Friday, November 25, 2011

misadventure in badly missing the point

Various systems or worldviews fight for power and authority. Yet Christianity, as a religion without religion, offers a radically different approach. Christ opens up the idea of a system that seeks always to find those who are excluded from the system that is in power. The Christian “worldview” is thus manifested as always seeking out those who have been rejected from the worldviews that have authority. The way this works itself out in practice is that whatever political or religious idea is dominating the society at any given time, Christianity seeks out those who are excluded by it, the one sheep who is not in the pen, the one coin not in the purse, those who have not been invited to the party, the nobodies, the nothings. The Christian “system” can thus never take power for, by definition, it is always that which stands against power, seeking to identify with the powerless and the voiceless. It is a system in the sense that it systematically seeks out those who do not fit into the system offered up by the currently prevailing political and religious authorities.
Rollins, Peter, Fidelity of Betrayal (Kindle Locations 1934-1941)

If one were to actually read the Gospels, how would one find any of that?

It could be pointed out that those who would likely have been considered on the outside, sick people and lepers and blind and Romans and Gentiles, did find Jesus usually welcoming. But then, it wasn't an exclusive thing. Jesus was welcoming to an 'insider' in the person of the Pharisee Nicodemus. He cared deeply for the young man who was rich and a ruler. He was very complimentary of the faith of the Roman centurion who wanted Him to heal his servant. Some of his closest friends seem to have been Lazarus and his sisters, people who had their own home and likely had some means and influence.

As well, we do not find any hint that Jesus was some kind of rebel. Jesus did not try to overthrow the Pharisees or other religious leaders, He did not try to overthrow the Romans. In fact, He tells the people to respect those in the seat of Moses, to do what they said, but to not live as they lived, for they were hypocrites. Jesus' problem, we can see, is not with religious authorities, but rather with those who have such authority and do not use it wisely and justly.

In the epistles, this respect for human authority continues. Peter tells us to obey the rulers. Another epistle explains that the rulers are ministers of God. The only time that the Apostles stood against the rulers was when they were told to not preach and teach in the name of Jesus, that in such a case they had the explicit command to Christ to take the Gospel to everyone, so they obeyed God rather than men.

Does Christianity stand against power? Where is that in the Bible?

Behind the convoluted nature of Rollins' words, his thinking is far too simplistic. Christianity is not an eternal game of being against whomever is in power, like some kind of perpetural counter-culture no matter what the culture is; rather, it's about right and wrong, righteousness and sin.

Rollins points to certain parables of Jesus', ones that are about someone seeking something of value. He wants to make this about outsiders, as if it's only about being counter-cultural or whatever. But what did Jesus Himself say? "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save those that are lost".

Because here is the truth--when it comes to God, we are all outsiders, we are all poor and miserable, we are all sinners. We can preach the Gospel in the poorest ghetto and the richest mansion, because the most abject addict and most successful billionaire are alike in their poverty before God. Peter can heal a lame beggar at the Temple one day, then later preach in the house of a Roman Centurion, because the Gospel he preached both times was applicable to the people present on both occasions.

Rollins wants to make this about human politics, which is asinine. It's not about such shallow and worldly things, but rather about Christ having been born of the virgin Mary, living a sinless perfect life, laying down His own life as a sacrifice for our sins and to appease the wrath of the Father, rising from the dead and ascending to Glory. It's about us through repentence of our sins and belief in Christ being made right with God.

It's not about works at all. We can do no work that will make we who are sinners in any way right with God; rather, God says that all of our works of righteousness are as putrid rags. He is not impressed with our works at all.

No comments: