Wednesday, July 28, 2010

True Christianity?

There are many people who have great zeal for their faith in Christ, and who seek to make the entire world Christian. But to what degree shall we be called Christian? To what depth does one’s Christianity need to be, in order for these people’s goals to be fulfilled? If each person in the world were to proclaim the name of Christ, at least with their mouths, would the work of these noble-intentioned missionaries be complete? If the Gospel were, so to speak, “preached to the ends of the earth,” would they be satisfied? We have people today, in Christian countries, claiming the name of Christ, who have no more commitment to, or comprehension of, Christian morals, ideals, and lifestyle than do those who openly proclaim to be atheists. In some cases, they have perhaps even less. Remember that Jesus said, “Many will come in my name saying ‘I am the Christ’ and they will lead many astray.” (Matt 24:5) He is also quoted as saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21)

I have friends who though they are avowed atheists, believe more strongly in ideals and morals common to Christianity than most Christians. They merely do not proclaim the name of Christ, but they do follow a strict code of moral conduct inspired by and largely identical to the ten commandments. They practice these morals because they believe that it is the right thing to do, not because they fear divine punishment. Which is the better Christian, the one who merely says “Lord, Lord?” or the one who follows what Jesus commanded us to do? What this suggests to me is that if one of these Christians who acts righteously because of his fear of divine punishment were to be granted special dispensation to sin, they would do so eagerly. In fact, this has happened all throughout Christian history. In the Middle Ages, certain popes declared that it was not a sin to kill infidels, particularly Muslims. For many centuries, the Catholic Church tacitly endorsed pogroms, open oppression and murder of Jews, and even fostered the Spanish Inquisition and even turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. For many centuries, it was considered a merciful act to burn witches at the stake, believing that a short time in the earthly fire would save them from an eternity in the fires of Hell! So, can we truly say that the person who is a Christian outwardly, nominally, publicly proclaiming the name of Christ, yet disobeying what the Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to do, is a more righteous person than the atheist who observes the laws of God because he knows it is the right thing to do? Remember what the Lord our God said to us in the Book of the Prophet Hosea, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God and not burnt offerings.” (6:6)

Perhaps more today than ever before, we have millions of Christians who proclaim their faith but they do not practice it. There are millions of people who support violent regimes the world over, even in our own great nation of the United States of America, who support murder and torture and believe that the ends justify the means. The man who was up until recently (January, 2009) called President has endorsed this view of God’s law. He commanded thousands of troops to enter another country, and under false pretenses, or according to knowledge questionably gained (by torturing people willing to confess anything to get the torture to cease), and endorsed military and civilian personnel (e.g. the CIA) to conduct torture in undisclosed locations - a very Christian act indeed! Is this Christian conduct?

If our noble-intentioned Christian brethren were to spend more time missionizing to our own countrymen, people already enlisted in the roles of Christianity, proselytizing to them to cease their sinful nature and turn back to what God has demanded of us, then we as Christians would live more exemplary lives. We Christians as a whole would be a more noble and Godly people. We would lead by example rather than be coercion. Rather than spending millions of dollars worldwide every year to send missionaries to the four corners of the earth, attempting to obtain a confession of faith out of the meekest members of God’s children, they should spend more time at home, preaching to our politicians, to our military, to our CIA, and to those in the heartland who have blindly elected and endorsed one administration after another that merely pays lip service to the notion of a Christian America.

In the 2004 elections, many voters were polled, being asked a loaded question of which type of candidate they preferred: one whose platform focused on morality or social justice. Of course, Bush (as opposed to Kerry, as supporter of abortion and civil rights) was characterized as the one who embodied morality, simply on account of his willingness to publicly proclaim his Christian faith, and to support right wing, conservative interpretations of Christian values. Of course, refraining from murder and torture are not considered important sufficiently crucial Christian values!