Sunday, August 30, 2015

Evangelical Christianity Needs to Step Away from the Culture Wars

Below are a couple of great articles by Relevant Magazine on the need for Evangelical Christianity to reject political posturing, move beyond the culture wars, and embrace the life and teaching of Jesus:

These articles led me to the following thoughts...

John 13:35 says, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” not "If you win America for Jesus," or "If you institute biblical laws." Those of us who are called to follow Jesus should be shaped by what he did and taught, but that only happens AFTER we decide to to take that step, and only within the context of relationship with Christ.

It makes no sense to force these things on others, and it certainly harms the Church's ability to be a light for the gospel when we are so obsessed with political and cultural divisions. If we have anything worth sharing with the world (and I believe we do), then it must be shared with compassion, caring, and understanding. Everyone draws on their own experience, reason, and cultural understanding to make their decisions; and we must be willing to accept that.

A non-Christian friend of mine stated, in response to the above thoughts, that a person does not need religion to be moral. They can choose to be compassionate, decent, and equitable without fearing condemnation or seeking reward in the afterlife.

I responded and acknowledged that he is right, one can have morals without religion (though I would argue that all good things come from God, but that conversation probably deserves its own post). Though I don't believe in God out of a fear of what may happen after I'm dead. The idea of a disembodied spirit floating around after we die was borrowed heavily from Greco-Roman culture and philosophy, and strikes me as an untenable belief theologically.

And the idea of such a spirit being submitted to eternal torture isn't supported biblically or by our current scientific understanding. I think the Gehenna which Jesus speaks of (he never uses the word “hell”) is primarily the natural result of the divisive actions of human beings toward each other, toward creation, and toward God. When human beings are consumed by selfishness (or self-righteousness), how could the result be anything but separation? But if you notice, Jesus' message is concerned with how we treat each other in the here and now. While he still works within the framework of Jewish law, he shifts interpretation from one of fear or self-righteousness, to one primarily motivated by love.

I try to be good, and follow Jesus' teachings, not because I'm afraid. I mean, when I'm dead, the jig is up one way or another and it's all out of my hands at that point. smile emoticon But I try to be good because not only am I intellectually convinced through reason and personal experience of God's existence, but I have fallen in love with God. I love God and I love others, not just because somebody told me to, but because in my opinion it's the best, most beautiful, most illuminating way for me to live.

Am I perfect in my understanding or practice of that love? Nope. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna give up trying to live this way. And I think there are many other Christians who share the same point of view. It's true that not all of us do, but that's where the above article comes into play. It's intent (and my intent in sharing it) is to foster a conversation about what living as Christ's disciples really means. We have 2,000 years of bad blood to overcome as people have hijacked the cross for a variety causes (which arguably boiled down to a desire for power in almost every case).

Call me an optimist, an idealist, or just a plain old fool, but I think we can do better. In fact, we owe it to our God and the rest of the world to do better. And this starts by re-centering Christian teaching on the teaching of Christ: which is to love no matter what.

 ‪#‎AmericanChristianity‬ ‪#‎ChristDoesntMeanCulturePolice‬ #Evangelicals

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