It is popular, in some circles, to bash Christianity under the guise of “organized religion” and to do so by alleging that “organized religion” is more about form than function. In other words, “organized religion” is more about theology and less about loving people. Therefore the truly spiritual, that is those that are able to recognize and diagnose these glaring problems within the church, are led by their angst to engage in methods that more closely resemble the occupy movement than anything else. The odd thing is that this angst, this protest against “organized religion” does little if anything to remedy the problems they decry. To put it another way these “occupiers” are, at least in theory, all for social justice but in reality do little or nothing to further it. Besides that, the criticism brought against “organized religion” will simply not stand scrutiny. Let me give you an example drawn from the small town we live in, Bertram,Texas.
If you need help paying your electric bill in Bertram there is one place you can go for help: organized religion. If you are hungry and need food at anytime of the day or night there in only one place, you can go to: organized religion. If you are travelling through our town, run out of gas and appeal to the gas station or the Sheriff’s department for help they will probably send you to, you guessed it, organized religion. If you need help paying your rent your best bet is to turn to organized religion. If you are a stranger and need a place to stay a phone call will secure you a room for the night in the local hotel and that call will probably come from, again, organized religion. If you need a coat next winter, where is the best place to find one, for free? Organized religion. If you do not want your children being educated in the government school, where do you turn? Organized religion. If you are pregnant and need help, the only place you can go in complete confidentiality and safety is to: organized religion. Organized religion accounts for probably 75 or 80% of the so-called “social safety net” in our county, if not more. The funny thing is that I see lots more men with clerical collars helping with this than I do guys with ear rings and guitars. Therefore the criticism falls very short of the mark.
It may be that folks making the above sorts of criticism are unaware of the good, the centuries of good, that the Christian Church (organized religion) has done. If that is the case then I would admonish said individuals against building straw men. No doubt the Christian church is a work in progress, indeed she is. It is also true that we are, in many ways, still in our infancy. We are and so let us press on and let us admonish those who, in the name of Christ, stand on the sidelines and point “that even now the ax is laid at the root of the tree, therefore bear fruit worthy of repentance”. “From the days of John until now the kingdom of God has been coming violently and the violent bear it away”. “Faith with out works is dead” and “He who has ears to hear let him hear”.
In an earlier post, I argued that what is often called “tolerance” is actually tyranny. In this post, I would like to look at how that is so. It is a good thing to think about for our natural instinct is to see things the other way around and to equate tolerance with freedom. Let me start with the following observation: no one (no sane person) tolerates everything. Take for instance the political liberal. It is a safe bet that he or she will not tolerate much that a man like Ronald Regan might stand for.
The real question is by what standard we judge what is to be tolerated, and what is not. In the West, and for that matter in much of the East, the question of an ethical or moral standard was really more of an assumption than a real question. It was because for the first 1800 years or so of our history everyone assumed Christian values. Things, ideas, behavior etc. were judged tolerable or not based on The Word of God. In other words, there was one basic standard for morality.
So far so good, but then comes the rise of the enlightenment and rationalism followed by the hangover we call postmodernism. Suddenly skepticism came into vogue and almost overnight, the idea of objective truth (that is truth tied to some sort of a standard) became (almost) outdated. As one wise man put it, “Everyman did what was right in his own eyes”.
However, how does that sort of toleration lead to tyranny?
The reason is that when man replaces the objective truth of God’s word for another standard (whatever it may be) he has in fact recapitulating the age-old sin of the first Adam, who tried to be like God. Theologian RJ Rushdoony put it (roughly) like this: “when you reach the level of no further appeal, you have reached the god of the system” and it’s commonly understood that one sort of god does not tolerate any other sort of god very well. Therefore, the struggle for power begins.
I really like the movie Gangs of New York. It is a movie with some very graphic scenes but like many of Scorsese’s movies; it is making a good point by asking a good question. The question is “who is the biggest and toughest gang in New York?” and the answer is of course the US government. This brings us back to the question of tyranny. For, as I have pointed out, at the end of the day gods (and governments) will only tolerate themselves, and those that view themselves in terms of it. Like the gangs of New York, there may be room for slight variations but only very slight. The state becomes a monistic tyrant that will only allow reflections of its own image. Tolerance becomes tyranny and the only cure for that is The Trinity. How that is so is a question I will attempt to take up in my next post.
There is a scene in the Movie “Saving Private Ryan” that has always stuck with me. Its the one where an American soldier, fully armed and able, watches an enemy kill one of his comrads during a hand to had fight. Presumably paralyzed by fear he simply stands there unable or unwilling to help and then latter goes on to murder the captured German soldier in cold blood. The American soldier becomes, in effect, just like the enemy.
Last night I was reading a commentary on Leviticus. The author has been doing an excellent job of drawing parallels between the Temple and The Garden of Eden and between Adams service as a Priest and the Levitical High Priestly service. Good stuff though its well plowed ground.
There is one question raised in the book (“Who Shall Ascend to The Mountain of The Lord by L. Michael Morales) sort of as an aside, that I find really insightful. It goes back to the Garden and Adam’s fall. The question is this: “What if Adam did what he was supposed to do?” For like the Soldier in “Saving Private Ryan” he was in a place to do what no one else could have done and save the day. Being still sinless and presumably acceptable to God why did not Adam offer himself as a sin offering on behalf Eve? in other words why didn’t he act in a Priestly fashion and so save not only the day but the whole of creation? We will of course probably never know the answer to the question but its clear that when faced with saving Eve or joining her, Adam chose the latter.
Humanity is unable to save itself, which brings us to the The Second Adam. Jesus Christ, The One Who did what no one else could do and offered Himself, as a substitute, not only for Eve but also for Adam and so for the whole race.