight.
I can think of no better example then the story that emerged out of the Virginia Tech massacre of Liviu Librescu. Here is a survivor of the holocaust, gunned down through the door that he refused to open for the gunman.
One of the things I’ve come to realize is the truth of this statement: As the dead do not know the living, or even that they themselves are dead, so too irrationality does not know rationality. Augustine argued that evil was not a ‘thing-in-itself’ but always some good thing that has been corrupted. Evil is …
I try mightily to keep myself from having unexamined beliefs. I turned one up, though, in the last month or so, no doubt because of the writing contest and online apologetics conference I was working on. The writing contest, for example, is labeled as a Christian writing contest. I began to think about how an endeavor like writing, or any endeavor at all, could justify being termed ‘Christian’ and realized I had never really thought about it much before, and had rather accepted the presumptions that had been handed down to me. I hate it when I do that! Even if the presumptions are right!
However, what I turned up when I began my examination may surprise the reader. In Evangelical circles, the Christian sub-culture is a constant temptation and Christianese the prevailing language, which I myself attack in this post warning about Christianese and shibboleths. There is a silly sense within Christendom that you can slap the label ‘Christian’ on front of something and you’ve sanctified it. The truth usually is that it’s merely been rendered more marketable within the Church.
The reader would be wrong if he thought that the presumption handed down to me was the one I just described, however.