Some comments on Christianity

I wrote this in response to a post on ‘s LJ:

In response to your last paragraph, I think this is where the punch is. Again, it’s not a matter of “my team/tribe has this all right, while yours has it all wrong,” as I think it’s just a human thing. When I did my NLP Practitioner Training, many years ago, we talked about meta-patterns, which are just basic ways that people work. Some people move toward what they want, while others move away from what they don’t want. It’s a subtle, but fundamental difference, and, like all dichotomies, it is false when taken too far — we all do some of both, but we will tend to fall on one side more than the other.

But it’s something we have some choice about, if the choice is presented to us so we know we have it. We can choose to build more of what we want, or to try to tear down what we don’t want. We can try to sustain what we hope for, or to run from what we fear. This doesn’t mean that we can just up and choose the positive over the negative every time — if we don’t run from some of the things we fear under certain conditions, we don’t survive to pursue our hopes anymore — but it’s something we can reflect on from time to time, and find ways that we can lean more toward the positive and away from the negative.

Putting on the Christian identity does not make one a Christian in any substantive way on its own — it’s in choosing and walking the Christian path that one comes closer to the proclaimed Master and joins the fold of the Good Shepherd. That path is strait (note the lack of “gh”) and narrow, and few there be that find it. But those who continually seek it will find it, and those who ask will receive, and those who knock will be opened unto. It’s not something that is done in a moment — it’s something that is grown into, or planted and nourished until it grows within us and transforms us. It’s like dew, that distills so subtly that you don’t notice it’s coming until it’s there.

I’m a fan of a Christian life, rather than a Christian identity. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s a lot easier to put on the latter than to live the former, and not a few will stop once they’ve done the latter and think that they’re done. A life-Christian will strive to love all, especially their enemies, while a identity-Christian will berate them for having not been saved. Being saved in an instant by cheap grace, and then being able to sin however one wishes and put it on the Jesus account is a mockery of the Christian message, and it is far too popular within the Christian Church.

It’s not the Christianity that’s the problem, and you can replace the name of almost any team or tribe or party or -ism where I said “Christianity.” The problem is always going to be more in the building of the positive values and living into them than it is in taking the name and doing it for show.

3 thoughts on “Some comments on Christianity

  1. Interesting contrast there- especially in the penultimate paragraph. You articulate the difference between living the teachings (Christian life) versus what I call the “T-shirt” brigade- the “Chrisitan Identity” sorts. I think that 9 out of 10 Christians I run into are the latter sorts, sad to say. They get their infilling of spirit, plus a heavy dose of intolerance and a bingo-card full of various people and organizations to hate on, along with a topping of smug hubris that is amazing in its scope.

    “Cheap grace” is right- Christ ID sorts look for bereaved people in the obits and go after their rellies (they did that to my dad, and it took my sister and I a couple of years to untangle him from the clutches of that nasty little church), and if you’re going through a crisis, or have a disaster, they’re on you like a fraudulent telemarketer, trying to peddle Jesus to you while you’re down.

  2. I think 90% is a fair estimate of the identity members of any group — as Tom Bodett would say, a bit more for some a bit less for others. Christianity has the accumulated baggage of being an inherently political movement from its foundations in Judaism. Jews were damn difficult neighbors and crappy subjects, and Christianity inherited that and all of the intolerance from the pagan Roman establishment for those who insisted on being different to merge into a movement that can rationalize severe persecution of heretics when in the majority while feeling like a persecuted minority by the mere existence of heretics (those who disagree). That kind of movement places a premium on accepting Christian ID to such a degree that it can distract very neatly, if totally unintentionally, from Christian life.

    Modern liberal democracies have successfully created wide-spread lip-service of the notion of religious tolerance, and tolerance of difference in general, but there are very few who can muster enough active tolerance to listen to anybody they disagree with about anything for any purpose other than enumerating for them exactly how and why they are wrong for disagreeing. And you can find it in the Inquisition burning heretics at the stake, or in Marcuse with his notion of “liberating intolerance” (the philosophical underpinnings of Political Correctness, which goes way beyond silly terms designed to not offend, and which has not disappeared).

    And I should clarify that “cheap grace” is a term coined by Dietrich Bonhoeffer — it’s far from original with me. When most Mormons speak about salvation by grace, they’re thinking about cheap grace, which is rejected by most versions of Christian theology, even if it is quite popular with ID Christians. C.S. Lewis was also not a fan of the idea, whether he used the term or not.

  3. The intolerance of difference, the persecution complex and almost obligatory identification was what finally made me part ways with institutional Christianity. If they could not accept me as an independent, non-traditional female, a thinking person, and a person who accepted difference and practiced not just mere tolerance, but welcomed diversity- I did not feel the need to belong to such a group.

    Sometimes institutional Christianity seems to be more like an exclusive high-school clique combined with an aggressive debating society than any sort of spiritual or philosophical group. I dislike having to constantly defend my beliefs (or lack of them), my life, my intelligence, and nearly everything else. And I especially dislike the constant hinting -sometimes overt- that I am some sort of doomed or inferior person- or even a non-person- because I have willfully chosen to reject the cheap grace and institutionalized anti-intellectualism of modern Christianity. I am not a ‘flocking’ sort of person. I tried when I was younger- and I failed. I simply cannot lose myself into groupthink- its noise jams the signal I get from the Divine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *