Monday, June 8, 2009

Why I Believe the Religious Right is Wrong

Oh, boy, here we go again. I know that is what some of my fellow Christians think when they see my blog/journal posts. I truly mean no disrespect. I just call it as I see it. I write about the truth as it is revealed to me. I do not think that I am the only true Christian in the world. Nor do I think that I know any secrets about God or claim to know the full mind of God (not even close). I am humbly aware that any wisdom that I have is only the tiniest tip end of the iceberg of God.

That being said, when I see my fellow Christians doing the opposite of what the bible teaches us to do, which is to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13) and to preach the good news (Mark 16:15), I feel called to speak up. Those who believe that they are the God's Chosen, are not only repelling non-Christians, but also turning Christians against their own religion with their zealous behavior. In my heart I cannot believe that this is what God wants from his children.

In Colossian 2 Paul warns about this very phenomenon I see happening today. He warns the people there about Heretics and Gnostics. These were people who were preaching that they knew the real truths about Christianity. They were the Fundamentalists and the Religious Right of their day. They felt they had cornered the market on exactly what God meant to say in the biblical texts. Anyone who did not follow them were surely destined to an eternity separated from God.

Paul tells the people there that they should not be deceived by this. There is only one Truth about Christianity and it is no secret - Christ. That is it. Plain. Simple. Pure.

In verse 16 and 17, he says Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. That sounds pretty clear to me. Our reality is found it Christ - not in the deeds, the laws and the judgment of others that is sure to find them wanting.

People are turned off by Christians who think they know it all (ie - know the mind of God). Some have said that it matters not what people think, we must tell the truth, since the bible says those outside the faith won't like us anyway. I think this is a total cop-out and justification for sanctimonious behavior. When Jesus said that those who are persecuted because of him are blessed (Matthew 5:10-11), he was not giving his followers immunity to act as accusatory judges of all humankind in his name.

We should care when people are turned off by our brand of Christianity. If what we are doing is turning people away from the words of God and from faith in him, then we need to examine our approach. It just makes common sense. No one wants to listen to the harassment and condemnation of a group of people who feel superior to those around them. That is why Jesus spoke so strongly to the Pharisees and Paul warned the people in Colossae against this kind of behavior.

So what makes us, in the year 2009, think that we know so much? Why do the Religious Right feel that they are so...right about everything? God cannot be neatly contained into a human brain sized package. Isaiah 5:9 is pretty clear that God's ways and thoughts are so far above ours that we will never even hope to know all there is to know about him.

This is what provokes me to irritation about fundamentalists and the Religious Right. It is not their beliefs themselves that I feel are wrong. The surely have a right to believe as literally and as fundamentally as they wish to about any biblical interpretations. I take no issue with that. It is the insistence that there is only one right way to interpret the bible that I have a problem with.

I don't believe anyone has a right to dictate to another what to believe. Every word of the bible is there for each of us to read. When we accept Jesus we are each given the gift of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit resides in us and is there as our conscience and our guide. The Spirit helps us by interceding on our behalf when we don't know what to do (Romans 5:26-27). It is not our jobs as Christians to assess the heart and/or salvation of anyone other than ourselves.

Standing up for what you believe in? Sure. Condemning others because they don't share your beliefs? Not so much.