"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday of Holy Week 2018

"Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.  You have been born anew.

--1 Peter 1:22-23

It's time for Christians to call bull shit on Evangelism inc.

Jimmy Swaggart's wife? Really?

I think, considering what the students saw on Valentine's day "bandaid on cancer" is probably the most offensively inappropriate simile that could possibly be resorted to.

I think we need an active campaign to Christianize the evangelicals to win them over from the oligarchic corporate state religion of Mammon.

Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Frances Swaggart remind us that obedience to truth is difficult, and that there is no shortcut to it.   Someone sent a question to Jimmy Carter for the interview on "1A" this morning, asking how we could recover the public compassion we once, as a country, displayed.  I thought about the question in terms of our political and religious leadership, and how many public religious figures are now proving themselves less interested in matters religious than they are in matters secular.  They are also the ones most likely to claim they have been "born anew," but their manner and words reflect that everything new is old again.

This "born again" language is not unique to Christianity.  The letter of Peter actually echoes the words of Ezekiel:

22Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 23And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. 24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. 30And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. 31Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. 32Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
--Ezekiel 36:22-32, KJV

The heart of stone will be replaced with a heart of flesh.  If you take that scripture seriously, it is humbling.  Do you know your heart is not stone, but flesh?  Are you sure?  Do you know if God's spirit is in you?  Are you sure?  No doubt the Israelites were sure of their hearts and their spirit even during the Exile, but Ezekiel told them not to be so sure.  If your soul is purified by obedience to the truth, is that because you know yourself so well?  Or does it result in genuine mutual love?  And is obedience to the truth a once in a lifetime event, or an ongoing effort?  My problem with the soteriology of the evangelical has always been that a cataclysmic event, a "conversion experience," was the sine qua non of Christian living, after which you have nothing to worry about because you are "saved."  The problem then is, you return to the world, rather than to obedience to the truth; the truth being far more than whether you have secured your place in heaven, or not.

Obedience, like former President Carter said about faith in the interview, is a verb.  And like faith, it is fundamental to Christian belief.


Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

Thank you for the link to the interview with Jimmy Carter, it was just what I needed, today.

2:26 PM  

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