The White Papers
Keeping with a recent theme at the White Papers, this is the first part of a reflection on Christianity that will take more than one post:
I’ve been troubled, since I memorized the Sermon on the Mount during my teen years in the ‘70s, by the divergence between the teachings of Jesus and the practices of Christians.
There is something decidedly odd about the fact that so many of those who claim the name of the man called the Prince of Peace -- who preached non-violence, loving enemies and went to his death without a fight -- have such a love of violence and war and knee-jerk contempt for those who do not share their beliefs.
What to make of this? One possibility is that these folks -- in the spirit of Pappy O’Daniel in O Brother Where Art Thou I’ll call them “Kill-Your-Enemies Christians” -- are not. They are the false believers mentioned repeatedly in the pastoral letters of the apostles Paul and Peter. However, that puts me in the position of judging the spirituality of people, a place I don’t belong.
The position on which I settled was that God intended that his followers to take a variety of positions. My justification for this was from Paul’s image of the church as a body, and his list of spiritual gifts. The idea is that God wills that Christians be both conservative and liberal, to have different theological beliefs, and to have all different types of talents and tendencies. It all melds together into a glorious pot that one day we’ll understand at the end of time.
It is unmistakable that different denominations and sects have used different passages to come to different conclusions about the meaning of scripture. I thought that was because there was some key to understanding that was not granted to us mortals. Maybe God didn’t want everything spelled out to prevent us from worshiping the text instead of the creator.
Now, however, I’m having second thoughts ...
More to come sometime when I don't have to coach hockey.